Preparing for Disruptions

Generally, we recommend planning for two potential scenarios:

  1. Brief disruptions (one or several days) during which student, GSI, and faculty access to campus and/or to the internet may not be universal.
    Examples: partial or complete campus power outage, wildfire safety blackout, air quality risk
  2. Longer disruptions (weeks long) during which students, GSIs, and faculty will have access to the internet - perhaps after a brief period of adjustment.
    Examples: public health emergency, earthquake

Before the Semester Starts

In all disruption scenarios, we recommend preparing at the beginning of the semester by taking these important steps to ensure you have up-to-date information and the tools needed to continue your course.

Best Practices


Clear communication at all levels is critical during a disruption. This includes communicating your plans and expectations at the beginning of the semester before a disruption occurs and during the disruption itself. We recommend the following:

  • Let students know how they’ll be updated in case of disruption (e.g. bCourse Announcements) in your syllabus
  • Let students know how class meetings will occur (e.g. via Zoom, viewing asynchronous materials, etc.) in the case of a short-term disruption
  • Create your Zoom meetings within bCourses as recurring meetings
    • These will show up in your students’ bCourse calendar
    • Include the Zoom call-in information in your syllabus (the number and password for a recurring meeting will not change)
    • Encourage students and instructors to keep a copy of the call-in information that they can access if they are without internet access
  • Administer a beginning of course survey to identify challenges specific students may face in the case of a disruption

Whenever possible, pre-planning alternatives to lectures and assignments, and pre-assigning roles among your teaching team, will be useful.

Course Design

These are recommended pedagogical approaches that will also allow you to continue with your course if you need to switch to emergency remote instruction for a short- or long-term disruption.

Course Delivery

In-person courses may shift to emergency remote instruction due to a variety of potential disruptions. In some cases, you may be able to hold your regular class session via Zoom, but in other cases you or your students may not have access to a reliable internet connection. Further, even if your class is scheduled in a course capture or classroom capture classroom, that room may not be available to you, depending on the nature of the disruption. To account for how the variety of types of disruptions could impact your course, we recommend the following:

  • Pre-record a week’s worth of lectures that can be called upon to replace a disrupted lecture, and publish them via Kaltura in bCourses
  • Record and post lectures delivered via Zoom so that students who cannot participate synchronously can catch up
  • Students can be instructed to engage with accessible asynchronous content (e.g. modules or course readings) in lieu of course meetings during the disruption
  • Identify content that can be made optional for the course, if necessary, without invalidating any learning objectives


It’s possible that disruptions will occur at times of the semester when assessments are scheduled, and this will disrupt your original assessment plan. Anticipating this possibility, the Academic Senate has published a variety of best practices for remote examination. Along with these recommendations, we suggest the following:

Class Meetings

Different types of disruptions will have distinct impacts on class meetings that are regularly in-person, or online.


Any course with in-person attendance or participation grades should consider alternative ways students can earn these points, to avoid creating incentives for students to physically attend class when potentially ill. In-person activities may need to shift to online teaching for short or long periods of time, depending on the type and extent of the emergency. Using bCourses when possible for administrative aspects of the course (e.g. publishing and turning in assignments online) will reduce your workload during a disruption. Examination policies should be clearly described.

Labs, studios, and courses which use other non-classroom spaces will be especially impacted. The CTL maintains an (evolving) set of best practices for these courses.


Online meetings will be most affected by disruptions that impact internet access (e.g. power outages) for instructors and students. A disruption may affect some but not all of your class. Due dates for assignments may need pushing back, and exams may require rescheduling or cancellation.