Dear Faculty and Staff,
I write to you regarding the instructional delivery plan for the fall 2021 semester. As we have announced to the community, the university will resume providing an in-person educational experience for our students.
Accordingly, we will plan on using pre-pandemic course modalities as the starting point for constructing the fall 2021 course schedule. We will resume making longer-term curriculum changes in a more intentional fashion. Our approval processes will be modified so that academic programs and support units may propose to change or expand their instructional modalities for academic reasons while still prioritizing safety. I know that we need to balance the need to innovate quickly with the need to have conversations about how much we want to change as an institution, or as a school or college, as we move out of emergency remote teaching and learning and prepare to welcome a new provost.
To support improved communication related to our university’s resumption of in-person academic and co-curricular activities in fall 2021, the Office of the Provost will begin frequent email updates concerning the fall 2021 semester. This regular email series will provide information about pressing questions or issues and reminders to the community about what to expect as we return to campus.
Of course, I recognize that we will still be coping with the continued ramifications of the pandemic this fall. All of the information we have regarding the virus and vaccination rollouts tells us that we will need to continue to wear masks and remain socially distanced campus-wide. We have several tools that will help us remain safe and healthy while resuming the in-person campus experience. Classrooms have already been reorganized to meet social distance requirements and caps for the rooms have been adjusted in our course scheduling systems. An expanded schedule has been created for fall 2021 only to allow courses that would normally meet during congested times to meet earlier in the morning, later in the evenings, or on Saturdays. The temporary change to the schedule will allow us to both reduce foot traffic that would impact offices and provide more options for rooming in-person courses. Campus services necessary to meet this expanded schedule will also make key adjustments.
We have also invested in new hyflex (hybrid-flexible) classrooms, portable equipment, and faculty training initiatives. We will be able to accommodate cohort models in which different groups of students join classes in-person on specific days, while participating remotely (either synchronously or asynchronously) on other days. Several non-academic spaces have been converted to classrooms and we are also studying the possibility of conducting classes outside. Deans will be able to make adjustments to course modalities for pandemic-related reasons during the transitional fall 2021 semester. Finally, faculty, librarians, and staff who are unable to teach and work in-person for documented medical reasons will be able to request an accommodation through the Office of Human Resources.
I want to thank you for your patience and commitment to our students as we prepare for the challenges of the fall semester. We will do our best to keep you informed through a variety of channels, and to address questions and concerns as expeditiously as possible.
Tyrone H. Cannon
Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs