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Course Syllabus Policy (Interim)

Policy Administrator: Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs


Effective Date: August 15, 2020

Updated: December 7, 2000, August 14, 2020

Index Cross-References: FS 00-91/APC/EX, FS 20/21-14/EX

Policy File Number: ACA-170

Course Syllabus Policy (Interim)


Policy Statement:
The purpose of the syllabus is to provide students with an outline of course objectives and requirements, and shall at a minimum contain the following information: A description of course content, course requirements including attendance policy if any, and grading policy. The interim policy shall remain in place for the duration of the current COVID-19 Pandemic Related Complications.

Who the Policy applies to:

Why the Policy is necessary:  
This policy provides information on required language for course syllabi.  This policy ensures that there is proper communication between faculty and students regarding course objectives and requirements.  The appendix to the policy describes specific language to be included in syllabi regarding what to do if someone in the course becomes ill with COVID-19.

Faculty must ensure that their syllabi comply with the policy.

See policy.


Approved by:

Robert S. Nelsen, President 

August 15, 2020


Course Syllabus Policy (Interim)

For each class, faculty shall provide students with a printed or printable syllabus at the beginning of the course.  The purpose of the syllabus is to provide students with an outline of course objectives and requirements, and shall at a minimum contain the following information: A description of course content, course requirements including attendance policy if any, and grading policy. Faculty have the right to modify the syllabus at a later point in the semester, provided students are given due notice of any such changes.

  1. All course syllabi shall include the following components:
    1. Course title and number, course description, and student learning objectives,
    2. The instructor’s name, CSUS contact information (email address and/or phone number), regularly scheduled office hours (include Zoom web address and Zoom call in number) and other ways the student may interact with the instructor outside of class, detailed information related to course meeting schedule with Zoom information – call in number and web information (details on synchronous, asynchronous, or hybrid),
    3. For the very few classes that must have live access to a webcam (e.g. American Sign Language (ASL) courses, theater and dance courses), it must be made explicitly clear in the syllabus that access to a live webcam is required (please note, approval from the Department and College Dean is required for classes to require live access to a webcam),
    4. A list of required texts and instructional materials to be used throughout the course, including technology requirements (e.g. access to specific software applications),
    5. Attendance Policies
      1. Include a description of how course attendance policies will be adjusted so as not to penalize students who become ill or are placed under quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic,
    6. Grading Policies
      1. Include a description of how course assignments (late work, due dates) will be adjusted so as not to penalize students who become ill or are placed under quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic,
    7. Description of Zoom netiquette expectations and/or face-to-face classroom expectations, specific to the course, for faculty and students that contribute to an inclusive and respectful culture consistent with the Hornet Honor Code,
    8. Statement regarding availability of disability services, Student Health and Counseling Services, and CARES resources for basic needs,
    9. Information regarding how to self-diagnose and direction not to come to campus if sick,
    10. Information regarding using the mobile app for coming on campus.

  2. Sacramento State requires that all course syllabi be available to students at the beginning of the course via the published Canvas course site.

  3. Face-to-Face: For courses that include a face-to-face component, course syllabi shall also include the following information:
    1. Description of how attendance will be controlled to ensure health and safety requirements are satisfied.
    2. Description of the health and safety requirements for face-to-face contact (e.g. Masks required, classroom spacing, how to enter and exit the room, sanitizing desks and chairs, etc.)
      1. Please note, Sacramento State is requiring all courses that have a face-to-face contact component to require the wearing of masks and maintenance of 6 ft physical distancing as mandated by the State of California. Students who refuse to wear a mask will be asked to leave.
    3. The plan to pivot from in-person courses to virtual instruction (if possible) and how this information will be communicated to students
    4. Details on what the class will do in the event there is a student in class who receives a positive COVID-19 test result (e.g. will assignments be delayed? will assignments and activities be moved virtual?).

  4. Recommended Elements for Course Syllabi: In addition to the required components, it is recommended that faculty include the following components within their course syllabi:
    1. Criteria and grading rubrics for all course assignments,
    2. Links to campus policies related to student academics (e.g. Grading policies, Sacramento State Academic calendar, Hornet Honor Code, Student Rights  Responsibilities),
    3. Links to campus resources (e.g. Martin Luther King Center, Multicultural Center, Dreamer Resource Center, Student Success Center, Academic Advising, PARC, Reading & Writing Center).
    4. Faculty may wish to announce to students or include a statement such as the following: “If a faculty member is not available during the semester, students will be contacted and advised how the course will proceed. This may include a change in instructor or modality.”

  5. Appendix/Recommended Language for Syllabi
    1. Syllabus info for Students

      If you are sick, stay home and do not attend class. Notify your instructor. If you are experiencing any COVID- like symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, loss of smell or taste, nausea, diarrhea, or headache) or have had exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID contact Student Health & Counseling Services (SHCS) at 916-278-6461 to receive guidance and/or medical care. You are asked to report any possible COVID related illnesses/exposures to SHCS via this link COVID-19 Illness/Exposure Report Form. Expect a call from SHCS within 24 hours.
    2. Faculty information

      SHCS is available to provide medical treatment, facilitate testing, and provide guidance for students related to COVID-19. We are working collaboratively with Sacramento County Public Health and campus Risk Management. Faculty can help us in this effort by sending this link COVID-19 Illness/Exposure Report Form to any student.  SHCS will follow up within 24 hours.  SHCS will conduct a case interview and determine any risk to campus and will notify any students, staff, or faculty if appropriate.  Faculty should ONLY notify SHCS so as to be sure to protect the student’s privacy. 

      Faculty and staff are also encouraged to report any personal COVID-19 related illnesses or potential exposures via the same COVID-19 Illness/Exposure Report Form.  SHCS will contact the Faculty or Staff person within 24 hours to offer guidance and provide return to work recommendations. 

      Note:  Submitting the COVID-19 Illness/Exposure Report form will activate all campus authorities that need to know.  This is the ONLY notification that needs to be made.  This helps to maintain privacy.  For any specific questions or concerns, faculty and staff can contact SHCS directly at 916-278-6461. 

    3. From Crisis Assistance and Resource Education Support (CARES)

      1. As a reminder to students, use the CARES statement of support.
        The Crisis Assistance and Resource Education Support (CARES) office recommends using the following statement to remind students of the resources available to them. This statement is available for faculty or staff to use in syllabi, signature lines, or wherever is helpful.

        “If you are experiencing challenges with food, housing, financial or other unique circumstances that are impacting your education, help is just a phone call or email away! The CARES office provides case management support for any enrolled student. Email the CARES office at to speak with a case manager about the resources available to you. Check out the CARES website.”
      2. Concerned for a student? Notify the CARES office with a new reporting form. 
        Faculty and staff now can submit a report if they are concerned about a student. Reports can be made for students who disclose homelessness, financial challenges, family dynamics that impact school, medical issues, hospitalizations, or other disruptive or concerning issues. Reports go to the CARES office case managers. A link to the reporting form is here. We recommend adding it to your browser favorites. 
        For more information please email

    4. What should faculty and staff do if a student refuses to wear a mask or comply with other campus COVID-19 safety protocols? 

      If a student is not wearing a mask or refuses to comply with other campus COVID-19 safety protocols in a face-to-face component of a course, the faculty member should: 

      1. Ask the student to wear a mask and/or comply
      2. Offer the student a mask, if available
      3. Leave the room (if safely permitted) to contact Student Affairs or Environmental Health and Safety, or another campus department tasked with responding to such issues. 
      4. Ask the student to leave the classroom
      5. End the class session or meeting if the student refuses to leave
      6. Report the student to the campus Student Conduct Officer for further action

    5. What if a student says they cannot wear a mask for medical or disability reasons?
      • Information about campus COVID-19 rules should include information about who to contact when a student believes they cannot comply with the health/safety requirements for medical or other reasons (for example, if they believe wearing a face mask will exacerbate difficulties with breathing) or if they need additional accommodations in light of the new rules. Faculty and staff should not engage directly with students regarding such accommodations and should instead work with the appropriate office (typically the Services for Students with Disabilities office) to determine the appropriate accommodations.

      • For those students who cannot comply for medical reasons or due to a disability, the appropriate office (typically the Services for Students with Disabilities office) will engage in an interactive process with the student seeking to determine whether an accommodation is appropriate under the circumstances. Students should be encouraged to seek assistance from the Services for Students with Disabilities office on campus as soon as possible if they believe they cannot comply with any of the COVID-19 related health/safety measures due to a medical condition or disability.

      • Those who refuse to or cannot comply with COVID-19 related health/safety measures, such as wearing a mask in public spaces may infect others if they are ill, and thus they can be considered as creating a danger or “direct threat” to the health and safety of those around them. They can also lead the campus to be out of compliance with local health rules that the campus has confirmed will be followed. Since the health and safety of the entire campus community who are working, studying and living on campus in person will need to be considered when providing individual accommodations, not all requests for accommodation will be considered reasonable or appropriate to grant, especially if they endanger the health of others. However, solutions that balance the health/safety of the individual with the broader community will be sought. For example, the campus may provide see-through masks to individuals with whom a deaf/hard-of-hearing student needs to interact, or the campus may arrange to deliver meals or other essential supplies to students who wish to live in housing but are unable to wear masks (but these students may need to attend only virtual classes).