Faculty Guidance for Virtual Final Exams

December 15, 2021

Dear Colleagues:

Earlier today, the university sent a message to the GW community sharing that, effective immediately, all in-person social gatherings and events are cancelled. In addition, exams scheduled for Friday, Dec. 17 through the end of the semester will be held virtually. We understand that this may cause challenges during an already-busy final exams period, and we appreciate your patience as we work to ensure the health and safety of our community. 

A follow-up message was sent to students regarding the virtual final exam period. We encourage you to reach out to your students as soon as possible with any changes to the format of your final exams; exams must be administered at the time they were originally scheduled. Please read below for additional guidance. Faculty at the Law School will receive separate information about Law School protocols.

Exams on Thursday, Dec. 16

Exams scheduled to take place in-person tomorrow will continue in this format unless you have made plans to move it to a virtual format and can notify your students immediately of this change.

Student Absences from Exams

You may receive messages from students who plan to leave campus ahead of schedule, which they believe could conflict with their final exam. Please note that early departure from campus and any other travel plans are not an excused absence from a final exam. Residence halls will remain open until Thursday, Dec. 23 at noon, and residential students may plan to stay on-campus until that time if necessary. 

Assistance with Virtual Final Exams

The Instructional Technology Lab (ITL) is available to assist you with transferring an in-person exam to an appropriate digital platform. The ITL can also provide assistance with Respondus LockDown Browser, which is a proctoring program that locks down the testing environment for Blackboard quizzes and exams. Please contact [email protected] or [email protected] with specific questions.

Library Access

All GW libraries (Gelman, Eckles, VSTC, Himmelfarb, and Burns Law Library) will remain open for their currently posted operating hours for students who will need to access library resources to complete academic work. This includes access to library PCs and Macs in order to complete virtual exams on-camera. 

Fall Semester Grade Deadline

The deadline for submitting final grades remains 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 31. Grades can be submitted online 24/7. Grades not being submitted on time can negatively affect a student’s financial aid and academic standing. A failed course also impacts course registration sequences, especially where prerequisites are concerned, and students will need adequate time to meet with advisors on alternate plans. Some of these circumstances could delay the conferral of a student’s degree. Please help us honor our commitment to offering students the best possible academic experience by submitting your grades on time.

Should you face grading challenges presented by the move to virtual exams, please contact your school or college dean for direction.

Students with Approved Accommodations through Disability Support Services (DSS)

University exams should be administered through Blackboard, as that is the most accessible platform. (Webex, for example, is not accessible for a blind student.) For students who are d/Deaf and hard of hearing, faculty must provide each student’s CART provider and/or ASL interpreter access to Blackboard platforms and/or Zoom links to ensure full access to testing material. If faculty are using PDFs, they must be accessible. The guides below can help you check the accessibility of your testing materials:

Guide for Microsoft Accessibility Checker 

Guide for Adobe Accessibility Checker 

If you need help to remediate a document or any other media, please contact DSS Director Maggie Butler at [email protected]

Please note that virtual testing must incorporate DSS-approved extended time. If you need support extending time within Blackboard please contact DSS.

Research and Lab Space

Research and lab spaces will remain open at their regularly scheduled times until further notice.


Once again, thank you for your patience, cooperation, and continued support of our students.


Christopher Alan Bracey
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of Law