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Online Classes Update

Departmental News

Posted:  Mar 23, 2020 - 12:00am

Message from our department chair, Jane Ellen Smith:

I know that some students (and instructors) are still confused as to when the different types of classes start. I'm not surprised; the messages we've been getting have changed from day to day. So please take a look at my outline below:


Courses that have been ONLINE all along since the start of the semester, or courses that have been planned as ONLINE courses all along but scheduled to start after the normal Spring Break (these are called 2H classes; we have several MOPs of these + a few others): start MONDAY (March 23rd). Why? Because they have already been prepared as online courses and so there's no reason to delay them.


Courses that have been face-to-face classes but now are going to be some type of online class: start in 2 more weeks, on April 6th.  However, if faculty found it easy to convert their face-to-face course to an online one and they want to start before April 6th, they can do so, but only if they give their students at least a 1 week warning about this. 


I know that many of you heard the initial news that classes were going to be delayed by an extra 2 weeks. So we've been trying to spread the word that the delay NEVER applied to classes that have been online from the start. And I'm guessing that even fewer of you have heard that face-to-face instructors have the option to do a "soft launch" of their now converted class (to an online format) before April 6th IF they alert students a week in advance.  Some faculty in these former face-to-face classes are opting to use the next 2 weeks to send their students assignments that they might choose to get started on early, and others are offering extra credit options during this time. When in doubt: Check with your instructor.


In case this whole situation has made you anxious, I have copied/pasted (below) some recommendations to manage anxiety that are from Dr. Bethany Teachman, a Psychology Professor at the University of Virginia who is an expert in anxiety (I have shortened some of her comments here):


*Attend carefully to self-care: healthy eating, sleep, exercise and seeking support from loved ones and friends.

*Stay informed by checking in with reliable news sources.

*Seek updates a couple times a day, but don’t spend all day obsessively reading about COVID-19.

*Consider whether you are following the local, recommended prevention and preparedness measures, and adjust accordingly.

*Be careful before taking additional preventive measures beyond those that are recommended as they can often be counter-productive and fuel anxiety.

*Focus on activities you value – ones that are fun or relaxing, or that allow you to feel like you’re accomplishing things you care about.

*Make sure to still connect with others, even if it’s happening virtually, because social isolation can fuel negative mood and make it much harder to manage the natural sadness, confusion and anxiety we feel during stressful times like this. This is especially important given so many students will be separated from their usual peer support systems.

*Establish routines – many students are going to be at home or at least without their typical friends and colleagues around them. This can feel strange and mean many of the routine activities we’re used to will be disrupted. Most of us benefit from some structure, so wherever you are staying during this time, look for ways to establish routines so that you don’t feel “adrift.” The more of your life that feels normal, the better.