Dr. Stephen Roberts, interim provost, emailed S&T faculty members the following message on July 2 to update them on academic planning:
I am writing to update you on academic planning for the Fall 2020 semester. I’m sure you have been watching the developments of academic planning at S&T, across the UM System, and at higher education institutions across the nation. Today I have two basic messages. The first is that, as S&T faculty, you have the complete confidence of your faculty peers as well as students, staff, administrators, the Board of Trustees, the Board of Curators, legislators, and the citizens of Missouri. The overall sentiment of these stakeholders has always been the same: if anyone can do it, it’s S&T. That same unwavering confidence applies to our responsibility of sustaining the diverse, engaging, valuable, inclusive, and experiential learning enterprise for which we are famous. No matter what we face, the default expectation is that we will succeed. Together we will tap into our defining traits of situational awareness, adaptability, flexibility, creativity, resilience, and compassion to meet this expectation.
The second message is that we need to be prepared for what we’ve planned, and to adapt in any number of ways depending on prevailing COVID-19 conditions. As you know, we are moving forward with plans to begin the fall semester on Monday, August 24, with in-person, hybrid, and remote instruction. We also will continue to assess the public health situation and be prepared to make any necessary adjustments to the fall schedule. Faculty colleagues, department chairs, deans, the registrar, academic support, facilities management, environmental health and safety, student health services, and many other organizations have been working very hard to create resources and a campus environment that will yield an effective learning experience in the safest possible environment for doing so. However, we face the possibility of changing circumstances and decisions that will challenge us to tap deeply into the traits mentioned above. In terms of health-related decisions affecting the campus, our Chief Medical Officer and the rest of S&T’s Incident Command Team has consulted, and will continue to consult, with members of the campus community, the City of Rolla, the UM System, and the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development. Their decisions are and will continue to be informed by guidelines and communication from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College Health Association, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, and The Phelps-Maries County Health Department.
With these two messages in mind, I am providing information below that will help you be prepared for the fall semester. I urge you to take advantage of these resources and recommendations so as to be able to provide the most effective learning experience possible, no matter the modality of instruction that you start with or adopt during the semester.
A checklist based on pillars of effective online course design is available on the CAFÉ website; please consider using this checklist to self-evaluate courses you plan to deliver remotely this fall.
CAFÉ will host two more self-paced Online Course Design Basics Workshops this summer from July 13 – August 10 and August 3 – August 31. For more information or to sign up, please visit the Start Here: Online Course Design Basics Workshop.
On August 14, the Office of Academic Support will provide some standard and updated language that faculty should include in their syllabi and policy statements regarding COVID-19 related safety measures related to face coverings, social distancing requirements, and other campus policies.
The following practices are offered as recommendations. Nevertheless, please seriously consider adopting them to help ensure that students have a positive academic experience this fall:
Above all, if you are having doubts or experiencing difficulty in any aspect of preparation, engagement, or wellness as we run up to and into the fall semester, then please reach out for help. If you don’t know who to go to, then contact me directly, and I will help you find the right person/support system.
Thank you for everything you are doing to keep S&T a wonderful place to work, learn, and discover.