Undergraduate Instruction: Pandemic Policies Fall 2020

The information below is for undergraduate instructors in CLAS and pertains to Fall 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic. If a policy or procedure is not found below, please follow the "regular and usual" policies and procedures on this page.

Absences: COVID-19 Related
Accommodations for Absences: What is Reasonable
Academic Calendar and Thanksgiving Recess: Move to Online
Classroom Health and Safety: Quick Guide for Instructors
Classroom Health and Safety: Quick Guide for Students
Course Modalities: CLAS Definitions
Changing Modalities: Requests During the Semester (with link to form)
Final Assessments and Exams: New and Continuing Policies
Grading Strategies
Handling Student Disruptions Related to UI Health Directives 
International Students: Special Directives
Lessons from Spring 2020 Student Surveys
Management of Physical Classroom: Who Does What?
P/N Grades: Not an Option for Fall 2020
Syllabus Insert: Required Additions 
Syllabus: Required Additions
TALA: Temporary Alternative Learning Arrangements
Undergraduate Research

    Absences: What are Reasonable Accommodations?

    If some missed assignments are very minor, instructors may request that they be completed or may ensure these do not impact the student's final grade, particularly near the end of the semester. If this is done, it is best that the student can see this in the ICON grade book and is reassured their absences were excused.

    In other situations, all or most work related to mastering course content must be completed and should be handled following normal absence policies due to a verified illness. Students must be allowed to make up missed exams and important assignments such as major papers, for example. Instructors may assign alternative activities if needed to help the student finish the course with the appropriate learning goals mastered. 

    If a student is only self-isolating and or not feeling ill and can still do class work, a student may be moved from an in-person section of a course to an online one if at all feasible; in other cases, students can be given permission to participate in the class via Zoom. 

    • Moving the student to online section will depend on an overlap in content of the two sections and when the student's move occurs in the semester.
    • The overall goal is to disrupt the learning as little is possible and to minimize the effect of the move on others in the class.
    • For some students, a move to a new section, though online, is not appropriate; it would be less disruptive for the student to Zoom into the current F2F course. 

    Consult with your department or other unit before making a decision, as needed. Also consult with the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, Cornelia Lang, and with members of her office at clasps@uiowa.edu or (319) 335-2633.

    FERPA Reminder

    Please keep in mind that instructors may not discuss an individual student's health with the class nor should the instructor question a student about personal health issues beyond reminding the student to submit the self-reporting form required to complete missed course work. Of course, an instructor may discuss COVID-19 health directives and the importance of students self reporting to protect their peers and the UI community. Privacy concerns about the individual student in an academic institution are guided by FERPA and not by HIPAA.  Additional information on FERPA for faculty is here:

    It is not feasible to grant make up work and exams for students if the student never attended or did so infrequently and submitted little work work since the beginning of the semester even if the student does submit the COVID-19 reporting form. In other words, it is best if the student considers dropping the course.  Please refer students to appropriate academic advisor as well as to the CLAS Office of Academic Programs and Student Development for help: https://clas.uiowa.edu/students or at (319) 335-2633 or clasps@uiowa.edu

    Academic Calendar and Thanksgiving Recess: Move to Online

    • The University of Iowa will follow this academic calendar, with the Fall 2020 semester beginning on August 24.
    • Classes are canceled starting with Monday, November 23 for Thanksgiving Recess; classes resume on Monday, November 30.
    • All courses move to online instruction after the Thanksgiving Recess, starting on Monday, November 30 and through the close of classes on Friday, December 11.
    • Instructors may not end the semester early.Final exam week is December 14-December 18.

    Course Modalities: CLAS Definitions

    Before the semester begins once a modality appears in its final version on the MyUI schedule, the offering must follow this published modality.

    In order to protect both instructors and students, any course modality change requires approval from either the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education, Cornelia Lang (courses 4999) and below or from the CLAS Associate Dean for Graduate Education (course 5000 and above), Christine Getz.

    Synchronous, Asynchronous, Blended

    Synchronous: An online course or a course component held at the day and time as indicated on the course schedule. Students attend the online sessions as scheduled on MyUI.

    Asynchronous: An online course or a course component that does not require students to attend class at a particular day or time but deadlines still exist that students must meet, including due dates to view a lecture; to complete homework; or to take an exam etc.

    Blended: A course that uses both of the above online strategies. Students will learn about blended modalities from the syllabus and the instructor.

    F2F and Hybrid

    Face to Face (F2F): A course, a section, or lab held in a physical space at the day/times indicated on the MyUI schedule; requires social distancing, w/face masks and/or face shields as appropriate. A classroom/space is included on the MyUI schedule.

    Hybrid:  A course, section, or lab held in a physical space at the days/times indicated on the MyUI schedule while also using virtual components. These components are synchronous, asynchronous, or both (i.e. blended).  A classroom/space is included on the MyUI schedule.

    Hybrid courses, with approval by CLAS and the Associate Provost, can rotate students through F2F sessions that alternate with virtual components. Students will learn about these rotations in class from the instructor and from the syllabus and not from the MyUI schedule unless added by the department using the Offerings Planner.

    Handling Student Disruptions Related to UI Health Directives

    Students are expected to

    • Wear a face covering (cloth covering, disposable or cloth mask, face shield) in all University buildings at all times.
    • To the extent possible, maintain an appropriate social distance (6 ft. if possible) .
    • Stay home if exposed to, are diagnosed with, or experience symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Students who fit in one of these categories related to exposure and possible illness of COVID-19 are expected to complete the UI student self-reporting form.

    Faculty are expected to

    • Model appropriate behavior as noted above for students.
    • Orally review classroom requirements at the beginning of the semester and spend a few minutes on these requirements for the first several class periods, before the add/drop deadline on Friday, September 4, 2020.
    • Stay home if exposed to, are diagnosed with, or experience symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and complete the related HR self-reporting form for instructors.

    If a student fails to adhere to the requirements during a particular class, instructors should take the following steps, in quick succession:

    • Ask the student to comply with University expectations (and, for example, offer a face covering from the supply in the classroom).
    • If they fail to comply, ask the student to leave the classroom immediately.

    If a student has failed to comply, the instructor should do the following after class is over:

    • Immediately file a report with the Office of Student Accountability (OSA) using this reporting form. Please copy the CLAS Office of Academic Programs and Student Development, using this address: clasps@uiowa.edu
    • OSA will alert the student that they will not be allowed to return to class until the matter is addressed following the University of Iowa’s conduct process.

    If the student has complied but needed a reminder, the instructor should consider emailing the student a reminder about the requirement for future classes. The email should be framed to allow and encourage the student to explain the past action in a way that might help mitigate it in the future.

    Lessons from Spring 2020 Student Surveys

    Focus the Course and the Student Learning Objectives

    • Use modules (course materials, assignments and assessments organized by unit, topic or theme) throughout the semester to facilitate the transition to online learning since this might occur at some point in the semester.
    • Assess student knowledge and adjust learning outcomes as needed. Returning students will be “behind” in some areas because of the upheaval during spring 2020; likewise, entering students may have had high school courses suspended or canceled. Consider incorporating review topics into the syllabus.

    Let Students Know You Care

    Create Efficient Communication Structures

    International Student Directives

    All continuing and new international students living in the US must be registered full-time (12 s.h. for undergraduates ) or must submit a part-time authorization request to be enrolled below full-time (see related requirements for approval). This policy has not changed.

    Note these updates from July 27, 2020 about course modality and international students (https://international.uiowa.edu/covid-19-frequently-asked-questions-isss):

    • Continuing undergraduate international students living outside or within the US may take online and in-person courses in Fall 2020 as long as the student is fulltime. In other words, students’ immigration status is not affected by course delivery mode, even when all UI courses move to an online modality after Thanksgiving Recess. 

    • New (i.e. not continuing) undergraduate international students coming to the US must enroll in at least one course during Fall 2020 which “requires the student’s physical presence as part of their full-time registration. Any course which is coded as having an in-person component satisfies this requirement, including research credits.” The immigration status of new students is not affected by the change of course modality occurring after Thanksgiving Recess.

    Undergraduate Research

    Guidance from OVPR states that undergraduates will be able to continue in-person research projects (either paid research positions or for credit) after the Thanksgiving Recess. The dorms will be open for students who are living on campus.  Please watch for updates as the situation could change.

    TALA: Temporary Alternative Learning Arrangements

    TALA stands for Temporary Alternative Learning Arrangements and is designed for students who have a higher risk of COVID-19 as defined by CDC. Student Disability Services (SDS) is facilitating the TALA-request process as a public health initiative to help the UI community (https://sds.studentlife.uiowa.edu/fall-2020/covid-19-temporary-learning-arrangements/). The TALA form, submitted via workflow, is available here:  Temporary Alternative Learning Arrangement Request Form

    After receiving a student’s request and vetting related documentation, SDS will decide the student’s TALA status and will inform the student, the student’s advisor, and the student’s primary college of the decision by email. Students not qualified for TALA will not receive a reply from SDS but will be triaged to the Dean of Students office, with DOS updating the student. Students approved by SDS for TALA status may ask for online courses or for modified assignments and activities that might reduce their expose to others; likewise, these students should be permitted to wear additional personal protective in the classroom. However, TALA status does not guarantee these for the student. That is, these are not considered SDS accommodations mandated by the ADA legislation. Keep in mind these key points:

    1. Students should not be asked about their health since this is protected information.

    2. Students should first be advised to actively look for seats and to join wait lists.

    3. Students should also be encouraged to discuss possible backup courses with an advisor.

    4. The departmental TALA contact person will be notified by the professional academic advisor or by the CLAS Office of Academic Programs and Student Development if a student with TALA status needs a seat in an online course or section, with the department then moving the student to the fore of any waitlist while following related CLAS best practices. A MAUI report is available showing a student’s TALA status on the waitlist. This status is also available in the student record.

    5. TALA students should not be referred to faculty if a course is wait listed since wait lists are managed by the department and not by the instructor.

    6. If the course is only offered in-person but not required for the major or for graduation, the student should be asked to look for another course.

    7. If the course is only offered in-person but is required for the major and is needed this semester, the department and instructor should decide on the next best steps. In some cases, a different course for the major may be acceptable. It is best for students to be in a course modality open to all students so TALA students are not marginalized.

    General Grading Strategies

    It may be best to avoid assigning grades for attendance or participation since some students may not be able to attend class due to being quarantined or ill. Instead, corresponding points or percentages could be earned through engagement exercises, assignments, and quizzes that could occur either in or outside of the classroom. Please see the above resources for staying connected with students since that information also applies to finding alternative participating or attendance activities.

    • Grades must be entered in the ICON Grade book so that students understand their standing in the course. Students need to see their grades throughout the semester to avoid confusion about their progress and if needed to change their study habits or to improve their time management skills. Help on using the ICON grade book is here: https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-10460#jive_content_id_Grades

    • CLAS does not require either one or the other of these grading schemes to be used: https://clas.uiowa.edu/faculty/grades-undergraduate-policies-and-guidelines. Some instructors use elements from both. For example, those using a criterion-referenced grading scheme may also apply a curve at the end of the course to adjust grades upward if very few students earn the higher grades normally expected in the course. Generally a curve should not be used to lower grades if one is using a criterion-based grading scheme.
    • CLAS has always recommended the use of +/- grading since it helps to distinguish student performance.

    P/N Grades: Not an Option

    The P/N choice will NOT be offered for undergraduate courses during Fall 2020 as it was during Spring 2020.*  Please be sure to spell out your grading scheme carefully on your syllabus, as always.  If students ask about the P/N choice, please remind them that this was a decision made by UI as a whole and not by individual colleges nor by instructors.

    *NOTE: CLAS does allow the use of P/N grades in limited coursework if the student submits the required form for the particular course with the instructor and advisor’s signature by the deadline (September 4, 2020). See https://clas.uiowa.edu/students/handbook/grading-system#pn These P/N grades may not be applied to GE requirements; requirements for majors, minors, certificates; English proficiency requirements; or to high school unit requirements. A limit of 15 s.h. of P grades are allowed excluding those earned in Spring 2020.

    Final Assessments and Exams: New and Continuing Policies

    • During Fall 2020, instructors may choose NOT to give a final assessment in the course as long as the course regularly uses various assessment strategies throughout the semester, with students thus well aware of their standing in the course. This is a change to current CLAS policy that normally requires all courses to give a final assessment of some kind.

    • If an instructor decides to use a final assessment, only one final activity should be chosen, such as an exam OR a paper, but not both. This is especially important for Fall 2020 since the transition to Thanksgiving Recess could be difficult for students and for instructors.

    • For Fall 2020, all final exams must be given online.  

    • For those wanting to use proctored exams, two online tools are available, Proctorio and the Respondus LockDown Browser used with the Respondus Monitor, with either having pros and cons. Regardless, it important to let students take “practice” exams with these tools and to understand the related rules and required computer technology for each format. For example, the Respondus LockDown Browser is not supported by Chrome Books and for the use of the Respondus Monitor and Proctorio, the student’s computer must have a web cam.

    • If students don’t have access to the technology (such as needing to use a laptop or webcam for the purposes of completing an online exam), they should contact the UI Help Desk or the Office of the Dean of Students.

    • Please add a statement on the syllabus if you plan to use one of these proctoring systems; give the computer type and additional technology (i.e., webcam) needed.

    • Also consider scheduling class time for practice using these tools. For more detailed information, visit these sites.

    Respondus: https://teach.uiowa.edu/respondus-lockdown-browser-getting-started or

     https://web.respondus.com/he/lockdownbrowser/resources/#student

    Proctorio: https://distance.uiowa.edu/courses/exams/proctorio-demand-proctoring

    Below, as a reminder, are some of the longstanding CLAS undergraduate policies and procedures about final exams; these apply to all CLASs courses in Fall 2020 regardless of modality.

    • No exams or quizzes may be given the week before the final examination week without permission from CLAS.*  
    • Final examinations must be given during the one-week period set aside by the University for this purpose and at the date and time fixed by the Registrar so that exam conflicts do not occur.
    • Take-home final exams may use the scheduled final exam period as the last possible time that the take-home exam may be submitted; the class may receive the take-home questions whenever the instructor chooses.
    • In courses where papers or projects rather than a final examination constitute the last evaluation activity, instructors may use the scheduled final exam period as the due date for the project/paper and may use this time as well for any related presentations.  
    • A final assessment that is a paper or project rather than an exam may also be due earlier in the semester, including during the week before final exams.
    • Please review this website for additional policies and procedures: https://clas.uiowa.edu/faculty/examination-policies-and-best-practices

    * Note these exception: In off-cycle courses that also end by the fall or spring "close of classes" date, final exams must be given during the last week of classes. (For more information, see this page). Likewise, this exam policy does not extend to lab quizzes or to ESL and world languages quizzes.

    Additions to Syllabus Insert

    Information on protocols related to wearing a face mask or a face shield in the classroom have been included on the syllabi insert as has language related to recording class lectures and discussions.

    All UI colleges have been asked to use the same language as below.

    Class Behavioral Expectations
    Students are expected to comply with University policies regarding appropriate classroom behavior as outlined in the Code of Student Life. This includes the policies and procedures that all students have agreed to regarding the Steps Forward for Fall 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Particularly, all students are required to wear a face covering when in a UI building, including a classroom. In addition, the density of seats in classrooms has been reduced. In some instances, this will allow 6 feet or more of distance while in other cases, it may be less. Regardless, wearing a face covering and maintaining as much distance as possible are vital to slowing the spread of COVID-19. In the event that a student disrupts the classroom environment through the failure to comply with the reasonable directive of an instructor or the University, the instructor has the authority to ask that the student immediately leave the space for the remainder of the class period. Additionally, the instructor is asked to report serious or repeated incidents to the Office of Student Accountability for the possibility of additional follow-up.

    Class Recordings: Privacy and Sharing
    Some of the sessions of a course could be recorded or live-streamed. Such recordings/streaming will only be available to students registered for this class. These recordings are the intellectual property of the faculty, and they may not be shared or reproduced without the explicit, written consent of the faculty member. Further, students may not share these sessions with those not in the class or upload them to any other online environment. Doing so would be a breach of the Code of Student Conduct, and, in some cases, a violation of the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

    Additional Syllabus Components Required for Courses

    1. Course Delivery
      The syllabus for each course must be updated to reflect the course delivery modality for Fall 2020. Please use direct and simple language rather than jargon while discussing the modality as approved and appearing on the MyUI schedule.

    Sample Syllabus Statement
    Our course will meet both virtually and in person. On Mondays: Live lectures via Zoom at 1:30-2:20, with short quizzes given during the lecture. On Wednesday and Fridays: In-person discussions and activities in your assigned classroom at 1:30-2:20. Your classroom appears on the course schedule and on your personal schedule in MyUI.

    Best Practice: Include this “modality” information on related assignments and on the syllabus calendar of due dates/readings. Students will forget; problems will be avoided by reminders.

    1. Drop-in Hours [i.e. Office Hours—please use the name your unit prefers]

    Drop-in hours generally should held virtually to reduce exposure to the virus; however, instructors may meet in an office with students if necessary and if students and the instructor are able to follow health directives on social distancing and on wearing a face covering. Also keep in mind that Facilities is not cleaning private offices in order to spend more time cleaning building “high touch surfaces” and classrooms.

    Drop-in hours may be held on Zoom, with individual appointments made available to students needing to discuss private issues, such as SDS accommodations. In many cases, it is also appropriate to hold group drop-in hours on topics related to course content. Some instructors additionally use discussion boards to answer routine questions in order to save drop-in hours for more sustained conversations.

    Please let students know how your hours will function while keeping in mind that three hours a week (3 x 60) are still required by CLAS as well as some time set aside as “by appointment.”  “By appointment” hours are generally for students with conflicts arising from other UI courses. It can be difficult for instructors to accommodate all student conflicts arising from work, private appointments, and activities. Instructors and students must work together to find a reasonable solution, with the student rescheduling some activities in order to attend drop-in hours. The instructor, in turn, must help students who are unable to rearrange their schedules.

    1. Notice about Moving Online after Thanksgiving Recess

    Remind students of the virtual delivery of classes after Thanksgiving Recess, with all classes canceled starting Monday, November 23 and resuming on Monday, November 30. There are two weeks until the close of classes on Friday, December 11. If giving a final exam, remind students that the exams will be given online at the scheduled date and time that is announced by the Registrar around the fifth week of classes.

    Syllabus Sample Statement
    All UI courses will be delivered virtually after Thanksgiving Recess. This class will continue to meet on Mondays for lectures via Zoom and on Wednesdays and Fridays for discussions also via Zoom rather than in your former classroom.

    1. Recording Lectures and Discussions for Student Use

    Instructors may also record lectures and small group discussions but should be cautious while doing so, reminding students that these materials are the intellectual property of the instructor and may not be shared without the instructor’s written consent. Instructors may want to edit the footage of a discussion before making it available to the group or may decide not to record or release an especially sensitive discussion to protect students’ privacy. Be transparent with students and make sure they understand their obligation to protect the privacy of their peers for the good of all students in the course and in order to allow the group to speak more freely.  Instructors, of course, may choose not to record these discussions. This UI policy statement also appears on the syllabus insert:

    Class Recordings: Privacy and Sharing
    Some of the sessions of a course could be recorded or live-streamed. Such recordings/streaming will only be available to students registered for this class. These recordings are the intellectual property of the faculty, and they may not be shared or reproduced without the explicit, written consent of the faculty member. Further, students may not share these sessions with those not in the class or upload them to any other online environment. Doing so would be a breach of the Code of Student Conduct, and, in some cases, a violation of the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

    1. Additional Expectations for Student Behavior Related to COVID-19

    If the syllabus currently has expectations for student behavior, consider expanding the section to align with the syllabi insert information regarding COVID-19 health directives and/or strategies for listening and participating in difficult conversations.

    Other expectations might include those about appropriate behavior on Zoom; many of these are best handled  by using appropriate Zoom security and other settings.

    Below is the official University statement on this matter, which also appears on the CLAS syllabus insert; please also see the procedures above for responding to students who do not respond appropriately to the UI health directives.

    Students are expected to comply with University policies regarding appropriate classroom behavior as outlined in the Code of Student Life. This includes the policies and procedures that all students have agreed to regarding the Steps Forward for Fall 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Particularly, all students are required to wear a face covering when in a UI building, including a classroom. In addition, the density of seats in classrooms has been reduced; in some instances, this will allow 6 feet or more between students while other cases, it may be less. Regardless, wearing a face covering and maintaining as much distance as possible are vital to slowing the spread of COVID-19. In the event that a student disrupts the classroom environment through their failure to comply with the reasonable directive of an instructor or the University, the instructor has the authority to ask that the student immediately leave the space for the remainder of the class period. Additionally, the instructor is asked to report the incident to the Office of Student Accountability for the possibility of additional follow-up. Students who need a temporary alternative learning arrangement related to COVID-19 expectations should contact Student Disability Services arrangements/+1 319 335-1462) (https://sds.studentlife.uiowa.edu/fall-2020/covid-19-temporary-learning- arrangements/.