FAQs for Faculty

Classroom Practices

UPDATE: Starting March 14, 2022, face coverings will be optional in most University spaces. They may be required when faculty or staff as conveners of a class, lab, gathering, or meeting require participants to wear a mask

This updated guidance supersedes the below, where relevant. See the updated Guidance on Face Coverings and March 2 Covid Newsletter for more information.

Will face coverings be required in the classroom this spring? 

Yes. The November 27, 2021, guidance for face coverings in classrooms remains in effect. 

Please note, lecturers who are fully vaccinated may remove their mask for all or part of the class at their own discretion. Six feet of distance between unmasked faculty and students is best, when circumstances permit. Students/participants must wear masks throughout the class. For classes in which 12 or fewer students are enrolled, the instructor may not decide whether fully vaccinated students should be allowed to remove their masks for all or part of the class.

Can I require face coverings in my classroom, regardless of any changes in University policy?

Yes. Faculty may implement a face-covering requirement that is more restrictive than the current policy in their classroom, provided it is consistent with the pedagogical goals of the course.  Students will be advised that eating in classrooms is prohibited.  As always, students with disabilities may request accommodations through the Office of Disability Services, including modifications to University requirements.

Will social distancing be required in classrooms, faculty offices, laboratories, and studios?

No requirements for social distancing in University spaces are in place at this time.  All University spaces have returned to normal occupancy limits.

Can I ask about a student’s vaccination status?

You should not ask a student to share their vaccination status with you. The University will not share this information with anyone unless there are compelling reasons to do so.  If students volunteer their vaccination status to you, that’s fine. But you should not disclose this information to others or use it to limit the student’s participation in your class.

May I request a different classroom that would permit social distancing or a different ventilation system?

No. All University spaces have returned to normal occupancy limits. Classrooms have already been assigned for the spring semester and changes are not possible unless course enrollment exceeds the capacity of the assigned meeting space. All classrooms currently assigned will have adequate ventilation and can be used for teaching and learning. Ventilation is just one of the many layers of protection the University considers to ensure teaching and learning can proceed.

A small subset of classrooms are managed at the department level and have no mechanical ventilation. Departments may choose to purchase portable HEPA filters for these spaces. See the EHS website for further information and guidance.

Short-Term Remote Teaching and Other Contingency Measures

Under what circumstances might students or faculty need to miss class due to COVID?

Three COVID-related situations would require faculty or students to miss class:

  1. Faculty or students experiencing COVID-like symptoms should stay at home or in their dorm room, as applicable, until they are tested and receive a negative test result. 
  2. Faculty or students who receive a positive COVID test result will be required to isolate, and cannot attend class in person. Isolation will be a minimum of 5 days if fully vaccinated; isolation more than 5 days is possible, but should be no longer than 10 days except in rare circumstances. For unvaccinated individuals, isolation is a minimum of 10 days. Isolation means restricting activities outside of one’s home or isolation dorm, except for obtaining medical care when necessary. Individuals released from isolation before day 10 must wear a tight-fitting mask at all times when around other people from the date that they are released through day 10 (the date the test was submitted is day 0). 
  3. An unvaccinated student or faculty member who is determined to be a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID will be required to quarantine for 10 days.  Those who are eligible for a booster and have not received it must quarantine for 5 days. A close contact is defined as a person who has been within 6 feet of a COVID-positive individual for more than 15 minutes within a 24-hour period, starting two days prior to their test date or the start of their symptoms.  We will update this information if CDC guidance changes. Quarantine means remaining at home (or in one’s regular dorm room), wearing a face covering when around others, not going to gatherings or crowded public places, limiting time outside of home, and monitoring one’s health.

Per guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State of New Jersey, fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to quarantine after domestic travel or exposure through a close contact.

Under what circumstances may faculty temporarily shift to remote instruction (Zoom)?

If a significant number of enrolled students are in isolation or quarantine, causing serious disruption to classroom instruction (that is, if critical mass can’t be achieved for a discussion, activity, or lecture), faculty may shift to remote instruction (Zoom) for a specific, temporary period of time. 

Faculty required to isolate or quarantine due to COVID may also use remote instruction (Zoom) for all classes scheduled during their period of isolation or quarantine. 

What if I am unable to teach because of my own or a dependent’s illness?

Faculty should consult with their department chair to discuss arrangements for instructional coverage by a colleague or AI during a short absence.  Please be in touch with the Office of the Dean of the Faculty in the event a longer absence is necessary, whether due to personal illness or the care of a family member who is ill. 

What should I do if a student needs to miss class for required isolation or quarantine due to COVID?

Students who are required by the University to isolate or quarantine should not be penalized for being absent.  Undergraduate students should email their instructor, copying their residential dean or director of studies, to let them know they are isolating. Graduate students should be in touch with faculty directly about any absence and may draw on COVID-19 leave and/or personal and sick leave that is available to them.

Faculty will support students in isolation or quarantine through one or both of the following ways, depending on the size, format, and pedagogical goals of the course:

  • Invite a remote student to join via a Zoom link that they activate on their laptop. The link is intended to provide a window into the classroom for students who are temporarily unable to attend class.  Faculty are not expected to make special arrangements to provide fully hybrid instruction.
  • Record their lecture and post it to Canvas.

Please be in touch with the McGraw Center for guidance on setting up a standing Zoom link or using Canvas.  Staff at AV Services can consult on classroom recording technologies.

These arrangements are intended only for students who are required to be in isolation or quarantine due to COVID and should be used for the duration of their absence from class.  

What should I do if a student says they are too sick to engage with remote instruction?

Undergraduate students who are too sick to engage with class work remotely during their period of isolation should inform their residential college dean or director studies, who, in keeping with our normal policies, will work with students and faculty to arrange a make-up schedule for classwork and homework assignments.

If you are concerned about an undergraduate student’s progress in your class or uncertain about appropriate supports, please contact the student’s residential college dean.  

If you are concerned about a graduate student’s progress in your class or uncertain about appropriate supports, you may contact the student’s director of graduate studies or an academic affairs dean in the Graduate School.

Under no circumstances should faculty allow an extended absence without the explicit approval of the student’s residential college dean or director of studies (for undergraduate students) or an academic affairs dean (for graduate students). The University’s regular Attendance Policies (for undergraduate students) and Policy on Satisfactory Academic Progress(for graduate students) remain in effect.

Students with disabilities may request accommodations through the Office of Disability Services.

How should I prepare for the possibility of contact tracing in my classes?

To facilitate contact tracing, please use a seating chart in small and medium-sized classes if possible.  In large classes, please take a “community moment” at the start of each class – ask students to observe and write down the names of students who are seated nearby.

Can I incorporate virtual elements into my Spring course?

The University expects Spring teaching to be fully in person.  All scheduled course meetings presume regular attendance by students in person.  That said, faculty may incorporate specific virtual instruction components—such as short lecture videos recorded in advance—provided that they continue to lead all scheduled class time in person.  

Can I offer virtual office hours?

Faculty may choose to offer in-person, virtual, or a mix of in-person and virtual office hours.

University Policies for Visitors, Travel, and Off-Campus Engagements

Can I schedule guest lecturers or other classroom visitors this term?

You may host visitors who are fully vaccinated but must follow the process prescribed by the Visitor Policy. Each visitor must be formally approved, and you must obtain confirmation that the visitor is fully vaccinated. As of January 31, 2022, visitors are considered fully vaccinated if they have received a booster, if eligible for one. If the University will be funding the visitor’s travel to campus, the travel must follow the current permissible travel guidelines. All visitors must comply with current requirements for face coverings. Visitors may also be hosted on Zoom.

Please note that those holding a visiting faculty appointment are required to teach in person, including those who are co-teaching a course with a Princeton faculty member.


Can I plan course-related travel to New York City or Philadelphia or field work in the region?

University-sanctioned domestic group travel (solely within the United States) is permitted if all participants are in compliance with University policies regarding COVID-19 vaccinations and if the trip is feasible, as defined by the current permissible travel guidelines.

The office sponsoring the travel should determine feasibility under local public health guidelines.  All University affiliates must register the details of University-sanctioned trips to any destination, as well as their contact information, in Enroll My Trip prior to departure.  Please consult the current permissible travel guidelines before planning any travel.

Is it possible to have a community-engaged project or component in my course this spring?

Yes.  Please contact the Program for Community-Engaged Scholarship (ProCES). ProCES has facilitated community-engaged courses and projects throughout the pandemic and can provide pedagogical and logistical support, as well as connections to community organizations.  ProCES prioritizes the health and safety of campus community members and community partners alike and engages faculty and community partners in conversation and deliberation to determine safe and equitable collaboration.  Community-engaged components might include visits, trips, assignments, workshops, or other collaborative projects.

Can I schedule a class meal in the dining halls or at a local restaurant?

The entire Princeton community must cancel or postpone all indoor gatherings with food, and those where face coverings can’t be worn, effective Thursday, December 16 through Monday, January 31, 2022.

All undergraduate dining halls, the Center for Jewish Life, and the Graduate College will be open to members of the University community for the 2021-22 academic year and will offer a full set of meals. At least through January 31, 2022, dining halls are not offering seating and meals are take-out only. The residential college and Graduate College dining halls will not be open to visitors from outside the University at this time.  Members of the University community without a meal plan — including students, faculty, and staff — may eat in any dining hall at current single meal rates with a student charge, Paw Points, Tower Cards (purchased at TigerCard office), or a department charge.  Cash or credit cards cannot be used for dining hall meals.

Can I organize a meeting or outing with students and exclude those who are unvaccinated?

No.  You must include all students in planned course activities, inside or outside of class, regardless of students’ vaccination status.

How do we address the possibility of some international students being unable to enter/re-enter the U.S. due to COVID-19 restrictions?

Undergraduate students concerned that they cannot arrive on campus for the start of classes on January 24 should contact their Davis International Center adviser and their residential college dean immediately.  Graduate students should contact their Davis International Center adviser, their director of graduate studies, and the relevant academic affairs dean in the Graduate School.

Will reservations still be required to access University libraries this spring?

The reservation system was discontinued in early August 2021. Additional information can be found on the Undergraduate Students resource page.