Fall 2021 Instruction Guidelines

Instruction Expectations

As communicated over the past months and most recently by Provost Boyce, Columbia is resuming in-person instruction and activities for the fall semester with a vaccination mandate and public health protocols to ensure a safe return for all in the Columbia community. All courses will be in-person and on campus.

Details and answers to frequently asked questions about the fall 2021 return to in-person instruction are available on this website.

International students who face visa-related delays that prevent them from arriving at the start of the semester need to obtain departmental approval for late arrival. Departments and academic programs will determine if there are options available to accommodate late arrival. Depending on the academic program and the students’ individual situation, these international students may be permitted to participate remotely in some courses, or may be asked to defer or take a leave. There is no expectation that courses will have simultaneous remote access. International students should review ISSO’s maintaining status page for detailed enrollment requirements for maintaining F/J status. 

Ongoing Use of Technology

Faculty and students will meet in person for class sessions. The use of alternative course delivery modalities (e.g., hybrid and online) continue to require prior departmental, school, and Committee on Instruction approvals.

If a faculty member is ill or tests positive for COVID and must miss class due to University-approved quarantine or isolation related to COVID-19 exposure, the use of Zoom may be appropriate for that time period only and should be approved by relevant department chair or school dean.

Instructional activities may continue to be supported with the use of technology to enhance active learning and enable instructional activities that would not be possible otherwise. A return to in-person instruction does not mean that innovative course elements developed during the pandemic should be eliminated. In fact, many faculty members have thoughtfully and deliberately incorporated innovative elements into their courses to encourage and support engagement with their students.

Faculty should continue to utilize tools and approaches that enhance face-to-face learning and engage students in innovative and creative ways.

Examples of Innovation

  • Faculty have recorded some elements of their lecture in advance of class meeting to provide students with the ability to be exposed to new concepts. Such flipped classroom design, without a reduction of course contact hours, provides the opportunity for students and faculty to engage more fully in a higher-level active discussion when face-to-face.
  • Faculty have engaged guest speakers in global locations with the use of technology without the expense and time required for travel. During in-person class sessions, faculty may continue to engage remote guest speakers (i.e., by connecting through Zoom inside the classroom).
  • While it is important for faculty and teaching assistants to hold in-person office hours, they can continue to offer additional review sessions and office hours on Zoom outside of regular business hours to accommodate student schedules and needs.
  • If a class must be rescheduled for reasons other than COVID-related illness, it should remain in person. Although unexpected circumstances may justify the occasional use of Zoom in lieu of an in-person meeting, this should be seen as a rare exception rather than a convenience to accommodate conference or research travel, family schedules, and the like. Such exceptions should be approved by a department chair or school dean.