Keep Teaching During Prolonged Campus or Building Closures

Keep Teaching at HSU

In times of emergency campus closure, you may need to adjust your instruction to alternative modes to support students' continued learning. This resource is provided to guide you through some considerations to support you and your students during this time.

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If you have to adjust your instruction during a campus closure, you may want to consider some of the following suggestions to clarify and set expectations for your students. The Continuity of Instruction Preparedness Checklist offers various elements to consider.

  • Seek details of the closure.
    HSU's Corona Virus Info Page. Having a clear understanding of how long the campus is to be closed will help you plan instruction and communicate expectations to students.
  • Contact your department. 
    Find out the specific expectations of your department and your specific courses so you can better plan next steps.
  • Communicate with students as soon as possible. 
    It is important to let students know that there will be some changes coming due to the closure and that you will provide clear instructions as soon as possible to ensure that they still have access to their coursework during this time. Clarify your expectations of them in checking email. 
  • Set realistic goals for continuing instruction. 
    Consider your syllabus and schedule to get a clear picture of what you believe students can realistically accomplish during the closure. Will there be readings and assignments during this time?  Do you want students to engage with one another and you via technologies during this time? Engaged with the course content somehow? What might that look like?
  • Review your course schedule to determine priorities. 
    Identify your priorities during the disruption—providing lectures, structuring new opportunities for discussion or group work, collecting assignments, etc. What activities are better rescheduled, and what can or must be done online? Give yourself a little flexibility in that schedule, just in case the situation takes longer to resolve than you think.
  • Review your syllabus for points that must change. 
    What will have to temporarily change in your syllabus (policies, due dates, assignments, etc.)? Since students will also be thrown off by the changes, they will appreciate details whenever you can provide them. 
  • Pick tools and approaches familiar to you and your students. 
    Try to rely on tools and workflows that are familiar to you and your students, and roll out new tools only when absolutely necessary. The closure itself can be taxing everyone's mental and emotional energy; introducing a lot of new tools and approaches may leave even less energy and attention for learning.
  • Identify your new expectations for students. 
    You will have to reconsider some of your expectations for students, including participation, communication, and deadlines. As you think through those changes, keep in mind the impact this situation may have on students' ability to meet those expectations, including illness, lacking power or internet connections, or needing to care for family members. Be ready to handle requests for extensions or accommodations equitably.
  • Create a more detailed communications plan. 
    Once you have more details about changes in the class, communicate them to students, along with more information about how they can contact you (email, online office hours, etc.). A useful communication plan also lets students know how soon they can expect a reply. They will have many questions, so try to figure out how you want to manage that.


Teaching Online Lessons Learned: From HSU Anthropology

  • Students will be in multiple online classes with a flurry of overlapping Canvas due dates. This can be overwhelming, especially if they have limited/intermittent internet access. To mitigate this, you might want to:
    • Limit the number of assignments due each week/module.
    • Limit/coordinate due dates to one or two per week (vs having assignments due every day of the week)
    • Leave assignments open for multiple days, and avoid tight turnarounds for back-and-forth discussions or peer review
    • Post assignments a week or two week prior to the due dates, if possible, but avoid posting everything for the entire semester (it overwhelms students)
    • Make assignment names start with the course number, e.g., ANTH 105 Week 8 Forum. This helps students as well as faculty when looking at due dates and grading reminders in their Canvas schedules.
    • Simplicity is key.
    • Discussion forums can be challenging to grade on a regular scale 0-100 scale, especially for large classes - consider CR/NC.

COVID-19 Health & Safety: Enforcing Rules & Confronting Students

COVID-19 Health & Safety: Enforcing Rules & Confronting Students

Communicate with Students

Communicate with Students

Keeping in touch with students is critical during any changes to your class(es). You'll want to let students know about changes in schedules, assignments, procedures, and broader course expectations. Early and frequent communication can ease student anxiety, and save you dealing with individual questions.

Communication Principles to Consider

  • Communicate early and often. 
    Notify students of changes or disruptions as early as possible, even if all the details aren't in place yet, and let them know when they can expect more specific information. Don't swamp them with email, but consider matching the frequency of your messages with that of changes in class activities and/or updates to the broader crisis at hand.

  • Set expectations. 
    Let students know how you plan to communicate with them, and how often. Tell students both how often you expect them to check their email, and how quickly they can expect your response. Let them know if you are using email and/or the Canvas Inbox feature because they will need to update their Canvas notification preferences to ensure they receive these communications (details in the next section).

  • Manage your communications load. 
    Your communication load is critical as well. You might consider keeping track of frequently asked questions and sending those replies out to everyone. Also, consider creating an information page in Canvas, and then encourage students to check there first for answers before emailing you.

Communication Tools

Share Materials

Share Materials

You may need to provide updated course materials to support your changing plans, e.g., updated schedule, readings, etc. You might consider providing some new readings and related assignments to keep the intellectual momentum of the course moving.

Considerations When Posting Course Materials

  • Make sure students know when any material is posted. 
    If you post new materials in Canvas be sure to let students know what you posted and where. You might even ask that they change their Canvas notification preferences to alert them when new materials are posted. Refer your students to How do I set my Canvas notification preferences as a student?

  • Keep things phone friendly. 
    Many students may only have access to a phone, so make sure you are using mobile-friendly formats, PDFs being the most common. Consider saving other files (for example, PowerPoint presentations) to PDFs, which are easier to read on phones and tablets, and keep the file size small. It is fairly easy to reduce the size of PDF files using Adobe Acrobat, and there are online tools that do the same thing (for example, search Google for "PDF file size"). Videos take lots of bandwidth, so only require them if you are confident students will have access to them during a crisis.

Tools for Sharing Materials



While preparing materials for your Canvas course, it is important to ensure that all of your materials are accessible to all students. Canvas has a built-in accessibility tracker called Ally that can help make your content accessible. These quickguides can assist you in navigating this helpful tool:

pdf icon Ally - Basics
pdf icon Ally - Instructor Feedback
pdf icon Ally - Course Accessibility Report
pdf icon Ally - Accessibility Checklist
pdf icon Ally - Alternative Formats
pdf icon Ally - Complete Support Document

Other resources

Foster Interaction

Foster Interaction

Fostering collaboration among students is important as it maintains a sense of community that helps students stay motivated. However, the expectations one typically applies to interactions with students must be adjusted in context. While there are a variety of technologies to support various interactions, e.g., Canvas discussions, Zoom web-conferencing, it depends on your instructional needs and the learning needs of your students.  The expectation is not to take a face-to-face course and automatically create a fully online course experience. The communication features within Canvas, e.g., discussion, inbox, announcements are set up to make this temporary transition as seamless as possible so that you can keep teaching and students can continue learning.

Considerations When Planning Activities

  • Use asynchronous tools when possible. 
    Having students participate in live Zoom conversations can be useful, but scheduling can be challenging. Using asynchronous tools like Canvas Discussions allows students to participate on their own schedules. In addition, bandwidth requirements for discussion boards are far lower than for live video tools.

  • Link to clear goals and outcomes.
    Be sure there are clear purposes and outcomes for any student-to-student interaction. How does this activity help them meet course outcomes or prepare for other assignments?

  • Build in simple accountability.
    Find ways to make sure students are accountable for the work they do in any online discussions or collaborations. Assigning points for online discussion posts can be tedious, so some instructors ask for reflective statements where students detail their contributions and reflect on what they learned from the conversation.

  • Balance newness and need. As with any changed activities, you will need to balance the needs and benefits of online collaboration with the additional effort such collaboration will require on everyone else's part. Learning new technologies and procedures might be counterproductive, particularly in the short term, unless there is clear benefit.

Tools for Interaction

Assess Learning

Assess Learning

Collect assignments

Collecting assignments during a campus closure is fairly straightforward, since many instructors already collect work electronically.


  • Require only common software. 
    Students may not have access to specialty software located in on-campus computer labs. Unless students have the necessary permissions to load software onto a computer they can access, they may be unable to use these tools. Be ready with a backup plan for such students.
  • Avoid emailed attachments. 
    It may be easy to collect assignments in small classes via email, but larger classes might swamp your email inbox. Consider using the tools below instead. Balance what is simplest for students with what is easiest for you to manage.
  • State expectations, but be ready to allow extensions. 
    In the case of a campus closure or other crisis, some students will undoubtedly have difficulties meeting deadlines. Make expectations clear, but be ready to provide more flexibility than you normally would in your class.
  • Require specific filenames. It may sound trivial, but anyone who collects papers electronically knows the pain of getting 20 files named Essay1.docx. Give your students a simple file naming convention, for example, FirstnameLastname-Essay1.docx.
  • Facilitating exams and quizzes.
    You can use the Canvas Quiz feature to set up exams and quizzes, however, this can take some time depending on the type of exam you are wanting to produce online. You might consider frequent, low-stakes exams rather than one high-stakes exam.
  • Providing grading and feedback. 
    The Canvas gradebook is a central location to easily provide grades and feedback to students. See the Resources section for more details on using this feature.

Canvas Resources

Canvas Resources

  • Canvas Community
    Searchable guides, Q&A, training, and discussions on everything Canvas

  • Canvas Commons
    A repository of educational materials that educators can find, import and share.

  • Canvas Course Templates
    Search in the 
    Canvas Commons for “HSU template” and you will find a variety of course templates to build upon
  • Canvas updates on tools (Fall 2019)

Disciplinary-Specific Resources

Disciplinary-Specific Resources

We have been collectively gathering discipline Specific resources for online teaching and learning. Please find these resources in the Shared Disciplinary-Specific Resources document.

Lab Activities

Lab Activities

Lab activities typically require specific equipment and supplies, and are therefore impossible to fully translate into an online space. However, there are some steps that may work for some labs.

Some content adapted from Pepperdine University

  • Divide the lab experience into smaller segments, and determine which segments can be delivered online. If you normally begin a lab session with an orientation to certain procedures or equipment, perhaps you could use a video recording to deliver the same information (although this too may be precluded by the inaccessibility of the campus).
  • Investigate virtual labs such as those provided by the ChemCollective. In some circumstances, a virtual lab experience might be suboptimal but adequate.
  • If the primarily learning outcome the lab experiences addresses has to do with data analysis rather than data collection, consider providing the students with realistic data sets upon which to perform the required analysis.
  • A list of online science simulations and lab resources divided by discipline and course type.
  • Harvard’s LabXchange has just released a suite of lab simulations with assessments that focus on basic molecular biology techniques.
  • MERLOT offers a collection of virtual labs in a variety of science disciplines.
  • PHET offers interactive simulations that allow students to vary parameters; and many textbooks also provide interactive lab-based resources.
  • You might consider having your students watch videos of experiments; you can ask your students to first make predictions and then discuss the results:

Get Help

Get Help

Synchronous Lecture Capture and FERPA Considerations

Synchronous Lecture Capture and FERPA Considerations

The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects, among many things, student information. Multiple institutions across the country have expressed concerns about possible FERPA violations when meetings with students are being recorded (zoom, google hangouts, etc).  It is important for instructors to think about whether or not their use of a technology is FERPA compliant. For example, if an instructor is using Zoom and is not recording a meeting with students (e.g. synchronous class meeting), then the instructor’s use of Zoom is compliant. If, however, the meeting is recorded, then it may be in violation of FERPA policies.  


FERPA does not prevent or require written consent for its usage when 

  1. instructors use university-supported systems (Zoom, Camtasia, Google Meet) to record their class sessions/lectures for the purpose of student learning and 

  2. use their Canvas course to limit access to the recording to the members of the course from which it originated and 

  3. access to course recordings is limited to the semester the course is held. 


We recommend that instructors use the Zoom/Canvas integration to schedule their zoom meetings from within their Canvas course to ensure that only the appropriate group of people have access to the recordings during the duration of that one semester. Students who do not wish to be recorded can turn off their video and/or change their username as the session is being recorded.  Instructors can remind the students that the recording should be limited to only the members of the course. If the students share the recordings outside of this context then it becomes a student conduct scenario.


Here are some questions a department chair can ask their instructors to help determine whether or not it is FERPA compliant:

  1. What is the purpose of these recordings? Is it to enhance student learning?  

    1. Yes, then move forward.

    2. No, then it could be a FERPA violation.

  2. Who is the intended subject of these recordings? Is the focus on the instructor and their course content, as shared during a lecture, or is the focus on the students and their interactions? 

    1. If the focus is on the instructor and course content, then move forward. 

    2. If the focus is on student interactions, then it could be a FERPA violation.

  3. Have students been given strategies to remain anonymous in the recordings if they prefer?

    1. Yes, then move forward.

    2. No, then it could be a FERPA violation.

  4. Who is the intended audience and what is the method for distribution of these recordings to that audience? Is access to the recording limited to the class from which it originated? 

    1. If the audience is for enrolled students in that course, then move forward.

    2. If the audience is for anyone else, then it could be a FERPA violation.

  5. Has the instructor taken care to protect the privacy of the student educational rights and privacy, such as through the password protected environment within Canvas?

    1. Yes, then move forward.

    2. No, then it could be a FERPA violation.

Synchronous or Asynchronous

Synchronous or Asynchronous

Teaching and learning online is fundamentally different than in face-to-face environments. We encourage you to examine your expectations for the semester. On the one hand, we cannot compromise our commitment to teaching and learning excellence. On the other hand, we are in a strained context. The following questions and comments are intended to provide prompts for reflection as you enter the remaining semester. They are intended to be guides, not directives. You can visit the CTL’s Keep Teaching website for more suggestions and guidance or connect directly with CTL staff. They are here to help you succeed and thrive, so reach out to them. 

  • What is the essential knowledge and skills students have to have at the end of your course? Consider simplifying course completion criteria and design to those ends. 

  • If students are taking four courses, is it realistic to require that they watch hour long pre-recorded lectures? If all their courses are set up that way, they could feasibly watch up to sixteen hours of lectures in a week. Consider breaking your lectures into smaller video chunks. 

  • Should I hold synchronous or asynchronous course sessions? HSU is encouraging faculty to structure instruction asynchronously. There are just too many variables influencing access to instruction during this COVID-19 pandemic. Students, like us, will need maximum flexibility to succeed during this trying time.  

  • Multiple institutions across the United States are relying on Zoom for meetings and lectures. Their system is overloaded. It is currently taking up to 24 hours to save a video lecture to the cloud. Consider pre-recording your Zoom based video materials a week in advance. You could also consider other video recording tools like YouTube and Camtasia. 

  • Do you know that Canvas has a speedgrader option? Teaching online is a different type of intellectual labor. For example, the amount of reading alone can feel overwhelming at times. There are tools in Canvas that can ease that labor, and the speedgrader is one. 

  • What do I do about exams? Another way to think about it may be: What would learning look like if there were no exams? Would that compromise the intellectual rigor of the course? Consider rethinking high stakes exams for other types of assessment. The CTL can help you think this through. 

Sample Face Mask Syllabus Statement

Sample Face Mask Syllabus Statement


Reviewed by HR, APS, Dean of Students, and Vice Provost


Due to the higher risk in the classroom setting, face coverings are required for classrooms/labs.

Should a student arrive to class without a face covering:

1.  The instructor will remind the student of the requirement and ask that they adhere to the policy. If the student does not have a face covering they may obtain one from the sites listed below.

Should the student refuse to put a face covering:

2.  The instructor will notify them that they will need to leave class.  The student will be subject to a conduct violation for not following a University policy, which can lead to disciplinary action by the University.  The incident will be considered disruptive behavior and will be handled according to the disruptive behavior policy of the University

Should the student refuse to leave class:

3.  The instructor can call the University Police Department (UPD) at (707)826-5555 if the student refuses to leave the classroom.

Should a student find that they are without a face covering, HSU will provide them at the following sites: UPD, first floor of Student Business Services; Jolly Giant Commons; College Creek; Parking Kiosk. Students needing accommodations may contact the Student Access Center at


Video Resources

Video Resources

See more on the Library website

Upcoming Events & Resources

  • March 10, 2021 - 10:00am
    CSU STEM-NET Webcast: Culturally Sensitive Teaching in STEM


    Live Webcast Presented by the Department of Research 

    Wednesday, March 10th, 2021

    Presentation: 10:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.  (Lobby opens 10 minutes prior to live session) 


    • Culturally relevant teaching
    • Promoting equity and inclusivity in the classroom
    • Engaging students in the course material
    • Encouraging students to leverage their cultural capital
    • Diversifying STEM teaching methods

    REGISTRATION  Register via this link by March 4, 2021.