Skip to main content

Academic Practices and Guidelines


The goal of the Path Forward Return to Campus - Academics plan is to maintain an authentic, distinctive University of Dayton academic experience for our students while providing flexibility in instruction in the current environment. 

Our plan is geared to helping the academic community navigate a number of challenging factors presented by the pandemic. Some faculty and students will not be able to come back to face-to-face classes; social distancing mandated by public health officials will create challenges for classes to meet or meet as a whole; and a serious outbreak on campus, in the county and/or the state could force classes to move online once again.  

We believe our plan navigates these challenges and creates a highly flexible, adaptable framework that will provide robust learning experiences for our students and support our faculty as well as possible during a most unpredictable time.

During the feedback stage of the plan development, input from students and faculty strongly emphasized that students value regular in-person engagement with University of Dayton faculty, and faculty recognize the educational value of such engagement. The plan will continue to evolve to develop opportunities and resources for this important component of a UD education. 

Information related to University of Dayton employment including expectations and requirements in the areas of health and safety, cleanliness and sanitation and human resources, as well as checklists for returning to work on campus can be found in the Path Forward Return to Campus - Guidelines for Faculty and Staff online

Academic calendar 

To discourage students from nonessential travel during the semester, began classes on Monday, Aug. 24, departed campus at Thanksgiving, and completed the semester online without a typical fall break. Other modifications to the Academic Calendar are also designed to discourage nonessential travel. See the complete 2020-21 Academic Calendar here.

In addition to exams, assessment activities such as papers or presentations could be used to assess students' knowledge and performance over the portion of the semester that will be conducted off-campus. More information on testing and assessment of student learning, including spaces to accommodate full classes for exams, will be forthcoming.  

Programs that need to complete the semester face-to-face due to accreditation or licensure requirements and wish to be exempt from the Thanksgiving departure will need to submit to their dean's office a rationale and plan for completion of the semester. Approval by the dean and provost’s office will be required.

Graduate courses or graduate students working on research who wish to be exempt from the Thanksgiving departure will need to submit to their dean's office a rationale and plan for completion of the semester. Approval by the dean and provost’s office will be required.

Online programs associated with 2U will continue to operate on their typical schedules.  

Instructional delivery 

  • Classes will meet in person to the extent possible. Faculty will prepare to continue instruction online to ensure that student learning will continue no matter the state of the pandemic and the expectations of public health officials. 
  • Flexibility in instructional delivery is also necessary to accommodate student and faculty needs. For example, some students may not be able to return to campus because of health concerns. During the semester, students who test positive for the virus or come into contact with someone who tests positive will be required to isolate or quarantine and will not be able to participate in in-person classes. 
  • Special attention will be given to the particular academic needs of first-year students that will help foster their engagement. Information and resources will be forthcoming for program directors, department chairs, and deans' offices.
  • Some classes will be fully face-to-face; and some courses will involve a blend of online and face-to-face interaction. Some classes will be offered completely online due to class size or if faculty members cannot meet face-to-face with students. The modality will be determined by the nature of the course and program curriculum, room capacity, and faculty members' ability to be present in the classroom. The method of delivery will not impact tuition rates, which have been set based on the educational content provided.
  • Guidelines for department chairs' decisions about course modalities and faculty accommodations have been approved by the deans, and deans' offices will provide oversight of faculty teaching assignments for purposes of consistency, equity and compliance with applicable policies. 
  • Weekly face-to-face or synchronous sessions should be built into the course design. All face-to-face or synchronous course components will be held during scheduled class times. Synchronous online components will be recorded.
  • Regular weekly office hours, whether face-to-face or via Zoom, should be posted on syllabi. Many faculty offices are not large enough to allow for meetings with one or more students while maintaining social distancing guidelines. Rooms that will no longer accommodate classes will be available for meeting spaces for faculty and students or working with small groups of students. 
  • Experiential learning is an essential component of a University of Dayton education. Information on navigating experiential learning challenges on and off campus while adhering to public health guidelines will be forthcoming.
  • Protocols for courses that by their nature require specific adaptations and considerations to promote safety are being developed; information will be forthcoming. Those courses include music, dance, art, labs and courses in the health and medical fields. 

Flexible course delivery

Faculty are strongly encouraged to visit the newly updated Keep Teaching site where new resources have been added to support faculty, including: 

  • Course Facilitation and Engagement Guidelines have been developed to enhance consistency, organization, and engagement opportunities across all courses. Faculty are strongly encouraged to review and implement these guidelines.
  • Tools to assist in preparing for Flexible Teaching have been developed to aid faculty in their planning this summer as they design courses that can be successful in any mode of delivery. 
  • The "Preparing for Flexible Course Delivery" webinar by Innovative Educators has been made available for UD faculty. 
  • A new faculty listserv ( has been created so that faculty can share ideas and pose questions regarding course design, pedagogical ideas, etc. to their colleagues, and receive suggestions and ideas from others. More information about how to subscribe to the listserv can be found on the KeepTeaching site under the Seeking Support and Building Community section.
  • The librarian liaisons are available to assist in acquiring materials for courses, creating course-specific research guides, and partnering on other course development needs. The liaisons for the various disciplines can be found at
  • Room capacity will significantly influence course design decisions. We are currently working to assess room capacities and reassign classrooms for efficiency and curricular appropriateness. We will share the new assignments as soon as possible.
  • Due to smaller room capacities, most faculty will be unlikely to engage all of their students in each single face-to-face class session. Thus, activities in the classroom may require a different model, similar to a flipped or blended class. Suggestions and ideas for in-class activities given the social distancing guidelines are being prepared. 

Faculty employment concerns

  • Per the University's Intellectual Property Policy, course materials developed for teaching courses delivered fully online or recorded as part of instruction remain the faculty member's intellectual property unless such materials were developed using UD-administered funds paid specifically to support that development.
  • During 2020-21, concerns related to the full scope of faculty employment i.e., research, teaching, and service will be reviewed. Recommendations for any adjustments to evaluation processes for merit, promotion, and tenure will be shared with the units. 
  • Resources are being gathered for faculty development and training related to hybrid and online pedagogies, including but not limited to large course sections, such as teaching assistants or graders.
  • Resources regarding classroom management related to face coverings and social distancing are being developed. 
  • Additional information on best practices and resources for conducting testing and assessment of student learning in an online or hybrid environment will be forthcoming. 
  • More information related to the particular needs of graduate studies will be provided for graduate program directors, department chairs, and deans' offices.

Gatherings and events, including meetings

The Path Forward Gatherings & Events Working Group developed guidelines for gatherings and events, including meetings, in University-owned or controlled space, following physical distancing and other protocols established by the Protective Measures Working Group. All in-person events will need to be evaluated for feasibility and whether the same objectives can be achieved through a virtual gathering. Given the spacing requirement of six feet between individuals, and the state’s definition of mass gatherings, space allocation will need to be carefully considered. Recognizing the need for some in-person experiences as essential to our educational mission and to the student campus experience, there will be a need to prioritize space for students while encouraging faculty and staff to continue the practice of virtual meetings whenever possible.

Assumptions: Gatherings and events, including meetings 

  • Physical distancing requirements will be in place until 2021 and possibly beyond, limiting the number of people in a given space.
  • Public Health guidelines need to be followed related to spacing of people, wearing face coverings, cleaning surfaces between events, etc. for all gatherings. This will decrease the density of groups and the maximum allowable size of all campus gatherings and events, including meetings.
  • In-person gatherings with an audience of students and/or potential students will be prioritized in campus spaces.
  • If you are serving food at your gathering, event or meeting, follow these food safety guidelines.
  • Many, if not all, requests for space will need to be canceled or amended, given the requirements for physical distancing and the need to prioritize space for the highest priority purposes that cannot be achieved by virtual means.
  • Maximum size of gatherings will be based on public health guidelines and space occupancy limits determined by physical distancing principles. Inside spaces (meeting rooms, etc.) will have a capacity approximately 30 percent of normal capacity based upon recommendations from Public Health - Dayton and Montgomery County.
  • Outside spaces (Central Mall, Humanities Plaza, etc.) also will have limits based on current public health guidelines and physical distancing principles.
  • The Division of Athletics plan about gatherings and events, including the use of UD Arena, will follow public health guidelines as well as guidelines established by the NCAA and the respective teams' conferences.
  • Plans for classroom space will differ; please consult guidelines from the Path Forward Academics Working Group when they are available.
  • This guidance is for University gatherings and events only and does not apply to or sanction impromptu informal social gatherings, including those in University-owned residences, which also must adhere to local and state limitations on the size of gatherings plus public health guidelines on face coverings and physical distancing. Visit the state of Ohio's COVID-19 website for current public health orders governing physical distancing, face coverings and attendance.

Recommendations: Gatherings & events, including meetings

  1. University leadership will instruct all units to examine plans to determine which gatherings and events, including meetings, produce a benefit that justifies an in-person delivery, which should be virtual, and which should be suspended.
  2. An in-person campus space request process should be implemented, utilizing the 1850 software platform. The tool in 1850 will include information about viable and engaging alternatives to gathering in-person. This flowchart will help with your analysis.
    1. To request space for an in-person gathering or event, all recognized student organizations will need approval from the Center for Student Involvement. This will include a risk-benefit analysis related to an in-person vs. virtual gathering. 
    2. To request space for an in-person gathering or event, including a meeting, all faculty and staff will need approval from their department/program/center to submit a request. This will include a risk-benefit analysis related to an in-person vs. virtual gathering.
  3. Academic classrooms and auditoriums will be made available for campus meetings and events when not being utilized for classes. Some spaces typically not used as classrooms may be designated as such.
  4. An ad hoc group will be charged by UD leadership to review and make priority decisions regarding requests for space for in-person gatherings. Special consideration should be given to gatherings that include first-year students.
  5. An ad hoc group will be created that includes those who manage campus spaces in order to coordinate the needs of approved space requests.
  6. Any groups using campus space for a gathering may need to take attendance in case contact tracing is needed (recommendations to be finalized by Public Health - Dayton and Montgomery County).

Questions: Gatherings & events, including meetings

Can I still schedule a meeting room for my meeting or program?

Maybe. Space will be limited, and the spaces we use will accommodate fewer people because of the six-foot physical distancing that will be required. Further, public health guidelines may change applicable limitations. The campus will be asked to consider other ways of achieving programming outcomes rather than booking a room as though it were “business as usual.” When we consider the priorities on campus, we have to think about how students will need to be involved and engaged outside of the classroom. Some of that can be online, but we’ll need to be creative about providing some in-person experiences that continue to follow the guidelines established by Public Health - Dayton and Montgomery County.

Do all scheduled events, including meetings, need approval?

All scheduled gatherings and events, including meetings, should be approved by department/program/center leadership, keeping in mind the need to evaluate the necessity of in-person gatherings. All student organizations must use the 1850 platform to schedule/get approval for all events. Faculty/staff should review the list of spaces on campus that require the use of the 1850 scheduling/approval platform and plan accordingly to acquire necessary approval and to secure space reservations.

If we cannot host large gatherings, what are students going to be doing outside of the classroom?

We recognize students come to UD for a holistic experience that involves gathering together and learning from each other. Some of this can be done online, but we will also develop ways for students to gather, have fun, meet other students, and engage in campus opportunities (six feet apart, of course).  

Do I need to cancel my event I already scheduled?

The University may cancel events in spaces not able to safely physically distance participants. However, alternative arrangements may be made to safely accommodate your event, depending on available space. If you reserved space for a gathering, event or meeting, review the new capacities based on physical distancing, and think about remote or virtual alternatives. If you would like to cancel the reservation, contact the appropriate office. If you determine an in-person gathering is crucial, get approval from your department/program/center and complete the required form in 1850 ( starting Aug. 1. 

Is there a priority list for who gets to schedule rooms?

An ad-hoc group will be charged by UD leadership to review and make priority decisions regarding requests for space for in-person gatherings. Special consideration should be given to gatherings that include first-year students. Decisions will be made based on the ability to safely physically distance in the room and the need to provide an in-person experience that cannot be effectively provided in another way.

Why can’t I plan a gathering for the size of a wedding reception, which is 300 people? 

Wedding receptions and a few other types of gatherings have been given exemptions under the State of Ohio‘s orders restricting mass gatherings. UD will use the principle of physical distance as the priority for determining maximum sizes of gathered groups. The maximum group size will be determined by the capacity of the space with physical distancing and public health guidelines in place at the time. 

Feedback from Town Hall: Gatherings & events, including meetings

How was the plan revised based on feedback from Town Halls:

  • Factored in the effect of decisions on events and gatherings on first-year students.
  • Recognition that some departmental meetings are confidential and may require space for an in-person gathering.

Feedback given that was not incorporated into the plan, and why:

  • Challenges/obstacles/things yet to be decided:
  • Are all currently scheduled events canceled?
    • Departments that schedule space will be reviewing scheduled events and contacting departments and student organizations as needed.
  • Will UD rent vacant office space downtown (recommend that, if rented, space be on the Flyer Ride route), recognizing that this would likely be in response to a specific need?
    • This is a broader question for the University to consider, if needed.
  • Will UD rent tents for additional outdoor gathering space?
    • Tents continue to be discussed as a possible alternative to indoor spaces or to provide a larger space for approved gatherings.

Visitors and guests

While the University prides itself on being a place of hospitality, our guidelines seek to limit access, especially inside campus buildings, to only “essential visitors," those individuals directly engaged in fulfilling or sustaining UD's education and research activities. The guidelines apply to guest speakers, alumni, guest researchers, contractors or other visitors to campus who may be invited by academic or administrative individuals or units as well as individual students or student groups. These guidelines also apply to informal visits or those for strictly social purposes. Exceptions for guests and visitors on University property can be found in the "Certain facility exceptions" section. Find all visitor and guest guidelines here.


The Path Forward Academics working group, in conjunction with ECAS and utilizing the UNRC process, has developed five teams to focus on several academic areas; other teams are also in development. The teams are:

  • Faculty review processes.
  • Experiential learning.
  • Hybrid and online pedagogies.
  • Testing and assessment of student learning.
  • Graduate studies.

Questions and comments 

  • Faculty should first direct questions to their respective dean's offices.
  • Questions or comments for the Academics working group can be directed to Associate Provost Carolyn Phelps. 
  • Questions about the overall Path Forward plan or comments for other working groups should be sent to

Office of the President

St. Mary's Hall
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 1624