The First Class: Looking Ahead


  • Spend some time in the first class communicating your course procedures; including those (described above) that might be particularly relevant should students (or the instructor) be absent.
  • Highlight the “key dates” in your course – assignment deadlines, major in-class activities, test dates, etc.  Let students know how you will be communicating any changes to these dates (e.g. by email, through the Portal). Please keep in mind the restrictions on changing grading procedures (as noted above and defined in the Grading Practices Policy).
  • If any of your students have access to a personal or departmental scanner, consider soliciting volunteer note takers for the course in the case of an emergency or disruption.  Note takers should arrange to scan and email their daily notes to you or a TA to be posted for absent students on the Portal.  This can be coordinated with any requests for note taking received through Accessibility Services or the equivalent office on your campus (i.e. note takers can submit a copy of their notes both to Accessibility Services and to a TA or instructor).  Please visit the websites for these offices on the St. George Campus, UTM and UTSC for more information.
  • See the CTSI tip sheet on First Class Strategies for additional suggestions.


  • The simplest and most secure way to contact students is through the Portal “Send Email” feature, which is automatically synced with course rosters through ROSI and sends communication to a valid official (i.e. email address. Portal announcements can also be copied directly to students’ email addresses.
  • If you would prefer to communicate with students through email, you will need to collect student email addresses.  If you collect student email addresses on the first day of class, make sure that you also obtain the email addresses of students who have been added to the course after the first class. When communicating with groups of students through email be sure to blind copy (“bcc”) everyone (with only your email or your TAs in the “To” field) as per provincial privacy guidelines.
  • Ask students to identify one or two peer contacts in the course and obtain their email address or phone number (if you wish, hand out a form or leave space on the syllabus for this purpose).  Express that you hope that they will support each other (e.g. by communicating class announcements, sharing notes) in the event of emergency or disruption-related student absences but that it is the responsibility of the student to request such favours ahead of the missed class and to arrange for convenient means of obtaining the relevant information from their contact.  If students do not wish to assume this responsibility they should refrain from sharing their contact information.


  • Contact information of one or two other students in the course
  • A computer that is not in a U of T lab – for example, in a residence room or at home
  • UToronto email (not forwarded!!)
  • Portal courses
  • Online library resources
  • Information on campus health services, pandemic information and emergency preparedness procedures
  • Portal Student Help
  • Learner Support Available at U of T
  • Also remind students to update contact information on ROSI and any other relevant system.