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Policy on Instructor-Student Communication

Policy on Instructor-Student Communication

October 5, 2005

Every instructor teaching a course in the department is required to maintain open lines of communication with and for all students enrolled in his/her classe(s) for the entire duration of the semester the class is being taught and for the entire length of the university-mandated appeals period following that semester, during which a student is entitled to file grade appeals or request appointments or written information about his/her grades, his/her final exam and/or other evaluative information relating to his/her performance in the course.

Minimal required communication channels:

In this context, the term "open lines of communication" is meant to imply that, at a minimum, the instructor can be successfully contacted by the student via each and any one of the following, commonly used and accepted four channels of communication:

  1. via regular U.S. mail or mail via commercial carrier, addressed to instructor's departmental mailing address, said mail to be delivered to the instructor's departmental mailbox in the Physics Building; and

  2. via phone call to the instructors departmental office phone number during regular business hours, with the option of student leaving a message at the departmental front desk   to be forwarded to instructor if instructor is absent from his/her office at the time of the call.

  3. via phone call to the departmental main office number during regular business hours, with the option of student leaving a message at the departmental front desk to be forwarded to instructor if instructor is absent from his/her office at the time of the call.

  4. via e-mail to an official UGA e-mail address (i.e., with a domain name ending in .uga.edu ).

Instructors concerned about possible virus contamination of their personal computers or accounts via e-mails received from students should request a special instruction-related e-mail account from the departmental IT staff. Such accounts are to be allocated on the main departmental mail server (hal.physast.uga.edu) and are to be accessible by the instructor from one of the communal departmental computer terminal facilities in the Physics Building. Instructors using such a instruction related e-mail account are required to disseminate the e-mail address of that account to their students via syllabus, via their course web page and as part of their contact information posted on their individual departmental web page.

Instructors planning to be absent from campus during the academic year for more than 5 business days should make the requisite forwarding arrangements so that they may be contacted by students via all four channels given above.

Confidential student information:

Instructors should be fully aware of and comply with federal, state and university regulations in releasing confidential student information (CSI), such as individual student exam scores or test scores or grades via various communication channels. 
CSI may be released only by the instructor, or by a departmental staff or faculty member so authorized by instructor,

  1. directly, in person, to the student concerned or

  2. by U.S. mail addressed to an address verified in person by the student or by the University's Registrar's Office. For purposes of student's identification, student's picture ID or social security number is sufficient. CSI must not be released.

  3. via non-confidential means of communications, such as e-mail, be it to the student him/herself or to anyone else; or

    1. Example: Instructor may reply by e-mail to student's grade information request by telling the students when and where to meet instructor in person to view the final exam and discuss grade in a confidential setting.

  4. to anyone other than the student him/herself, unless student has provided the instructor with a written statement waiving student's confidentiality rights.

    1. Example: Instructor must not release, e.g., to student's father, mother, sibling or spouse any information relating to student's performance in the course, such as test or final scores or letter grade, regardless of whether this release is done verbally by phone, or by e-mail, or in written form by regular U.S. mail.

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