Continuity of Instruction

  • MSUM is committed to the continuity of instruction in the event of an emergency disruption that may result in the suspension of activities, including face-to-face classes on MSUM’s campus. MSUM is committed to preparing for any significant disruption in classes, whether it's from closure due to flooding, weather, medical emergency, campus evacuation or other emergency.

    An emergency closing of the University, campus closure and/or suspension of classroom meetings is not a suspension of instruction. Faculty duty days remain in effect and scheduled instructional duty days remain intact, though the means of delivery may change.

    You will hear more about potential flooding and updates about the COVID-19 virus in official university email communication. We will keep you updated on the university’s plans during this period.

    Updates to Faculty:

    Faculty: Preparing for Continuity of Instruction

    Minnesota State Policies:

  • All MSUM courses have a course shell within the campus-supported Learning Management System (LMS), D2L Brightspace (per the Course Online Presence Policy). It is strongly recommended to use this platform in the event that face-to-face classes are temporarily suspended. If you are the Instructor of Record on the Course Schedule, you can find your course shell in D2L Brightspace. If you are not the Instructor of Record, please see your Chair, Dean, or department administrative assistant for details.

    It is a long-standing requirement that a course syllabus be developed and distributed to students at the start of the academic term. According to MSUM policy, the syllabus is “prepared to clearly notify students of course content, course requirements, and course expectations”. This syllabus should be included with the course in D2L Brightspace along with contact information for the faculty member assigned to the course.

    With this in mind, all faculty with instructional assignments are asked to provide a syllabus addendum to their students as soon as possible. You may wish to file your addendum with your department chair or Dean and upload it to D2L Brightspace. The addendum should detail how you will communicate with your students and maintain instruction for a short-term period during a flood or other campus emergency. 

    This addendum should address the following considerations:

    • Indicate your method of communication with students (e.g., email, D2L Brightspace) and encourage students to test these methods now. Information about how to use D2L Brightspace to directly email your class. This email list is automatically updated daily.
    • Tell your students how they will receive future assignments if they are unable to come to campus and how they will submit those assignments to you. (This may be relevant to students who cannot come to class even though classes would continue to be held.)
    • Indicate that students need to complete any alternative assignments by the deadlines that are established. (Faculty should be flexible with respect to individual student circumstances. However, the norm should be regular completion of assignments.)
    • For your students who may not have internet access due to a flood or other event, it is important for these students to have an explanation of your expectations and their responsibilities. It is important to share a course outline/syllabus, and provide a timeline that students can either download or print and take with them.
    • When considering labs (to include areas in the arts, studios, theater and music performances) it is important that faculty have a grading system in place that tracks students’ progress to date. If we have met the “2/3 requirement,” you can plan for the option of grading the student on the work completed even if some labs are missed.*
    • Under no circumstances should an instructor simply postpone instruction to a later date. Doing so will make it difficult for students to complete assignments and will cause them prolonged stress from a flood or other emergency situation. Doing so may also conflict with Federal Government regulations concerning course credit assignment and continuing qualification for financial aid.

    Maintaining instruction implies that students are engaged with the course material and instructor. We believe three meaningful interactions per week will fulfill our obligations to the policies. This could include online discussions, student submission of graded or ungraded assignments, class meetings, webinars, phone conferences, posted lectures, etc. For information about how to provide alternative delivery methods including how to use D2L Brightspace to directly email your class, consult the following document, provided by the Office of Online Learning:

    Preparing for Continuity of Instruction Help Guide

    *When a long-term emergency closure occurs after the completion of at least two-thirds of a semester, the president, after consultation with the chancellor, may declare the semester to be complete, in accordance with system procedure.

    During times where continuity of instruction is converted to an online environment, students who have approved and communicated with you their Accessibility Resources accommodations must be provided accessible course materials to use in an online environment. If you have questions or concerns regarding Accessibility Resources accommodations, please contact the Director of Accessibility Resources.

    In addition to the guidelines for Continuity of Instruction, faculty may wish to consult with the Office of Online Learning by submitting a HelpDesk ticket to Please review these resources for guidance on how to make materials accessible.


    The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. With the changes to delivering education and supporting students remotely, we offer the guidance below. If you are unsure of how to use the technology solutions, contact the Office of Online Learning at

    Communication with Students and FERPA

    • When emailing groups of students, use the Bcc line for all student email addresses. This will work for a single class of students or other groups of students. Not all students’ email addresses are public.
    • Always contact the student at their email address and not alternatives.
    • Calendar invites to your class (e.g. to share a Zoom link) should be marked “private” so that your class list is not disclosed via people’s calendars.

    Online Teaching Formats and FERPA

    • Do not require your students to be identified on social media in order to participate in class or submit assignments.
    • Online meetings with students should only be held through approved University platforms (e.g. Zoom, D2L)
    • Use your university account while using Zoom
    • If recordings of a class via Zoom or similar tools are necessary for a specific purpose like turning in an assignment, they become part of the educational record. Save them using a university approved method. Generally, you should not record classes using Zoom or similar tools. Names, internet IDs, and images are typically listed as a part of a user’s profile and would be visible in the recording, creating a risk of disclosing private student data if the recording is shared.

    Working from Home, Student Data, and FERPA

    • Use a VPN connection to safely access systems with student data. Some systems require use of VPN to access.
    • Student data should still be stored on University approved storage for private student data. If you use your department networked shared drive, this is still accessible through VPN. Avoid storing university data directly on your personal (non-work) computer.
    • Wherever possible, student information should be maintained in the same systems as you would in the office.
    • If you need to dispose of papers that include private student data, they should be shredded and disposed of securely.

    If you are unsure of how to use the technology solutions, contact the Office of Online Learning at