Dear UTSOA Community,
Many of you have already seen the President’s message announcing that starting on March 30, the university will be moving all remaining spring semester classes on-line, and asking students not to return to campus this semester unless there is a specific need.
While this does not significantly change our current approach for most of our courses moving forward—faculty and staff are preparing our courses to go on-line—it does have a large impact on our students, particularly our undergraduates. Many of you who currently live in dorms will have to organize quickly to move out before March 30 and either move home, or make alternative living arrangements.
I can’t begin to imagine how distressing this must be for you, and there are likely many aspects that are overwhelming right now. Charlton Lewis, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, and Robin Dusek, Assistant Director for Student Affairs, along with all our student support staff will be available beginning tomorrow to answer your questions and provide support - and I want you to know that helping you navigate these changes is our top priority right now.
Many of you have already reached out about accessing materials in our buildings. We will be working to manage individual access when we have staff available to ensure your safety in the building. We are still discussing options, but know that we are committed to having you readily access your things as conveniently as possible. We will be getting a system together tomorrow for this.
We also recognize that some of our courses have specific needs—whether software, technology or other resources—that can only be accessed on campus. We had hoped that we would have been able to allow some in-person access, but this is waning as a possibility. Our faculty and IT staff have been working on developing solutions that will, in some cases, allow remote access, and in other cases, use alternative methods to cover the same intellectual content.
We are particularly concerned for those students who may not have access to basic technological resources for participating in on-line learning once they leave campus. We will be sending out a survey to determine which students have circumstances that may hamper their ability to learn and participate. We do not want any student to ever fall behind because they can’t access resources.
The changes we are about to experience will be challenging, but we are committed to providing academic continuity across all our programs and each of our classes. Many assignments and lectures will be modified and adapted for on-line teaching, but we will maintain our curricular goals to ensure that we meet the high standards of professional education.
When we first started thinking about how the university would change as the coronavirus spread, we did not want it to end up here. Sending students home, restricting access to the rich array of resources and facilities that this amazing campus offers, and most problematically, distancing from our colleagues and friends, was what we all hoped to avoid. It is, however, what we must do to preserve our extraordinary community and ensure that it thrives in the future. That matters more than anything.