Start-of-term syllabus tactics and mask guidance

Chris Brown Vice Provost for Faculty Development
Monday, Aug. 10, 2020, 4:10 p.m.
KU Lawrence All Staff Faculty and Affiliates,GTAs GRAs and GAs

Dear colleagues,

As you continue preparing for fall classes, we want to share syllabus strategies and language that may help you communicate with your students this fall.

We encourage you to:

  • Upload your syllabus to your course Blackboard/Canvas site so all your students know there is at least one place they can go to find the syllabus.
  • Articulate your course learning outcomes in the syllabus so students know exactly what they need to achieve this term.
  • Consider placing new elements in your syllabus you may have not considered before, including specific language about safety precautions in the classroom. Masks are required, and our guidance for enforcement procedures is below. The Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) has a great resource on the FlexTeaching website, including sample language related to COVID-19.

Suggested syllabus language regarding masks:

“To protect all of us, everyone must wear a mask in the classroom as required by the Protect KU Pledge and by University policy. Violations of the mask policy in classrooms are treated as academic misconduct. If you come to class without a mask, I will ask you to put one on. If you do not put on a mask when asked, you will have to leave class. Violations will be reported, and consequences will follow, up to and including suspension from the course.”

Guidance regarding masks:

It is considered academic misconduct if a student is not wearing a mask in a classroom. We ask that you address it and report it by following these steps:

  • First, ask the student to put on a mask. If they do not, they need to leave the room. KU Operations will work to provide instructors with a few masks to have ready if a student forgets theirs, but it is not an instructor’s responsibility to have masks always available. If a student refuses to leave the room, instructors may dismiss class. If you must dismiss a class, please do what is possible and reasonable to make up for it online.
  • Please report incidents at by leaving your name and email and marking the box "student in academic context". A staff member will follow up with you if necessary, and the case will be turned over to your respective chair or dean for them to follow through with established academic misconduct procedures. Repeated refusals by a student may lead to suspension from the course. 
  • Human Resources Management, in partnership with Faculty Development, will follow through to assist departments and schools if needed. All parties want to ensure that instructors are not treated unfairly in evaluations by students, colleagues, or supervisors for helping enforce this policy and protecting everyone's health.

Please note: Students who fail to wear a mask, but who DO comply when asked to wear one, or students who leave the room without incident, will receive educational notices asking for compliance for the benefit of everyone’s health. Guidance on this procedure is forthcoming to chairs and deans.



J. Christopher Brown

Vice Provost for Faculty Development