Guidance for Instruction and Student Support

This information has been prepared for faculty and staff in Academic & Student Affairs, and is intended to provide guidance to prepare for instruction and support of students for the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 semesters. This site will be regularly updated as new information becomes available, so please check back frequently. If you have comments, questions or recommendations, please send them to

Academic Calendar

  • The semester begins on Tuesday, January 19, the day after the Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration and ends on May 1. This results in a 15-week semester, consistent with past semesters, and instructional time is unchanged. 
  • There will be no Spring Break.
  • Wednesday, March 10 and Thursday, April 1, 2021 have been identified as break days for the Winter 2021 semester. The University will remain open; however, no classes will be held and no assignments may be due on these dates.
  • Extension of the late withdrawal date to April 9, 2021.
  • Extension of the deadline to request CR/NC to January 29, 2021.

Attendance Policy for 2020-21

The University has a published Class Attendance Policy in the GVSU Catalog that details what is expected of both students and faculty. COVID-19 related absences should be “excused”, according to the current policy. Students should be utilizing the daily self-assessment to report health status. Class participation may still be part of a student’s grade as engagement can be accomplished in multiple ways which do not require students to be “in-seat” during the course. Class attendance and engagement are very important, whether the class is online or face-to-face, and students are expected to attend and engage in in-person class meetings when there is no health risk to others; for classes that meet online, students are expected to attend and engage in all meetings. Students still have the responsibility to notify the instructor of an absence in a reasonable amount of time. The purpose of this temporary policy is to ensure the health and safety of all members of our community.

  • Faculty are prohibited from having an attendance policy for in-person meetings that directly affects grades.
  • Notes from health care providers are not necessary for "excused" absences.
  • Students are also expected to notify faculty of their absence in a timely manner.

Classroom Protocol

Before coming to class, students and the instructor should consult the most up-to-date information on classroom and building sanitation and cleaning here:

Instructors should bring to class their own white board supplies should they wish to use the whiteboards. Faculty can reach out to their departments to order these and other supplies for the classrooms.

When arriving for and participating in class, students and the instructor should:

  • Maintain 6 feet of distance from others even during collaborative and active learning activities.
  • Wear a face covering (see below for more details on face coverings).
  • Leave empty those chairs with “seat closed” signs (to ensure appropriate social distancing).
  • Allow others to exit before entering the classroom.
  • Use the hand sanitizer, which is available in each classroom
  • Use the available sanitizing supplies to wipe surfaces you will touch, such as desk surfaces, seating areas, and any shared equipment such as computer keyboard, mouse, and projector control buttons.

At the end of class:

  • Wipe down any surfaces and shared equipment used. Dispose of paper towels in trash receptacles.
  • Leave the classroom furniture as shown in the seating diagram available in each classroom. Chairs must be located on “sit/stand here” stickers.
  • Those leaving the classroom should fully exit before the incoming class enters.

Face Coverings

Face coverings that cover the mouth and nose are required indoors. Face coverings are required outdoors when social distancing is not possible. Face coverings must thoroughly cover the nose, mouth and chin. For GVSU’s most up-to-date face covering policy, consult

For strategies to encourage student compliance, consult the Face Coverings Toolkit, found on the website of the Office of the Provost:

In addition, Human Resources has published the Face Covering Compliance Protocol.  A flyer version of the Protocol will be posted in all classrooms.

Field Trips

When field trips are a required part of a course, they are considered “essential travel.” In-state trips do not need approval by a supervisor, but out-of-state trips do.

It is critical that trip organizers manage travel risks.  For instance, some modes of travel may make social distancing difficult, such as a rental van, thus increasing risk for COVID-19. When considering university travel deemed essential for groups, use of the GVSU Group Travel Risk Assessment Tool is encouraged to assist with planning.

The Risk Assessment Tool, language about the use of vans (social distancing, hygiene), and other information will be linked here soon.

Final Exam Schedule

Face-to-face sections

Use the final exam schedule as published on the registrar’s website, based on the days and times your course is currently scheduled to meet.

Online-synchronous sections

Use the final exam schedule as published on the registrar’s website.


In consulting the schedule as published on the registrar’s website, identify your exam’s time based on the first in-person class meeting day. There may be a few student conflicts and we encourage faculty to be flexible for these cases.

Staggered Hybrid/Hyflex (Groups)

Exams and other synchronous culminating experiences should be online, since the classroom is unlikely to be large enough to hold the entire class. In consulting the schedule as published on the registrar’s website, identify your exam’s time based on the day and time of your course’s first in-person meeting. There may be some student conflicts with this method of assigning times for final exams and we encourage faculty to be flexible in these cases. If a course section has multiple students with time conflicts, an on-line exam with a 24-48 hour window (as described below) can also be used.

Online-asynchronous (partially or completely)

Hold exams and other culminating experiences within a 24-48 hour window to allow students to fit in the activity/assignment/exam around their other scheduled exams. We encourage faculty to spread the exam windows for their online courses throughout final exam week so that students are more likely to have assignments and exams spaced apart. Faculty may consider polling students to find an exam window that fits well with their other exams.

Financial Aid

Students should be directed to the Office of Financial Aid for assistance on all financial needs. GVSU remains committed to supporting students because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and is available to help students in times of financial need. Financial Aid has several different options, including Hardship funds. Hardship funds are available to assist in paying for the following expenses and can be accessed by students who are not receiving traditional financial aid:

  • GVSU account balance
  • Textbooks, Course Materials, and Supplies
  • Food
  • Housing costs (rent, mortgage, utilities, etc.)
  • Internet Access
  • Technology (computer, tablet, etc.)
  • Healthcare costs
  • Childcare expenses

All financial aid options offered, including loans, must be utilized prior to offering additional grant funding.

Special Circumstance & Financial Hardship Requests:

Food and Drink

It will be difficult for students and instructors to eat or drink in the classroom while wearing a face covering. For drinking, maintaining the face covering and using a straw would be acceptable. Otherwise, instructors should consider scheduling short breaks to allow for eating and drinking outdoors. Likewise, students should not eat or drink in the library or other indoor shared spaces.

Illness (COVID-19)

The university has published separate guidance for students, faculty, or staff members regarding exposure to, or positive test for, COVID-19, including what instructors should do for their students in isolation or quarantine.

Instructional Technology

Technology-related information is found on the Technology-related Information for Winter 2021 website.


Hours & Space

  • Hours for the semester are available at:
  • Seating has been reduced by ⅔ to ensure the proper social distancing
  • Computer availability has also been reduced to ensure the proper social distancing. Therefore, computers will be limited to GVSU students
  • Study rooms and presentation rooms remain open to students. Seating is provided for 1-3 person per room, to meet social distancing requirements. Rooms can be reserved at:
  • Knowledge Market: Appointments and ‘drop-ins’ will occur online using Google Meet to ensure the safety of students and peer consultants. To book an appointment, visit:

Liaison Librarians

GVSU libraries will be offering full liaison librarian services in virtual modes during the summer and fall 2020 semesters to protect students, teaching faculty, and liaisons. All core liaison services will remain available in a virtual format. Liaisons will continue to:

  • Instruct (synchronously and asynchronously) about library and information literacy concepts and strategies
  • Consult about research with students and faculty
  • Facilitate collection acquisition to support curricula
  • Partner with teaching faculty to support assignment design that integrates information literacy
  • Consult about scholarly communications

Liaisons will offer these services virtually using a variety of tools including, but not limited to: Blackboard, Zoom, Google Meet, Library Guides, Blackboard Collaborate, videos (using Panopto or Camtasia), email, handouts, and slide presentations.

Offering virtual services will allow us to decrease density in the physical library, while maintaining our high standards of service in a manner that allows liaisons, teaching faculty, and students to safely and flexibly engage.

If in-person modes are required, please contact your Liaison Librarian to discuss options.  Exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis in very limited circumstances to meet educational needs that can’t be done in a virtual setting.

Liaison Librarians’ contact information is online at: (

Office Hours, Student Advising, and Meeting with Students

Faculty and staff are not expected to meet one-on-one with students in their offices, as those spaces do not realistically allow for proper physical distancing. Meetings with students can happen online or, if necessary, in scheduled conference rooms or spaces that permit distancing. Faculty and staff are not expected to be available for unscheduled face-to-face consultations or meetings. The Pew FTLC offers virtual office hour guidance on the Preparing for Fall 2020 page

Advisors and advising offices are continuing full service, but primarily via remote sessions and communication with students. Physical campus offices will be “open,” but primary service to students will be virtual meetings.

Recording of Courses

The question of course recordings lies at the intersection of technology, faculty discretion, and FERPA.  Face-to-face and online course meetings can be recorded by the faculty member (using the option in Blackboard Collaborate, Zoom or via Panopto, for example) and posted to the specific Blackboard course site.  Videos that include student voices or images should be deleted at the end of the semester.

For videos that include students’ images/voices, here are student consent scenarios:

Students do not have the right to record classroom lectures and discussions without securing prior permission from the course instructor, but do have the right to take written notes (or typed notes on a computing device). There may be some cases where students with documented learning or physical disabilities need such electronic assistance; in these cases, the student would have documentation from Disability Support Resources (DSR), be in touch with the instructor well ahead of time to arrange appropriate accommodations, and have signed an agreement with DSR not to share the recordings. DSR has included other information about such requests in their FAQ for faculty and staff.

Faculty members are encouraged to use their syllabi to indicate whether or not they are giving students permission for electronic recording during class. Past history suggests that Grand Valley students tend to ask before recording lectures. If an instructor is faced with such a request, they can decide what is best for them and their class. They may want to consider what will happen with a student’s recordings once they’re made, and whether additional policies or practices are appropriate – such as requesting that the student turn off the recording device during sensitive classroom discussions or if other students express concerns with being recorded.

To obtain consent to record class meetings, use the FERPA Recording Consent form (located on the Registrar’s webpage under Student Forms).

Regarding storage limits for recordings:

  • Zoom
    • Cloud storage is available with no limit per month.  Recording are auto-deleted in 30 days, which can be changed when setting up the Zoom meeting.
    • Recordings under Zoom should be saved to the cloud and directed by faculty to the Zoom cloud storage location for viewing.
    • Please remove recording as soon as possible to ensure adequate cloud storage is available for GVSU community.  Zoom is limited to the overall GVSU cloud storage of 18TB.
  • Bb Collaborate
    • No limits
    • No additional costs
    • No uploads, already connected to Blackboard.

Smaller Rooms on Campus for Use as One-off Academic Activity and Student Study

There are smaller rooms available at the University during the Winter 2021 semester, including our smallest classrooms and a variety of conference rooms.  These rooms are large enough to allow for a small group of people to meet while practicing social distancing. Among the uses of these rooms this winter:

  • One-on-one meetings for advising, tutoring, faculty office hours, and other appointments.
  • For students who have a synchronous online course scheduled before or after an in-seat course, to have a place to sit and attend the online course.
  • For faculty to use a white board while recording a lecture to be posted online.
  • For a student to study alone.
  • For small groups of students to study together (while practicing social distancing).

First priority for use of these rooms is for activities that have been scheduled: classes, appointments, and meetings. Faculty and staff may reserve these rooms through the EMS system. Students cannot reserve these small classrooms, but if a room is available, they can use it on a first-come, first-serve basis. Signs will be placed on room doors to indicate that these are “study and collaboration rooms”, with guidance on COVID-19 risk mitigation strategies and appropriate room use. To view a list of available rooms, please see the Unscheduled or lightly-scheduled classrooms & reservable conference rooms webpage.

The surfaces should be cleaned before and after using the rooms.

Syllabus Language

In light of the need for flexibility during these uncertain times, it is especially important that syllabi clearly describe the professor’s expectations of students. For example, it might be necessary to include additional expectations about course schedule or format changes, revised technology requirements, or adoption of new learning materials. New suggested content has been added to the Pew FTLC Syllabus Statement Examples website. Statements include language around topics such as:

  • Caring for students
  • Financial hardship
  • Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor
  • Risk management for laboratory, studio, and performance-based courses
  • Synchronous class session privacy

Teaching Resources

Consult the range of resources available from the following offices:

Travel and Off-campus activities

  • To protect everyone’s health, students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to refrain from all travel throughout the semester.
    • In some cases, academic programs or university policy may prohibit travel (e.g. international);
    • In other cases, highly managed travel may occur with university oversight (e.g. athletics).
  • Work-related travel (“University Business Travel”) is limited:
    • Only travel deemed essential should be considered for approval.
    • Non-essential travel to domestic and international locations is prohibited.
    • More details, including which kinds of travel must be approved ahead of time, are in the Lakers Together Handbook.
  • Field Trips (see section on Field Trips above)

Visitors and Guests

There should not be anyone in scheduled classroom or lab sessions other than students who have formally enrolled in the section, or the assigned course instructor(s). Alternate and temporary personnel processes for the 2020-21 academic year mean that fellow faculty will not be conducting in-person classroom observation sessions or reports.

Visitors and guests to campus should only be there for essential business.

Zoom Security

To set up Zoom sessions correctly to prevent Zoom bombing or gate-crashing:  Students who disrupt online sessions, or enable others to do so, are subject to sanctions under the Student Code (STU 2.3.3).

During online sessions, students should use the name they have on the GVSU system.