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Here are some of the first steps to take when faced with a disruption to delivering your course.

Get the information, hardware, and context you need.

  • Campus closures or emergencies will be reported through Wolfalert and the university homepage. The Adverse Weather and Emergency Status phone number is (919) 513-8888. 
  • Coronavirus updates are available at ncsu.edu/coronavirus.
  • Check with departmental leaders for more details about the situation and guidelines about their expectations for classes. Administrators may want to have many of the department’s classes handled in similar ways.
  • NC State is in the process of acquiring additional webcams, audio headsets, and a limited number of additional laptop computers for instructors’ use during this time. The NC State University Libraries will serve as a check out point for these items. Instructors can complete this form to be notified when equipment is ready to be checked out.
  • Information on IT system availability will be available through NC State’s IT Service Portal at help.ncsu.edu or 919 515-4357/HELP.

Communicate with your students right away.

  • Even if you don’t have a plan in place yet, communicate with your students as soon as possible, informing them that changes are coming and what your expectations are for checking email and using Google or Moodle (NC State’s learning management system), so you can get them more details soon.
  • Inform your students that the NC State Help Desk (also 919-515-4357/HELP) is available if they need support using technologies in your or other courses.
  • Stay calm. Students will follow your lead. If your communications convey calm and assurance that everything will be ok with the course, that will help students remain positive and engaged.

Adjust your course plans.

Build in some flexibility, just in case the situation takes longer to resolve than you think.  We’ve created a series of questions and a template that may be helpful for developing your plans to share with departmental leaders and colleagues. Initial questions to consider include: 

What are my goals during this time?

  • What learning outcomes can I realistically accomplish during this time period? 
  • Can I maintain the original syllabus and schedule? 
  • Do I hope students will keep up with the reading with some assignments to add structure and accountability, or do I just want to keep them engaged with the course content somehow?

What are the new priorities and schedule? 

  • Will I continue providing lectures?
  • Should I structure new opportunities for discussion or group work?
  • Will I collect assignments?
  • What activities are better rescheduled?
  • What can or must be done online? 

Which of my policies and expectations must temporarily change?

  • Will my students be able to meet expectations for participation, communication, and deadlines?  
  • What if they are dealing with illness, lacking power or internet connections, or needing to care for family members? 
  • How will I handle requests for extensions or accommodations equitably?

What new tools or approaches are needed?

  • What tools and workflows are already familiar to me and my students?
  • Are there colleagues in my department, university, or discipline with resources or creative approaches I could use?
  • Is it absolutely necessary to roll out a new tool or approach? When mental and emotional energies are already taxed, little energy and attention will remain for learning new things.
  • What can I reasonably master and introduce? Keep it simple. Don’t expect to implement a fully online course that would normally take 18 months of planning. Use only the bells and whistles you need to be effective.

Communicate to students again with more details.

As you know more about how your course plans will be adjusted, reach back out to students with those details. They will have many questions, so consider how you want to manage that.

If students have questions or need support implementing technologies used in your course, instruct them to contact the NC State Help Desk (help.ncsu.edu, 919-515-4357/HELP)

Show care, compassion, and kindness to students. Underserved and marginalized students may experience disproportionate stressors including lack of resources or the need for accessible formats. Your care and support for all students may make all the difference in their motivation, persistence, and ultimate success in your course.

  • What key changes about the class can I share at this time?
  • How can they contact me (email, online office hours, etc.)
  • How soon can they expect a reply from me?

Stay prepared when there’s no disruption.

  • Consider relevant statements you may want to include in your syllabi and review with students each semester, such as:
    • Reserving your right to modify a syllabus when necessary and guaranteeing communication to the class in writing about any such changes when they occur.
    • Inclement weather, emergency preparedness or campus closure information.
    • Your expectations and procedures should classes be cancelled.
  • Consider introducing remote learning tools and practices early each semester.
  • Engage regularly with departmental, university, and disciplinary colleagues about teaching innovations that may be applied remotely.

For more information and suggestions, contact the Office of Faculty Development or DELTA’s faculty help desk at learntech@ncsu.edu or (919) 513-7094.


Portions of the content on this website were adapted with permission from Indiana University.

Academic institutions are welcome to adapt material from this website for their own use. We ask that you include an attribution to both NC State University and Indiana University: “Portions of the content on this website were adapted from NC State University and Indiana University.” We also kindly ask that you send a link to any websites you create to faculty-development@ncsu.edu.