Penn State issues faculty guidance on academic questions related to coronavirus

March 23, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State has issued guidance to faculty members related to questions about academic instruction, grading and evaluation, and the promotion and tenure process as the University responds to the ongoing public health challenges presented by the novel coronavirus.

In a message sent to all faculty members on March 20, Penn State Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones addressed faculty questions on synchronous remote instruction, course grading, student evaluations, changes in timing to tenure and promotion decisions, annual reviews and resources available to faculty members.

The guidance includes the following points:

  • Synchronous remote instruction: Faculty members continuing to teach remotely during regularly scheduled class time is in the best interest of the University’s students for several key reasons. It provides consistent structure for students in a period of uncertainty, maintains the schedule of courses in which students had enrolled and allows faculty to carry on with the general pace of their courses without needing to completely restructure for an asynchronous, online context. Accommodations are available for faculty members facing extenuating circumstances.

  • Course grading: A committee of administrators and faculty leaders tasked with developing guidance on a wide range of issues pertaining to undergraduate instruction – including the possibility of implementing satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading during the spring 2020 semester – expects to circulate draft policies and procedures related to these issues by Wednesday, March 25.

  • Student evaluations: Student Ratings of Teacher Effectiveness (SRTEs) will be administered, but results will not be made available to administrators and will not be used for evaluative purposes, as consistent with a recent resolution of the Penn State Faculty Senate.

  • Tenure and promotion timing: In recognition of the disruption to scholarly activities due to the impact of the novel coronavirus, Penn State will be extending the provisional tenure period starting with the 2020-21 academic year. Additional information and guidance is forthcoming.

  • Annual reviews: Guidance will be forthcoming about how faculty should be evaluated for the 2020 calendar year, given the unusual circumstances, including recommended criteria to include and provide assessments of in individuals’ annual reviews.

  • Resources for faculty: The efforts of all faculty members during this challenging time are deeply appreciated, and multiple resources are available to help faculty continue to succeed. features tips, training and frequently asked questions about teaching remotely. For comprehensive updates about the COVID-19 crisis and its impacts at the University, visit and
Last Updated March 23, 2020