For academic instructors, emergency preparedness training, such as CPR or Active Threat training, can give you the skills to properly react to emergency situations to better protect yourself and assist others until responders arrive. Review our Emergency Preparedness for Instructors guide (pdf) to understand your important role in evacuations, medical emergencies, and other disruptive situations. In addition, academic instructors should take steps to ensure that you are personally prepared for emergencies and disasters.
Prior to each semester, instructors should prepare for academic disruptions by:
- Adding a statement to the course syllabus such as: “In the event of a campus emergency that disrupts academic activities, course requirements, deadlines and grading percentages are subject to change. Information about changes in this course will be communicated as soon as possible by email, and on Canvas. If we are not able to meet face-to-face, students should immediately log onto Canvas and read any announcements and/or access alternative assignments. Students are also encouraged to continue the readings and other assignments as outlined on this syllabus or subsequent syllabi.”
- Use Canvas for syllabus information and grades throughout the term. Keeping an ongoing record of grades is particularly important should the need arise to issue emergency grades.
- Make sure the course syllabus contains enough information for each week of the semester such that students could continue on their own for a short period of self-study if needed.
- Create modules, lessons, assignments on Canvas at least a week in advance throughout the term so that these can be available to students in case of a disruption. Graded discussion board activities and self-grading quizzes are good options when classes can’t meet. Canvas modules also have an adaptive release option that allows for building self-guided lessons that progress based on student responses.
- Record lectures or narrated slide shows that can replace lectures.
- Identify other sections of the course that could potentially merge with your section or share instructional resources such as recorded lectures, assignments, quizzes
Instructors should review the brief Academic Continuity Planning guide (PDF) that provides suggestions on how to best be prepared for academic disruptions. The Cornell Center for Teaching Innovation provides planning, strategies, and tools to help faculty rapidly shift learning environments.
Academic continuity planning provides a framework to guide academic operations in the event that a significant disruption to campus operations impedes academic activity. The goal is to continue academic activities as much as possible and to mitigate the effects of a significant academic disruption, which include serious academic and financial consequences for graduating students, international students, and students receiving financial aid. Academic continuity is outlined in the University Continuity of Operations Plan, and is managed by the Office of the Provost in close coordination with the Incident Leadership Team. Colleges and Schools are encouraged to identify essential services and supporting critical resources in order to develop academic continuity strategies. In the event of a disruption, College leadership should work directly with the Provost and Incident Leadership Team to communicate priorities and resource needs.
Academic continuity planning may include strategies for the loss of teaching and learning facilities (including loss of public infrastructure or access to facilities), a significant reduction in faculty, staff and student attendance, and the need to provide instruction without face-to-face contact. Academic continuity planning should include:
- Create a system for prioritizing courses in the event that resources have to be rationed and allocated. These might include high-enrollment courses, core education courses, or critical major or prerequisite courses.
- Create a roster of potential backup instructors where possible. Focus efforts on high-priority courses if necessary. Consider identifying course coordinators for multiple-section, high-enrollment courses to help coordinate sharing of resources and identifying backup instructors.
- Develop procedures for replacing instructors of record in accordance with policy.
Colleges, Divisions, and Departments can utilize Cornell’s web-based continuity planning software tool, called C-COOP, to develop continuity of operations plans. This software provides a central location to identify essential services and document continuity strategies for common disruptive incidents. C-COOP facilitates the development of continuity plans by supporting the identification of:
- Personnel – key unit leadership and orders of succession
- Essential Services – based on impact analysis, identify the unit’s most essential services
- Essential Resources – identify the unique space, specialized equipment, and technologies necessary to deliver the essential service
- Continuity Strategies – define essential service continuity strategies for common disruptions, such as loss of facility or reduced workforce.
The Office of Emergency Management provides stewardship of the C-COOP software tool for campus partners. For access or support regarding the C-COOP continuity planning software tool please contact the Office of Emergency Management at email@example.com.