Plans are in the works to alter UNC Charlotte’s fall 2020 academic calendar and class schedule in order to maintain social distancing guidelines.
“The things that we believe to be true are that the pandemic will not be over by August and the virus will make cyclic reappearances throughout the fall,” wrote Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Joan Lorden in an email to faculty.
The start of the semester has already been pushed back from Aug. 24 to Sept. 7. In adjustments to make up for the two-week delay, the Chancellor’s Cabinet approved a proposal to eliminate fall break, eliminate the Thanksgiving Eve break, end classes on Dec. 15 and hold exams from Dec. 15 to Dec. 23.
Class schedules will also be altered to reduce classroom density and accommodate students who may be immunocompromised or live with someone who is. There are three options under consideration for how to deliver classes: completely face to face, hybrid or completely online. Faculty are being asked to work with department chairs to determine the best option for each course, although there has not been a systematic effort to solicit the opinions of all faculty about fall options.
Hybrid courses could take a multitude of forms. Some proposals suggest that only half the class meet face to face at a time. For instance, for Tuesday/Thursday and Monday/Wednesday classes, one half of the students would attend class in person on one day and the other half would attend in person on the next day of class. For Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes, half the students could meet face to face on Monday, the other half meet Wednesday and then alternate on Fridays. Professors could choose to deliver the same lecture each day or vary their instruction so that students will have to attend class online when it’s their “off” day.
Courses that are 100 percent face to face will presumably only be possible if supplemented by completely remote courses. Departments are being asked to identify key courses, like introductory classes or classes that fulfill gen-ed requirements, that could be moved online. For those that do meet face to face, options may include moving classes to larger lecture halls or reducing the number of students in a class.
Labs may be offered at half capacity, remotely or in larger classroom spaces.
A survey of faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences -- the largest of UNC Charlotte’s eight colleges -- showed preference for the completely online option with strong feelings against entirely face to face courses and indifference towards a hybrid system. The survey received 363 responses from lecturers and professors of all ranks. Students have not been polled nor informed of the options under consideration.
There is a lot of uncertainty right now, but one thing is sure: This fall semester will be unlike no other in UNC Charlotte history.
If you are a UNC Charlotte student, please consider taking this anonymous Niner Times survey about the fall 2020 semester.