Summer and Fall Semester Planning

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Biology faculty instructing class.

As we get into the second half of our spring semester, I continue to have several conversations with our faculty, students and Deans. I am pleased to share that the general feedback about the semester has been positive – while the pandemic continues to pose many challenges, classes seem to be going well, students, are more engaged in their learning, and our investments in learning technology continue to pay off. I remain optimistic that we will continue to see declining COVID-19 infection rate in our community, and that greater availability of vaccines will help us get to the other side of this pandemic in the near future.

Today, I want to highlight our plans for the upcoming summer and fall semesters. Here are key things to note about our summer classes:

  1. At this time, we plan to maintain social distancing during the summer semesters. Students and faculty must maintain six feet or greater distance from each other in classrooms and wear appropriate face coverings in all UGA buildings. We will continue to monitor guidance from the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and we will notify you should that guidance require us to change our plans.

  2. Classes will continue to follow face-to-face, hybrid or online formats. With increased classroom availability in the summer, we should be able to accommodate more face-to-face teaching, if you desire. If so, please reach out to your classroom scheduler to find a larger classroom space.

  3. It is critical to set clear expectations about each course format as quickly as possible. All faculty are required to identify the instructional format for their classes in Athena. There has been some confusion about what “hybrid” means; to understand the difference among the formats, please go here. Your Deans and Associate Deans are working to collect that information, so please assist with their inquiries about this matter. We plan to have these instructional formats published in Athena by April 5.

  4. As we learned through the fall and spring semesters, it is essential for you to develop and communicate a clear plan for your class. Develop and share these plans through as many communication channels as possible: upload your syllabus to the syllabus system so students can access it via Athena before the semester and use eLC, departmental websites, or other forms of communication. Also, take a look at your classroom to see what technology is available and communicate any needs to your unit head.

    As you prepare your summer courses, the strategies we learned in the fall (and shared in this letter) will continue to serve you and your students well.

  5. You may recall that we created a “teaching continuity fund” to support instruction during the pandemic. To date, we have provided over $800,000 to our faculty. I am pleased to share that we will be able to provide some funds for our summer classes as well. The request process will remain the same as it has been in the previous semesters. We have asked the deans to collate, review, and submit these requests to us as a group. Please look for communication from your Dean about this.

Looking ahead to the fall, we anticipate the wider availability of vaccines over the next few months to control the spread of COVID-19. Vaccine availability should allow us to resume normal operations in the Fall Semester, including a return to full in-person instruction. However, we will continue to monitor the pandemic closely and will follow public health guidance from the University System of Georgia , the Georgia Department of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We must remain ready to pivot to social distancing—with a mix of instructional formats of in-person, hybrid, and online modes of instruction—if the situation warrants such a change.

Last month, I sent you a note about looking past the pandemic and imagining what higher education could look like in the future. If you haven’t begun those conversations already, I encourage you to do so with your colleagues. Send us your thoughts and suggestions.

As we head towards spring commencement, I want to acknowledge all the hard work our faculty, advisors, staff, and students have done this year, with so many ups and downs. Your unwavering commitment has allowed us to persist and succeed this year.

If you have any additional feedback or input on the summer or future semesters, please feel free to share your ideas at ovpi@uga.edu.
 
Sincerely,

Rahul Shrivastav
Vice President for Instruction