Dear School of Architecture Students,
Many of you are registering for the Fall semester and are wrestling with changes to your schedule. The School of Architecture is committed to offering you a rigorous, safe, and vibrant academic community – whether in-person or online – despite the challenges created by the virus. We recognize that the information available continues to evolve and may leave some questions unanswered as you make the decision to return to campus or enroll remotely for the fall semester. The rapidly changing conditions regarding COVID-19 in Texas add a large degree of uncertainty, but the following lists our best assessment of the current status of planning:
For the University as a whole:
- The fall semester will begin on August 26, 2020 and will end on December 16, 2020 as it would normally, with the exception that in-person instruction on campus will end on November 25, 2020. The remainder of the semester, including final exams and final reviews, will be on-line.
- The fall course lineup should have the same breadth of offerings and options, regardless of how on-line or in-person the resulting semester will be.
- Classes will be more evenly distributed from 8 am to 8 pm to reduce density on campus
- Occupied classroom density will be less than half of what more typically occurred in the past, meaning that in-person classes will either have to move to larger spaces, or fewer students will be on campus for a given class meeting.
For more complete explanations about the University’s plans for the fall, including aspects about dormitories and health/safety on campus, visit the Protect Texas Together website. Do be aware that these plans may change significantly depending on conditions and circumstances in the city, the state, and the country.
As one of the academic units of the University of Texas, the School of Architecture must abide by all of the University’s rules and decisions, and we will also follow the University’s best practices, as they apply. Nevertheless, we can provide some specific intentions that may help you plan your fall semester.
For the School of Architecture, in particular:
- More than 90% of our classes are currently listed as hybrid. This number may shift toward more on-line as we adjust teaching assignments, although we currently expect that hybrid will remain in the majority.
- While hybrid classes will have an on-campus or in-person component, that component will be very different than it was in the past. For example, a lecture class may have asynchronous material to be regularly viewed on-line and small discussion sections held in person every other week. Hybrid options will range from 15% in-person/85% on-line to 85% in-person/15% on-line.
- Students need to be informed as to the nature of the hybridity and to the percentage so as to make informed decisions. Faculty will be asked to do this in their course description as they develop and refine their syllabus.
- Expect that if changes are made to a course modality, those changes may move toward more on-line content rather than less. Right now, we don’t know how many students intend to return to campus this fall, and how many need to be all on-line.
- Studio classes will have dedicated desks for each student within their shared studio space, but students will have time restrictions on their use of the space so that social distancing is maintained. For example, students will have their desk available during regularly scheduled studio hours, and we will also designate specific windows of time that the desk can be used outside of studio. But this will be much more limited than in previous semesters.
- While no professor is to be expected to teach two versions of the same class—i.e. both on-line and hybrid—many of the classes can accommodate students in different modes. A student taking a hybrid lecture class should be able to participate through zoom in an in-person discussion
- Some of the Tech Lab, Build Lab, and Materials Lab resources will likely be available, but under very different access rules.
- From July 23-31, returning students will be able to change their course schedule; and there will be an additional add/drop period beginning August 21.
A new directive from SEVP potentially impacts our International Students on F-1 visas. We are capable of meeting the two main criteria as currently listed for maintaining your visa: (1) the university will be not be fully on-line, and (2) all of our students should be able to take a minimum of at least one course that is hybrid. Nevertheless, we suggest that you review your courses carefully, and we will continue to do our due diligence in making sure that we maintain a good cross section of courses as hybrid. Texas Global has been holding town halls for International Students and is also providing assistance if you have specific questions regarding this directive and your immigration status.
We are committed to serving all of our students, wherever you may be. In order to refine our teaching modality to make sure that we have the right balance of on-line and hybrid courses we need your help. We have a survey with several specific questions for which we need your answers. Usually, surveys have very low response rates, but we will not be able to finalize our course modality until we hear from you. Please, please fill out this survey. We need to hear from you no later than Monday, July 20.
We will also be sharing additional information about our plans for the fall semester in the coming weeks, so please be on the lookout for subsequent messages as the semester approaches. We appreciate your understanding and flexibility as we all navigate this uncertain time together.
Please take care all,