Ending Face-to-Face Instruction Before Thanksgiving Break

Earlier this month we looked at the University of South Carolina’s plan to offer in-person courses this coming fall term. The university has now updated its plans by announcing a change to the fall term schedule.

In an email to the university community last night, University of South Carolina President Bob Caslen announced that in fall 2020:

  • there will be no Fall Break
  • all face-to-face instruction will end on November 24th, two days before Thanksgiving.
  • There will be two more class days following Thanksgiving break as well as a reading period and final exam but these classes and all exams will be conducted remotely.

Caslen said that “two critical pieces of information informed these changes”:

  • the public health risks associated with thousands of students and faculty returning to campus after Fall Break travels
  • models that predict a spike in COVID-19 cases at the beginning of December.

Faculty at South Carolina were given more information last week about what face-to-face instruction in the Fall will look like. Among the crucial details are:

  • Owing to space and scheduling constraints, classrooms will not be set up to facilitate students being seated 6 feet apart from one another (though some number of courses will as a matter of fact end up in rooms that allow for this kind of distancing, owing to their enrollments)
  • Students and faculty will be required to wear masks in the classroom.

Apparently faculty are tasked with enforcing the mask-wearing rule in their classrooms. (There was some pushback on this so that might change.)

I provide this information about what’s happening at South Carolina as an example for discussion of various options available to universities and colleges in the fall. Feel free to share what you know of your own institutions’ plans.

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