Fall semester 2020: Guidance for FAS Faculty (July 1, 2020)

[Summary: This memo follows up on the message sent by the President and Provost on July 1, 2020. It confirms a remote/residential teaching model for fall 2020; outlines associated adjustments to FAS teaching policies; presents a detailed calendar for the fall course registration process; provides links to course planning resources; explains campus access policies and procedures; and includes links to additional university information.]

To: FAS Faculty
Cc: FAS Staff

Dear FAS Faculty,

Earlier today, you received a memo from President Salovey and Provost Strobel announcing our plans to welcome graduate and professional school students and cohorts of undergraduates back to New Haven for the fall semester. We look forward to their presence on our beautiful campus.

This return of students does not, however, mark a return to business as usual. Although some students will be in residence, the majority of teaching will be remote. And while faculty will be permitted to come back to campus spaces, new safety protocols will govern our interactions.

The message that follows describes some of the specific implications these plans will have for our work in the FAS. You can also find information for the coming semester on the FAS’s Fall 2020 COVID-19 Information and Updates webpage.

In this message:

I. Student return to campus and residential/remote teaching

Who is returning?
Residential/remote teaching

II. Teaching and research

FAS teaching policies
Preparing for pre-registration
Support for instruction and research

III. Campus access

Reactivation calendar
Access to campus facilities
Health & safety
Visitors, conferences, gatherings, and travel

IV. Forthcoming resources and information

V. A final word of gratitude

I. Student return to campus and residential/remote teaching

Who is returning?

All graduate and professional school students have been invited to return to New Haven. Selected classes of undergraduate students will be able to return to campus and will live in the residential colleges or in nearby off-campus housing. Three cohorts of undergraduate students will be invited to return to New Haven each semester:

  • Fall 2020: First-year students, juniors, and seniors may be in residence in New Haven; sophomores (and those who choose to) will participate remotely.
  • Spring 2021: Sophomores, juniors, and seniors may be in residence in New Haven; first-year students (and those who choose to) will participate remotely.

Residential/remote teaching

On June 18, Marvin Chun, Lynn Cooley and I circulated guidance on preparing for fall 2020 teaching. With today’s clarity regarding students’ return to campus, we can confirm residential/remote delivery. To summarize:

  • Undergraduate courses and most graduate courses should be built for remote delivery so that all enrolled students may participate.
  • For certain graduate courses, additional decisions regarding mode of delivery will take place at the department level.
  • Classes that cannot be conducted without an in-person component (certain lab- or studio-based courses) may be developed to include some such components, with social distancing, if the public health situation permits; information on protocols for in-person components will be provided later this month.
  •  Limited in-person engagements, such as tutorial or discussion sessions, might be possible for other courses; details will be provided in the coming weeks.

This model enables students to continue learning and making progress towards their degrees whether they are in residence at Yale or learning away from campus; allows us to swiftly shift to fully-remote operations if public health requires; permits members of our community to quarantine or isolate without interrupting instruction; reduces contact between students and other members of the community; and means instructors who prefer to teach from home can do so.

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II. Teaching and Research

FAS teaching policies

Faculty must have the resources and support to prepare and deliver rigorous and engaging on-line courses. We recognize that COVID-19 has radically disrupted the infrastructure of everyday life. For some this has meant the absence of childcare; for others it has meant the absence of human contact; for all it has meant the loss of access to laboratories, libraries, collections, and colleagues.

In recognition of these circumstances, and as a result of the tremendous work done by the FAS Academic Planning Committees and Task Forces, FAS Steering has adopted a number of policies to help ensure excellence in teaching and flexibility for faculty during academic year 2020-21. A full list will be provided to chairs once final, but accommodations are expected to include the following:

  • All FAS faculty who choose to teach from home may do so.
  • Co-taught courses may count towards the teaching expectations of both instructors provided that the department(s) and unit(s) with which the instructors are affiliated can cover their teaching needs without supplemental faculty.
  • Seminar-sized courses with sufficient enrollment to support two sections may be taught twice in the same semester by a faculty member and will count as two full courses of teaching for faculty who teach at least two courses per semester.
  • Any non-tenured ladder faculty member who had an approved leave for AY 2020-21 may postpone their leave until AY 2021-22 upon consultation with their department chair and divisional dean.
  • Departments may choose to break large sections into smaller sections as pedagogically appropriate, provided that they do not exceed the assigned weekly teaching hours for Teaching Fellows.
  • Departments may elect to cap certain seminars at 12 to 15 students instead of the usual 18, provided that the department can still cover its necessary curriculum without supplemental faculty.

Additional individual accommodations may be made by department chairs in extenuating circumstances, in consultation with the cognizant divisional dean.

Over the coming weeks, a committee of faculty and students chaired by FAS Dean of Diversity and Faculty Development Larry Gladney will develop a set of communal expectations for teaching and learning that outline principles of mutual respect and understanding for faculty and students in our remote classroom interactions. We will share additional information about this process early next week.

Preparing for pre-registration

As outlined in our June 18 guidance on fall course preparation, Yale College and the Graduate School will introduce a new, online course selection process for the fall 2020 semester:    

  • August 10-21: Course registration “shopping” period
  • Friday, August 21: Students submit their course selections
  • Monday, August 31: Classes begin, including a limited “shop, add, drop” period for the first week of classes for undergraduates and until Friday, September 11 for graduate students

To facilitate this process, faculty will be asked to do the following:

  • By Friday, August 7: Post an expanded course description on Canvas for your fall 2020 classes
  • This course description will be based on a template which will be distributed in the coming days. The template asks for the following information:
    • Course format (lecture, seminar, laboratory, etc.)
    • Mode of instruction (synchronous vs. asynchronous, etc.)
    • Course recording policy
    • Prerequisites
    • Enrollment caps and selection criteria
    • Provisional list of primary readings
    • Provisional summary of assignments and grading
    • Optional: A full syllabus and/or an introductory video

Support for instruction and research

Many resources are available to support remote teaching and faculty research. Here are some:

Faculty-developed guides created by the FAS Academic Planning Committees and Task Forces

Resources from the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning

Support for research and teaching through the FAS SAL2 (Scholars as Leaders; Scholars as Learners) Program

Further resources

  • Information regarding Undergraduate Learning Assistants (ULAs) and Undergraduate Technology Assistants (UTAs) will be available soon. We encourage departments to think creatively about the role that such assistants might play in maximizing learning and supporting teaching.
  • Over the next weeks, the FAS and ITS will send a joint survey and additional information regarding technical support.

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III. Campus access

We recognize that many of you are eager to return to your campus offices and to have access to other campus facilities. Yale has adopted a phased return to campus and re-activation of on campus research. The start dates of each phase are below:

Reactivation calendar

  • Phase 1 of research reactivation began on June 1, 2020
  • Phase 2 will introduce expanded access to campus research infrastructure and is scheduled to begin on July 20, 2020, public health permitting
  • Phase 3 will introduce general, but still limited, access to campus and is scheduled to begin on August 24, 2020, public health permitting

Access to campus facilities

Until Phase 2 begins, access to campus remains restricted.

  • Office access: Faculty may request brief office access for the purpose of retrieving necessary materials.
  • Laboratory access: Laboratory access policies and protocols for faculty can be found on the Phase 1 (for access prior to July 20) and Phase 2 (for access after July 20) Research Reactivation Guidance webpages.
  • Library access: Please consult the Library Reopening FAQs and Online Remote Access Services pages.

When Phase 2 begins, additional campus facilities will be available for faculty use.

  • Detailed guidance for FAS faculty wishing to return to their offices during Phase 2 will be provided by divisional deans in early July.
  • Guidance regarding access to classrooms, studios and other facilities for the purpose of filming lectures and demonstrations for fall teaching will also be provided at that time.

Health & safety

Health and safety are our paramount concerns as we re-open.

  • Information on health precautions is available on the Health and Safety Guidelines webpage.
  • Masks or face coverings are currently required on campus; additional details on mask use and social distancing are available here.


  • As President Salovey and Provost Strobel explained, Yale is implementing a robust COVID-19 screening program for the campus community.
  • Faculty, staff, and trainees who will come into contact with students will be required to participate in the program; all others are encouraged to participate.

Mandatory training:

  • All faculty, staff, and trainees returning to campus must take the training available here.
  • Faculty, staff, and trainees who will be conducting research in university facilities must also take the training available here.

Additional measures:

  • The university continues to implement enhanced protocols for cleaning and disinfection of workspaces.
  • All students will be asked to sign a Community Compact as a condition for returning to campus.

Visitors, conferences, gatherings, and travel

To protect the health and safety of our community, we ask you to postpone visitors and conferences, restrict group gatherings, and limit travel.

  • In the fall semester, visits to campus by people who are not Yale students, faculty, or staff will be strictly limited. Unfortunately, this means that visiting speakers, on-campus conferences, and similar events should, whenever possible, be conducted virtually or postponed to 2021. For more information, consult the university FAQs.
  • In-person gatherings in the fall will be limited in size. For more information, consult the university FAQs.
  • Classrooms and other common spaces on campus will operate at reduced capacity. For more information, consult the university FAQs.
  • Common spaces in residential colleges, including dining halls, will be reconfigured to avoid group congregation. Because of reduced capacity, seating within dining halls will be limited to college residents. Since faculty and students will not be able to gather in dining halls, the Faculty Lunch program will need to be temporarily suspended for fall 2020. We look forward to reinstating the program when circumstances permit.
  • Travelers returning from abroad or any state with a high prevalence of COVID-19 must self-quarantine for 14 days. Other domestic travelers are encouraged to be tested through the Yale COVID-19 Screening Program upon return.
  • For additional guidance regarding university travel policies, please consult the university FAQs.

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IV. Forthcoming resources and information

We encourage you to consult the following webpages regularly for information and updates:

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V. A final word of gratitude

Over the past months, even as we were separated from our students and our campus, FAS faculty have devoted countless hours to sustaining our core mission through inspiring scholarship, research, and teaching. You have done this under challenging circumstances: illness, isolation, parenting, caregiving. As we begin the process of return, albeit in muted form, to certain configurations of campus life, additional challenges will arise. But we will continue to be (with slight license) a community of scholars, a company of teachers, a society of friends.

I remain grateful for and inspired by your efforts, creativity, and dedication.



Tamar Szabó Gendler
Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Vincent J. Scully Professor of Philosophy
Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science