Instructional Continuity Planning - General


The purpose of this document is to provide resources for UNC Charlotte faculty members that enables them to continue instruction in the event classroom instruction is interrupted for an extended period of time.

Possible reasons for the disruption of classroom instruction include, but are not limited to:

  • Pandemic illness
  • Natural disaster
  • Unsafe conditions on campus

This document is based on the Center for Teaching and Learning's (CTL) recommendation of the most effective methods and tools to use to continue instruction at UNC Charlotte when classroom instruction is interrupted. We recommend using this plan when:

  • Canvas is unavailable for 24 hours or more.
  • Physical classrooms are inaccessable for more than one class meeting.
  • Library services are unavailable.
  • External events affect regular classroom continunity.


Preparedness is the key when coping with disasters and emergencies that, by nature, are unpredictable. To ensure academic continuity, we recommend that you perform the following preparedness activities:

University and Technology Alerts

University alerts will appear on the homepage of the university.

  • To join the University Notification List that sends university alerts by text message and/or email, complete the online form.

To check ITS Outages, visit the ITS System Status.

  • The current date will be highlighted and any outages will be listed. You can also click a date to see any outages for that day.

To check Canvas availability, view the Canvas Status page.

Getting Help

If you or your students need technology support, contact the IT Service Desk:

Gathering and Securing Updated Contact Information

During the first week of class or after the add/drop period, we recommend that you access Banner and verify student enrollment. Then document and safely store student email addresses and phone numbers.

We also recommend that you collect students’ alternate contact information including:

  • Alternate email addresses
  • Primary phone number
  • Secondary phone numbers

If you are using Canvas, you can create an assignment for this purpose. This will ensure that all alternate contact information is available in one place. Once all students have submitted their information, we recommend that you download this information and store it in a safe place. You may also create an email distribution list with student’s alternate email addresses.

Note: Please be sure to destroy student contact information according to FERPA guidelines.

Additionally, encourage students to keep their contact information up to date in My UNC Charlotte and inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.

To update address and phone numbers:

  1. Login to My UNC Charlotte.
  2. Click the Banner Self Service link.
  3. If necessary, select the Personal Information tab.
  4. Click the Personal Information link.
  5. Click the Update Address(es) and Phone(s) link.
  6. Use the Current and Primary links to update addresses and phone numbers.
  7. Click Submit to save the information.

To update email account information:

  1. Login to My UNC Charlotte.
  2. Click the Banner Self Service link.
  3. If necessary, click the Personal Information tab.
  4. Click the Personal Information link.
  5. Click the Update Personal Email Address link.
  6. Click the email address link you want to change.
  7. In the “Email” text box, type your new email address.
  8. Click Submit to save the information.

Lastly, to keep open lines of communication, you may also record contact information of the key people in your department and college (for example, your department head and administrative assistant), including names, primary and secondary email addresses, and phone numbers.

Backing up Class Materials

Having a backup of your teaching materials and student materials ensures that you can access class materials even if you can’t physically access your office computer.  You can save your backup files on a CD, flash drive, external hard drive, Dropbox, or Google DriveThis is also a good practice in case you have a hard disk crash.

Back up critical teaching materials including:

  • Syllabus
  • Lecture files and notes
  • Discussion or forum topics
  • Assignments with instructions and any files students need
  • Quizzes
  • Grades

You may also back up student submissions including assignments, discussion or forum posts, email messages, and any feedback you gave.

Lastly, encourage students to back up class materials including:

  • Syllabus
  • Class schedule file
  • All materials they submit to you, including assignments, discussion or forum posts, and email messages.
  • Your feedback
  • Grades

Practice Drills

You may find it helpful to perform “drills” to test your preparedness, and that of your students, to use alternate forms of instruction. We suggest that you perform the following practice drills:

  • Send students a welcome email that contains your contact information. Tell students to save this email in a safe place. Maintain a copy for your own records. This ensures that you have students’ email information, and students have your contact information.
    NOTE: You can use Canvas Announcements to email the entire class.
  • Send a test email to your students' alternate email addresses. This test message will help your students identify problems with spam filters or firewalls that may block your emails. Suggest to students that they add your primary and secondary email addresses to their approved recipient list.
  • Teach one class period through Canvas. This will give you and your students a chance to become familiar with the environment that will be used if classroom instruction must be interrupted.
  • Teach one class period through Zoom, requiring your students to attend from home. This will give you and your students a chance to become familiar with the environment that may be used if classroom instruction must be interrupted and Canvas is also unavailable.

Need help with Zoom?

Teaching with Zoom FAQ Page

  • Post a class assignment in Google Docs and require your students to upload their assignments to this medium. This will give you and your students a chance to become familiar with the environment that may be used if classroom instruction must be interrupted and Canvas is also unavailable.
  • Work from home for a day to ensure that you can maintain contact with your department's key personnel and retrieve necessary documents from your office computer.

Making Clear and Effective Online Communications

Communication can be ambiguous or confusing in the absence of face-to-face presence. In online communication, it is very important that you write messages clearly and effectively and use proper netiquette. The following are some of the message design principles that you may consider:

  • Is the message title descriptive of the content?
  • Are you going to put a certain designator in the message title to categorize student replies to the message easily?
  • Are you going to ask students to put certain designators in their messages to you?
  • Are your file names descriptive and easy to keep track of and organize?
  • Are you using formatting options (e.g., font styles, colors, or shades, paragraph styles, indentation, etc.) to make the message easy to read or highlight important information?
  • Are you providing your contact information at the end of each message?
  • Is the message a pointer to the content residing on a server, or does it contain actual content? Does your message format indicate it clearly?