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Memo: spring 2021 instructional delivery

McGovern College Faculty:

The Academic Affairs and Student Success team in the College have done a tremendous amount of work in planning the spring 2021 course schedule. I know that many of you have also been in dialogue with your colleagues and Directors about your approach to delivering your spring 2021 courses. While our spring course schedule would be completed by this time in any normal year, our current situation continues to evolve, and there is still an opportunity to make changes to the schedule and adjust our plans to meet critical needs of the university.

Over the past month it has become increasingly apparent that there is both student demand for face-to-face instruction (over one-third of students campus-wide expressed a desire for some type of face-to-face instruction), faculty interest in returning to a face-to-face instructional mode (one-third of faculty have expressed such an interest), and an institutional priority (as articulated by the President) to begin returning to campus and restoring campus services to their previous level of operations to the greatest extent possible under current external public health and safety conditions. Current operational assumptions for spring 2021 (what the President recently referred to as "Plan A") now call for 25% of all courses university-wide to be offered with a face-to-face instructional component.

To a very large extent, the overall health of our University depends upon our meeting these demands.

Therefore I am writing to identify those of you who are currently scheduled to teach a synchronous or asynchronous online class in spring 2021 but wish to offer one or more of those classes with a socially distanced face-to-face instructional component. This could be in the form of either a traditional, completely face-to-face class or one with some combination of face-to-face and online teaching, such as a hybrid or hyflex class.

If this applies to you--if you would like to change one or more of your spring 2021 courses from a completely online delivery mode to a format that includes face-to-face instruction--I ask that you immediately email your Director, copy me, and indicate as such. We must quickly identify our opportunities to increase our face-to-face instruction, as priority enrollment opens tomorrow, graduate enrollment opens on Sunday (November 15), and undergraduate enrollment opens next Friday (November 20).

Changing the mode of instructional delivery might be more complicated than simply converting your online course to a face-to-face course. In some cases, we would need to split a course into two separate sections--thus adding a section of the course--in order to accommodate the number of students who will enroll. This will usually be in situations in which the enrollment cap in the original online course is too high for it to be simply converted to a socially distanced, face-to-face course in one of our available classrooms. In these cases, we would add a face-to-face section of the course and retain a separate, fully online (either synchronous or asynchronous) section as well.

If you wish to change your current online course to a traditional face-to-face course and this situation applies to you, please indicate this when you email your Director and me. Please also indicate which of the following additional options you would like to choose:

  1. Engage another instructor to teach the online section while you teach the face-to-face section. Your teaching load will remain unchanged.

  2. Teach both the traditional face-to-face section and the online section of the course. Note that these would be two separate sections, and thus your teaching load would increase by one course. Subject to approval of the Director and the Dean, you may be compensated for the teaching overload, either in the form of additional compensation payable during the spring semester 2021 or a one-course teaching release in a future semester.

If you wish to shift your course from a completely online mode to a hyflex mode rather than a traditional face-to-face mode, this is possible as well, however in this case your teaching load will not change unless the enrollment cap for the online component is the same as the total enrollment of the original online course--that is, unless net enrollment in the course increases. If net enrollment increases, you will be eligible for a teaching overload. Subject to approval of the Director and the Dean, you may be compensated for the overload, either in the form of additional compensation payable during the spring semester 2021 or a one-course teaching release in a future semester.

[Note the definitions of course delivery formats: A traditional face-to-face course is one in which students must come to campus to receive the course, and there is no online component; students do not have the option to shift online, as they do in a hyflex course. A hyflex course is one course with parallel face-to-face and online components, and students who have chosen the face-to-face format as their primary option can shift to the online component at will. Enrollment in a hyflex course is measured as the combined number of students in the online and face-to-face components.]

If you choose to teach face-to-face in any format in spring 2021 (either a traditional face-to-face course or a hyflex course with a face-to-face component), you may request that additional safety equipment be installed in your classroom, including plexiglass barriers around the instructor's podium, once that classroom has been identified. You may also request a personal face shield. Please include this request when you email your Director and me.

I thank you all for the work you have done to make this an extremely successful fall semester, under very difficult circumstances. I thank you as well for your close attention to these critically important steps that we need to take to make the spring semester as success as well.

I am always available to answer any questions you may have, and you are welcome to contact me any time.

Andrew Davis