How to communicate with students prior to term start - Faculty Guide


The official start date for each term can be found on the Academic Calendars website. These "term start" dates are programmed into PeopleSoft and pushed into Canvas courses.

Communicate with students using the Class Roster

The easiest way for faculty to communicate with students prior to the start of term is to email all or specific enrolled students via the Class Roster tool on

  1. Sign in to
  2. Click on Class Roster, located on the left navigation menu.
  3. In the drop-down menu located at the top of the screen, select the desired term.
  4. Select the class to view the Class Roster.
  5. At the top of the roster, you can choose to email all Enrolled Students. To email an indivdual student, click on the photo of the student or the small email icon on the right.
  6. Learn more about the Class Roster

Communicating with students using Announcements and Inbox tools in Canvas

In order for faculty to communicate with students within Canvas prior to term start, two things are required: 1) Override the official term start date AND 2) Publish the course.
  1. The term start date must be adjusted to the desired start date. For example, the official term start date for Fall 2020 is August 31, 2020. If a faculty wants to start the course three days earlier, then the new term start date needs to be adjusted to August 28, 2020. Learn more about how to publish a course.
  2. The course must be published. Learn more about how to publish a course.
Please note that once a course is published and the term start date is effective, the course will be accessible to students, and faculty can use the Announcements and Inbox tools within Canvas to communicate with students. Here are a few suggestions to consider prior to making your course accessible to your students:
  1. The course should be well-organized using Modules and Pages, and all essential course content, including assignments, quizzes, discussions, and related materials should be added to the course. Otherwise, all faculty activities (e.g., adding files, creating assignments, discussions, etc.) will create notifications for students, which can be very distracting and overload students' inboxes. 
  2. Faculty should clearly communicate to students that no "prep work" is required prior to the official start of the term.  In other words, if Monday, August 31, is the first day of class, students shouldn't be asked to do work prior to that date. Otherwise, students who don't check their emails or log into Canvas prior to the first day of class will inadvertently be penalized for "missing" the work.  
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