Dear Students:

Extensive planning has been underway for classes offered next semester, and the registration period for spring 2021 will soon be here. As you may have read in this recent memo, the pandemic will require us to continue teaching and learning in socially distanced classrooms, and face coverings will continue to be required where 6 feet of social distancing cannot be maintained. Our experience from the Fall Semester thus far has shown these strategies to be effective in maintaining a low risk of COVID-19 spread: in fact, data from the Fall 2020 semester indicate little evidence of transmission of the coronavirus in classrooms.

Maintaining the health and safety of our campus community remains the key tenet of our planning for the Spring Semester. With that overarching goal in mind, we have three major instructional priorities:

  • Increase the number of classes that are offered in-person. This means some of your classes may be in different rooms or days/times than you are accustomed to. Please review these carefully when you plan your schedules. 
  • Increase the number of times you can attend a class in-person for classes that need to be taught in a hybrid format. This means you will need to plan your daily schedules carefully around your in-person attendance requirements. 
  • Increase the number of classes taught synchronously or in a live format. This means you may be required to attend classes in-person or online during scheduled class times, instead of being able to see the class recording later. 

As you plan for your Spring Semester, we encourage you to take the following steps:

Review instructional formats: In Spring Semester 2021, classes will be taught using one of five instructional formats: fully face-to-face, hybrid synchronous, hybrid asynchronous, online synchronous, or online asynchronous. Review what these five different instructional formats mean. The instructional format for most courses should be clearly identified in Athena so you know what to expect in your classes when you register.  

Check your class periods: We will continue to have an additional five minutes for transition between classes. We encourage you to walk, instead of taking the bus, whenever possible. To see the new class periods, visit the Registrar’s website here. We will also be offering more classes outside peak instructional times (10:00 am – 2:00 pm) to accommodate more in-person class engagement. 

Understand the hybrid format and attendance expectation: If you register for classes that are offered in a hybrid format, make sure you understand your schedule and when to attend the face-to-face versus the on-line sessions.

Double-check your classrooms: We are assigning some classes outside of typical departmental areas in order to have more classrooms that adhere to safe social distancing protocols. Please review these locations as you register and plan your class schedules so you can be on time for your classes. Please understand that we may need to update locations as registration continues; if so, we will notify you of relevant changes. Please check your schedule before classes begin to ensure that you go to the correct building and room. 

Finally, remember that our spring academic calendar has changed. You can see the update academic calendar here

We are also approaching a transition in our current Fall semester. As you already know, your final exams and the few remaining lectures after Thanksgiving break will be held online. However, our campus will remain open and you will continue to have access to all resources and facilities such as classrooms, libraries, dining, academic advising, or health and recreation facilities. If you are conducting research, check with your faculty supervisor/major professor/mentor about access to your laboratory or other facilities. 

Here are some other things you should do in the next few weeks:

Most importantly, attend your classes regularly. Faculty are reporting that many students are not attending classes in-person or online and are opting to review the class recording at a later time. This has a great impact on how classes are taught, how you learn and how well you can engage with other students and faculty. Do not miss out on these opportunities to meet with your instructors and your fellow students. 

Prepare for learning after the Thanksgiving Break. Each of your courses may have its own unique plan for online instruction and finals to meet the learning objectives for that course. If you are uncertain, contact your professor now—before the break—to clearly understand the expectations.  

Reach out for end-of-the-semester support. If you feel like you are struggling in your classes as you move into the second half of the semester, talk to your academic advisor. You can also contact the Division of Academic Enhancement for additional academic support. 

Take advantage of new engagement and mental-health resources. We have created two new programs, Dawgs Together and Connect, that pair students with peers and faculty to help promote engagement and social networking. Additionally, the University Health Center offers two remote options to support your mental health: Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS), available via telehealth; and Therapy Assisted Online (TAO),  online modules covering common mental health topics. The Division of Student Affairs has also created several new programs to facilitate team-building, networking, and other social engagements. For any other issues or concerns, reach out to Student Care and Outreach

Get tested. The University offers free COVID-19 asymptomatic testing for all students, faculty and staff, and we strongly encourage you to be tested before you head home for the Thanksgiving break. Taking this quick and easy step can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to your family and friends. 

As we head into the second half of what has been a very challenging semester, we cannot reiterate enough how proud we are of the immense effort you are making. Let’s resolve together to finish this semester strong. Take care of yourselves and each other. Please continue to use DawgCheck every day, volunteer for free Covid-19 surveillance testing if you are asymptomatic, maintain safe social distancing, and wear a face covering whenever you are inside a building. Together, we are Georgia Strong. Dawg Strong.