Return to In-Person Instruction

Classroom Practices

Will face coverings be required in the classroom this fall? 

Effective August 11, all faculty, staff, and students, regardless of vaccination status, must wear face coverings indoors.  Exceptions to this requirement include working alone in a room or cubicle or when actively eating or drinking. The indoor face coverings requirement will be evaluated regularly, taking into account advice from a team of physicians and scientists and other relevant information. Be sure to check the Princeton COVID Resources page and Supplemental Guidance on Face Coverings for the most up-to-date information.

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.

Why don’t the rules for classrooms apply to other areas and situations?

The masking rules for classrooms make allowances for pedagogical reasons and in support of the University’s critical teaching mission. Along with many other colleges and universities, Princeton recognizes the potential challenges of teaching while wearing a mask, especially in small classes. 
The robust and spontaneous discussion that we value in precept and seminar may be inhibited by masks, which obscure facial expressions and other non-verbal communication styles. Allowing one student to remove their mask briefly when speaking might require students to constantly be removing and replacing their mask, thereby reducing the intended protection. 
Classes that choose to take advantage of these exceptions face an additional risk of COVID-19 transmission. To minimize the risk across the campus, it is in the best interest of the campus to limit mask-wearing exceptions to the classroom.

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 students’ 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 fall 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 a student or faculty member to stay in their dorm or at home (as applicable) during the semester:

  1. Anyone experiencing COVID-like symptoms should stay home/in their dorm room until they are tested and receive a negative test result.
  2. Anyone who receives a positive COVID test result will be required to self-isolate. Isolation will be a minimum of 10 days; isolation longer than 10 days is rare, but possible. Isolation means restricting activities outside of one’s home or isolation dorm, except for obtaining medical care when necessary.
  3. An unvaccinated student or faculty member determined to be a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID will be required to self-quarantine. 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. As of June 2021, the expected duration of quarantine is 10 days. Quarantine means remaining at home (or in one’s regular dorm room), 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.

How should faculty prepare for the possibility of missing class due to a period of COVID-related symptoms, isolation, or quarantine?

Faculty should develop contingency plans for continuing instruction in situations where a student or the faculty member needs to isolate or quarantine during the term.  

Faculty should determine the best format for continuing instruction based on the size and format of the class, as well as its pedagogical goals.

At a minimum, faculty should establish a standing Zoom link that will be available to everyone in the course for use in a situation that requires temporary remote instruction.  

A faculty member in isolation or quarantine may direct students to access the Zoom link from their laptops. If the faculty member must temporarily teach by Zoom, students should meet in the classroom and access the link from their laptops there, using headphones to avoid noise filtration.

The Office of the Dean of the Faculty will permit faculty required to isolate or quarantine to use remote instruction for all classes scheduled during their 10-day period of isolation or quarantine. Alternatively, faculty might arrange for a colleague or an Assistant in Instruction (AI) to lead class in their absence.

What if I am unable to teach my class because of a COVID-related illness?

Faculty should consult with their department chair to discuss arrangements for instructional coverage by a colleague or AI during their 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 will miss class for required isolation or quarantine?

Students who are required to isolate or quarantine should not be penalized for being absent. The residential college deans and directors of studies will verify with faculty those undergraduate students who are unable to be present in the classroom due to COVID-related situations. 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 “attend” via a Zoom link that they activate on their laptop 
  • Record their lecture or class and post it to Canvas

Please be in touch with your department SCAD for resources such as “loaner” hardware to use to allow students access to your course via Zoom. Staff at AV Services can consult on classroom technologies, and staff at the McGraw Center can consult on Canvas.

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. Students absent for other reasons should arrange to make up missed work through typical means.

Students’ residential college dean or director of studies will assist them in making arrangements for access to other class materials and to extensions. 

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.

How should I respond if a student asks to attend my course remotely for the entire semester or for an extended period of time? 

Since we are returning to residential teaching and learning, faculty cannot approve such requests. Only in exceptional circumstances, such as meeting the needs of a student in isolation or quarantine, should you allow students to attend via Zoom or keep up with class material exclusively through lecture recordings posted on Canvas.

Under no circumstances should faculty allow an extended student 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. 

Can I incorporate virtual elements into my fall course?

The University will resume full in-person instruction this fall. 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. Any request to offer a pre-recorded lecture to replace in-person meeting time must be approved by the Office of the Dean of the College in advance.

Faculty may also wish to offer a mix of in-person and virtual office hours. Please see specific provisions for faculty required to self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19.

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 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. All visitors must comply with current requirements for face coverings. Visitors may also be hosted on Zoom.

Please note that visitors 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 this fall?

Effective August 23, 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 travel guidelines for Fall and Winter 2021-22. 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 (beyond the NYC/PHL corridor), as well as their contact information, in Enroll My Trip prior to departure. Please consult the full travel policy and FAQs before planning any travel.

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

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 this fall?

Yes, group meals are permitted. 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. The residential 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 will not receive their visa in time to arrive on campus for the start of classes on September 1 should contact their Davis International Center adviser and their residential college dean immediately. Graduate students should contact their David 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 fall?

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