Carnegie Mellon University

COVID-19 Updates

Information and resources for the CMU community

Scotty with mask and vaccination bandaid

For Faculty: Course Format and Classroom Behavior

Last updated: 8/18/22

Course Format and Resources

Yes, you can require synchronous attendance provided you clearly articulate this requirement in your syllabus and add this requirement to your course profile. Requiring participation as part of your assessment/grading may encourage attendance for classes where materials/recordings are being provided. You should think carefully about how you will address the requirement with respect to students temporarily unable to meet the attendance requirement due to illness or public health requirement (e.g., quarantine).

IPO:  In-Person Only
Delivered in-person (such as in a classroom). Students will be in the classroom during the course’s scheduled meeting time. Reserved for courses where classroom facilities are required.

IPE:  In-Person Expectation
Delivered in-person (such as in a classroom). Students are expected to be in the classroom during the course's scheduled meeting time. 

IPR:  In-Person + Remote
Uses a combined approach of in-person attendance (such as in a classroom) and remote technology. Students may choose to attend in-person or remotely during the course’s scheduled meeting time.

IRR:  In-Person (Rotation) + Remote
Uses a combined approach of remote technology and rotating in-person attendance (i.e., if a course meets on MW, some attend in-person on M and remotely on W, while others attend remotely on M and in-person on W). Students may choose to attend in-person or remotely during the course’s scheduled meeting time.

REO:  Remote Only
Delivered remotely via technology. Students will attend remotely during the course’s scheduled meeting time.

Additional information on course modalities can be found on the enrollment services site.

The Eberly Center can provide guidance on ways to structure your course. Visit the Eberly Center site for resources or to set up a 1-to-1 consultation or send email to

Provided that the university classes are meeting in-person, in-person collaboration will be possible (subject to limitations on group size and mitigation measures). Some groups may opt for remote meetings. Review the strategies and resources provided on the Using Group Work Effectively to support student group.

Courses must remain in assigned modality. The IPR and IRR courses allow students to elect in-person or remote attendance on a day-by-day basis. Thus, these courses must continue to provide remote access even if remote students rarely attend.

There are many resources for this approach, which support everything from a single flipped class session to a fully flipped delivery of a course. We recommend consulting with Eberly; send email to to schedule a consultation. Resources are also available on its Flipping the Class page.

IPE/IPO course are expected to meet in person for the majority of their scheduled class times; however, remote or asynchronous content delivery may be part of the course. It is important to understand that if 100% of the class CAN be taken in a remote-only modality (e.g., as is true for IPR courses where the option exists), this class is considered a distance education course and you will be required to complete additional information about engagement opportunities in the course profile.

If the university’s COVID-19 posture changes to limit on-campus courses, such as during a COVID-19 surge, it is possible that an IPE or IPO class may meet remotely for a limited period of time.

The U.S. Dept. of Education regulations require “regular and substantive interaction” between instructors and students for all distance education courses. The “regular and substantive interaction” occurring between the instructor and student for each distance education course must be substantiated. For more information see a copy of the memo CMU Distance Education Modalities + Compliance with Department of Education Regulatory Requirements for Distance Education Courses. Additional information can be found Enrollment Services’ Teaching & Modalities in S3 webpage.

Course modality changes are not an expected response to students unable to travel. Existing, already designated remote options (e.g., REO, IPR, IRR courses) will be available for students. If a student in your IPE class requests remote access due to a travel issue, please refer the student to their academic advisor for re-registration.

We are asking advisors, instructors, and academic leaders to be sure to refer individual students seeking remote access accommodations to Disability Resources. It is important to recognize that review of these requests will be an interactive, iterative process and that the majority of students will be expected to attend class in person. Disability Resources staff are available to talk through any requests that you may be fielding from students in this regard.

If a student in your IPE class requests remote access related to an ADA accommodation, please refer your student to the Office of Disability ResourcesDo not shift the student to remote access without the student providing you with an accommodation from Disability Resources.

You may schedule and arrange your assessments as you determine, attending to the requirement that IPR classes allow remote engagement for all components of the course.

You should be attentive to issues of equity in providing different assessment methods or using different assessment tools with different groups of students. Additional information on Assessment and Remote Assessment are available on the Eberly Center website.

Faculty have identified alternative avenues for conducting classes should they become ill or unable to teach their courses, such as utilizing substitute instructors, guest lecturer, or remote options. Faculty should confirm and continue to utilize these options as needed.

When there is not a co-instructor option, one option could have students staying in person and have a TA or course assistant in the classroom while the faculty member joins via remote access, provided the TA meets Middle State Accreditation criteria.

Other options include:

  • reassigning the faculty to an already existing remote class
  • assigning the faculty member teaching the course to a later semester
  • assigning the course to an instructor who meets the department’s standards and rigor

It is not an option to simply convert the class to remote mode (REO) without the approval of the department head/unit lead and dean. Moreover, REO conversions create challenges since international students on F1 visas are only able to be enrolled in one REO course as a part of their FT academic load, potentially impacting their load.

Classroom Behavior

No, you cannot require it but you can request that individuals wear a facial covering in a classroom, theater, lab or common space. If individuals choose not to wear (or wear) a facial covering based on your request, there should be no negative consequences or repercussions.

It is not recommended that you poll. Rather than polling, we encourage having a conversation with students and colleagues as you collectively work through the new facial covering optional policy. You should be respectful of individual privacy and be aware of power imbalances in these discussions. As a reminder, there should be no negative consequences or repercussions for anyone who chooses not to wear (or wear) a facial covering.

A faculty member, staff member, student, contractor, or other third party may not be sanctioned, disciplined, reprimanded, or be subjected to any other negative actions based on the individual’s decision to wear or not wear a facial covering (except in situations where facial coverings are still required).

Examples of negative consequences or repercussions include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Removing an individual from a class, meeting, event, or other activity;
  • Negative grading or academic decisions;
  • Formal or informal disciplinary action;
  • Verbal reprimand;
  • Adverse academic actions or adverse changes in academic opportunities or assignments;
  • Adverse change in work assignments, opportunities or the terms and conditions of employment;
  • Harassment or bullying;
  • Threats of any of the above actions.

Faculty are not permitted to make individual adjustments or accommodations for student preference with respect to course delivery modality. Courses are to be offered in the modality that is assigned within S3. If a student requests an accommodation, please direct them to the Office of Disability Resources for consultation.

While we cannot guarantee that students will only use these recordings and materials for their own learning purposes, it is important to explain and document to students what is and is not appropriate use of the recordings. The Eberly Center has posted CMU’s Recording Policy and has provided sample language for documenting and explaining this in course syllabi at Updates for your syllabus (AY 2022-23).

Yes, there will be disinfectant wipes in classrooms to use as needed to clean equipment and surfaces. All CMU community members should continue to practice good hygiene, including frequent handwashing or using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

If you record your lecture or class, you control the use of this material. In rare instances, you may be asked to provide it to students with disability accommodations. But if students are approved for the accommodation of audio-recording lectures, in the vast majority of cases they are responsible for attending class and doing their own recording. Disability Resources staff will reach out to you if you are being asked to share your recording with a specific student.

If your course requires any technology (e.g., laptop, additional software, unique course materials), this needs to be disclosed in the course profile or in a course message. To make updates to the course profile or course message, please contact your department administrator. Requirements of this type should also be included in your syllabus.

If you wish to prohibit laptop use or prescribe only specific use of devices during class, please see the suggestions and sample syllabus language and use of mobile devices provided on the Eberly Center website.

Emergency grants are available to assist eligible students with any component of their cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to coronavirus, such as tuition, food, housing, technology, health care (including mental health care) and/or childcare. Students requiring additional financial assistance should reach out to their HUB liaison to discuss their specific needs.

Faculty Expectations and Office Hours

Faculty members and their departments should work flexibly to handle coverage as needed. This might mean asking a colleague to cover, looking at creative ways of working remotely, having a guest lecturer, or other options that might be relevant to the department or college. If a faculty member is feeling ill, they should not teach and they should not come to campus for 7 days if they have a COVID-19 positive test result. If a faculty member is positive and asymptomatic or has mild symptoms, they may choose to teach or have meetings remotely.  

If a faculty member develops symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, they must report the information to Community Health and Well-Being (CHWB) at CHWB will inform the Office of Human Resources’ Leaves Department, which will be in contact with the faculty member to provide them with information on the requirements they need to meet before they can return to work on campus. 

The Leaves Department will also provide guidance regarding leaves and other benefits in the event that the faculty member finds themselves unable to work remotely beyond just a few classes. The Leaves Department may be reached at Additional information on the processes can be found on the Symptoms and Reporting page

The supervisor will work with the faculty member to determine the best course of action: short-term coverage by a colleague, short-term Zoom sessions if the faculty member is well enough, or other solutions that fit in with the practices of the department, school or unit

The faculty member is not obligated to share any personal medical information, including a possible or actual COVID diagnosis, with students, faculty, or supervisor. It is up to the faculty member to choose what, if anything, to share. The faculty member could state that they are sick, or simply that the course is meeting in a different modality for a period of time. It may be useful to communicate to the students how the course will meet differently for what period of time (as best as is known). When the instructor returns to the classroom, they don't need to share anything about the illness: again, it is up to the instructor.

Yes, you are permitted to video record your class sessions; however, you are not required to record your class sessions. We do encourage all instructors to have a plan for supporting students who miss class due to illness. If you do record your class session(s), students should be informed that the class sessions are being recorded, and the related guidelines and recommended syllabus language can be found here.

However, please remember that recordings of class sessions that include personally identifiable student information (e.g., student faces or student voices) are considered education records. As a result, these recordings (i.e., those parts of the recordings that include personally identifiable student information) are governed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and you may only share these recordings with other students in the class, following the Eberly Center’s guidelines for Setting up Zoom to Teach Online.

Consistent with the university’s minimum requirements, anyone who displays COVID-19 symptoms or is diagnosed with COVID-19 must stay home.

If a student comes to a classroom visibly ill, it could be for any reason (e.g., seasonal allergies). In general, faculty should defer to the student’s own personal judgment of their wellness to attend a class. Faculty may suggest that a student contact University Health Services at 412-268-2157. In exceptional cases, where a student’s display of obvious COVID-19 symptoms are actively disrupting the learning experience in the classroom, the student may be asked to leave by the faculty member.

IPE courses include the expectation of attendance. When students are unable to attend due to a COVID-19 diagnosis or are prevented from attendance due to quarantine, faculty are expected to find an arrangement to support the student’s continued progress in the course.

For other illnesses or absences, we will follow the excused absence procedures previously developed. If faculty members have course-specific policies with respect to student absences, these must be consistent with university policy and documented on the syllabus. Please note that faculty members and instructors should not ask students for health-related documentation, such as when their absences exceed the attendance policy. The faculty member can work with the college liaisons and/or student advisor, who will coordinate the gathering of documentation and accommodations (see this memo for more information).

You may support your students as you see fit, with in-person or remote office hours or a mix of the two. If the campus is in a remote posture, then sessions should not be held in person. When using remote office hours, best practices should be followed.