Close Menu

September 1, 2021

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!

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 16 to 23) and the Final Exam Block Schedule so that you and your students are less likely to face scheduling conflicts.

  • A few of your students may be studying in different time zones, so please allow a reasonable amount of flexibility in scheduling final exams. For those teaching asynchronous courses, please allow a 24-hour window on the date of the exam. For those teaching synchronous courses, please adhere to your final exam time block in Eastern Standard Time but consider allowing some scheduling flexibility for students in different time zones who would otherwise be required to take the exam in the middle of the night.
  • 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 me 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 the Space and Resource Reservation System. Classrooms are NOT automatically reserved during the Final Exam Period for any course. Please contact your department administrator or email with questions.
  • If you are teaching an in-person class, we ask that you plan ahead for the possibility that some of your students may need to take your exam virtually.
  • 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 Deadline for Fall Semester: The last day for students to drop a class without record of enrollment is October 13. 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. 

Withdrawal deadlines: Undergraduates may withdraw from a class (for a grade of W) through the 10th week of the semester (November 17), which is also the deadline for students to elect Pass/Fail grading and for first-year undergraduates to withdraw without record of enrollment. Graduate students may withdraw through December 14. Reminder: In Fall 2021 we will no longer be using Exceptional Pass/Fail grading, so there will be no deadline for students to elect this exceptional grading option.

Grading Deadlines: Please post grades before 9:00 AM on January 3. We recommend adding this to your calendar with a deadline of midnight on January 2.


Recording sessions in Zoom: Classes may be recorded to accommodate students unable to attend or working across different time zones who may not be able to attend classes at the scheduled times. Massachusetts law requires that faculty who plan to record their classes inform their students in advance. Please note that Zoom is compliant with Massachusetts law on two-party consent and the system automatically informs participants when the recording function is turned on. Make it very clear and explicit before class that the discussion will be recorded, and that if they participate, they are consenting to the recording. If a student has objections to being recorded, the student should contact the faculty member before class. The faculty member should make clear that any failure to participate in recorded class sessions will not impact grades. We strongly encourage you to enable captioning in all of your Zoom courses or Zoom meetings with students. Captioning positively impacts a wide range of students. To learn how to add captioning to zoom, please follow the instructions here

Flexibility for students in quarantine or arriving late: We ask professors to extend students flexibility for scheduling conflicts beyond the student’s control. A few students may be arriving later or may still be in mandatory quarantine in the first week of classes. Some international students have experienced unavoidable delays in acquiring a visa and travelling to the US. If students experience an unavoidable conflict between a scheduled class and their move-in time and required COVID testing, they should inform their professor in advance by email and, if possible, attend class virtually. Students who experience an unavoidable travel delay in arriving in Medford should inform their professor in advance by email and, if possible, attend class virtually.

Syllabus Statements You Can Cut and Paste:

We ask instructors to include some or all of these statements on their syllabus or in their Canvas course site.

In-Person Classroom Health and Safety Policy: When physically in person and indoors for this course, you'll be responsible for wearing a mask that covers your mouth and nose. 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.

Mental Health Support: As a student, there may be times when personal stressors or emotional difficulties interfere with your academic performance or well-being. The Counseling and Mental Health Service (CMHS) provides confidential consultation, brief counseling, and urgent care at no cost for all Tufts undergraduates as well as for graduate students who have paid the student health fee. To make an appointment, call 617-627-3360. Please visit the CMHS website: to learn more about their services and resources.

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 Science, Engineering, the SMFA and Fletcher; 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

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: Tufts University values the diversity of our 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 you have a disability that requires reasonable accommodations, 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.

Policy on sharing. This course is designed for everyone to feel comfortable participating in discussion, asking questions, learning, and facilitating the learning of others. In order for that atmosphere to be maintained, the recordings of our conversations will only be shared with the enrolled students in the class (not posted publicly) and it is prohibited for any of us who have access to the video to share it outside the course. Similarly, I have specifically designed the syllabus, exams, handouts, and lectures for the people who are enrolled in the course this term and those may not be shared outside this course. It is against Tufts policy for anyone to share any content made available in this course including course syllabi, reading materials, problems sets, videos, handouts, and exams, with anyone outside of the course without the express permission of the instructor. This especially includes any posting or sharing of videos or other recordings on publicly accessible websites or forums. Any such sharing or posting could violate copyright law or law that protects the privacy of student educational records.

Academic Integrity Policies, Syllabus Statement, and Exam Integrity Agreement

  • 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. See link above on required 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 Office of Community Standards for investigation and resolution.
  • You may also wish to add an academic integrity agreement to precede your exams: The Tufts University statement on academic integrity holds that: “Academic integrity is the joint responsibility of faculty, students, and staff. Each member of the community is responsible for integrity in their own behavior and for contributing to an overall environment of integrity at the university.” I accept this responsibility, affirm that I am an honest person who can be trusted with to do the right thing, and certify that the work I will do on this exam is mine alone. [Leave space for student to add signature or click to agree.]

Other Resources to Support Instruction

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

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 1 for the fall semester. See SPIRIT website for program details and reimbursement process. (Please note that SPIRIT is for engagement with undergraduates, only. The various graduate programs and GSAS may have some resources for grad students.)

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