If Given the Choice Whether to Teach In-Person or Remotely in the Fall…


Last week, the University of South Carolina announced it is planning to have in-person teaching in the fall, but also that each faculty, staff, and student will be allowed to make for themselves a “decision to either return or delay their return”. Other schools are considering similar arrangements. 

At some point this summer such decisions will need to be made, as course offerings will need to be settled and the physical and technological arrangements for courses will need to be planned and implemented. It will be helpful to start thinking about these decisions sooner rather than later.

So, students and faculty, suppose you had until the beginning of June—about two and half weeks from now—to report your decision to the administration. What factors would go into your decision-making?

Here are some that might be relevant:

  • one’s own risk factors for vulnerability to COVID-19
  • the vulnerability to COVID-19 of those with whom one lives or cares for
  • anticipated progress on therapies or vaccines for COVID-19
  • the anticipated spread of COVID-19 in your region
  • the anticipated enrollment in your courses
  • the likelihood your institution will be able to implement social-distancing measures in classrooms and lecture halls
  • the likelihood your institution will be able to implement social-distancing measures in shared professional physical settings (offices, hallways, common areas)
  • the level of videoconferencing and other remote teaching technology available to faculty and students
  • the degree of trust in your institution to not hold one’s decision to teach or study remotely against you
  • the extent to which
  • the level of flexibility you, your department, and your institution have such that you could switch from teaching or taking classes in-person to remotely should you feel the need to
  • the extent to which various mixes of in-person and remote teaching are available for individual faculty to deploy in their own courses

It would be useful to hear what other factors might be relevant to your decision. And what would you decide to do?

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