Fall 2021 reminders for faculty

Sent on Aug. 13, 2021

Dear VCU faculty,

As we prepare for a robust fall semester we are, once again, met with challenges as a result of COVID-19. President Rao’s recent announcement regarding mandatory vaccinations and indoor masking plays a vital role in not only ensuring the safety of our community, but also in providing our students the in-person learning opportunities they need.  

I am pleased to announce a new webpage - the Faculty One-Stop  - that will help faculty navigate the fall semester, be updated regularly, and contain links to key resources and pertinent FAQs

Here are the Top 6 things faculty need to know before classes begin: 

  1. Faculty are expected to teach their course(s) in the modality originally scheduled 
  1. Syllabi should be posted in advance
    • Contact your department chair/director for a sample syllabus, or refer to this sample template. 
    • Upload your syllabus to Banner (even if you have already uploaded your syllabus into Canvas) and provide any expectations for the first class meeting no later than one week prior to the start of class
      • It is highly recommended that you welcome students to your course by emailing them the same information. Some students haven’t been on campus yet or are experiencing their first college courses. You can find your class roster in eServices, Canvas or Navigate.
  2. Academic policies, guidelines, and regulations 
    • Registration is required for student attendance
      • After the add/drop period (August 24-30, 2021), students may not attend classes in which they are not registered. All faculty are strongly encouraged to take attendance immediately after August 30th to ensure only properly enrolled students are attending class.
    • Absence policy
      • The temporary academic regulation pertaining to student absences due to COVID put in place last academic year is no longer in effect. VCU’s regular attendance policy, as listed in the VCU Bulletin, will once again apply for all students going forward.
    • Pass/fail grade option
      • VCU has a published pass/fail grade option for undergraduate students. This grade option replaced the temporary option from Spring 2020, which has now expired. Students must familiarize themselves with the current grade option, including limits and deadlines.
        • For the fall semester, students will have until Nov. 5 to request the pass/fail option for eligible courses. Please note: Fall minimester, September Term, and October Term classes all have different deadlines for choosing the pass/fail option. 
  1. Academic calendar and windows for scheduled student feedback
  1. VCU’s health and safety protocols, including vaccination and masking
  1. How to stay informed

As always, we encourage you to remain empathetic and flexible with your students, within reason. 

Best wishes for a vibrant and engaging fall semester.

Fotis Sotiropoulos, Ph.D.
Provost and senior vice president for academic affairs