Guidance for Fall 2021

Guiding Principles for Faculty On-Campus Presence

(May 17, 2021) In recognition of the improving health situation associated with the pandemic, CWRU has announced its intention to return to in-person operations for the Fall 2021 semester. CWRU will make a final determination concerning safety of working and learning on campus closer to the beginning of the Fall semester. With the issuance of these guidelines, faculty members should plan for on-campus presence similar to what was expected for the Fall 2019 (pre-pandemic) semester. These guidelines will be updated when necessary if conditions of the pandemic and campus safety require further action.

These principles pertain to the three domains of faculty activity: research and scholarship, teaching, and service. All options available to faculty members through CWRU’s regular policies and the Faculty Handbook (e.g., FMLA, ADA, and/or leave policies) remain in effect. In the event that a faculty member believes they cannot perform any on-campus responsibilities because of a COVID-19 related issue, and if a solution cannot be found at the dean’s-office level, then such faculty member shall be directed to contact the Provost’s Office, which will attempt to resolve the issue with a group of confidential advisors.


As has been the case for the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters, federal agencies require the continuation of research activities if the sponsored research agreement is to remain in effect and if costs are reimbursed. If CWRU determines that the campus environment is safe, faculty members who ordinarily conduct their research on campus (exclusive of fieldwork or community-based-research, etc.) will be expected to be present on campus.


Unless CWRU determines that the learning spaces on campus are not safe for teaching, faculty members are expected to be present on campus for any in-person, blended or hybrid courses they are assigned to teach. Faculty members who qualify may apply for a leave or accommodation under the Faculty Handbook or other related University policy. In regard to student mentoring, faculty members have the discretion to decide, after consultation with their students, whether an in-person presence is needed to provide adequate support.


Service-related activities (including committee work) can be conducted using a combination of in-person meetings or remote technologies. In determining the modality of the service interaction, the preferences of all involved should be considered. 

Guiding Principles for Course Delivery

(March 10, 2021) CWRU plans for the resumption of in-person instruction for the vast majority of fall 2021 classes at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels. What does this mean to faculty and staff planning for course delivery fall semester, as well as those graduate and professional programs that begin on multiple dates during the summer months?  The following guiding principles have been established to assist in this process.

  • Principle 1:  For schools with fall 2021 programs beginning in May or June, initial planning should follow the existing guidance for emergency teaching modality designations and current COVID-19 classroom capacity limits, while allowing for flexibility to move to the social distancing guidelines in effect at the time the course is offered. 
  • Principle 2: For fall 2021 courses beginning after July 1, the schedule of classes in SIS will default to in-person modalities. Recognizing the potential need for flexibility in course modalities (due to remaining pandemic constraints on students such as visas and travel for international students), we will maintain the Emergency Course designations through fall 2021. These designations mean that in such special circumstances, Emergency Remote Synchronous and Emergency Remote Asynchronous will be retained as categories of delivery alongside the traditional in-person and hybrid delivery models.  
  • Principle 3:  Permission to employ Emergency Remote Synchronous and Asynchronous designations will be granted on a limited basis by the respective school/College leadership. Faculty convenience will not be considered a valid reason for an exception to be granted.  Requests for exceptions will be submitted to Department Chairs (if appropriate) and forwarded to their respective Associate Deans for Academics for a decision. The process for requesting exemptions will be developed and communicated by the respective school and the College. 
  • Principle 4:  Classrooms will be restored to pre-pandemic capacities in a sequence that reflects the start-dates of the academic programs that will utilize those facilities. This prioritization will include classrooms on both the University Circle Campus and the Health Education Campus.  
  • Principle 5:  It is the university’s expectation that all students who are able to come to campus make every effort to do so during the fall 2021 semester. All students will be encouraged to register for their fall courses assuming they will be able to return to campus. Throughout this semester, conditions will continue to be monitored with respect to international students who may be unable to travel to the US because of visa or other delays. For those students unable to re-join our campus by the start of their academic program, guidance will be given to help students make progress on their degrees. This may include allowing courses to be taken at institutions near their homes, developing country-based pods, or organizing additional remote options based on course enrollments. A sub-committee led by the Center for International Affairs involving the Associate Deans for Academic Affairs group has been tasked to develop recommendations using student course registration data.

As we continue to monitor the pandemic, and as we work to reunite our campus together to be better and stronger, know that we will remain in communication with one another.  If pandemic conditions change, the university will adapt according to the best public health guidance available at that time.  We will share ideas, we will listen, and we will adjust, just as we have done so as a community since the start of this pandemic.