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Fall 2020 Semester instructional guidelines

COVID-19 is changing the way classes will happen.

Dear colleagues,

These are uncertain times. As the fall semester draws nearer, we continue to monitor the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic.  In turn, we must be prepared for multiple possible educational scenarios, all of which will include robust testing and contact tracing plans, with the health and safety of our faculty, staff, and students as our top priority. What follows is our best guidance at this time.

All of us know and believe learning and insight happen not only via lectures but also in collaborative interactions within the classroom. Equally important, learning is shaped by the social experiences, group projects, and undergraduate and graduate research that define a leading public research university like the University of Utah. National AAU survey data also show that prospective students strongly prefer an in-person or hybrid experience over an all-online experience.

We must also recognize that the pandemic may be with us for some time (sadly, perhaps for multiple semesters). During that time, we must continue to adapt to changing circumstances while pursuing our critical mission as a public research university—teaching, research, and service—for both our benefit and that of our students. This means thoughtfully modifying how we teach, conduct research, and engage our communities while managing appropriate risk and promoting everyone’s health and well-being, as we continue our vital work.

Many faculty and staff from across the U are engaged in collaborative planning for our return to campus. These efforts include:

  • The USHE taskforce, with U participation by several campus leaders, including Jason Perry, Cathy Anderson, Marlon Lynch, Andy Weyrich, Kyle Brennan, Lori McDonald, Bryan Watts, Martha Bradley and Wendy Hobson-Rohrer
  • Project Orange, which is shaping the university’s overall return to campus strategy
  • Project Marmalade, which is shaping fall instructional plans (membership listed below)
  • COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, led by U of U Health’s own Dr. Ed Clark, as well as Stephen Lacey, the new chair of our Division of Public Health
  • Senior Vice President Michael Good, a member of the Gov. Gary Herbert’s Utah Leads Together taskforce

In addition, these guidelines reflect faculty input through collegiate town halls, a question and answer session with the Academic Senate, and consultations with Academic Senate leadership, deans, and department chairs. We will continue to seek input and feedback throughout the summer.

Finally, this planning process includes many collaborative facets:

  • Rigorous tracking of public health and U of U Health data on COVID-19 cases and treatments
  • Departmental and collegiate priorities for in-person instruction
  • Temporary Work Adjustment (TWA) processes for faculty/staff to share ADA, CDC, or other personal concerns
  • University policies for sanitization, face coverings, and services
  • Teaching technology upgrades across campus, along with faculty support from Teaching and Learning Technologies (TLT) and the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence (CTLE)
  • Continuing flexibility to adapt to a variety of scenarios

In that spirit, the Project Marmalade team has continued developing responses to your questions and shaping instructional guidelines for the fall semester. The following practical guidelines are intended to help each of you prepare effectively for this new and evolving environment while meeting our mission goals. This “new normal” means all instructors need to prepare for online and digital instruction, with in-person instruction delivery where course schedules and campus planning will permit, recognizing that everyone will be teaching online for at least part of the semester.

I know these are uncertain and stressful times. All of the Project Marmalade team members are striving to balance simplicity and clarity in instructional guidance with individual teaching flexibility and local agency.

I know I speak for the team in saying how much we value your input and perspective as we grapple with a complex set of issues, driven by the overriding desire to protect the health and well-being of faculty, staff, and students, while also delivering a high-quality educational experience.

Thank you for your patience.  As always, we welcome feedback.

On behalf of the Project Marmalade team,

Dan Reed
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Project Marmalade 2020 Membership

Troy D'Ambrosio, Assistant Dean, DESB
Vahe Bandarian, Professor, Science
Martha Bradley, Professor and Dean, Undergraduate Studies
Tim Ebner, Registrar
Ian Godfrey, Marriott Library
Steve Hess, CIO
Wendy Hobson-Rohrer, Professor and AVP, Health Science Education
Deborah Keyek-Franssen, AVP and Dean, Online and Continuing Education
Dave Kieda, Dean, Graduate School
Laura Marks, SVPAA, Chief of Staff
Lori McDonald, VP Student Affairs
John Melchi, SVPAA, Academic Projects
Melonie Murray, Associate Professor, Fine Arts
Robert Payne, Associate General Counsel
Sarah Projansky, AVP, Office for Faculty
Daniel Reed, SVPAA
Cory Stokes, Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning Technologies
Patrick Tripeny, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Studies
Rebecca Walsh, SVPAA Communications
Kevin Whitty, Professor and Associate Dean, Engineering
Mark Winter, SVPAA, AVP for Budget
Cathleen Zick, Professor and Associate Dean, CSBS

Fall 2020 Semester Instructional Guidelines: Practical recommendations

July 2020

Based on recommendations from faculty, department chairs and deans, as well as the results of the Temporary Work Adjustment (TWA) process, the Registrar is working to create a new course schedule. This fall schedule will be complete by July 1. Throughout, we are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic, prepared to shift plans should it prove advisable.

The new instructional schedule means all instructors need to prepare for online and digital instruction, with in-person instruction delivery where schedules and planning permit. This agility means being prepared for concurrent use of both modalities, as well as potential rapid transitions from one mode to another. Preparing for this “new normal,” which may well last for multiple semesters (pending availability of a vaccine and effective treatments), has several practical implications for fall instruction.

1. As soon as possible, instructors should engage Teaching and Learning Technologies (TLT) and the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence (CTLE) on pedagogical preparation and best practices for online, hybrid, and in-person instruction. TLT and CTLE are holding summer workshops and would be happy to schedule training with individual units. The appendix at the end lists upcoming workshops.

2. Develop and post your course syllabus on Canvas and the fall schedule as soon as possible, but no later than two weeks before the start of classes. All courses this fall will have an automatically created Canvas page, ready for you to add personalized content. At a minimum, for your students’ benefit, you must use Canvas for your syllabus, important communications and grades.

3. Integrate the following guidance with your syllabus:

  • Face coverings are required in all in-person classes for both students AND faculty.
    • Standard Language: Based on CDC guidelines, the University requires everyone to wear face coverings in shared public spaces on campus, including our classroom. As a reminder, when I wear a face covering, I am protecting you. When you wear a face covering, you are protecting me and all of your classmates. If you forget your face covering, I will ask you to leave class to retrieve it. If you repeatedly fail to wear a face covering in class, I will refer you to the Dean of Students for a possible violation of the Student Code. Note that some students may qualify for accommodations through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If you think you meet these criteria and desire an exception to the face covering policy, contact the Center for Disability and Access (CDA). Accommodations should be obtained prior to the first day of class so that I am notified by CDA of any students who are not required to wear a face covering.
  • If in-class attendance is a necessary component of the course for pedagogical reasons (e.g., laboratories, studios, or artistic training), state it explicitly in the syllabus.
    • Standard Language: Given the nature of this course, attendance is required and adjustments cannot be granted to allow non-attendance. However, if you need to seek an ADA accommodation to request an exception to this attendance policy due to a disability, please contact the Center for Disability and Access (CDA).  CDA will work with us to determine what, if any, ADA accommodations are reasonable and appropriate.
  • For all other in-person classes, you may strongly encourage but not require in-class attendance (i.e., students may elect not to attend class in-person with no penalty and do not need to seek an official accommodation to participate online, rather than in-person).
  • Advise students to familiarize themselves with Canvas and any other electronic teaching tools you choose to use, with pointers to appropriate tutorials. The Canvas Getting Started Guide for Students can be helpful.
  • Include a reminder that students must self-report if they test positive for COVID-19 via
  • If you plan to have one, state the format of the final examination/project clearly, recognizing that instruction and final examinations will be online after Thanksgiving. Put another way, if you plan to use proctoring tools such as ProctorU, inform students in advance.
  • In addition, describe how the course will operate during the weeks of Oct. 5-10 and Nov. 30-Dec. 3, when all classes will be online.
  • Finally, describe how all class materials can be accessed online. Faculty requests for electronic course materials can be submitted via Course Reserves. The libraries will continue to underwrite student access to electronic course materials, subject to budget realities.

4. If you are teaching a portion of your class in person:

  • Visit your classroom well before the first in-person meeting to assess audiovisual infrastructure, chair placement, and teaching positions. Contact Teaching and Learning Technologies (TLT) at if you have questions or concerns. Finally, allocate time during the first week of class for everyone to adjust.
  • Practice lecturing while wearing a face covering and assess the necessary speaking volume. Note that TLT is equipping many classrooms with teaching technologies.
  • When notified of the need, prepare online educational content for any students who may need to self-isolate and are unable to attend in-person classes. Put another way, be prepared for all educational modalities at all times.
  • Record lectures using Zoom and post them on Canvas for those students who cannot attend online or in-person lectures. Remember to protect student privacy when posting any electronic content and remember that some students may be in different time zones.
  • Create a seating chart for your course and ask all students to sit in the same place for each class. This chart will simplify contact tracing should any student become infected.
  • Bring a small number of spare face coverings to all in-person lectures, recognizing that some students may occasionally forget to bring theirs. An adequate, though not unlimited, supply of extra, disposable face coverings will be available for departmental purchase on an as-needed basis.

Important resource links

Teaching during COVID-19

Upcoming events

All events require registration at

Thursday, July 2 | 10-11 a.m.
Webinar: “How to Setup Your Course to Pivot from Face to Face to Fully Online and Back Again”

Monday-Friday, July 6-10 | 10-11 a.m. and 1-2 p.m.
Online boot camp: “Taking your Course Fully Online”

Monday-Tuesday, July 13-14
“REMOTE: The Connected Faculty Summit”
A free two-day online conference by Arizona State University. The conference is comprised of over 70 sessions including many discipline-specific.
Register at

Monday-Friday, July 27-31 | 10-11 a.m. and 1-2 p.m.
Online boot camp: “Making your Face to Face Class into a Hybrid Class”

Other resources

  • In August, TLT/CTLE will host a series of webinars on getting ready from August 3-21 to help you be ready for the August 24 start date of the Fall 2020 Semester.
  • CTLE and TLT have developed a new website to answer most of your questions and direct you to services available to help with your teaching needs this fall.
  • If you have any questions about Canvas or other teaching technologies, the easiest way to get an answer it to attend TLT’s weekday office hours at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. via this link.
  • You can get answers to your non-technology teaching questions or get a consultation from CTLE by emailing