Updated July 1, 2020
We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic challenged many of our students and their families on multiple fronts. For that reason, we are providing additional learning and engagement options this coming year that will ensure student success.
All students who wish to return to on campus learning are welcome and we are also very ready to accommodate students who do not return to campus this fall. We have enhanced classroom technology and faculty have adapted their teaching methodologies so that students are able to engage in person and online - you can take courses from anywhere in the world.
In accordance with the best practices recommended by NYS in its most recent guidance, we have considered a mix of in person and online classes. We will augment the NYS guidance by encouraging experiential learning in smaller groups, and participation in related co-curricular and extra curricular activities. Fall courses will be offered through a variety of modes integrating face-to-face and online learning approaches. Should students need to or choose to stay in their home communities, all classes will be available via distance with the exception of those identified on the schedule as in-person only. Those include courses that require hands-on training for credentials and some laboratory courses that do not have ways for some students to participate remotely. This approach also enables any student who needs to temporarily quarantine or self-isolate due to possible exposure to COVID-19 are accommodated. Students who plan to attend remotely for the whole Fall semester should notify their representative in Student Administrative Services so that the class roster reflects your attendance as a distance student for NYS Education Department records.
Regardless of where our students are, our goal is to provide an engaging and enriching Clarkson academic experience. Through scenario planning exercises and open forums, over 200 faculty, staff, and students helped us create new learning spaces, new experiences, and new safety and health measures, that will benefit our community of scholars, educators, and learners into the future.
From these planning meetings and working with our Faculty Experts Panel, our classrooms are being equipped with lecture capture and learning technologies. Our class schedule was modified to include 20 minute breaks between room usage to minimize traffic congestion and allow time to wipe-down surfaces. Physical spaces were adjusted to maximize social distancing and fresh air flow. In accordance with the NYS interim guidance for reopening plans and the guidance issued for research at higher education institutions, no classroom, study space or laboratory will have no more than 50% of its normal occupancy.
Because of these social distancing requirements and their effect on our classroom capacity, large classes have been split into smaller sections supported by technology-enhanced learning. Some classes have been “flipped” so that smaller groups of students engage, face-to-face, in discussions and hands-on activities. As we reduced class sizes and faculty planned for fall, courses that are ideally suited for robust and dynamic online learning were designed specifically for this delivery mode. For classes and sections offered in-person, there will be a remote option for students who are not in residence. The deans and faculty in our schools and institutes are continuing to innovate ways to maximize student engagement in and out of the classroom. We are taking this opportunity to add some exciting new learning opportunities.
Faculty have been engaging this summer in a comprehensive series of RISE workshops (Reframing Instruction for Success Everywhere) to further replicate the world where students will gain future employment and navigate distance relationships. Learning from the rapid pivot we made in March, they are more prepared for expanding options in online education, tailoring communication methods and syllabi to give more detailed information for students with different learning styles in digital environments, and ways to incorporate technology to create high quality learning experiences and objectives that complement their in person learning experiences.
Our graduate programs are also being creative about tailoring the graduate experience to these new conditions. Because of the unique approach to each program of study, the Dean of the Graduate School and graduate program directors will be reaching out directly to students as we approach the fall semester opening.
The success of every aspect of these plans depends on Clarkson’s dedicated and talented faculty and staff, whose health and safety are also of paramount importance to Clarkson now and beyond this fall. Just as we know that some students need to remain at home this fall, we know that, even with the extensive precautions, not all faculty, staff, and graduate assistants will be in a position to resume in-person work and teaching. We are implementing team teaching in many instances to further support the mentoring that can be done remotely along with the in person instruction.
Decisions about how courses will be taught are grounded in best practices for student learning, our classroom capacity in light of public health requirements, and the availability of our faculty to teach in person. Students will receive notice of their updated course schedules within a couple of weeks so that they can make any adjustments well ahead of the start of the Fall semester.
Just as we do every year, we have made recommendations for computing hardware to support these learning modalities and meet the minimum requirements for our degree programs. In addition to acquiring hardware, to ensure the longevity of the system during your time at Clarkson, we recommend that students purchase an extended warranty that includes on site service and comprehensive insurance that covers breakage, theft and all-hazard coverage.