Guidance for Fall 2021 Courses

Case Western Reserve University 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.  

Guiding Principles

  • 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 no later than Friday, May 14.


The following timeline has been established for undergraduate and graduate courses. Professional courses will have their own unique deadlines as managed and communicated by the schools.

  • March 9-10, 2021:  Principles finalized and communicated to faculty and staff (including graduate students), with special attention to department schedulers so they may begin to process accordingly  
  • March 11, 2021:  Fall 2021 class data available to edit in SIS
  • April 2, 2021:  Fall 2021 class updates completed in SIS
  • April 12, 2021:  Fall 2021 class information available and undergraduate and Graduate School student shopping carts open (professional course dates will be determined by each school)
  • April 26, 2021:  Undergraduate registration begins (professional and graduate student registration will be determined by each school)

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.

**Note: Any undergraduate course is permitted to be taught in a hybrid format (one that has both a remote component as well as an in-person component) in fall and spring semesters.  Please discuss this option with your Chairs.