Employees working remote will follow the measures announced in the communication from Chancellor Subbaswamy released on March 13, 2020. This applies in Amherst, the Mount Ida Campus in Newton and at the UMass Center in Springfield.
Teaching and Learning
Updated July 7, 2020
All undergraduate students who have reserved on-campus housing, for whom there is space available, are invited to live on campus under strict public health behavioral restrictions. However, a majority of the fall 2020 curriculum will be fully remote, with only essential labs, studios, performance, and hands-on courses offered in-person and focused on the upper-level curriculum to provide seniors with timely progress toward degree completion.
Some students who live on campus may have a fully remote curriculum, a factor they should consider in their decision whether to come to campus.
The university’s priority is to provide students with a high-quality educational experience that enables them to continue their academic progress with minimal delays or disruptions. We are committed to providing a robust curriculum as well as advising and other academic supports to facilitate students’ academic success.
We will also provide faculty with the instructional technology resources and guidance they need to teach in a fully online format. Faculty interactions with students are a key element in students’ engagement with the course material and their sense of connection to their classmates, professors, and the campus community.
• Academic Calendar
The Academic Calendar will begin August 24 and conclude November 20, with classes held on Labor Day, the second Monday in October, and Veterans Day. Students will be strongly encouraged to remain on or near campus until the Thanksgiving recess, after which they will not return. Final exams will be conducted remotely. Faculty teaching face-to-face courses will be asked to work with students who are unable to make it to campus by August 24 (e.g., because of an apartment lease starting September 1, a summer job, etc.)
• Course Format
These are courses that have been designated by colleges/departments as face-to-face and essential for delivery in the fall. These include labs, studios, and performance and hands-on courses that are required for degree pathways, licensure, or accreditation. To ensure social distancing, some face-to-face courses may have students attending on alternate days and learning remotely on other days, as determined by the instructor.
These are courses with no face-to-face instruction. Technology (e.g., Zoom, Moodle) will help engage students and deliver the curriculum, with a combination of synchronous engagement (i.e., designated class meeting times) and asynchronous engagement (i.e., student learning occurring on the students’ timeline). Faculty will make accommodations for students for whom synchronous engagement is difficult (e.g., international or in other times zones).
• Graduate Students
All graduate-level courses will be offered remotely except for the approved, essential face-to-face courses. Some graduate programs may offer their entire curriculum remotely for fall 2020. All oral exams, including comprehensive exams and dissertation and thesis defenses, will be conducted remotely. Questions about registration and enrollment should be directed to the Graduate School’s student service center and international graduate students should contact the International Programs Office with questions related to visas, travel, and employment.
• Labs, Studios, Performance, and Hands-on Essential Face-to-Face Courses
The essential labs, studios, performance, and hands-on courses have been identified by deans, department heads, chairs, and faculty, and focus on upper-level courses so as not to impede students’ progress toward degree completion. Not all labs, studios, performance, and hands-on courses will be offered in-person this fall. Students will be able to see in their SPIRE course schedule whether their courses will be offered remotely or face-to-face.
• Classrooms and Schedules
Classroom capacities will be limited to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Additional sections of courses may be added to reduce class sizes. Course schedules will be adjusted to increase time between classes to 30 minutes to reduce interactive foot traffic on campus and provide time for increased cleaning of lab and classroom spaces when needed. Students will be encouraged to be patient and flexible regarding classroom assignments and course schedules.
• Options for Students Who Choose Not to Come to Campus
Students who have an underlying medical condition or feel unsafe coming to campus and have face-to-face course(s) in their fall schedule should meet remotely with their advisor so their schedule can be adjusted to only include fully remote courses. Students who are seeking a residential experience but are uncomfortable coming to the Amherst campus have the option of applying for housing on the Mount Ida Campus in Newton, Mass. All health and safety protocols on the main campus will be in effect in Newton, but the total residential population will be limited by available housing to less than 500 students. All courses beyond essential face-to-face courses for on-site programs (e.g., Veterinary Technology) will be offered remotely. For more information, view the Mount Ida Campus housing application.
• Advising and Student Support Services
All academic advising will be performed remotely, either by phone or use of another platform (e.g., Zoom). All faculty office hours for students in their courses, advising, or other consultative purposes will be performed remotely. The Learning Resource Center will provide remote services (e.g., supplemental instruction, tutoring). See “Research and Libraries” section for information related to library and study space access.