Fall 2021 Course Planning

May 20, 2021


Dear Colleagues:

With continued progress in the District’s reopening plans, expanded vaccine distribution, and our vaccine requirement, we are actively planning for returning to campus this fall. Classrooms, laboratories, libraries, and other spaces will be open again for teaching, learning and research. Courses will be in-person principally, with some remote options to meet the varying needs of our community. As we look forward to welcoming our new and returning students back to campus, we would like to share details about where we are today in support of your continued course planning.

Summer 2021 Campus Access in Preparation for Fall

There will be an opportunity for all faculty to gain early access to campus, including office space well before the first day of classes. Further details will be shared shortly from the campus COVID Operations team with more information, summer dates and timelines. As of May 13, the Marvin Center has reopened. The Admissions Welcome CenterCampus BookstoreGWorld Office and parking garage are also open for both GW community and guests to visit.

On Campus Classroom Assignments

Given the CDC’s recent guidance for the fully vaccinated, and with the majority of the population being fully vaccinated by fall, we expect that we will be able to reoccupy buildings and instructional spaces at normal, pre-pandemic levels. In addition, we conducted a comprehensive assessment and targeted optimization of HVAC systems of all of our campus buildings this past year, and all are safe for occupancy.

We are working to assign classroom locations, keeping in mind the latest guidance from the District of Columbia and our GW Medical Advisory Group, led by Raymond Lucas, M.D. We are also aware that some courses that were previously taught on campus, have now been identified for hybrid or online instruction.  The Academic Scheduling team is actively working through room assignments for main campus (Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon) course sections. These assignments will be made available through the Schedule of Classes soon but will be subject to revision. Assignments are also being made for instruction at the Virginia Science Technology Campus.

Although we expect pre-pandemic instructional operations in the fall, the pandemic has not yet completely receded. To ensure continuity of instruction should pandemic conditions worsen, social distancing may be a necessary option for continuing in-person instruction. To assist schools/colleges and departments with their contingent in-person instructional continuity plans, we are creating a classroom list with 3-foot distancing seating capacities that will be posted on the Registrar's website in the coming weeks.

Instructional Technology Will Be Available

To ensure our faculty are prepared for a variety of in-class possibilities, our classrooms will be equipped with web conferencing capabilities (including Zoom, WebEx and Blackboard Collaborate) and recording capabilities (including Echo360 lecture capture) to accommodate those who may need to be away from campus due to illness or as a part of your instructional continuity plans. This technology supports recording and live streaming capabilities, to provide flexibility in planning to support the needs and interest of the community and for courses that are well suited for hybrid instruction. We are not expecting all instruction to be available in hybrid or hyflex modalities; however, basic hybrid technology (web conferencing and recording) will be available.

Where to Seek Additional Guidance

We understand that faculty in different schools and departments may utilize classroom and laboratory spaces differently, employ diverse course design, and adopt a wide range of teaching styles. We also appreciate that faculty may have unique working or living arrangements that warrant additional consideration, under existing university policies. We fully expect school and departmental administrators to take individual and unit-level circumstances and context into account when applying these guidance principles. If you have questions or need additional guidance, please consult your department chair, your school's dean’s office, or the Office of Faculty Affairs at [email protected].

Finally, we strongly encourage everyone to receive the vaccine at their earliest opportunity. In order to be considered fully compliant with the vaccine requirement for the fall semester, all members of our community must be fully vaccinated and have their vaccine documentation uploaded to the medical portal by August 1. Please see our recent announcement with more information about this requirement, including dates by which you must receive your first vaccine in order to meet the August 1 deadline. Instructions for uploading documentation after you are fully vaccinated are available here. We are following the evolving science on the use of surveillance testing in vaccinated populations, and the appropriate use of COVID-19 testing on campus and mask wearing will be updated in the summer and in the fall.

We look forward to once again gathering on our campuses. As we make progress in our fall return, we will continue to provide you with updates. 


Christopher Bracey
Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs

Koren A. Bedeau, Ph. D.
Senior Associate Provost for Special Projects