Last Updated: February 9, 2021

For the Spring 2021 semester, please find answers to some common questions grouped into the following categories:

  • On-Campus Student Status

    Which classes will be taught on campus this spring?

    Class modalities for spring were determined by each school dean or department chair in consultation with the faculty. All classes will be remote for the first two weeks to accommodate the need for students to quarantine. Students living off campus are also able to attend classes in person once the quarantine ends.  At times, a class may be put online for a 2 week period as determined by the offices of the Dean of Students and the Provost.

    Who will be living on campus?

    All undergraduate students were invited to apply for housing on campus this spring.

    Who will be conducting research on campus?

    Graduate and undergraduate students will be able to continue their access to campus to facilitate their ongoing research projects.

    Can students access the bookstore during the quarantine period?

    The bookstore is not considered to be on campus during the quarantine period. You should keep in mind that students may not be able to purchase books before Feb 8.

  • Teaching Assignments

    Which classes will be taught in person this spring, and which classes will be taught in a blended or hybrid format or wholly online?

    Instructional modalities for all courses have been updated in Cardinal Students.  Instructors teaching in person should be prepared to teach in a hybrid format to facilitate quarantine and isolation throughout  the semester.

    There are many unfamiliar terms being discussed. What is “blended” or “hybrid” instruction?  What are the four modalities?

    There are 4 modalities to differentiate between the ways we are teaching in Cardinal Students:  In Person, In Person and Synchronous Remote, Blended, and Online. A link to a glossary of terms is available at the Center for Teaching Excellence’s website.

    Can faculty still teach from campus if their class is fully online?  What options are there for part-time faculty to teach from campus?

    Full-time and part-time Instructors who prefer to teach from campus for their online classes will have the opportunity to do so if a classroom is available. Requests should be made using 25Live and will be considered after all classes meeting with an in person component are roomed.  Graduate students who are serving as instructors, TAs, or TFs are also able to reserve a room for teaching.

    What should faculty do if they become ill during the semester?

    We are asking all faculty to develop a contingency plan that will be included in your syllabus and submitted to the dean and/or chair of your department. The syllabus template includes a section where you can spell out your contingency plan. Questions to think through include, but are not limited to: 

    • Would you teach remotely while self-quarantined? 
    • Would you have someone cover the course?  
    • Would you provide asynchronous content?  

    Answering these questions will help students know what to expect and will help you be prepared should you need to self-isolate or self-quarantine. 

    If you are ill, in addition to communicating with your students, please notify your dean and/or chair that you are implementing your contingency plan and email CUA-CoronaResponse@CUA.EDU so that a member of the Employee Relations team can be in touch if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive or if you have tested positive.

  • Academic Calendar

    How will the academic calendar be adjusted in response to COVID-19?

    Classes are starting later than originally planned, on January 25, with the drop/add period ending on February 4. In addition, all classes will be taught remotely for the first two weeks of the semester due to the plan that students self-quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in the District of Columbia. Easter break has been shortened on the Academic Calendar to Good Friday only.

  • Safety Concerns

    External oversight

    Has the University’s Safe Return Plan (The Catholic University of America COVID-19 Phased Campus Reopening Plan) been vetted and approved by external health officials? 

    The University’s updated plan for spring 2021 was submitted to the District Government and has been approved.


    Physical distancing

    How was the safe capacity of classrooms being determined?

    Catholic University’s reopening plan was developed using a multilayered approach. Diagrams, to scale, of each classroom were used to determine maximum density that would allow students to be 6 feet apart from each other as well as space between instructor and first row of students. Plexiglass barriers have been purchased and will be installed in each room before the start of classes to allow additional separation between instructor and students. Three sided plexiglass barriers will be used in performing arts classes.  Please do not move around the furniture in the classrooms as that might interfere with the safe capacity; please do not add chairs to the classrooms or allow for non-registered individuals to attend classes in person.

    Will there be the option of holding classes outdoors?

    We will not be officially assigning any classes that are meeting in person to meet outdoors.  As in a usual semester, instructors always have the option of bringing their class to meet outside on campus if the students in the class agree.  However, please keep in mind how being outside will work for any students who are participating remotely rather than in person.  We need to be sure that remote learners are able to be included from outdoors.

    If the number of students in the class exceeds the room capacity, will students be asked to attend on alternate days? Will instructors have discretion about attendance policies?

    Faculty can also view the room capacities currently in place at

    With the exception lab classes for which there are no appropriate alternate rooms, classes in this situation all have an instruction mode of PR (in person & remote synchronous), which means that the department was already planning on enabling remote students to attend. But, the discrepancy between the room size and the enrollment total means that some students who plan on attending in-person will need to attend some sessions remotely as well. Faculty can use their discretion in deciding the best approach to assigning the rotation for in-person attendance to their students.      

    Enrollment Services has notified departments that have classes currently in this situation; however, faculty are also encouraged to review their room sizes at the above link, as enrollment has not yet closed for the semester which means head counts can continue to change. 

    How will lab classes work?

    Because laboratories are high-touch spaces, the risk of disease transmission could be higher than with other classrooms.  Faculty are encouraged to consider teaching laboratories wholly online when it is possible to do so. When laboratories require some on-campus instruction, faculty are encouraged to consider teaching laboratories partially on-campus and partially online. When laboratories require fully on-campus instruction, a rotational approach is recommended. If laboratory capacity allows, it is recommended students be paired in two-person teams and rotate between on-campus and online participation. For example, the on-campus student might be responsible for manipulating the lab equipment and explaining the procedure to their lab partner who is participating remotely via videoconferencing. The remote partner might be responsible for recording data and other forms of lab documentation.

    How can I meet with students for office hours/advising?

    Office hours and advising are traditionally an important part of the faculty role. We all value the opportunity to support students in courses, advise students on curriculum and degree progress, and mentor students in our fields. Office hours should be conducted virtually using Zoom or Google Meet to allow all students to participate. Many faculty reported this fall that virtual office hours had distinct advantages as they were easy to schedule and had higher rates of uptake. Virtual office hours also eliminate any concerns over social distancing.  

    How will academic support services be provided, and will they be accessible to students who are fully remote or temporarily remote due to quarantine?

    Academic support services, including Tutoring and the Writing Center, will be available virtually for all students in the spring semester. You can refer a student by issuing an alert in Cardinal Success.


    Face covering policy 

    Will faculty be required to wear a face covering while teaching?

    In accordance with the District of Columbia requirements and Catholic University policy, face coverings must be worn.  Faculty can request to use a full face shield in combination with a physical plexiglass barrier and physical distancing while lecturing.  If faculty would like to request an accommodation in regards to the face covering policy, they should consult with HR and/or Frank Vinik.

    Will students be required to wear face coverings to class?

    The university will be requiring the use of face coverings on campus in general and in classrooms.  Current DC requirements include the use of face coverings in classrooms, along with students sitting 6 feet apart.  Catholic University is requiring the use of face coverings on campus as a way of showing our care and consideration for each other.  Please see the face coverings policy.  If students require an accommodation to this policy, they should contact DSS.

    If so, will faculty be required to enforce the face covering policy?

    Faculty should remind students who are not wearing face coverings in class that it is currently a requirement according to DC regulations and that it is a way that we are supporting our university community’s health and well-being.  Extra face coverings will be available in buildings so that if a student has forgotten one, it will be possible to obtain one easily.

    After a friendly reminder of the safety protocol, a student in my course is still not complying. What should I do?

    Our experience this fall was that students were very compliant and respectful related to wearing face coverings on campus.  Students are asked to adhere to a Student Code of Conduct.  In the event that students have been reminded and are not complying with the safety protocols in place in the classroom, please follow the disruptive student policy and email or  

    Will faculty and/or students be supplied with face coverings at the start of the semester? 

    Faculty and students were given face coverings at the start of the fall semester. Students who are arriving this spring will be given face coverings while supplies last.

    Will extra face coverings be supplied to instructors for students who come to class without a face covering?

    Facilities ordered a supply of standard surgical face coverings to distribute to the classroom buildings so that it will be possible to get a face covering for a student who comes to class without one.  Offices can request to re-stock through the Facility Service Center work order.

  • Classrooms: Hygiene and Air Circulation

    Will classrooms be cleaned in between classes?

    Custodial Services is expanding cleaning capacity by contracting out overnight routine cleaning functions with the aspiration of cleaning all classrooms between classes.  The contracted services will enable a reallocation of custodial staff to shift resources during classroom instruction times.  Please note, the classroom schedule and staffing assignments will dictate the final cleaning schedule.

    Will faculty be supplied with cleaning supplies?

    As more faculty and staff are returning to campus, we want to remind them that Facilities cleaning staff is still conducting touch-point cleaning. This involves using approved disinfectants at least once daily on high-touch surfaces including light switches, door knobs/handles, interior handrails, elevator buttons, ATM machines, vending machines, common-area furniture and common area computer lab keyboards, conference room tables, classroom tables, and desks.  

    Cleaning staff are continuing to place a placard on the doors of all classrooms, conference rooms, and offices when they have been cleaned. If a faculty or staff member uses a room that is marked with a "clean" placard, they should remove the notice so that custodial staff know to clean the space. 

    Employees should maintain the cleanliness of their own personal offices/spaces by cleaning their own desks and personal computer keyboards. They are also asked to be respectful of their coworkers by cleaning up after themselves in shared commonly used spaces such as kitchens and copier/print rooms. Facilities will provide disinfectant for common use in these spaces. 

    Employees are asked to please return the products promptly to the common areas after cleaning personal spaces. The items are in short supply and the University is unable to procure enough for each person to have their own personal products in their work space. To request refills on cleaning products, please submit a routine request to Facilities. 

    Will provisions be made to improve air filtration and ventilation of classrooms and offices?

    Please refer to this article for some of the steps that the University continues to take to improve the air quality of our classrooms.

  • Policies: Attendance, DSS and Technology


    If a class is structured so that students attend on alternate days, will students who choose to attend remotely on an “in person” day be in violation of the attendance policy? Conversely, will students who attend in person on a “remote” day be in violation of the attendance policy?

    We are aware that attendance policies are going to be complicated by using blended modality and online learning.  We know attendance and participation in class is critical to learning and that we have attendance policies for a reason.  In general, we may need to adopt new ideas of what attendance and participation looks like - it might mean answering a discussion board question in an asynchronous class or participating in a chat or poll during a synchronous class.

    Room capacity issues may also be tight for some classes, and it might not be possible for students to switch around what they are doing from day to day.  Too few coming for “in person” class days might be difficult in a different way than too many showing up on a given day, since one is pedagogically difficult and the other prompts concerns for health and safety.  Both could take away from the value of the classroom experience.

    We believe this decision is rightly in the hands of the instructor.  For it to work in everyone’s best interests, the best recommendation for managing this type of issue is clear communication of expectations.  If in your class attending remotely on an “in person” day without notification of a valid reason (student illness, need to self-isolate or self-quarantine) will result in missed points, that should be clearly written on your syllabus.  Your class policy for attending on a “remote” day should also be clearly written on your syllabus. 

    If classes are recorded, can a student who has been given permission to attend online complete a course asynchronously? 

    Instructors may require synchronous attendance for remote learners, as best practice for hybrid learning includes the integration of in-person and remote learners in synchronous activities. Asynchronous content may of course be provided to both cohorts of students as part of the instructional design of the course. 

    At times, students might need to ask for the option to participate in the class in an asynchronous manner.  For instance, it might be necessary for some students to complete a course asynchronously if they become ill or if they are self-isolated at home and have connectivity issues.  Students may also indicate that they are having issues with synchronous attendance due to time zone issues.  If this occurs, you can make a referral to the Dean of Students office, the Center for Academic Success Advisor, or the Faculty Advisor to make sure the student is getting the support they need to complete the class.  You can do that through email or

    What if a student contacts me to say they are going to miss class?

    If a student is going to miss classes, it would be appropriate to allow them to participate remotely and to contact the Dean of Students office.


    Disability Support Services

    Am I still required to provide students with disabilities with accommodations if my class is online or hybrid/blended?

    Students who present faculty a current letter of accommodation will continue to receive approved accommodations no matter the format of the course (e.g. hybrid, online, blended). DSS will continue to work with faculty to ensure that accommodations are met, including testing accommodations. If faculty or students have questions or concerns about accommodations, please contact DSS immediately. Please see DSS's FAQ for further information. 

    How will I know if a student in my class has an accommodation?

    Students will be emailing their instructors a PDF of their letter of accommodation.  Please be prepared to schedule a ZOOM meeting to discuss the letter with the student.

    How will a student get accommodations for tests?

    Please remember that all testing for Spring 2021 should be computer-based. DSS will not host any in-person testing. DSS will continue to work with professors to ensure accommodations are in place. Additionally, in Spring 2021 DSS will provide Zoom proctoring to students with testing accommodations whose classmates are also Zoom proctored. Please see further information on the DSS website under Accommodated Testing for Faculty.

    What do I do if I have questions or concerns about students with accommodations or accommodations themselves?

    Please contact DSS as soon as possible, so that we can talk with you through your questions or concerns.

    Do I need to do anything to make sure my course is accessible?

    Please work to make your course materials accessible and navigable for students. This includes, but is not limited to, using websites that are accessible and only using video that is captioned. If you have any questions about accessibility, please contact the Center for Teaching Excellence. 


    Technology Use

    What is the university doing to provide adequate support for instruction in these new modalities?

    Technology Services increased the number of professional staff available to provide support for both existing and new technology in the classrooms. Service desk staff will continue to provide on-demand classroom support as a priority, and additional technology was installed in classrooms to allow for enhanced remote issue resolution.  This was intended both to reduce the delay in addressing issues and to allow off-site staff to provide immediate assistance.  Technology Service tickets for technology support can be submitted at any time.  Additionally, CTE provided instructors the opportunity to participate in retreats on hybrid teaching in January 2021.

    If instruction is hybrid, will students be required to bring laptops to class? 

    Instructors should feel free to set the technology policy for each class. Individual instructors could require students to bring technology to class if necessary for pedagogical purposes, for example, to enable the use of interactive features such as polling and Kahoot.  Hybrid learning can be enhanced if students are able to be on zoom from in class to participate in the chat with students who are attending remotely.

    Will students who are learning remotely be required to turn their cameras on?

    We have learned that virtual participation in classes is greatly enhanced when students’ faces are visible.  We know we like to see the faces of our students while we are teaching; we know students like to see us teach and watch their peers.  Students should expect to have their cameras on during class, but instructors should also understand that students may not be able to use their camera for a variety of reasons.  If students have challenges with using their camera, you should plan to have a private discussion with the student.

    How is the university helping faculty teaching remotely with their instructional technology needs and expenses?

    The Provost’s Office purchased 42 loaner laptops in the spring of 2020. Interested faculty should submit their requests to their deans who in turn will work with the Provost’s Office to prioritize the requests since there are a limited number of laptops still available.  Faculty members also can use their campus offices and university classrooms as assigned.  Faculty can use classrooms while not in use for other classes and other university facilities to produce and deliver content remotely after submitting a request in 25Live; faculty should not use a room without doing the 25Live submission as we need to know when the rooms are used for Facilities to be able to clean them.

    For other technology requests, to support remote teaching in faculty offices or other locations, you would need to work with your dean who may be able to assist with your technology needs.

  • Training for Faculty

    Will training on the new technology that is being installed in campus classrooms be available? Will it be mandatory? In what format will it be delivered?

    Resources for using the new technology can be found here. CTE provided training on the classrooms in January.

    Will training in best practices for blended/hybrid learning be available? Will it be mandatory?

    The Center for Teaching Excellence offers training, professional development, and online resources for all instructors, including part time and full time faculty, adjuncts, and graduate student instructors. A Course Design Retreat was offered for all instructors in January, and workshops will be offered periodically throughout the spring semester. One-on-one sessions are also available for instructors who would like extra assistance, or feedback on their syllabi. Complete a request form to schedule an appointment. The CTE will be offering another training retreat during Summer 2021, which will be open to all instructors. At this time, training is highly recommended, but not mandatory. Visit the Center for Teaching Excellence website for updates on available services and resources.

  • Academic Services: Libraries


    Will the library be open on a regular schedule?

    Mullen Library will close January 25th through February 5th and then on February 8th will begin the spring semester with the same reduced schedule and limited onsite services as the fall semester. As student hiring and safety conditions allow, the aim will be to increase hours and services. Please see the Libraries COVID-19 Information Guide for the most up-to-date information.

    Will occupancy of the library be capped at a certain number?

    After the quarantine period, reservations are required to enter Mullen Library. In order to support those unable to come into Mullen, we are planning to continue: pickup of materials, shipping materials to remote patrons, digitization of print materials on demand, and online instruction and research consultations.