The announcement from President Fenves this afternoon indicates a shift in how we will work together to serve our students for the remainder of this spring semester. The shift emphasizes that, beginning March 30, UT will be moving all spring semester classes online (with a few exceptions related to clinical and field placements), and that students should not return to campus this semester unless there is a specific need.
What does this mean for the College of Education? As I announced on Sunday, we have established plans to ensure the continuation of the university’s core priorities to serve students, maintain essential business service functions, and support the research enterprise as directed by the president. The basics of our plans will remain intact, but with a new focus on how to best adapt and extend our plans through the remainder of the term.
- Our plans to prepare courses for online delivery beginning on March 30 will continue. Faculty, however, now have clear guidance that these adaptations should be planned for all remaining spring class sessions.
- We will continue to staff the college, emphasize telework wherever possible, and limit in-person presence in our spaces as much as we can while ensuring our ability to continue conducting essential business operations.
- We are constantly monitoring in-person staffing needs and will continue to make adjustments in response. Staffing issues are discussed each day during Zoom meetings with your college leadership team. For staff who are working in our college spaces, we will continue to emphasize aggressive social distancing.
President Fenves’s decision today was undoubtedly in the best interest for UT and the broader community, Yet, the shift for students to not be on campus introduces a major change for them, and for all of us. This news will be troubling and stressful for many students, and I ask that we all be especially sensitive to their needs. Many students will be grieving separation from friends, professors, and colleagues, often amplified by not having had the opportunity to say goodbye. For our graduating seniors, this is far from the “final term” UT experience that they had planned. Although we don’t yet know how this will affect graduation, we know that this will still be felt as a profound loss for so many of our students. I will be writing to students directly and reminding them that their College of Education community is here to support them as they grieve and adapt.
I am also scheduling two town hall meetings in the coming days (details to follow). The first will be for faculty and staff and will follow a similar format to the March 13 online event. The second will be for students, to listen to them, let them know they are heard and connect them to the resources they need right now. Both of these town halls will be announced via email.
Thank you again for all you are doing in these unprecedented times.