UCR Campus

What to Expect - Instructors


Guidance for In-person Instruction at UC Riverside for Fall 2021


UCR is planning to return to primarily in-person instruction in fall 2021, with more than 80% of our courses scheduled to meet in-person. This return is predicated on widespread vaccination within our campus community. According to current UCOP guidelines, if at least 90% of students, faculty, and staff are fully vaccinated, then UCR can operate under the CDC definition of a “fully vaccinated campus.” This document has been developed by the Instructional Continuity Workgroup (ICW) to help instructors prepare for and deliver their in-person courses, assuming we reach this threshold.

The ICW established five principles to guide our return to in-person instruction:

  1. Prioritize the health and safety of all members of our campus community.
  2. Extend in-person education to the greatest extent possible, consistent with our mission as a residential R1 research university.
  3. Balance consistent decision-making at the campus level with appropriate pedagogical flexibility at the department/program level.
  4. Communicate clearly with the campus community.
  5. Prepare to adapt to ever-changing conditions.
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As an instructor, you are expected to:

  • Teach in-person, but be prepared to suspend in-person instruction if directed by the campus. If you have been assigned to teach an in-person class, then your default teaching mode is in-person. However, this fall, there is a greater-than-normal risk that you may be unable to teach in person for some period of time – perhaps due to changing public health guidelines, worsening pandemic conditions, or if you get sick yourself. Having a contingency plan to pivot to remote instruction on short notice, and informing your students of this plan in advance, is essential. XCITE has resources to help you accomplish this.
  • Encourage your students to adhere to COVID-related health and safety requirements. You are not obligated to actively enforce the campus vaccination or face covering policies in your classroom. However, please help to preserve our ability to offer in-person instruction by encouraging your students to comply. You can learn about student requirements here and download “Let’s Do R Part” graphics and templates here. It is also recommended to include the following suggested text in your syllabus: All students in this course, as a condition of physical presence in the classroom (including for exams or tests in the classroom or other location on the UCR campus), must be compliant with the UC SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program (Program) at all times. Compliance is easily achieved by providing proof of Full Vaccination or submitting a request for Exception or Deferral as required by the Program. Students in violation of the Program or related directives of the instructor will be subject to disciplinary or other remedial action.  The Policy can be found at: https://policy.ucop.edu/doc/5000695/SARS-CoV-2_Covid-19
  • Watch for updates. The campus continues to monitor public health conditions closely. The Campus Return website is the “go-to” site for the latest information about fall quarter instruction, and will be updated frequently with the most recent guidance and any operational changes necessitated by public health conditions. Please check this site often and be alert for other campus communications.
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  • Ask about vaccination status. Do not ask students about their vaccination status or request proof of vaccination. The central campus administration is responsible for reviewing vaccination status and clearing students, faculty, and staff to return to campus.
  • Share information about positive cases. UCR's COVID Management Team is responsible for case investigation, and has policies and procedures for informing students, faculty, and staff about possible exposure. Due to privacy concerns, you should not communicate information about positive cases that could disclose anyone’s personal health information. 


If you have specific questions related to a course you are teaching this fall, please contact your department chair first and then escalate your question as needed to your dean. If you have general questions about fall instruction that are not answered below, please send them to the Instructional Continuity Workgroup through your dean or faculty executive committee chair, or directly to Erin Schuster, Executive Assistant to the Provost at erin.schuster@ucr.edu.


(Masking, vaccination, testing, cleaning, etc.)

  • Can I require stronger restrictions in my classroom than campus requires? Such as distancing or negative tests? (Added 9/22/2021)

    No, please adhere to campus policies. These policies have been developed with broad input from stakeholders including medical and legal experts. If you would like to suggest an instructional policy change, you may send it to the Instructional Continuity Workgroup through your dean or faculty executive committee chair, or directly to Erin Schuster, Executive Assistant to the Provost at erin.schuster@ucr.edu.

  • Will I know the vaccination status of students in my courses? (Revised 9/22/2021 )

    Vaccination status is private health information, so you will not know the vaccination status of your students (neither individually nor in the aggregate) and you are not responsible for enforcing the vaccination policy. The central campus administration is responsible for reviewing vaccination status and clearing students, faculty, and staff to return to campus. You may ask your students to show evidence of their clearance to be on campus from the daily wellness check. If a student is unable to show they are cleared to be on campus, you may follow steps similar to those listed above when a student refuses to wear a face covering.

    Students who are temporarily not cleared to return to campus (e.g. due to exposure, symptoms, or a positive COVID-19 test) will be directed not to attend classes. You are encouraged to help these students keep up with coursework remotely until they are cleared to return to campus.

    Students who are not compliant with the UC vaccination policy also will be directed not to attend classes. In addition, they will be unable to participate in second-pass registration for fall or registration for winter, and will be subject to progressive disciplinary actions including dropped enrollment from in-person courses and interim suspensions. You are not obligated to provide a remote option or supplemental materials for these students.

  • Can I request expedited review for my students who have submitted their vaccination records but are still listed as non-compliant and thus not yet able to come to campus for in-person classes? (Added 9/22/2021)

    The COVID Management Team is able to review most records within 72 hours of submission. There will be increased demand for review during housing move-in and close to the start of the quarter, but the COVID Management Team will do everything they can to maintain this schedule. The Team is unable to contact instructors about the status of their students.

  • Am I required to wear a face covering while teaching? (Revised 9/22/2021)

    Yes, currently everyone is required to wear a face covering while indoors on campus, regardless of vaccination status. Face coverings for fully vaccinated individuals are not currently required outdoors. Face coverings are available for all employees and can be requested here. A face shield with a drape is an approved alternative to a face covering, and may be preferable in some situations. EH&S currently has a limited supply of face shields with drapes but has ordered more. Contact ehspublichealth@ucr.edu for more information or if you would like to request one. Instructors also may purchase a face shield at their own expense but it must include a drape at the bottom. A recent study on sound attenuation from the University of Illinois may be helpful for deciding which kind of approved face covering you want to use. 

  • What should I do if a student in my class is not wearing a face covering (mask)?

    During the past 17 months, our on-campus students have been very compliant with COVID-19 health and safety requirements. If a student is not wearing a face covering, it is likely that they simply forgot. You may want to start each class with a verbal reminder about face coverings, write a reminder on the whiteboard, and/or include a slide (or a note on all slides) with a reminder about face coverings.

  • What should I do if a student does not have a face covering?

    If a student does not have an acceptable face covering and would like to get one, they have a few options: (1) they can schedule an appointment to pick up a mask (and other health supplies) from The Well in HUB 248; (2) they can stop by The Well without an appointment to pick up a mask (operating hours can be found here); and (3) students in need of a mask who are also experiencing food insecurity can schedule an appointment at R’Pantry. Instructors also may want to have extra face coverings on hand for cases where a student forgot to bring one. Instructors can request face coverings in bulk from The Well by filling out this online form. EH&S also is arranging for delivery of bulk masks to each academic department office.

  • What should I do if a student refuses to wear a face covering?

    You are not obligated to actively enforce the campus face covering policy in your classroom. If you choose to engage with a student who is not wearing a face covering, first, privately confirm with the student that they do not have an approved accommodation that excuses them from wearing a face covering. Such accommodations (in the form of a letter from Student Disability Services) will be very rare. If they do not have an accommodation, remind the student of the campus face covering policy and ask them to wear a face covering. If the student refuses, remind them that they can be subject to a student conduct proceeding. If the student still refuses, you may ask the student to leave as you would ask a student who is being disruptive. If the student refuses to leave, you may cancel your class. To initiate a student conduct proceeding for an undergraduate, file a report with Student Conduct and Academic Integrity Programs here; for graduate students, contact Associate Dean Ertem Tuncel in the Graduate Division at ertem@ee.ucr.edu. Do not contact UCPD for cases of non-compliance with COVID-19 health and safety requirements.

  • How will classrooms and shared teaching equipment be kept clean?

    Consistent with public health guidelines, classroom cleaning will return to pre-COVID schedules and standards. There is broad scientific consensus that the primary mode of virus transmission is through exposure to airborne respiratory droplets. Infection risk due to surface transmission is considered to be low. Therefore, rooms and shared equipment will be deep-cleaned and/or disinfected by Facilities only when deemed necessary by a case investigation. However, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes will be available and routinely checked in all teaching spaces. Please encourage students to take advantage of these supplies and use them according to directions for maximum efficiency.  If you notice any empty supplies, you may submit a work order here or by calling 827-4214. In addition, you may provide your own teaching equipment, if desired, rather than sharing high-touch items. Please do not use your own cleaning products in classrooms as these may damage the equipment.

  • What are some good resources on COVID-19 information and for countering misinformation?
    1. Making sense of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. August 6, 2021.
    2. Reported COVID-19 vaccine adverse events. August 17, 2021.
    3. The Real Chance of Breakthrough: One in 5,000
      Please note that the above article is behind a paywall.


Fall instructional guidance, guest speakers, in-person delivery, preparing for another transition, and other questions.

  • What will happen if a student in my class tests positive for COVID-19? (Revised 9/6/2021)

    Instructors are not responsible for monitoring the health status of their students or making decisions about suspending in-person instruction. If a student tests positive, the COVID Management Team will be notified when the student submits their daily wellness check. The student is not obligated to directly notify you of the positive test (see related FAQ about a student notifying an instructor of a positive test). The COVID Management Team will initiate a case investigation. Notices will be posted at the entrances to affected buildings, you will receive an email if you are teaching in an affected room, and close contacts (identified through case investigation) also will be notified via email.

    Students who are instructed to isolate or quarantine based on the findings of the case investigation may contact you to discuss options for continuing to make progress in your class during this time (see related FAQ about offering remote options to such students). Student Health Services will provide these students with a “COVID Awareness Letter” that can be shared with instructors for verification.

    You should not suspend in-person instruction for all students because of a positive test, a case investigation, or a group of students in isolation or quarantine. However, COVID Management will notify the Registrar if your classroom must be temporarily closed for cleaning or disinfection in accordance with CDC guidelines. In the unlikely event that this happens, the Registrar will notify all affected instructors (including TAs), deans, department chairs/program directors, and academic scheduling coordinators. You will be responsible for notifying your students. Cleaning and disinfection typically require less than 24 hours, and you may teach remotely during this time. When your classroom re-opens, you should return to in-person instruction. Generally, if you have not been directed to suspend in-person instruction by the COVID Management Team, the central campus administration, or your dean, you should continue teaching in-person.

  • As an instructor, when should I quarantine? (Added 9/6/2021)

    Please complete the daily wellness check each day and follow the instructions for your particular situation.

  • Do I have to provide a remote option for students who are symptomatic, test positive for COVID-19, or must quarantine due to close contact? (Revised 9/6/2021)

    Our instructional plan for fall quarter does not obligate you to provide a remote option. However, if you adopt a strict approach that limits all remote access to your course, students may feel additional pressure to attend class when they are symptomatic, or to fail to report a positive test or close contact. Therefore, instructors are encouraged to be flexible and seek compromises to help protect public health on campus and our ability to offer in-person instruction and other activities. If you find yourself in an untenable situation, such as the unlikely event that a large number of students must quarantine for an extended period of time, contact your chair to discuss options but do not unilaterally suspend in-person instruction. If a solution that maintains in-person instruction cannot be found at the department level, escalate to your dean.

    If a student has an especially prolonged case of COVID, as determined by Student Health Services, the student may have the option to register with the Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC) and receive formal disability accommodations. The SDRC is available to answer your questions and offer guidance in these situations.

  • What should I do if a student tells me they have tested positive for COVID-19?

    Advise the student not to participate in any on-campus in-person activities and to complete the daily wellness check immediately. A COVID Management Team member will contact the student. If the student has questions in the interim they can contact the COVID Management Team at covid19@medsch.ucr.edu. The COVID Management Team will advise on next steps. You are not authorized to share the student's health information with other students in your class or with anyone else. 

  • How can I report a COVID-19 or public health related concern?


Fall instructional guidance, guest speakers, in-person delivery, preparing for another transition, and other questions.