One of the important lessons we have learned from the pandemic is the need to plan for a range of situations that require flexible course policies and the ability to respond to students without compromising the quality of instruction or student learning. It is important for faculty to remember that student access to help and resources during emergency situations can vary tremendously. This is why it is critical to have a plan in place (and possibly alternatives/backups to the plan) to support the wide array of emergency circumstances.

This page provides some general suggestions and links to resources to help faculty prepare for various situations that could arise.

Individual Situations 

The main situation to prepare for is short-term illness. Given our renewed awareness of public health concerns, there is an increased expectation that individuals with symptoms should remain home to avoid spreading a range of diseases. This applies to both faculty and students.

Some suggestions include:

  • Short-term instructor absence due to illness, fire, or other unforeseen occurrences:
    • At the beginning of the term, designate a trusted colleague to have back up access to Canvas
    • Determine when you will use substitute lecturers, Zoom sessions, or pre-recorded material.
  • Short-term student absence due to illness, fire, financial issues, or other unforeseen occurrences:
    • Design attendance and assessment policies to handle “sick-leave,” e.g. allow for a certain number of dropped assignments.
    • Determine what materials, if any, will be available to students in case of short-term absence and how such materials will be accessed.

Campus Situations

Living in California, we need to be prepared for a range of contingencies that could lead to individual classroom or campus-wide emergencies. These include, but are not limited to fire, power outages, and classroom flooding. This could potentially result in campus switching to remote instruction or individual classroom shutdowns.

To prepare for these:

  • Have an emergency communication plan that you share with your students at the start of your course or in your syllabus
    • What is the main method of communication with your students and, if that mode is no longer available, what would be a secondary method?
  • Have backups to weekly learning content in case technology is not working properly
    • Have your weekly content organized somewhere other than Canvas in case Canvas is down
    • Have pdf versions of websites in case a website is down
    • Have recorded lectures saved in more than one platform in case a specific platform is down
  • Use multiple communication channels as access to technology might be limited during emergency situations
    • Post emergency messages on Canvas, send through email, have TA distribute, etc.
  • Determine contingency modes of instructional delivery
    • Synchronous Zoom sessions, recorded lectures, etc.
  • Plan for course schedule disruptions

What Faculty Should Communicate With Students

  • Alternative class meeting links in case Zoom is down (Ex. Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, etc.)
  • Alternative methods of communication
  • Changes in assignment due dates
  • Emergency Resources / Support / Hotlines
  • What to do if the internet goes down:
  • Where to go for help in a variety of emergency situations
  • What to do before, during, after different disasters:
  • Who to contact in case of emergency if  faculty is unavailable

Important Resources

For faculty:

For students: