Summary of Departmental Expectations Regarding Online Classes

Note: This guidelines are not in effect for the Fall 2021 semester but remain here as a record of what we did and as an aid for going forward.

In preparation for the Fall 2020 semester, in which most of our classes were partially or entirely online, the department formulated a list of departmental expectations for instructors. These are contained in Section 6 of the report of the Covid Taskforce on Instruction. What follows is an abridged summary of these departmental expectations. Please see the Taskforce report for the full set of expectations, for the motivations of these policies, and for other recommended practices and resources.

Please note: This list is in addition to, not replacement of, the department's established teaching policies

Communication of course structure and content

Course content and delivery


  • Graded work should be returned within one week and include detailed feedback whenever possible.
  • Online undergraduate courses should include at least one assessment per week that requires students to submit work for grading.
  • Homework for classes with in-person meetings should be managed electronically.
  • Classes which meet in person should not require or reward attendance.

Communication with students

  • Instructors should provide students with a communication plan which describes:
    • How the instructor should be contacted.
    • The routine for course announcements.
    • The expectations for email reply time.
  • At least one (preferably two) synchronous office hours should be held for each class on a regular weekly schedule via Zoom (or something equivalent).
  • For every online undergraduate class there should be a discussion forum that is regularly moderated by the instructor or class staff.

Communication with TAs and graders

  • Questions from TAs to instructors should be answered within two work days.
  • TAs running discussion sections should have the necessary materials (e.g. worksheets) at least 24 course before their earliest section.

Download a PDF version of the Summary of Departmental Expectations for Instructors for Fall 2020