DATE: August 17, 2020
TO: All Teaching Faculty
FROM: Drew Kerkhoff, Associate Provost
SUBJECT: Important Academic Policies for the Semester’s Start

The following are key policies that all faculty should be aware of at the start of the semester. We will be sending another reminder of policies that pertain to the semester’s end closer to that time. The information here is excerpted from the Faculty Handbook, the 2020 - 21 Kenyon College Course Catalog and the Student Handbook. Please refer to those sources for more detailed information. The list below is alphabetical.

Academic Honesty: To foster integrity in all academic work, instructors are expected to insist on high standards of honesty and integrity in their classes. Because of the seriousness of plagiarism or academic dishonesty, students are urged to consult with their instructors if they have questions about the attribution of sources. Please refer to Kenyon College Course Catalog 2020 - 2021  (Academic Policies and ProceduresAcademic Honesty) online for policies. In the interest of helping students avoid inadvertent infractions, faculty are expected to specify in their syllabi the forms that academic infractions may take in the particular kinds of work required in their courses and should always respond to student inquiries about these matters. All faculty are asked to include a statement of academic integrity on their syllabi. Below is an example of a general statement which faculty can amend to include course specific information: 

At Kenyon College we expect all students, at all times, to submit work that represents our highest standards of academic integrity. It is the responsibility of each student to learn and practice the proper ways of documenting and acknowledging those whose ideas and words they have drawn upon (see Academic Honesty and Questions of Plagiarism in the Course Catalog). Ignorance and carelessness are not excuses for academic dishonesty.

A violation of academic honesty is among the most serious matters in an academic community. An instructor who suspects a student of academic dishonesty is required to present the evidence to the chair of his or her department. See Penalties for Violations to Academic Integrity Policy

Canceled Classes: If an emergency makes it necessary for an instructor to cancel class, including but not limited to COVID exposure or infection, they should make an effort to notify the class, the department administrative assistant and the department chair. In the case of COVID exposure or infection, if instructors are asymptomatic and able to continue to teach while in quarantine or isolation, they should do so. If their condition or any other COVID or non-COVID circumstances require an extended absence and/or the cancelation of classes, they should contact their Department Chair and the Provost’s office to make alternative arrangements for the classes to be made up or otherwise covered.

Pandemic Contingency Plans: Instructors should have in place clear plans for adjusting the conduct of each of their courses, should they be disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the quarantine or isolation of the instructor or one or more students due to COVID exposure, testing, or infection. Contingency plans are especially important for in-person courses and hybrid courses having a significant in-person component, but should be considered for all courses. Plans should be summarized in the syllabus for students, so that they know what to expect.

Class Attendance Policy: Faculty members are responsible for announcing their attendance policy at the first meeting of the course and including such a statement in the course syllabus. Students are subject to attendance regulations as determined by the instructor of each course. Excessive absence (> 25% of class meetings, or an alternative threshold set by the instructor) is a valid reason for an instructor to expel a student from a course. If the instructor chooses another threshold absence level, they need to communicate it clearly in the syllabus.

Faculty members are expected to monitor the regular attendance of first-year students and those on conditional enrollment. In addition, during the pandemic, we encourage instructors to track attendance to aid contact tracing, in all in-person courses.

Instructors will receive notification of student absence due to the following reasons: 1) curricular or extracurricular activities sanctioned in advance by the College, 2) infirmity as determined by the College Health and Counseling Center (including COVID-related quarantine and isolation), or 3) compelling and unavoidable personal circumstances as determined by the Dean of Students or the Dean for Academic Advising. In these cases, students may not be penalized for the absence, but they should be held responsible for all course assignments. The rescheduling of examinations or assigned work must be initiated by the student.

Class Meeting Times: All classes and laboratory sessions are scheduled both in hours and rooms by the Registrar. Instructors wishing to arrange special times or places must receive the approval of the Registrar. Once the schedules of class meetings have been announced, no change in official times may be made without the approval of the Registrar.

To accommodate remote and hybrid instruction during the pandemic, faculty may alter their class meeting schedule, with the goal of providing equity of access and faculty support for all students in the class. Any changes to the class meeting schedule should be clearly communicated to all students in writing and conflicts with the students’ other courses or commitments should be avoided. While faculty have permission to alter the course schedule, they are not compelled to do so and they should do their best not to multiply the effort beyond that ordinarily required in their courses.

There are three days that ordinarily have adjustments to some regular class times: Founder’s Day (October), Martin Luther King Day (January) and Honors Day (April). How these days will be handled during the pandemic remains to be determined.

Course Syllabi: To allow students to plan their work for each semester, instructors should provide at an early class meeting a syllabus articulating the learning goals of the course and its requirements, e.g., the assignments and the attendance policy of the instructor and give reasonable advance notice of dates when requirements are to be fulfilled. The instructor should respect grace periods in scheduling assignments.

The instructor should explain how final grades will be determined, specifying the relative value of performance on all assignments. The instructor should also explain to what degree the final grade will be influenced by participation in class discussion, class attendance and the like. The instructor should include the policy on late work (See section 1.1.12.), a policy on academic honesty and a statement on accommodations for students with disabilities. In making assignments, instructors will have in mind the accessibility of materials or equipment.

Any significant change to the original syllabus during the semester must be communicated to the students in a timely manner and in writing.

Disability Accommodation: All faculty are asked to include an accommodation statement within their course syllabi similar to the one below. Alternative suggestions can be found on the Student Accessibility and Support Services (SASS) website.

“A student with a disability who thinks he or she may need an accommodation to access a campus program, activity, or service should contact Erin Salva in Student Accessibility and Support Services (SASS) at salvae@kenyon.edu to discuss specific needs. Advance notice is required to review documentation, evaluate accommodation requests and provide notice or arrangements for any accommodation.

Final Exams: Final examinations in semester courses are typically two hours in length. Examinations may be three hours in length if the instructor has specified such at the beginning of the semester. Final examinations in year-long courses are given in the spring and are three hours in length.

Instructors may not accept for credit work submitted after the last day of the semester unless the student has been granted permission by the Dean for Academic Advising and Support for an incomplete. The last day of the semester is specified on the College calendar.

When an instructor examines all members of a class simultaneously, he or she must do so at the time and place announced by the registrar, except by permission of an Associate Provost. If an instructor wishes to cancel the original time of the examination and substitute another time, even if the entire class agrees, the permission of an Associate Provost must be obtained.

Instructors may schedule an alternative final examination time for the entire class as long as it falls within the final examination period, excluding reading periods. In such cases, the instructor must give the examination twice, at the time originally scheduled and at another time. Instructors who wish to schedule alternative final examinations are encouraged to indicate this on the course syllabus. If an instructor chooses to allow one student to take the examination at a different time, the entire class should have that option, even if the rescheduling occurs late in the semester.

However, if the Dean for Academic Advising and Support, in consultation with the instructor, gives a student permission to take an exam at an irregular time in accordance with established guidelines  for example, if he or she has more than two exams on one day or is experiencing health problems or a personal crisis  there is no obligation on the part of the instructor to offer the option to the entire class.

When an instructor requires a "take-home" examination, it must be due at the scheduled time of examination set by the Registrar’s Office. Instructors who wish to reschedule the due date for a take-home examination must follow the procedures described above under “Scheduling of final examinations.” As is the case for other examinations, instructors may offer alternative due dates in addition to the time scheduled by the Registrar’s Office. Take-home examinations may not be due during grace periods or on reading days. 

Instructors may assign work other than examinations and take-home examinations (such as papers, projects, or presentations) during examination week. Such alternatives may be especially attractive during the fall semester, since the exam period is necessarily remote. In all cases, such alternative assignments must be due at the scheduled time of examination set by the Registrar’s Office. In instances where the scheduled three-hour time slot is not sufficient to accommodate a final assignment (such as presentations, performances and individual oral exams and critiques), instructors may schedule additional times without obtaining permission of the Associate Provost so long as they avoid creating conflicts with the regularly scheduled exams of students in the class. As is the case for examinations, instructors may offer alternative dues dates in addition to the time scheduled by the Registrar’s Office. As is the case with all other paper and project assignments, instructors may also grant extensions to individual students where appropriate and fair. 

Final examinations for fall semester courses are scheduled by the Registrar for December 14 - 18. Final exams for second semester classes are scheduled for May 17 - 21, though these dates may change due to the pandemic. Any exceptions to the final exam schedule as provided by the Registrar must be approved by Associate Provost Kerkhoff. Please note that we do not consider student work or travel plans as appropriate reasons for rescheduling final exams. 

Grace Periods: The College provides grace periods during the year to ensure that 1) students have adequate time, free from extraordinary pressures, to prepare for final examinations, 2) students have winter and spring breaks free from substantial assignments and 3) the routine work in classes during the final week of the semester is not disrupted. During grace periods, instructors may not offer final examinations. Also, instructors should not require assignments beyond what is necessary for normal daily participation in classes, seminars and laboratories during grace periods. Instructors may only schedule more ambitious assignments during grace periods if there is a pedagogical rationale for doing so and they must inform the class of these assignments at the beginning of the semester. The grace periods are seven calendar days before the beginning of the final examination period in each semester and two days following winter and spring vacations.

Students and faculty with questions concerning Grace Periods should contact an Associate Provost. Provisional dates of Grace Periods for the current academic year are December 2 - 8, February 4 - 5 and May 6 - 12.

Office Hours: Full-time instructors are expected to maintain open office hours five hours per week, typically one hour per day. Part-time faculty may pro-rate their hours based on this standard. Office hours should be posted on your door and entered on the web through the Personal Access page, accessible via the Registrar’s webpage. During the pandemic, we strongly recommend online or outside office hours.

Progress Reports: Instructors are required to submit progress reports throughout each semester for students with excessive absences, delinquent/unsatisfactory work and/or academic deficiencies (performance at C- or below). Progress reports are also submitted at mid-term and the end of the semester for students on Conditional Enrollment to provide regular feedback on academic progress, even when academic performance is not deficient. Improvement and exceptional work by any student can also be reported.

Progress reports are sent to the student's advisor, the academic advising office, the registrar's office and additional sources of support on campus. The advisor and/or dean for academic advising use these reports to counsel the student on appropriate next steps. Progress reports for students on Conditional Enrollment are reviewed by the Committee on Academic Standards and considered in its deliberations at the end of each semester.

Reading Periods: The College provides reading periods at the end of each semester prior to final examinations. The dates of the reading periods are part of the official College calendar established by the Calendar Committee and supervised by the Registrar. The purpose of reading periods is to provide time for preparation for final examinations or work on alternative final assignments. Instructors may not hold required meetings of classes, give tests, assign work, or schedule alternative final examination times during these periods. An exception is made in the case of honors examinations, which may be scheduled during reading periods. Reading Days for the current academic year are December 12 - 14 (evening exam on December 14) in the fall. In the spring, Reading Days are Saturday, May 13 - 16. All dates are subject to revision due to the pandemic.

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