COVID-19 Updates and Guidance > Updates > follow-up-to-dec-3-note

Follow Up on Dec. 3 Message To Faculty and Staff

​​December 13, 2021

Dear faculty and staff in Academic Affairs,

I'm writing to follow up on the recent message about moving classes online for the first two weeks of Winter Quarter. Apologies in advance for a long message, but complex situations require more words to explain.

Throughout the pandemic, DePaul has always listened carefully to science and acted in harmony with the CDC and the state and city departments of public health guidelines, always with the health and safety of our community as our primary concern. While no new recommendation or regulation has emerged since the appearance of the Omicron variant, our academic calendar puts us in a difficult position. Unlike semester schools where classes resume in mid-January, DePaul's Winter Quarter begins Jan. 3. More conclusive data about the Omicron variant of COVID will not be available for a few weeks, that is, during the holiday break. Moreover, we won't know the full impact of holiday gatherings on the spread of the Delta variant until after the New Year. At this point, no one has enough information to know whether the CDC will recommend additional restrictions related to social distancing, etc., in the coming weeks.

While pivoting student services and the work of support staff can be done relatively quickly, restructuring classes from in-person plans to remote delivery is a more complex process, as we found out last year. Rather than allowing a situation to arise in which we would be asking faculty to re-plan their first two weeks of classes during the holidays and at the last minute, or calling on everyone to do the additional work of making two sets of plans and then waiting to see which plan was needed, we are moving ahead with our plan to shift classes online for the first two weeks, and allow for exceptions where they are needed.

We ask faculty that the remote instruction they adopt be the closest to the currently scheduled modality. For classes scheduled as online hybrid, online synchronous or online asynchronous, there should be no change. Classes scheduled in person should move to an online synchronous format, following the same schedule as originally planned. Faculty moving from in-person to online synchronous classes will need to email students in advance to provide the Zoom link.

The reason for this request is two-fold. First, students chose specific modalities when they registered, based on their schedules for work and family responsibilities, and we need to honor their choices as much as we can. Second, one thing we learned as an institution during the lock-down is that taking multiple asynchronous classes at once can prove very problematic for students. Many reported having difficulty setting a schedule for the week, connecting with their instructors, overcoming isolation, etc.  Hence for the first two weeks of January, we are prioritizing students' need for this kind of structure and seeking to foster as much feeling of connection as possible, both with their instructors and with other students.

To support faculty, DePaul's Center for Teaching and Learning has produced a Zoom Teaching Tips document that includes an email or news item template to use in communications with students. Zoom has also created a Tips & Tricks document especially for educators. For help with Winter Quarter course preparation, please email

If you are a faculty who is not already scheduled to teach in a Zoom-enabled room and would like to reserve one so that you can teach your online synchronous class from that classroom, please send a request to and we will do our best to accommodate your request.

If you would like to apply for an exception for classes that must meet in-person, please send your request to Faculty who have received an exception should contact their students immediately so students know to return to campus on Jan. 3, 2022.

We are asking office managers to ensure that students can access services in-person or online. Please work with your dean, VP, or AVP to determine the needs of your unit during this period.

Notwithstanding the work required to plan this temporary pivot online, I hope that you will be able to enjoy the holidays with the assurance that there is a plan in place for the first two weeks of January. As always, you have my gratitude for all you do on behalf of our students.

Salma Ghanem