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Upcoming academic year class structure will differ by course



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A canvas page for a French class is open on a laptop in an IU student’s home. The new plan for the fall 2020 semester was recently announced. Photo Illustration by Sam House

As classes for the fall 2020 semester inch closer, Emily Metzgar, director of undergraduate studies for the Media School, said everybody affected by the fall semester is just as anxious as students to know how next year is going to play out. 

The upcoming school year has a modified schedule that has left people curious about what classes are actually going to look like. But Metzgar said putting safety first and trying to provide services to students is a hard line to walk, not just for IU, but for every university in the nation. While guidelines from the university will be followed, there are many aspects that factor into decisions for each course.

“We’re just trying to coordinate all of the moving parts so that when we do communicate, it’s clear and accurate and unlikely to change too much,” Metzgar said. “We want people to have information so that they can plan whether or not they can or want to come back to campus.”

For students more comfortable with all remote courses, the hope is that the class offerings will allow for that, Mike Szakaly, senior associate director at Student Central said. 

Different classes face different challenges, Szakaly said. Some require close proximity, such as in lab environments, and Szakaly said these courses will be following guidelines as best they can. Different settings call for administration to consider different possibilities, including having half the students in a class attend one day of the week and the other half another day.

These details are still being sorted out, Szakaly said.

“The last thing we want to do is disrupt anybody’s progress toward a degree,” Metzgar said.  

There are also multiple factors that help determine if a class will be online or in person, from the safety of students going to the classroom to the instructor’s vision of how to accomplish academic objectives while working with individual student needs, Szakaly said. 

Szakaly said some of the factors guiding decisions are also a matter of supply and demand. This includes questionssuch as, do the students want the courses? Are there instructors willing to teach in this environment? And is there space? Taking all of this into consideration also influences when and what intensive courses for the winter session may be available.

“Every semester they have to make this assessment,” he said. “But it is much trickier with these circumstances.”

It is unknown what winter session courses will be offered. But the schedule for the academic year is more concrete. 

There will be a 13-week period of a mix of in-person and online classes from Aug. 24 to Nov. 22. Following Thanksgiving break, there will be a three-week period of online-only instruction from Nov. 30 to Dec. 20. This online period can be used for finals, projects, continued instruction or intensive courses. 

From Dec. 21, 2020, to Feb. 7, 2021, there will be a winter session, which will remain online and function similarly to Intensive Freshman Seminar from an administrative perspective, Szakaly said. IFS, a program for incoming freshmen that offers one 3-credit course in the summer, rolls into the fall semester. Winter session will roll similarly into the spring semester. 

This allows for more supplemental classes that can be used as a time to recover and raise GPAs or a time to get ahead for things like graduate school, Szakaly said. 

The spring semester will start Jan. 19, 2021, and remain online until Feb. 7, when the winter session ends. There will then be a 13-week period of a mix between online and in-person classes, which will end May 9, 2021.

Still, information is always changing, and Szakaly said to watch for updates. While the schedule of classes for the fall semester is posted, Metzgar said times, dates and the formats of classes can still change. 

COVID-19 response resources by school

Undergraduate Programs

The College of Arts and Sciences has an email and links to resources regarding questions about COVID-19 on their website. 

The Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design has a page of COVID-19 updates.

The Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies has a page with updates related to coronavirus.

The IU School of Education has a page of updates and resources regarding COVID-19.

The Jacobs School of Music has a list of resources and support regarding COVID-19. 

The Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering has a list of letters regarding COVID-19 from Dennis Groth, the interim dean of the school.

The Media School specifically has a place to ask questions, and Metzgar said they are answering every one individually as best they can with the information they have. 

The Paul H O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs has information about coronavirus resources for its students and the school’s response to the coronavirus.

The School of Public Health has a page about their COVID-19 response including public health practices, resources and a message from the dean. 

Graduate Programs

The IU School of Medicine has a page of COVID-19 updates, and there are specific notes to certain classes. 

The Maurer School of Law is not under the exact schedule as the rest of the university, but will be following health and safety guidelines, as announced by Austen Parrish, law school dean and professor. 

The School of Optometry has a list of COVID-19 admission policies and a page of various COVID-19 resources. 

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