Although it is always important that your syllabus (or your Moodle site, or wherever you communicate course policies and expectations to students) be clear, it will be critical that your syllabi for the coming semester/modules communicate your expectations unambiguously and offer a perspective grounded in care and community. Having to re-think how our classes are designed and delivered is an important chance to reveal the hidden curriculum of academia; doing so can help support students’ sense of belonging and their ability to engage in their learning and succeed in your class. Your syllabus will also be critical for reminding students of broader campus policies and practices related to community health and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as Macalester’s academic integrity policy

It will also be important that your syllabus describe exactly how the time block for the course will be used (i.e., during which increments of the block can students expect to be doing what kinds of activities, and – especially if you are teaching a hybrid class in Module 1 that includes first year students – where will those activities happen?). This is a very new system for everyone; clarity and routine will make a big difference in the midst of ongoing uncertainty and fear. It will be useful to get regular feedback from your students about how different aspects of the course are going for them so you can make adjustments along the way as needed.

As you develop your syllabus and policies for your course, please keep the context of both the COVID-19 pandemic and the pandemic of systemic racism and anti-Blackness foremost in your mind. As Cathy Davidson from CUNY emphasizes in her post on the single most essential requirement in designing a fall course, “Trauma is not an add on. From everything we know about learning, if the trauma is not addressed, accounted for, and built into the course design, we fail. Our students fail. None of us needs another failure.” 

Below are links to resources and suggestions for communicating and staying in contact with your students and for developing specific course policies. This is not, of course, an exhaustive list of policies and resources you might include in your syllabus, but is particularly intended to support efforts to be responsive to the current context in your course practices. You may also want to consult EPAG’s policy decisions and recommendations.

Course policy guidelines and sample syllabus statements