Faculty preparation for spring 2022 semester
Dear VCU faculty,
Welcome to the spring 2022 semester!
In follow-up to today’s universitywide messages to both faculty/staff and students regarding the safety preparations for the spring semester, I am sharing additional information specific to your role as faculty.
The Faculty One-Stop provides a snapshot of and quick links to available resources ranging from course preparation and student success to faculty development and staying informed. An important component of the page is the FAQ for spring 2022, which covers many faculty questions related to COVID-19.
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.
2. Syllabi should be posted in advance
- Contact your department chair/director for a sample syllabus, or refer to this sample template.
- Incorporate and/or link to student-relevant information from the Syllabus Statements.
- Consider including this helpful video for students about the syllabus statements.
- Announce and keep regular office hours (in-person and/or online)
- Include a Canvas tutorial for students during your first class meeting
- Upload your syllabus to Banner (even if you have already uploaded your syllabus into Canvas) and provide any expectations for the first class meeting prior to the start of class. It is highly recommended that you welcome students to your course by emailing them the same information. You can find your class roster in eServices, Canvas or Navigate.
3. Academic policies, guidelines, and regulations
- Registration is required for student attendance: After the add/drop period (Jan. 18-24, 2022), students may not attend classes in which they are not registered. All faculty are strongly encouraged to take attendance immediately after Jan. 24 to ensure only properly enrolled students are attending class.
- Absence policy: VCU’s regular attendance policy, as listed in the VCU Bulletin, applies for all students. The temporary academic regulation pertaining to student absences due to COVID put in place last academic year is no longer in effect.
- Pass/fail grade option: VCU has a published pass/fail grade option for undergraduate students. Students must familiarize themselves with the current grade option, including limits and deadlines.
- For the spring semester, students will have until March 25 to request the pass/fail option for eligible courses. Please note: Spring miniterm, February miniterm, and March minimester classes all have different deadlines for choosing the pass/fail option.
4. Academic calendar and windows for scheduled student feedback
- Academic calendar: Consult the academic calendar for important deadlines, events and planned closings.
- Timely feedback: VCU provides two methods to help faculty set and reinforce high academic expectations in their undergraduate classes by providing timely feedback to students regarding their academic performance: progress reports (Feb.1-21) and midterm grades (Feb. 28-March 18).
- Final exams: All final exams for the semester will be scheduled according to the university’s final exam schedule. Students enrolled in courses with an in-person component (i.e., not fully online) will be expected to be on campus for final exams if required by their instructor. For off-campus classes and classes that are not listed on the above final exam schedule, students should contact their instructor.
5. VCU’s health and safety protocols, including vaccination and masking
- Masking: Masking is required indoors at all times for instructors and students to remain in class.
- Vaccinations: Faculty will not know which students in their classes have or have not been vaccinated; some students have received exemptions while others may still be in the process of satisfying the booster requirement.
- Please note that students can have a registration hold for multiple reasons, one of which is not meeting the vaccination requirement.
- Faculty cannot ask students about their vaccination status.
- Entry Pass: The VCU Entry Pass tool is available for faculty use, if desired. Please refer to the Entry Pass webpage to ensure that you and your students understand what the Entry Pass is and how it works. Any faculty member requiring the Entry Pass should include this information in their syllabus, Canvas page and welcome email.
6. How to stay informed
- Add the VCU Academic Calendar to your Google calendar for easy reference.
- Read the daily VCU TelegRam, delivered to your VCU email account, for general university announcements and opportunities.
- Read the OneVCU: Better Together announcements, delivered to your VCU email for information related to the university’s response to COVID-19.
As always, we encourage you to remain empathetic and flexible with your students, within reason.
Best wishes for a vibrant and engaging spring semester.
Fotis Sotiropoulos, Ph.D.
Provost and senior vice president for academic affairs