COVID-19 FAQs for Faculty

Classroom Practices

A Princeton undergraduate degree is grounded in a common experience of full-time, residential, in-person study, and the University expects teaching to be fully in person. All scheduled course meetings presume regular, in-person attendance by students, assistants in instruction, and faculty.

Masks are optional in most University spaces. They may be required when faculty, as conveners of a class, lab, precept, or coursework, want participants to wear a mask, so students should carry a mask with them at all times.

Can I require masks in my classroom?

Yes. Faculty may implement a masking requirement in their classroom that is more restrictive than the current University policy, provided it is consistent with the pedagogical goals of the course. Masks, particularly KN95 masks, continue to be effective in reducing the risk of transmission. The CDC offers guidance on mask wearing (link is external), which is a useful resource.  As always, students with disabilities may request accommodations through the Office of Disability Services, including modifications to University requirements.

Can I schedule guest lecturers or other classroom visitors this term?

Faculty may host visitors consistent with the requirements set forth in the Visitor Policy. Visitors are still expected to be either vaccinated, have recently received a negative test, or agree to wear a mask whenever indoors. Conveners of meetings and hosts may continue to ask for proof of vaccination or attestations, but they are no longer required by University policy.

Can I incorporate virtual elements into my course?

Faculty may incorporate specific virtual instruction components—such as short lecture videos recorded in advance—provided that they continue to lead all scheduled class time in person.

Faculty interested in “flipping their course” to build a formal pre-recorded component into their course structure should contact the Office of the Dean of the College about relevant University policies.

Can I offer virtual office hours?

Faculty may choose to offer in-person, virtual, or a mix of in-person and virtual office hours.

Under what circumstances might students or faculty need to miss class due to COVID?

Two COVID-related situations could require faculty or students to miss class:

  1. Faculty or students experiencing COVID-like symptoms should stay at home or in their dorm room, as applicable, until they are tested and receive a negative result.
  2. Faculty or students who receive a positive COVID test result will be required to isolate and cannot attend class in person. Isolation will normally be 5 days. Isolation means restricting activities outside of one’s home or dorm room, except for obtaining medical care when necessary. People released from isolation before day 10 must wear a tight-fitting mask at all times when around other people, from the date that they are released through day 10 (the date the test was submitted is day 0).

How do I accommodate student absences from class this fall?

Students who are unable to attend class for any reason should notify the course instructor immediately and make prompt arrangements for completing any missed work. Faculty should choose the best way to share missed material with those students who are prevented from attending class due to religious observance, required varsity athletic competition, illness, or personal emergency. For example, faculty may choose to record and post their lecture, post their class notes, allow a student to review a classmate’s notes, meet with the student during office hours, or ask the student to complete an assignment they consider fair and equivalent. Faculty are not required to “open a Zoom link” for a student in isolation. For additional information about the University’s regular attendance policies for undergraduate students, please consult the Undergraduate Announcement. Please consult the Policy on Satisfactory Academic Progress for information on expectations on graduate students. 

What should I do if a student says they are too sick to engage with class material while in isolation?

Undergraduate students who are too sick to engage with class work should inform their residential college dean or assistant dean, who, in keeping with our normal academic policies, will work with students and faculty to arrange a make-up schedule for classwork and homework assignments.

If faculty are concerned about an undergraduate student’s progress in their class or uncertain about appropriate supports, they should contact the student’s residential college dean. 

If faculty are concerned about a graduate student’s progress in their class or uncertain about appropriate supports, they may contact the student’s director of graduate studies or an academic affairs dean in the Graduate School.

Under no circumstances should faculty allow an extended absence without the explicit approval of the student’s residential college dean or assistant dean (for undergraduate students) or an academic affairs dean (for graduate students). The University’s regular Attendance Policies (for undergraduate students) and Policy on Satisfactory Academic Progress (for graduate students) remain in effect.

Students with disabilities may request accommodations through the Office of Disability Services.

Under what circumstances may faculty temporarily shift to remote instruction (Zoom)?

Faculty required to isolate due to COVID may use remote instruction (Zoom) for all classes scheduled during their period of isolation if they are well enough to teach.

Faculty should not provide Zoom links for the convenience of individual students, even if they are required to isolate because of a positive COVID test.

If a significant number of students enrolled in their class are in isolation, causing serious disruption to classroom instruction (that is, if critical mass can’t be achieved for a discussion, activity, or lecture), faculty may shift to remote instruction (Zoom) for a specified, temporary period of time.

What if I am unable to teach because of my own or a dependent’s illness?

Faculty should consult with their department chair to discuss arrangements for instructional coverage by a colleague or AI during a short absence, or to request permission to be absent from campus for an interval of three or more consecutive days, excluding weekends, during term time.  The chair shall refer any unusual requests to the Dean of the Faculty for approval.

May I request a different classroom that would permit social distancing or a different ventilation system?

No. All University spaces have returned to normal occupancy limits. Classrooms have been assigned for the semester; changes are possible only if course enrollment exceeds the capacity of the assigned meeting space.  All ventilation systems are once again set to the highest level of fresh air and the most effective filtration, and classrooms without mechanical ventilation continue to be equipped with HEPA filter units sized for the classroom.



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