S. Jack Hu, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Rahul Shrivastav, Vice President for Instruction
As you know, the University of Georgia has carefully developed plans for our phased and gradual return to full operations for the Fall Semester, health conditions and state regulations permitting. A key component of this planning is the safe and effective delivery of high-quality instruction. To that end, the leadership of each school, college and campus has received detailed guidance for Fall Semester instruction. This message summarizes the key portions of that guidance.
Fall Semester Classes Will Begin on August 20, 2020
The academic calendar for the Fall Semester has not changed. Classes will begin on Thursday, August 20.
In-person Instruction Concludes at Thanksgiving Break
In-person instruction will conclude at Thanksgiving break, with all remaining coursework and final exams moving online following Thanksgiving. The calendar for online final examinations will remain as previously set, December 11–17. It is essential that faculty plan for final exams being online. Proctoring solutions for online assessment are being reviewed, and additional information will be forthcoming.
While many students will choose not to return to Athens after Thanksgiving Break, we will need to continue to provide services for those who do choose to return or are unable to depart. The University will remain open after Thanksgiving Break and will continue providing regular campus operations and student life services—such as housing, dining, health/wellness centers and campus transit—until the end of the Fall semester.
The Spring 2020 Undergraduate Commencement ceremony has been scheduled for Friday, October 16, 2020, at 6:30 p.m. in Sanford Stadium. The Spring 2020 Graduate Commencement ceremony for master’s and doctoral degree candidates is scheduled for Friday, December 18, 2020 in Stegeman Coliseum in combination with the regularly scheduled Fall 2020 Graduate Commencement.
Fall 2020 Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement ceremonies are currently scheduled for Friday, December 18 in Stegeman Coliseum. We are discussing plans for that day, knowing that we may need to adjust planning for those ceremonies as conditions warrant.
The Daily Class Schedule will be adjusted to add five minutes between classes to allow students more time to walk between classes, should they choose to do so. Campus Transit buses will be operational, but social distancing measures that are in place will limit passenger capacity. Details on the adjusted class schedule—including information about rescheduling classes, if needed—will be forthcoming.
Social Distancing in the Classroom
Classes will be taught face-to-face with social distancing. This can be achieved in various ways, but most classes are expected to be taught using HyFlex or hybrid models. This will entail some students attending class in-person with others attending online, typically by rotation. Other pedagogical approaches, such as “flipped” pedagogy with online lectures and in-person breakout sessions, may also be used when appropriate. Faculty have the discretion to use the approach(es) that may be best suited to their classes, other than moving classes to fully online. The Center for Teaching and Learning is offering Preparing to Pivot, online training for any faculty needing additional support and information for implementing these approaches. The paced version is available, and a self-paced version will be available in July.
Self-Monitoring and Face Coverings
In the best interest of the health and safety of our community, the University of Georgia is requiring all faculty, staff and students to self-monitor and acknowledge that they are not aware that they have signs or symptoms of COVID-19 prior to coming to campus each day. Toward that end, UGA will provide a digital thermometer to all faculty, staff and students, as well as two (2) reusable and washable cloth face coverings.
The University System of Georgia (USG) has directed the University of Georgia, along with all other USG institutions, to strongly encourage—but not require—faculty, staff and students to wear face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) has not mandated wearing facial masks, nor has the Centers for Disease Control, and the USG is following their guidance on this issue. In addition to supplying faculty, staff and students with tools for self-screening, UGA is following social distancing guidelines, intensifying cleaning and disinfecting efforts, and promoting the practice of sound personal hygiene by all members of the campus community. Each and every one of us will have a critical role to play as we work together to protect the health and safety of every member of the Bulldog Nation.
Accommodations Request Process
As a reminder, and based on instructions the University System of Georgia provided to all institutions, it is expected that faculty and staff will return to campus by the start of the Fall Semester to conduct their work. Faculty are expected to teach face-to-face classes with social distancing, and being present on campus is an essential function. A shift to fully online teaching would be an accommodation of last resort, only if other accommodations for in-person instruction are deemed insufficient under the specific circumstances. Requests for accommodations should be submitted to HR through the University’s existing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodations process.
Faculty seeking an accommodation, but who missed the June 18 deadline, are encouraged to submit their COVID-19-related accommodation request as soon as possible. This information is needed to plan for instructional needs for the Fall Semester.
Staff seeking an accommodation are asked to submit their COVID-19 related accommodation request by Wednesday, July 1.
Faculty and staff may submit an accommodation request at any time as the need arises or as circumstances change.
The Office of Instruction, in collaboration with the Office of Space Planning and Management, is currently revising seating capacity for each classroom and laboratory. More information about capacity and other changes needed to maintain social distancing will be shared in the coming weeks.
In addition, school, college and campus leaders will do the following:
conduct an inventory of all spaces and teaching technology;
identify critical programs that may need unique arrangements;
ask departments to identify a back-up instructor for each course; and
identify all in-person academic events organized outside the traditional class formats to determine appropriate social distancing and planning.
We will continue to share information as we prepare for our full return to campus and resumption of operations for the Fall Semester. Please reach out to your supervisor if you have questions about our efforts, and remember that the University’s COVID-19 website has a variety of links and resources, including archived campus messages.
Each of you plays an important role in delivering or supporting our efforts to serve our students, community, and the state. Thank you for your patience and your good work as we navigate these waters together.