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Northwestern University

Coronavirus - Teaching and Learning

This email communication below was sent to Weinberg College faculty on March 12, 2020.

Dear Colleagues,

You have now received communications from both the President and the Provost explaining the plan to extend spring break and at least begin the spring quarter (and very possibly finish it) with all faculty teaching their courses remotely.

The University has developed the following site: Remote Teaching and Learning Guidance. Please consult this resource as you convert your course to one that you can teach remotely. Please also know that the College has posted various links and relevant information on our Coronavirus Information page under Academic Resources.

We also would like to offer advice specific to the College’s operations, focusing in this email on upcoming winter quarter final exams, and teaching and learning this coming spring term.


If you are giving a winter term examination, please consider offering take-homes using Canvas; the University has guidelines and tools for proctoring remote exams. If your exam must be given in person, please try to increase space between students. The Office of the Registrar has already contacted those faculty holding large undergraduate exams to offer additional meeting rooms, and will continue to serve as a resource for any faculty needing additional general purpose classroom space on the Evanston campus. 


The below guidance is offered to those faculty members offering courses this spring term.

1. Using Canvas to Ensure your Course Materials are Accessible. We wish to ensure that all materials for spring term courses are made available using Canvas. Every course has a Canvas site; please use it as a central hub for your teaching. Moreover, let your department chair, program director, or primary administrator of your unit know how to access those materials.

Use Canvas to post your syllabus, which should include all assignment instructions, and all assignments and expectations for each class day of the quarter. It is essential that you clearly communicate the particular requirements for your course, including:

• Attendance and participation

• Policies on collaboration

• Detailed explanation of final grade calculation

• AccessibleNU message

• Academic Integrity message

Moreover, plan on using Canvas for the collection, grading, feedback, and distribution of all written work.

If you have teaching assistants, please remember to include them in your planning.

Please note that AccessibleNU gives guidance on how to incorporate principles of Universal Design in your teaching; we encourage you to use them as tools for enabling a class to continue with some need for remote access.

2. Follow existing policies. It may seem bureaucratic, but it is essential that you follow our existing policies when it comes to absences, adding/dropping/withdrawing from classes, and for handling incompletes and requests for leaves (including medical leaves) for students who seek accommodations related to illness and other circumstances beyond their control. We ask you to:

• Review the Teaching in Weinberg document for explanation of the policies that pertain to enrollment and standing.

• Review the Weinberg College policy for Incompletes. Remember that final approval for Incompletes resides in the Dean’s office.

• Prompt students who may not have reliable access to a personal computer and/or broadband, or the required textbooks, to be in touch with you as early as possible to consider what accommodations can be made.

Please note, as circumstances evolve, we may be offering refinements and/or revisions of these and other recommendations.

If you need assistance or advice, you will find relevant contact information here.

With best wishes,

Adrian Randolph, Dean
Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
Northwestern University

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