Reminders for the Beginning of Term (August 20, 2020)

[Summary: This message outlines reminders for faculty on topics that include publicizing course requirements, student quarantine, student enrollment in overlapping asynchronous courses, course contingency plans, Student Accessibility Services, faculty availability, section registration and scheduling, and auditing.]

Dear Yale College Instructors,

With preregistration well underway and the semester nearing its start, we write with some seasonal reminders and several term-specific updates. We ask that you keep these policies and practices in mind during the opening days and throughout the semester.

Publicizing all course requirements

To facilitate preregistration, the faculty voted to adopt the practice of posting enhanced course descriptions or syllabi by a designated date before the start of each term (August 7 for this fall term). If you haven’t done so already, please use Canvas to post these materials as soon as possible. As described in this memo, the “Syllabus” page on your course site is preloaded with a template for instructors to use to fill out an expanded course description. Instructors may also upload a brief (2-3 minute) video introduction to the course, if desired, and a full syllabus, if available. Additional information about completing these templates can be found here.

Due to the shift to preregistration, this requirement is more important than ever.

As a reminder: students will be expected to submit a preliminary course schedule for the fall term by August 21, ten days before classes begin on August 31. Undergraduate students will have the opportunity to drop and add classes through the end of the first week of classes (Friday, September 4).


As noted in an FAS Dean’s Office memo on August 7, most of our returning undergraduate students are required by the state of Connecticut to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival to the state, so in-person curricular activities may not start until September 14.   Another impact of the quarantine is that students may experience delays in obtaining their textbooks and other course materials.  For the first two weeks of your class, please plan your assignments and grading with this constraint in mind, posting readings and course materials online as much as possible.  

The Yale Library has provisions in place for reserve scanning and the purchase of electronic versions of textbooks. Information on reserve scanning is available here. Some textbook publishers and other academic resource vendors are making resources freely available to users affected by COVID-19. A list of vendors offering free resources is available here.

Students may take asynchronous courses that overlap in scheduled meeting times

As a special accommodation for the fall term of 2020, students are permitted to enroll in two courses that overlap in their stated class times, either partially or entirely, if they are taught asynchronously.  Students will be required to request and receive written permission from their residential college dean and from both instructors of the overlapping courses. The student’s request must:

  • Attest that any synchronous components of the courses do not overlap by more than 15 minutes;
  • Explain how enrollment in the two courses is possible, despite the conflict in published meeting times (examples: one of the courses has an asynchronous option; the instructor of one of the courses is providing recorded lectures; etc.); and
  • Confirm that the final exams for the two courses are not offered at the same time.

It is your discretion whether to approve the overlap or not, and beyond providing your e-mail approval to the student, no additional work is expected of you to fulfill the request.

Course contingency plan

While we hope that that all students and instructors will remain healthy throughout the term, there remains the possibility that some or all participants in a course may need to quarantine. For that reason, we ask that your syllabus include a short description on how you will continue your course if on-campus activities are no longer possible. For most cases, this will simply be that the course will continue on Zoom. For those with in-person components planned, we ask that you provide a description of how you will adapt those aspects of your course should it become necessary.

Student Accessibility Services (SAS)

Given that most courses will be online this term, SAS is not available to arrange in-person proctoring for midterm exams.  Faculty should oversee accommodations for their students with disabilities.  If you have questions or need guidance, SAS is available. Thank you for your help in making Yale more accessible for all students.


Irrespective of location, faculty members are expected to make themselves electronically available to advise students and meet other normal obligations, most days of the work week, except for holidays and recess time.

Registering sections

Faculty with discussion or laboratory sections should state the times and places, if applicable, for their sections, which are then submitted to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Registrar’s Office by a departmental administrator using the Teaching Fellow System Section Management tool.

Scheduling sections

Please balance discussion sections sensibly across the entire course. Please also avoid scheduling class during times reserved for FAS-wide faculty meetings, which take place at 4pm on Thursday afternoons on various dates throughout the semester.  

Addressing requests from auditors

Only people in the following categories may audit courses in Yale College:

  • Current Yale University employees or their spouses, current faculty members, emeritus faculty members, students enrolled full-time in Yale College, or in one of the graduate or professional schools of the university, postdoctoral fellows, or postdoctoral associates;
  • Current members of the Yale faculty, emeritus faculty members, or students enrolled full-time in Yale College or in one of the graduate or professional schools of the University;
  • Yale University alumni or their spouses (with payment of associated fee)

No paperwork from you is required for undergraduate or graduate students, or for current faculty members to whom you give permission to audit your course or courses. For all other categories, however, an auditing form, signed by the auditor, you (the instructor), and the director of the Yale College auditing programs is required. The form is available on the websites for the Yale Affiliate Auditing Program and the Yale Alumni Auditing Program, where you can also find more information about auditing. For any questions, please contact Joel Silverman, Director of Academic and Educational Affairs, at

With thanks and best wishes for the coming semester,

Marvin Chun, Lynn Cooley, Tamar Gendler
Dean of Yale College, Dean of the Graduate School, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences