Sent on Behalf of Chancellor Weatherby: Fall 2020 Academic Calendar Announcement

Dear University Community,

I want to thank all of those faculty, staff, and students who have spent many hours re-designing our fall semester calendar. This became necessary in order to respond to Commissioner Christian’s request that all MUS campuses revise their calendars so that students are not expected to return to campus after Thanksgiving. The purpose is to help reduce the risk of infection by the COVID-19 virus. According to public health officials, this plan may help reduce virus transmission during the typical late fall/early winter influenza season, as described in the May 14 memo from the Commissioner.

When we received the memo two weeks ago, Registrar Charity Walters met with staff, faculty, and student groups, who created numerous options. The preferred and supported option by all campus groups included six remote instruction days after Thanksgiving. OCHE has stated that all instruction must be completed before Thanksgiving. The final version meets OCHE’s expectations of completing instruction before Thanksgiving with two days for finals (to be delivered remotely) the week after Thanksgiving. Click here for the final version.

Please keep in mind that this is a temporary revision. It was not possible to retain all of the features of the calendar that have been carefully designed to facilitate Experience One. For example, you will see that there is one rather than two block break days between Block One and Block Two and Block Two and Block Three. There is no block break between Block Three and Block Four. In order to finish face-to-face instruction before Thanksgiving, Block 4 includes 14 days instead of the typical 17 or 18 days. This means that class-time needs to be 3 ½ hours rather than 3 hours. Another option to consider is to maintain the 3-hour class-time and add 7 hours of contact time that would be designed by each faculty member to meet course learning outcomes. The 7 hours of contact time would need to be stated in the syllabus. Faculty Senate is currently reviewing these two options and will provide feedback within a few weeks. The two days designated for Finals after Thanksgiving must be delivered remotely in order to meet the expectation that students not be required to return to campus after Thanksgiving.

This is obviously not ideal by any means, but we believe that it is the best option for a number of reasons. Students, staff and faculty were very clear that it was a priority NOT to begin the semester early. This is primarily because students need to work as long as possible and some likely would not return, at least for Block One, if we did begin early. We also rejected the idea of lengthening class-times for the entire semester. The Commissioner was clear, as well, that remote instruction after Thanksgiving was not an option, but Finals (whether exams or presentations or other formats) could take place remotely after the holiday.

As you will see on the new fall calendar, these changes will require flexibility and adaptation from all of us. Thank you, in advance, for your continuing patience and understanding as we continue to move forward during this incredibly disruptive and difficult time. To all of you who put a great deal of thought and effort into this revised calendar, thank you again.

Please also see the press release, which is posted to our website and has been distributed to the media.

Sincerely,
Beth Weatherby, Chancellor