Center for Teaching and Learning


Illness and absences

How do I know if students are really sick when they miss class? Can I ask for a medical note?

No medical note is required.

What if I, or one of my family members, get sick?

Follow the UW’s latest recommendations for what to do if you feel sick.

If you are home sick and teaching using Zoom, we recommend that you either teach via Zoom at the same time as your class, or be prepared to upload your content so that students may view it any time and from any location.

What if my TA gets sick?

If the course is already using Canvas, make sure that records continue to stay up to date. Anyone with a teacher or TA role can enter grades or give feedback as needed.

Equity and access

How do I design a course for universal access?

  • Assume that not all your students have 24/7 access to reliable Wi-Fi, and build that assumption into your course.
  • Consider the devices students have access to. Laptops? The UW’s Student Tech Loan Program has just increased the number of laptops available to loan. But some of your students may no longer be close to campus or have concerns about coming to campus. We can’t require them to come to campus. Smartphones? Students can do Zoom video-conferencing via smartphones. Other cellphones? Students can do Zoom audio-conferencing via their phones.
  • Like instructors, some students have a lot of experience using Canvas tools (and/or Zoom and/or learning with Panopto). Others may not. Try to limit the number of tech tools you’re using, so that your learning curve, and that of your students, is less steep.

How do I accommodate individual students with disabilities?

I’m hoping to have live synchronous discussions. How do I know what time zone students are in?

Consider giving a quick, multiple choice, anonymous, confidential survey before the first day to ask students about:

  • Their time zone
  • Levels of experience with particular Canvas tools
  • Whether they’ve used Zoom before
  • If they have reliable wifi access and devices

Be explicit about why you are asking so that students understand you’re building a course where everyone has equal access and potential for success.

What should I do when not all students have 24/7 reliable Wi-Fi access?

ot all students have 24/7 reliable wifi. What should I do?

  • Aim to make as much of your content asynchronous as possible.
  • Don’t require synchronous sessions.
  • Consider recording synchronous sessions so they can be accessed by students who were unable to connect at that time.
  • Don’t rely on short windows for test/exam submissions.
  • If you post recorded lectures, provide transcripts or notes when possible, so that students can access the content even if they can’t reliably stream videos.

What other strategies can I use to make my class more inclusive?

  • Include content from multiple perspectives. As you are moving content online, consider adding new perspectives that have been historically excluded from research in the field.
  • Create a respectful and productive learning environment. Work with students to create ground rules for your synchronous discussions, and discuss how you’ll handle “hot moments” or microaggressions that emerge–especially those that happen in breakout rooms or other spaces where you aren’t there to address them in the moment.
  • Provide clear expectations for students’ success and avenues for finding support. Be explicit about what students need to do to succeed in this class, and what resources are available to them if they are struggling.
  • Gather students’ feedback on their learning experience in the class. Use anonymous surveys or polls at various times during the quarter to find out from students what is helping them learn, and what is impeding their learning beyond the lack of in-person interactions. After reading their feedback, share any small changes you can make to improve their learning.
  • Find more ideas on our inclusive teaching strategies page.

Does UW loan laptops to students?

Yes. See below. Bear in mind, that some of your students may not be anywhere near campus and can’t return to borrow a laptop. Even if students are local, they may not be able to come to campus. So share this option with students while making it explicit that there are good reasons some people might not be able to take advantage of the option.

FERPA and privacy POLICY

May I record students while they sit for an exam?

Generally, no. Instructors must ensure that their in-person and remote exam practices are consistent. If an exam would not be recorded when administered in-person and the instructor’s syllabus did not communicate at the start of the quarter that the exam(s) would be recorded, then instructors may not record students when they sit for an exam remotely. However, if instructors would ordinarily observe the behavior of students taking exams in-person, students may be asked to switch on the video feature in an online conferencing solution provided they are not recorded. At the beginning of the exam, the instructor should state that individuals are not permitted to record the exam.

If an in-person exam would have ordinarily included a recorded component (ex. a recorded oral presentation, dance or music performance, etc.) and the instructor’s syllabus communicated at the start of the quarter that the exam(s) would be recorded, then recording students while remote is permissible. However, instructors must retain the recording under the same retention schedule as they would have retained an in-person recording, and the recording would become part of the student’s educational record.

Instructors must also be mindful of student equity when requiring the use of any technologies for remote exams.

Instructors may need to:

  • Refer students who are residing locally and whose health and personal circumstances permit visiting campus to the Student Tech Loan Program for access to devices that meet the technical requirements for online conferencing
  • Make adjustments for students who do not have access to appropriate devices.

Privacy best practices for online conferencing are available on the UW Privacy Office’s website

May I record one-on-one conversations or meetings?

Generally, no. If a meeting or one-on-one conversation would not be recorded when in-person then it should not be recorded when working remotely.

The UW Privacy Office is consulting with the UW Division of the Attorney General’s Office to evaluate the legal issues related to recording one-on-one conversations, meetings, group activities, instruction, and events. As we are working on broader guidance the below table is a best practice.

Appropriate use of online conferencing solutions:
Audio (host) Audio (attendee) Video (host) Video (attendee) Recording (host) Recording (attendee)
Classroom instruction (ex. lectures and presentations) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes¹ Yes¹
Classroom exams Yes No Yes Yes No² No²
1-on-1 meetings or conversations Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Staff meetings Yes Yes Yes Yes No No

¹Recordings that are personally identifiable to students (e.g., have a student’s image or audio question) are educational records and subject to FERPA protections. Access to such recordings may need to be limited to the instructor and students who are enrolled in the specific class. See FAQ on “Can I share recordings I make of Zoom classes?”

²If an in-person exam would have ordinarily included a recorded component (ex. a recorded oral presentation, dance or music performance, etc.), recording students while remote is permissible. See FAQ “May I record students while they sit for an exam?”

Can I share recordings I make of Zoom classes?

Not publicly. Zoom recordings that include a student’s voice, face, and/or any reference to student records are an educational record protected by FERPA. Access to such recordings may need to be limited to the instructor and students who are enrolled in the specific class. Zoom has signed a contract with the UW and is designated a University of Washington school official under FERPA.

Get started

What to consider as you dive in — set realistic expectations, understand policies, and communicate with students.

Put classroom activities online

Once you determine your goals, identify the technologies that will help you meet them.

Technology how to guides

Schedule a class session, record a lecture, create assignments — learn the nuts and bolts of your online teaching tools.


Address potential hurdles: illness, absence, access, and privacy.