Academic Instruction and Support

For the Spring 2021 semester, the University will continue with a mix of online and modified on-campus classes. All on-campus components take place following social distancing and safety guidelines. Face coverings are required on campus and must be worn in the presence of others. Furthermore, students are typically only on campus in subgroups for a class, and in a coordinated way to reduce how many students are on campus at one time. If necessary, the University is prepared to operate under increased safety precautions, including a return to fully online coursework or a move to remote operations.


The Spring 2021 semester begins on Thursday, January 21, 2021, and will conclude on Friday, May 7, 2021. Exam week is May 4 to 7, 2021.

The 16-week semester will not have a spring break, but will have a spring recess day on April 1.

The shortened semester requires one additional day of instruction for all courses that include classes taught on a Monday, Thursday, or Friday. Priority classes (1000-level freshmen cohort classes and labs, studios or any classes requiring hands-on teaching) are to hold one Saturday in-person class. For Monday classes, options are 9/5 or 10/3; for classes that include a Friday but not a Monday: 10/24; for classes that include a Thursday: 11/21. Other courses with a Monday, Thursday, or Friday in the schedule may make up the missing instructional time in person or online. Instructors will communicate this information to their students. The Schedule of Classes available on WPConnect also has the information on how each course will be taught this fall. Under the Governor’s executive order, students can choose to take courses remotely.

Instructional Plan

William Paterson University is committed to providing all students with an engaged learning experience that enables a student’s active engagement with course content.

The health and safety of students, faculty, and staff is critical. The limited in-person instruction will be conducted in accordance with social distancing guidelines. Room capacities have been reduced for each classroom to provide proper social distancing. All faculty and students will be required to wear face coverings within classrooms and labs, and in the presence of others on campus.

The University is deploying its pre-planned hybrid and hyflex instructional delivery model for some classes, continuing to accommodate both faculty and students who may need to remain at a distance. A course’s teaching approach (i.e., online, hybrid, hyflex, fully on-campus) can be found in the Schedule of Classes. Students may seek course adjustments as normal during the drop/add period through January 28, 2021, including for the reason of format preference. After that, faculty are not expected to adjust their teaching approach for students unless informed by an official Accessibility Resource Center accommodation for a student, or as directed by the University for the reason of student or class quarantine, or by state mandate.

Any classes with on-campus components deploy social distancing in the classroom, commonly achieved via dividing the class into two smaller groups for separate on-campus instruction. Students needing distance-only accommodation for these classes may contact the Accessibility Resource Center.

The online portion of all courses, whether synchronous or asynchronous, are most commonly provided to students via Blackboard, the University’s online platform, in all or most cases. Click here for remote learning support and resources.

Labs and other courses with space-specific needs utilize in-person instruction to the extent possible. In-field activities (e.g., clinical or internship placements) proceed as normal so long as circumstances allow and meet University, state, and on-site protocols.

Additional technology, including cameras to allow for in-classroom livestreaming to students at a distance (i.e. hyflex) has been deployed on campus. Faculty have received training from instructional design staff.

Guidance for Medical Exceptions

Faculty and students who are immunocompromised, or at high-risk for COVID-19, or have received a positive diagnosis of COVID-19, and are thus unable to attend classes in-person, may be eligible for an accommodation.

Faculty may request accommodation via the Human Resources Reasonable Accommodation Request Form. Specific mention of COVID-19-related accommodation circumstances has been posted to the Human Resources Disability Accommodation Policy webpage where the form is located. If approved, Human Resources will provide the Dean and Department Chair with an email documenting approval, and any qualifiers, directing the faculty member to engage with the department chair for a reasonable resolution that could include: shifting all courses taught to fully online; switching one’s course(s) with another instructor who is not immunocompromised or at high risk for COVID-19; or in a rare teaching case where an alternative cannot be found, to have a reduced teaching load for Spring 2021 but be required to teach an additional course(s) during Summer I. Faculty who need to quarantine, or who receive a COVID-19 diagnosis, may switch any face-to-face element of their course online for the period needed.

Student accommodation for reasons of being immunocompromised, or at high-risk for COVID-19, must seek a formal accommodation from the Accessibility Resource Center (ARC) and should do so prior to the end of the drop-add period when schedule changes can be pursued. ARC approved accommodations are provided to the student and forwarded to instructors. ARC accommodations provided after the end of the drop-add period will be honored by faculty to the extent possible. Note that faculty are not required to approve any student request for remote participation in classes with on-campus components if the student does not have an ARC approved accommodation.  However, any student receiving a COVID-19 diagnosis during the course of the semester will be accommodated to participate remotely during the period when they are communicable.

Additional information for faculty, staff, and students regarding accommodations may be found under Health and Safety.

[Updated February 1, 2021]