Fall 2021: Policy on Instructional Continuity, Student Observance of Religious Holidays and Final Exams/Study Days

Posted in Faculty Communications

September 14, 2021

I write today to call your attention to Georgetown’s policies on Instructional Continuity, Student Observance of Religious Holidays and Final Exams/Study Days. Both the Provost and the Main Campus Executive Faculty have requested that these matters be called to your attention at the beginning of each term.  These policies were recommended by the Main Campus Executive Faculty and approved by the Provost. 

I.    Policy on Instructional Continuity

The following policy on maintaining instructional activities during unforeseen disruptions was recommended by the Main Campus Executive Faculty and approved by the Provost in July 2014.

“Instructional activities will be maintained during university closures.  Faculty members should prepare for the possibility of an interruption of face-to-face instruction by establishing a policy within the course syllabus to maintain instructional continuity in the case of an unforeseen disruption. During a campus “closure,” the regular class time schedule must be honored by all campus departments so that students will remain available for those faculty members who wish to maintain continuous academic progress through synchronous distance instruction.”

The intent of this policy is to provide faculty flexibility in maintaining instructional progress in whatever way they deem appropriate to their teaching context.  Please refer to the “Instructional Continuity” site designed to address the challenges of continuing course work without being able to meet with students face-to-face. Suggested methods for adapting your existing assignments and connecting with your students to continue with coursework are provided here (new window).

II.Policy On Student Observance Of Religious Holidays

Georgetown’s policy on student observance of religious holidays became effective in January 2009 with the approval of the Main Campus Executive Faculty and the Provost.  It states that,     

“Georgetown University promotes respect for all religions. Any student who is unable to attend classes or to participate in any examination, presentation, or assignment on a given day because of the observance of a major religious holiday or related travel shall be excused and provided with the opportunity to make up, without unreasonable burden, any work that has been missed for this reason and shall not in any other way be penalized for the absence or rescheduled work. Students will remain responsible for all assigned work. Students should notify professors in writing at the beginning of the semester of religious observances that conflict with their classes. The Office of the Provost, in consultation with Campus Ministry and the Registrar, will publish, before classes begin for a given term, a list of major religious holidays likely to affect Georgetown students. This list can be found on the Campus Ministry website, https://campusministry.georgetown.edu/religious_holy_days. The Provost and the Main Campus Executive Faculty encourage faculty to accommodate students whose bona fide religious observances in other ways impede normal participation in a course. Students who cannot be accommodated should discuss the matter with an advising dean.” 

Please keep in mind that the calendar provided on the Campus Ministry Website is advisory and students’ requests to observe significant holidays of all cultures and faiths, including but not limited to those on the calendar should be accommodated.
III.  Final Exams and Study Days

 The Main Campus Executive Faculty and the Provost approved the following statement of policy concerning study days and the end of the semester:

“The University normally designates 2-3 days between the end of classes and the beginning of the final examination period each semester as study days. This provides time during which undergraduate students can complete the work of the semester and prepare for final examinations. All undergraduate final examinations are to be administered during the final examination period scheduled by the Registrar for the course in which the final is being given.”

  • Take-home finals must be due AFTER the study days.
  • Papers may be due in the last week of classes as long as there is also a final exam.
  • Papers may not be due during the last week of classes if there is no final exam and should be due after the study days if there is to be no final exam so that students have the benefit of the use of the study days to complete the work of the semester.
  •  Assignments that are not cumulative, such as interim exams, can be given during the final week of classes provided a final exam is given during the final exam period.

In short, the final substantive assessment in a course (exam, take-home exam, project, paper, etc.) must be due during the final examination period, and sit-down examinations must be offered according to the Registrar’s schedule. During study days no work may be due, providing undergraduate students undisturbed time to prepare for finals. Altering the examination schedule, or scheduling an undergraduate final examination or final assessment at any other time, deprives students of study days and effectively shortens the instructional semester.
Final Examination Schedule: is available on the web at https://dev-guwordpress-registrar.pantheonsite.io/schedules/finals.  Changes may be made only in accordance with the procedures outlined in the Bulletin.   If you have any questions, please contact our scheduling team at schedulechanges@georgetown.edu

Conflict Exams:  At times students will encounter conflicts in the examination schedule.  Each student’s Dean’s Office will handle the rescheduling of an examination in the following cases:

  • two examinations scheduled at the same time;
  • three examinations on one day or three examinations in a row (in three successive timeslots)

These will be administered by the student’s dean.  If a student has a conflict, the dean will contact you.

Thank you very much for your attention to these important policies and reading this lengthy email.   Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Best wishes,

Annamarie Bianco
Associate Vice President and University Registrar