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Academic Continuity Academic Affairs

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Be Prepared

We don't know when a disruption may occur, but we know that disruptions will happen. In the past several years, Sacramento State has encountered several disruptions where part or all of our campus has been affected. These have included building water damage, regional air quality issues, and the COVID pandemic. To complete our mission, Sacramento State faculty should prepare themselves and their students for different levels of disruption:

  • Low-level disruption affects only specific students and instructors; Sacramento State will monitor the situation but continue most normal campus operations
  • Moderate-level disruption occurs if the University alters its campus operations, and/or determines that campus should be closed for up to a week
    • Under moderate disruption conditions, it could be that the campus is only partially closed, and activities that can be accomplished with appropriate mitigation factors will be allowed
    • These moderate disruption conditions might also mean the campus is fully closed, but only for a short period of time
  • High-level disruption happens if Sacramento State must remain closed for more than a week and/or over the final exam week
    • Under high disruption conditions, campus is experiencing a major upheaval and significant adjustments to modality and expectations will be necessary

First responders tell us that the best way to deal with a crisis is to be prepared; to have taken the time to do "desktop exercises" to know how you may respond when a disruption occurs. To that end, consider the questions and guidance below to prepare yourself and your students. If you are unfamiliar with them, PRACTICE with these tools before you or your students may need them.

The main goals in Academic Continuity situations are to be prepared, be flexible, and continue providing the highest quality learning experience you can under whatever circumstances you or your students face. The circumstances themselves may offer teachable moments. So, keep teaching!

How will you adjust?

Review your expectations

  • As you think through the changes you will need to make to your course, consider the impact that the circumstances surrounding an emergency closure may have on students’ ability to meet expectations (including illness, lack of power or internet connectivity, or the need to care for family members).
  • Be ready to handle requests for extensions or accommodations equitably.
  • Identify your priorities during the campus closure, such as providing course content (e.g., lecturing), structuring new opportunities for discussion or group work, and collecting assignments. Which activities are better rescheduled and which can be done online?

Consider necessary course adjustments

  • Will you need to adjust the syllabus (e.g., due dates, revised assignments)?
  • Is participation, attendance or group work part of your course grade? Can that be integrated into the remote learning format?
  • You may need to take a phased approach, making small adjustments at first, but larger ones if the emergency closure is extended

How will you communicate?

  • Be sure your contact information is up-to-date in the University’s Emergency Notification System, and make sure your students know about the ENS system, too
  • Use Canvas
    • Publish your course to provide course content, communicate with students and grade assignments
    • Install the Canvas Teacher app and ask your students to install the Canvas Student app on their phones and mobile devices
  • Let your students know if they might hear from you in other ways besides Canvas

How will you teach?


  • Arrange for or know how to contact IRT for laptop or wifi hotspot support
  • Test (or know how to set up and test) equipment before you might need to use it


  • If you can’t come to campus to teach, have a plan for conducting class from home or another non-campus location using technology
  • Do everything you can be sure your instructional materials are accessible, including compatibility with mobile devices, enabling video captioning, and maintaining any accommodations arranged for students registered with the Services for Students with Disabilities Office
  • Know how to record synchronous class sessions and asynchronous lectures in Zoom and make the recordings available via Canvas

What will your syllabus look like?

As you know, your syllabus is the best way to communicate your expectations and plans with your students. While it may be overkill to try to put all of your contingency plans into the syllabus, sharing your communication plan and letting the class know that you will update the syllabus based on unexpected situations will be helpful. Post your syllabus to your Canvas page for the course, even if you don’t use Canvas heavily for other purposes.

How will you assess learning?

  • Change frequency (how often) - consider consolidating or eliminating some assignments or quizzes/exams
  • Change timing (when) - consider extending the amount of time students have to complete assignments or quizzes/exams
  • Change modality/form - consider adopting a different form of assessment, such as substituting a paper or project for an in-class test
  • Change assessors - consider implementing peer-review and/or self-assessment of learning

How will you help your students?

Faculty are not the only ones who will need to adjust to a disruption. Students will have their own challenges. We can help them by steering them toward:

  • Equipment - Make sure students who need internet hotspots or computers know how to request them from IRT
  • Basic Needs - Make sure students affected by emergency conditions have their food and housing needs being met through referral to the CARES Office
  • Hornet Learning 101 - Make sure students are prepared for online learning. CTL, in conjunction with IRT and Student Affairs, offers Hornet Learning 101, a self-paced Canvas course that you can either recommend or add to your course requirements