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UW–Madison Smart Restart: For information about fall semester instruction and campus operations, please visit smartrestart.wisc.edu. For COVID-19 news updates, see covid19.wisc.edu.

Classes, room assignments and scheduling for fall 2020

The Chancellor’s message last week indicated how plans for the fall semester are proceeding. The summary below provides information on the process for scheduling rooms for in-person courses to accommodate the necessary physical distancing in classrooms.

There will be a mix of in person and online courses available to students in the fall

  • All course sections with 50 or more students will be taught remotely (with few exceptions – contact Karen Wassarman to discuss exceptions). This size was determined after analysis of current classroom capacities to maintain physical distancing, which determined there were few spaces on campus that could safely hold larger class meetings.
  • We aim to have a balance of in person and online course offerings to take advantage of the strength of in person connections with students — especially in labs and other hands-on activities — while also offering courses for students who cannot be on campus.
  • In person courses will have decreased density to allow 6 feet of distance between students
    • Space Management has determined new capacity numbers for each general assignment classrooms and many other rooms to use for instruction this fall.
    • For other classrooms or areas to be used for instruction, capacity will be assigned based on size and seating arrangements to maintain distancing in collaboration with Karen Wassarman.
  • In classrooms (and all indoor public spaces) all students and instructors will wear face coverings  and classrooms will have cleaning supplies (students and instructors will be responsible for cleaning personal spaces). The Chancellor has made a strong statement that students are agreeing to abide by this expectation by registering for in-person classes.
  • All courses will be remote learning after the Thanksgiving break. This includes ~2 weeks of instruction and all final exams. There is a new online proctoring platform currently in testing stages. Updates will be posted here and we will post more information as it becomes available.
  • CALS continues to have a strong support team to facilitate the transition of course material to a remote environment.

How will courses be assigned to appropriately sized rooms?

  1. The Registrar’s Office has automatically removed room assignments from all courses in recognition that classroom capacity will be significantly reduced with physical distancing.
  2. Curricular reps will be getting more information the week of June 22 for how room assignments will take place. It is expected that all large spaces across campus that can accommodate instruction will be used this fall to allow as many in person courses as possible. This includes classrooms that are within department control, although home departments will get priority to opt into those spaces as long as they do so with appropriately-sized courses.
  3. An extended schedule of classes will be used, to include Monday-Thursday evening hours and Saturday mornings, to accommodate as many in person courses as possible. More information about how courses (and students) will be transitioned to this extended schedule will be coming soon. All attempts will be made to have the least disruption for scheduling, especially for sections in which students are already enrolled, but there will be highly used time periods where room conflicts are likely. It is expected conflicts will be resolved through discussion with departments, academic deans and central campus offices.
  4. The Registrar’s Office has changed all course components with a capacity of 50 or greater to “online” modality. Curricular reps will be able to change modality on individual courses to “classroom” or “online/some classroom” designations as needed. Courses that anticipate 50 or more students enrolled, should discuss plans with Karen Wassarman.to ensure physical distancing plans are in place.

Additionally, departments have been asked to make decisions about which courses, or components of courses, will be taught remotely or in person and update their status in the student information system (SIS) as soon as possible. Decisions about synchronous versus asynchronous remote learning times should be made very soon as well. Most importantly, this information will allow our students to best understand what their options are for fall instruction. This is especially important for incoming students who will be choosing courses in SOAR starting this week, but also for returning students as some may need to rework their schedules to accommodate changes in course offerings and times.