Academic Committee Recommendations

  1.  We will mitigate risks to our community’s health by limiting the number of students in each classroom and building.

    • We plan to implement social distancing by significantly restricting the number of students in classrooms at any one time. Our estimate is that most classrooms can only accommodate about one-third to one-half the typical number of students.

  2. A mix of instructional delivery methods will be employed.

    • To facilitate necessary social distancing, we will offer a variety of course types: on-ground, hybrid, and online. If we are to meet social distancing requirements, we must recognize that the number of fully on-ground classes will be relatively small.

  3.  “Hands-on” courses will be given priority for on-ground teaching.

    • Some courses—including art studio, science labs, audio production, music performance, etc.—cannot easily meet program or course learning outcomes through remote instruction. These courses will have priority for available on-ground spaces. Social distancing rules must be followed.

  4.  Courses will be controlled locally within a University framework.

    • Because of extensive variation in courses across the University, decisions about managing specific courses will be made at the departmental and college levels within parameters set by the University.

  5.  Faculty members will develop alternate delivery plans for all their courses.

    • Given the potential for a spike in COVID-19 cases after the start of the Fall 2020 semester, we must be ready to pivot to all remote instruction as we did in Spring 2020. Instructors and students will plan for that possibility and prepare to make the change at any time. Instructors who need additional professional development to teach effectively online should take advantage of the expanded campus resources being offered this summer.

  6.  Class content will be readily available for students who cannot come to campus.

    • For every class meeting, we will either record the class or have notes produced by a paid student note-taker. We will strive to make the technology associated with this as easy to use as possible by both faculty and students. We will make any recordings password protected and will delete them on a regular schedule. Faculty members will be consulted in making decisions in this area.

  7.  The existing schedule of courses for Fall will be kept as intact as possible.

    • Because many students have already registered for their Fall 2020 courses, we will not radically change the existing schedule. We will have more flexibility to adjust meeting schedules for Spring 2021, if necessary, to maximize social distancing.

  8.  Course sections will be adjusted as appropriate.

    • To meet distancing guidelines, many courses will have to be moved to larger spaces or converted to hybrid or remote delivery. Areas of campus not typically available for academic uses without cost, including the Student Union Ballroom, the JUB Tennessee Room, the Campus Recreation Center, and Tucker Theatre, will be available for instructional purposes in academic year 2020-21 to accommodate larger sections.

  9.  The University will adjust the Fall 2020 calendar.

    • We will shorten the semester and reduce risk from students returning to campus after holiday travel by having no on-campus class meetings after Thanksgiving break. All finals will be taken remotely, and we will make up the three lost class days by eliminating Fall Break and holding class on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

  10.  Faculty development is crucial.

    • The University is offering a robust program of development opportunities over the summer for faculty who want to improve their remote teaching skills.

  11.  We will address the hardware, software, and internet access needs of faculty and staff.

    • Given that faculty and staff will most likely have to do some work from home, the University will provide appropriate tools. This appears to be an allowable use of federal CARES Act funds.

  12.  We must ensure student access and equity.

    • Remote teaching and learning present particular challenges for some students. The University will work to help students with access to technology and internet service, provide accessible course materials for students with disabilities, and support academically at-risk students through online tutoring and other services.

  13.  We will offer training for students on remote/online learning.

    • Just as not all faculty are prepared to teach remotely, not all students are ready to learn remotely. We will offer support for students to thrive in this new environment (e.g., how to use D2L effectively or time management tips).

  14.  We will maintain instructional excellence in all courses, regardless of delivery mode.

    • We must apply the same high standards to remote teaching that we do to on-ground and traditional online instruction. Student evaluations of teaching will take place in all courses, including those taught remotely,

  15.  We will develop a University-wide class attendance policy.

    • A class attendance policy that encourages sick students to stay home will be adopted. This temporary policy will be crafted with input from students, faculty, and administrators, and will end when normal operations resume.

  16.  We will facilitate curricular activities conducted off campus.

    • Off campus activities related to instruction, e.g., student teaching, clinical placements, internships, and field work, will continue as much as possible. In cases where that is not feasible, we will try to accommodate students with virtual alternatives.

  17.  We must reconsider how to handle events.

    • All events will be held in accordance with recommended health safety guidelines. We anticipate a significant reduction in the number of in-person events for the 2020-21 academic year. Virtual events are encouraged.

  18.  The University will develop a policy on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other risk management behaviors.

    • The University must set clear expectations for the campus community about the use of face masks and other behaviors designed to mitigate health risk, e.g., distancing, hand washing, and holding virtual rather than in-person meetings and office hours.

  19.  The University will set capacity limits on academic spaces.

    • Limits on the number of people allowed in non-classroom academic spaces, e.g., the Walker Library, the Science Building Lobby and Atrium, Tucker Theatre, Hinton Hall, and the outdoor stage area in Peck Hall, will be established. Where possible, informal gathering spaces will remain closed until normal operations resume.