Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Update

In the interest of protecting the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and community members, the Graduate School continues to operate in a remote format. MORE INFO>

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Guidance for Graduate Students Serving as TAs or Instructors of Record 

Teaching Modes – Fall 2020 

Under normal operations, the University places a high value on in-person interactions between graduate students serving as TAs or Instructors of Record and their learners on campus. Under normal circumstances, Penn State expects graduate assistants serving as TAs or Instructors of Record to be present on campus consistent with the terms their assistantship appointment (typically 20 hours per week) when classes are in session. Current health and safety concerns will temporarily alter these normal expectations. As we move from a closed campus and fully remote teaching and learning to residential instruction, we recommend the following: 

  • During the current pandemic, graduate students serving as TAs or Instructors of Record who are part of vulnerable populations or who have family members who are part of vulnerable populations may have concerns about returning to in-person instruction. Requests to teach remotely due to such concerns should be allowed if feasible for the unit operations. 

  • Graduate students serving as TAs or Instructors of Record should make specific requests to alter the nature of their teaching to their respective college administrator for graduate education (e.g., senior associate, associate or assistant dean or chancellor). 

  • College administrators for graduate education should develop a consistent, fair, and transparent process for screening and handling the teaching adjustment requests of graduate students. To the extent the unit is offering in-person instruction, college administrators should consult with the appropriate committee to determine a fair approach to assigning in-person courses. 

  • Where the percentage of graduate students with concerns about in-person instruction in a particular unit is high, the college administrator may wish to consider alternatives such as: 

    • Team teaching, including in larger units to allow some graduate students to spend a greater percentage of their teaching time to be remote in exchange for fewer or no in-person functions. 

    • Alternative scheduling, including evenings and weekends to allow for fewer learners in larger classroom spaces for maximum distancing. 

    • Specially equipped classroom space with plexiglass and other barriers between instructors and learners. 

    • Hybrid course instruction to include remote sessions and in-person sessions. 

  • Where a graduate student indicates that they have a disability that necessitates a reasonable accommodation or leave, they should be referred to the Office of Student Disability Resources. 


This guidance is effective July 7, 2020, and remains in effect until December 19, 2020. 

Questions about this guidance may be directed to Michael Verderame, Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate School at or 814-865-2516.

This page was generated on December 3, 2020 at 2:28 AM Eastern Time. This may not be the most recent version. Check the website for updates.