Additional guidance for faculty

March 13, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

As you heard from President Pollack today, the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the modification of the timetable of our actions to reduce the risk and rate of community spread of the virus and to ensure the opportunity for students to travel home before such opportunities are further disrupted. I would like to again thank all faculty for their extreme dedication to the interests of our students, which I have observed over the past days, and again ask your forbearance as we take additional actions that will further disrupt our teaching, research, and outreach programs and will likely disappoint some of you. Today, I met with the deans and provosts, and you can be confident that the competing concerns of continuity of student projects and prudent public health actions, which many of you have shared with us, have been carefully considered. This message is meant to provide more specific guidance around distance academic programs and continuing campus academic activities.


The move to distance learning for the vast majority of our students will de-densify our campus and facilitate social distancing; however, we anticipate that many students will remain in the Ithaca region, and we will need to restrict access to campus. Recreational facilities, dining facilities, and other support services will be significantly reduced. Moreover, we will implement ID-card access strategies to ensure that only individuals with a need to access facilities gain entry. While we implement these policies, we will also continue to reassure staff that we are maintaining employment even as we shift to different learning strategies and reduce campus operations. Finally, faculty pursuing research in group settings should implement social distancing strategies, such as staggered work schedules, limited or distance -based laboratory meetings, 6’ spacing between individuals, sanitizing work stations, and restricting visitors.


Given the significant stress that students are experiencing related to the requirement to move suddenly, the disruption of ongoing projects, and markedly altered curricula, we are urging faculty to be flexible about assignments, test schedules, and other issues that will arise. This is an emergency situation for everyone and we are hearing that it is adding substantially to student stress. More details will follow regarding support for digital coursework, exam administration, and responses to FAQ’s. While we have yet to resolve the full calendar, it is anticipated that we will use some of the study and exam periods to address the loss of academic time associated with the pause.

Undergraduate Education

  • All undergraduate classes will be paused until April 6 and resume online. Any assignments that are due during the pause must be delayed until classes resume, and all prelims and prelim make-ups scheduled during the pause must be delayed until classes resume. I want to be clear that there is a mandatory moratorium on required/graded academic work, including previously issued assignments and exams, and that this is in effect until April 6.
  • The deadline to drop a course or change grading options has been extended to Tuesday, April 21.
  • All undergraduate courses should permit students to select an S/U option, even in courses where this has not previously been an option. Please note, this is a temporary accommodation for this semester only. We recognize that there will be downstream impacts, which will be addressed in subsequent communications.
  • All undergraduate research activities, as well as academic-related group activities, whether for pay or credit, must end effective 5:00 p.m. today, March 13.
  • For those research or group activities that are for-credit, faculty should devise substitute academic activities (e.g. assigned papers) that do not require campus access.
  • Faculty should plan on maintaining their regular class meeting time to avoid creating scheduling conflicts for students. However, because time zone changes will make it impossible for some students to participate in synchronous sessions during meeting times pegged to the Eastern Time Zone, all lectures must be recorded and be made available for students on Canvas. Both synchronous and asynchronous opportunities for students to engage with faculty and classmates must be provided.

Graduate and Professional Students

  • All graduate and professional classes will be paused until April 6 and then resume online.
  • Research graduate (PhD, MA, MS, and MFAS) students will continue to have access to labs for continuity of their research programs. The MS-Advanced Architectural Design, 3-semester degree program is an exception and these students are not to come to campus after March 29.
  • Also, it is important that we continue to reassure graduate students that graduate assistantship and fellowship stipends will be maintained, even if students need to self-isolate or quarantine related to the pandemic.
  • Faculty supervisors and graduate students should remember that University Policy 1.3 is still in effect, with the hours/week limits on assistantship duties as required in that policy.
  • Professional degree students including D.M.A., J.S.D., M.Arch., M.B.A., M.H.A., M.M.H., M.I.L.R., M.L.A., M.S.L.S., M.P.A., M.P.H., M.P.S., M.R.P, will not have access to campus facilities beginning Monday, March 16, to put in place the required social distancing. Their programs should be continued for the rest of this semester through classes and projects conducted through distance learning. MEng students who are finishing small group projects in laboratories must discontinue these projects by March 27.
  • Professional (JD, LLM, DVM) students will continue their programs online, with the exception of DVM students entering clinical rotations. All group learning courses for students remaining on campus should be conducted online.

If you have questions or need more information about any of the above, please reach out to your respective Dean/Associate Dean for Education, Vice Provost Lisa Nishii (undergraduate), Dean Barb Knuth (graduate), or Deputy Provost John Siliciano (general faculty issues). Again, thank you for your cooperation during this challenging period.


Michael I. Kotlikoff