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August 27, 2020

Dear colleagues,

We write to remind you of important teaching policies and provide you with resources that will be useful as you finalize your course syllabus for the Fall Semester. Most of this information is applicable to those teaching undergraduates, but some information is also pertinent for those teaching graduate students. Remember to bookmark the links provided!


New online teaching resource for faculty:

Please bookmark Teaching During the COVID-19 Crisis: Resources for AS&E Faculty and Instructors:


Syllabus Statements You Can Cut and Paste

In-Person Classroom Health and Safety Policy: As you're aware, due to the COVID-19 pandemic the academic experience will be different for all of us. When physically in person for this course, you'll be responsible for wearing a mask that covers your mouth and nose, practicing physical distancing of 6 feet with other individuals, and keeping your desk and chair on the designated spots on the ground. You will also be responsible for wiping down your own desk, chair, and other frequently touched surfaces with alcohol wipes or other approved disinfectant upon arrival and departure from the classroom (or lab, studio, etc.). You are also responsible for following the one-way directional patterns indicated by the signs in the hallways in academic buildings. It is imperative that we work together as a community to uphold these standards to help mitigate the risk of spreading the virus. Failure to do so may result in a referral to the Dean of Student Affairs Office. For more information about expectations for the Fall, please review the Fall Guide here.

Academic Support at the StAAR Center: The StAAR Center (formerly the Academic Resource Center and Student Accessibility Services) offers a variety of resources to all students (both undergraduate and graduate) in the Schools of Arts and Sciences, and Engineering, the SMFA, and The Fletcher School; services are free to all enrolled students. Students may make an appointment to work on any writing-related project or assignment, attend subject tutoring in a variety of disciplines, or meet with an academic coach to hone fundamental academic skills like time management or overcoming procrastination. Students can make an appointment for any of these services by visiting, or by visiting

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: Tufts University values the diversity of our body of students, staff, and faculty and recognizes the important contribution each student makes to our unique community. Tufts is committed to providing equal access and support to all qualified students through the provision of reasonable accommodations so that each student may fully participate in the Tufts experience. If a student has a disability that requires reasonable accommodations, they should please contact the StAAR Center (formerly Student Accessibility Services) at or 617-627-4539 to make an appointment with an accessibility representative to determine appropriate accommodations. Please be aware that accommodations cannot be enacted retroactively, making timeliness a critical aspect for their provision.


Academic Integrity Policies and Syllabus Statement

A copy-and-paste syllabus statement about academic integrity can be found online with more information about our Academic Integrity Policy and plagiarism-prevention resources. Important: If you require students to submit their work through originality detection software, you are required to add a syllabus statement. Please keep in mind that per a 2006 faculty vote, instructors are required to report suspected cases of plagiarism, cheating, or other forms of student academic misconduct to the Dean of Student Affairs Office for investigation and adjudication through the Student Judicial Process.


Important Dates and Policies for Instructors

Our 15-week semester: Our semester includes approximately 13 to 14 weeks for instruction, one day for the Reading Period, and approximately one week for Final Examinations (or Review Boards at SMFA at Tufts). When you design your course, please keep in mind that your course does not end on the last day of instruction.

  • Please do not schedule your final exam (or final assignment) on the last day of instruction; instead, make use of the Final Examination Period.
  • If you do not plan to offer a traditional “final exam,” you may use your allotted “exam time” for oral presentations, a class debate, poster session, or other culminating learning experience.
  • If you assign a paper or take-home exam instead of a traditional final exam, please set the due date during the final exam period, instead of on the last day of class or during the Reading Period.
  • See Tufts’ Academic Calendar for this semester’s instructional dates, holidays, and exam periods.

Reading Period: Students need time to absorb knowledge, reflect on what they have learned, make connections among various topics and texts, and review the course as a whole if they are to crystallize knowledge and be able to apply it as critical thinkers. Please preserve the Reading Period for this purpose.

  • Exams and make-up courses may not be scheduled during the Reading Period.
  • You may offer optional review sessions or office hours during this time, if you wish, or departmental events (such as presentations or poster sessions).
  • Please avoid assigning due dates for papers and take-home exams during the Reading Period.
  • Senior Honors Thesis defenses may be scheduled during the Reading Period or during the instructional period, but not during the Final Exam period.

Scheduling Your Final Exam or Culminating Learning Experience: If you plan to administer a final exam or other culminating learning experience for your class, you are urged to use the Final Examination Period (December 15 to 22) and the Final Exam Block Schedule so that you and your students are less likely to face scheduling conflicts.

  • Please inform your students about the date and time of the final exam or culminating event on the syllabus and early in the semester.

The Registrar asks us to remind you that if you plan to hold an in-person final examination or in-person culminating event for your class during the Final Exam Period, you must have your administrative staff submit a request for a classroom through Reserve Tufts.

  • Classrooms are NOT automatically reserved during the Final Exam Period for any course. Please contact your department administrator or email with questions.
  • The StAAR Center strongly encourages faculty to work with students with disabilities to manage their exam accommodations, remotely or with the assistance of their department coordinator.

Religious Holy Days: If your class is scheduled to meet during a religious holy day, you must allow students who observe that holiday an absence from class, provide ample opportunities for such students to make up work missed on such occasions without penalty, and try to ensure that no examinations, written reports, oral reports, or other mandatory class assignments are scheduled for or due on such holy days. Scroll down to the bottom of Tufts’ Academic Calendar for dates of some holy days that may conflict with classes.

Drop Deadlines for Fall Semester: The last day for students to drop a class without record of enrollment is October 13. (First-year undergraduate students are allowed to drop a class without record of enrollment through November 17.) We encourage you to inform students of their progress in your class before October 13. Students appreciate a concrete measure of their progress (such as the results of a quiz or paper) before the drop deadline so they can determine whether they are likely to succeed in the class. 

Grading Deadlines: Please post grades before 9:00 AM on January 4. We recommend adding this to your calendar with a deadline of midnight on January 3. It is important that all final grades are entered by the deadline so that the Liberal Arts and Engineering Academic Standing Committees can accurately review student transcripts.


Other Resources to Support Instruction

Don’t Cancel that Class! Occasionally, almost all of us must cancel a class to attend a conference, perform jury duty, or observe a religious holy day. If an obligation poses a conflict to your class schedule, please keep in mind that (with enough advance planning) the Career Center, the StAAR Center, and the Counseling & Mental Health Service offer programs for when a professor must be away. Consult the Student Life website for alternatives to cancelling a class.

SPIRIT Program: For faculty requesting funds to help defray costs for student-faculty engagement beyond the classroom, there is an online application form at the SPIRIT website. Funds are very limited, so make your request early, by October 15 for fall semester events. See SPIRIT website for program details and reimbursement process. (Please note that SPIRIT is for engagement with undergraduates only. The various graduate programs, GSAS, and the SOE Graduate Programs Office may have some resources for grad students.)

Excellent Teaching Advice: See the many outstanding ideas for course design, teaching, and assessment at the Teaching@Tufts web site.

Teaching During the COVID-19 Crisis: Remember to visit and bookmark


With much appreciation for all of our faculty striving to be such excellent teachers during these difficult times,

Carmen Lowe
Dean of Academic Advising and Undergraduate Studies

School of Arts and Sciences

Jennifer Stephan
Dean of Academic Advising and Undergraduate Studies
School of Engineering