After an English Department Zoom meeting yesterday, here's what I can tell you. (The rest isn't secret; it's just that we haven't finished making decisions.)
- Yes, college will happen. We're not cancelling anything.
- The credits you earn will be just as good as the credits people were earning five years ago.
- We want to keep all of us as safe as possible. (After all, many of our professors are old enough to be in the "high risk" category. We want everyone to be as healthy as possible.)
- The quarantines last March were unexpected, and we had to pull things together as quickly as possible. The transition was pretty rocky. For the Fall semester, we have an entire summer to plan, so your classes will go more smoothly.
- We need to comply with regulations from the accrediting association, so we will be keeping track of both attendance and use of online distance learning sites. Yes, you do have to be as diligent about your work as you would be in a normal year.
- Most of your classes (certainly English Department classes) will make heavy use of the Blackboard Learning Management website. You don't have access yet (our IT department is really swamped), but when we're closer to the start of classes, I'll give you a heads-up here and some tutorial material.
Here are some "maybe" and "probably" items:
- Our course, like many, will probably be a "hybrid" course. This means that you will have to show up in class at least once a week, but the majority of the teaching will be online.
- English 100 is a skills class, and an online-only course would miss out on the chance to do a lot of in-class writing, so that's probably what we will do when we are face-to-face. You can watch a narrated PowerPoint slide show at home.
- Our class size is 15 students, and we are scheduled to meet in Dauch, where the rooms have space for 20-25 students. I expect to divide our class into three groups of five students each, and assign each group to a day (Monday, Wednesday, or Friday). When you and your four colleagues show up, there should be a decent amount of space for social distancing.
Things we just don't know:
- Will the virus get worse? Will new regulations prohibit us from meeting as a group? (Bonus for the hybrid format: If that happens, we're in pretty good shape to keep going.)
- What will be done about disinfecting classrooms? In normal times, the classes are scheduled back-to-back; will we need to skip an hour between to wipe things down?
I'll keep you posted as we learn more about the Fall.