Returning to In-Person Teaching

For policies around in-person teaching and the pandemic, visit the Provost’s COVID-19 Academic Information and Resources.

Key Resources

Considerations and resources for moving your course online temporarily.
Ways to teach this fall that address the challenges students will face in the classroom as they return and begin to account for the traumatic events of the past 18 months.
Note on masks in class: Starting May 18, 2022 all students, staff and faculty will no longer be required to wear masks of any kind indoors.  Instructors will be allowed to require masks in classrooms if they wish.  For more information, review Summer 2022 COVID FAQs for Instructors.


Strategies for Teaching during the Pandemic

The disruptions caused by the COVID 19 pandemic continue to challenge teachers and students at Penn.  Instructors will need to continue to think about structure and flexibility and communicate our expectations to our students.

Combining structure and flexibility means giving students clear expectations, standards and deadlines, while providing students options when they cannot meet those expectations -- all so that students can learn what you expect them to.


Attendance and Class Participation

Explaining the value of class time for students’ learning can help students know why being in class matters and can guide you in deciding how to adapt when students must miss class. 

Possible strategies:

  • If you count attendance and class participation toward student grades, build in the assumption that students will have to miss some classes. Then decide on a set number of missed classes that students can take without consequence. 
  • Consider how you will enable students to make up learning they may have missed: ask students to engage with course materials by writing a response or summary or taking a short quiz. 
  • Give students access to lecture materials, such as class recordings, notes or PowerPoints.
  • See Strategies to Help Students Stay on Track When They Must Miss Class for more options.

Deadlines, Assignments and Exams

Students need deadlines to help them organize their time and stay on top of their work through the semester. Students also need options for what they can do if meeting those dates is not possible.
Plan those options in advance and communicate them to your students. Non-punitive alternatives will encourage students to communicate with you before they fall behind. 

Possible strategies

  • Allow students to drop one missed mid-term, exam or test.
  • Provide multiple, low-stakes assessments. This can make dropping a missed one easier. To reduce student stress around multiple assessments, consider grading complete or incomplete, while still giving students feedback so they can improve.
  • Give students opportunities to redo assignments or take new versions of a test.
  • Scaffold assignments so students complete and get feedback on steps of a large project.


To help make sure students understand the guidelines and limits you are setting out, communicate clearly and regularly with them.  

Possible strategies

  • Detail course expectations and what students should do when they need exceptions in the syllabus.
  • Use Canvas for assignments so that readings, class materials and due dates are in one regular, predictable place.
  • Send out a weekly email to the entire class about what students should be doing that week and with reminders for important graded work that is coming up.
  • Spend time in class previewing assignments and homework and connecting what you do in class to what you do outside of class.
  • Survey students so you know where needs may be.
  • Here are some ideas for effectively communicating with your students.
  • Here are some suggestions about what students want from Canvas.

What to do if students fall behind?

Fall of 2021 has shown that students are facing a number of different challenges and struggling to focus on their classwork.  No matter how well you communicate and set expectations, students may not be able to complete the work. Remember, you do NOT have to address these issues on your own.  Reach out for help or find ways to get students connected to help as soon as you see students falling behind.

  • Send a Course Problem Notice.  These email notifications go to the student and the student’s school advising office and can help advisers know they need to reach out.
  • Reach out directly to a student’s adviser. You can find students' advisers in your class list on courses in touch.
  • Contact student resources -- like Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) or Weingarten Center -- to consult about how best to get a student to ask for additional help.