COVID-19 Academic Update: Planning for Summer and Fall Instruction

April 17, 2020
 

Dear faculty colleagues,
 
I hope you are staying well. Ordinarily, I would hesitate to send out an announcement on Friday afternoon, but in these uncertain times, I wanted to provide an update on planning for instruction in the summer and fall.
 
To protect the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and staff during the coronavirus pandemic, Saint Mary’s College will extend virtual delivery of academic courses into the summer term. This decision comes after consultation with the academic deans and Academic Senate and in consideration of both the tremendous effort required for faculty to prepare both in-person and online versions of the same course and the effects of uncertainty about the summer session for our students. Summer term is an important opportunity for our undergraduate students to continue to stay on track or get ahead in their progression towards their degrees and many of our graduate programs operate in full during the summer term.
 
In the next few days, each of the deans will reach out to faculty scheduled to teach during the summer session to determine whether they remain committed to teaching the course in a remote format. Additionally, the deans will be engaging their departments to determine whether additional summer offerings would benefit students. Faculty who decide to proceed with teaching in the summer will be provided with additional training and support on online course design and best practices.
 
This extension of virtual delivery pertains to summer term classes only. A decision regarding non-instructional summer activities will follow after further guidance from health officials becomes available.
 
At this time, we are planning to welcome students back to campus and conduct in-person courses this fall following best public health practices for containing the coronavirus pandemic. Because our classes are small and we do not have large lecture-type courses, we may be more likely than other universities to hold in-person classes. But as we know, the COVID-19 situation can change quickly. We will work to provide learning options that adhere to social distancing guidelines and maintain a personalized learning experience that our students expect.  While there remain multiple unknowns, it is important to plan for a variety of different scenarios and I am eager to work with faculty and academic leaders to develop the safest and most effective ways to bring the residential teaching and research community back onto campus and continue to ensure that our community members are safe. 
 
As always, I am immensely grateful for your dedication to our students during this anxious time.
 
Sincerely,
Margaret Kasimatis
 
Margaret Kasimatis, PhD
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs