instructional continuity

Communication, Flexibility, Cooperation...

Always keep these in mind when planning for contingencies in your course. You never know when you will have to cancel class because of a broken leg (yours or someone close to you). Or the university might close due to the threat of bad weather. Or a worldwide pandemic will strike and completely disrupt our lives for an indeterminate amount of time. It could happen.

Continuity Planning are the strategies and solutions outlined by the instructor for maintaining continuity of instruction for students should the regularly scheduled course be unexpectedly interrupted. When developing these plans, always think Communication, Flexibility and Cooperation. These are the key to a successful continuity plan.

Communication, when circumstances change, is vital to success. You need a multi-pronged communication plan in place. 

  • How will you communicate with your students if there is a sudden change in the course delivery? Some possibilities are:
    • Email over Canvas
    • Announcement in Canvas
    • Social media posting
    • Other
  • Syllabus statement 
    • how students will be notified of a change in course delivery and where further information will be available
    • alternative methods of communication if the primary channel is disrupted
    • set the expectation for the time frame in which the students should be notified and who to contact if the instructor does not communicate

Your continuity plan should be general directions on how you and students will proceed if scheduled courses are disrupted and how the plan may be altered depending on the type of interruption. A shorter interruption will differ from a longer one, so it is important to consider what is involved for various scenarios. For instance, if the campus was closed for snow, it may only delay the course by a day and the course would resume when the campus reopened. However, if the campus is closed due to a pandemic, the course would be greatly impacted and the instruction would have to be modified to enable students to continue through the course.

You will have to consider ways to interact and promote engagement online. Recommendations to make the transition to online instruction smoothly include using Canvas, Panopto, Zoom, and other tools. Also, you are encouraged to be flexible in regard to assignments, activities, and due dates. Students may not be able to adapt quickly to the change in course delivery. 

Successfully managing any disruption, small or large, takes everyone involved working toward the same goal. You need to plan how to keep your students engaged through the transition. Make sure you emphasize what the student must do to continue to succeed in the course. This should be generally conveyed in the syllabus and specifically in the communications you make to students at the time. And remember, cooperation is a two-way street. Be willing to work with your students to make this work under the extraordinary circumstances.

Continuity Resources

Example Continuity Statement for Syllabus:

In the event a regular scheduled course is unexpectedly interrupted, course requirements, due dates, and grading policy are subject to change when necessitated by revised course delivery, semester calendar, or other instances. Information about changes in this course can be obtained from the Canvas course webpage or by contacting me by email: (instructor info) or by my office phone (instructor info). If I do not respond within 48 hours, please contact my department at (department info) or the college dean at (dean info).

If our regular scheduled class meeting is interrupted or the campus should unexpectedly close, students should immediately log onto Canvas and read any course announcements.  Students are encouraged to continue the readings and other assignments as outlined on the course syllabus until otherwise advised. Any student who does not could fall behind in the course.