Return to Campus: Faculty/Student Flex

by University Marketing and Communications

Editor’s Note: Today we conclude our series on operations as the University has entered Step Three in our Return to Campus Plan. Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Jacqueline Huntoon discusses the dynamics between faculty and students as we approach the fall semester start.

What process should a student follow to request to study remotely during the fall semester? 

Students who can make these requests fall into two categories: 1) Students who have preexisting medical conditions that put them at higher risk if they get COVID-19; and 2) Students who are facing unforeseen or extenuating circumstances and believe studying remotely is necessary. Students who fall into the first category should work with Student Disability Services to obtain permission to study remotely for fall semester. Students in the second category have been instructed to make their request through the COVID-19 Special Consideration Request Form. These requests are being reviewed by a committee that includes Michigan Tech faculty and staff members. Faculty teaching courses that include these remote-study students will be notified through the regular accommodation notification process. 

Remote-study students need to be aware that not every software program is available in every country. Students who plan to live outside the US during fall semester need to make sure that they will be able to access all of their course materials and complete all assignments.

In the near future, instructors will be given the opportunity to determine whether or not they are able to offer students in their particular courses the option to attend remotely. Instructors must be the ones to decide whether or not they want to offer a remote-learning experience to every student who is interested in that option while at the same time continuing to provide face-to-face instruction to the remainder of their students. Nevertheless, all instructors recognize that there may be one or more students in their classes who must study remotely during fall semester due to actual or suspected exposure to COVID-19, and are prepared to serve these students remotely as needed.

Will we be tracking how many classes are being taught remotely vs. in person?

Student Affairs Information Systems (SAIS) is working with the Registrar’s and Dean of Students’ Offices to produce a weekly report for campus leaders regarding the number of course sections taught in the various modalities (online, remote, face-to-face only, face-to-face with staggered in-person attendance). In addition, they are tracking the number of students who have opted for remote/online instruction only, the number of students who will have all classes face-to-face, and the number of students who will have some or all of their courses online/remote due to decisions made by the University as a whole or by individual instructors.

How will we tell students when they should come to campus and when they shouldn’t?

Once instructors know which of their students will be studying remotely, they will be able to work with their department chairs, the Registrar’s Office, and the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning to determine whether or not they will need to implement a staggered attendance policy for their course. This will be necessary when the face-to-face enrollment exceeds the COVID-19 occupancy limits for the room assigned to the course. 

The Registrar’s Office is currently in the midst of an ongoing iterative process to optimize the use of classrooms to provide face-to-face instruction to as many students as possible. For example, if face-to-face enrollment for a particular course falls, it may be possible to move that course to a smaller room so that the original room can be reassigned to a larger course. Students who are actively monitoring their schedules for fall may see changes to their schedules as the optimization process proceeds. The optimization process will be completed before the beginning of fall semester and at that time instructors will be able to accurately communicate to their students whether or not class attendance will need to be staggered. If staggered attendance for a course will be needed, the instructor will communicate information about when students should attend in person and remotely.