USC considers changes to academic schedule, classes

Kailee Kokes / The Daily Gamecock

The University of South Carolina is considering changing the academic schedule to end face-to-face instruction at Thanksgiving break with no fall break. 

This is according to someone who read an email from Sandra Kelly, vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies, on behalf of Tayloe Harding, interim provost, to the chairs, directors and schedulers.

"Because out of town travel increases rates of exposure and contagion, it is likely that the timing of the fall semester will be altered to accommodate ending face to face classes at Thanksgiving, with no fall break," according to the email sent at 10:14 a.m. on Wednesday.

According to university spokesperson Jeff Stensland, no decision has been made about fall break.

"It may be advantageous to end the semester earlier than normal to allow students to return home prior to flu season and limit the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak brought about by additional travel during fall break," Stensland said in an email.

In addition to changing the academic calendar, the university is also considering making changes to class sizes and modes of instruction.

"To ensure the safety of our students and instructors, classes of 100 or more students will not be allowed to meet face to face," according to the email.

Stensland said in order to successfully open in the fall and encourage safe physical distancing, some adjustments will have to be made to accommodate classes with more than 100 students. 

Some examples to accommodate for large class sizes include having one online and one face-to-face section or one large online class with breakout sessions.

Students will see minimal changes to the originally scheduled meeting time for classes they are already enrolled in.

"Note that we must avoid changing classroom meeting times since we are changing the schedule with students already enrolled in the classes," according to the email.

For classes moving from face-to-face instruction, the options could include having a section of the class online at the same time or asynchronous instruction.

"Additional sections should be offered at the same time although we recognize room capacity issues may complicate this," according to the email.

There will be a priority for classes that are required for major progression to be offered both online and face-to-face. 

"President Caslen has made the commitment that all individuals who do not want to be on campus this fall will be accommodated," according to the email.

For the professors that do not want to teach on campus or remotely, potential accommodations could be made but "require approval of a modified duties plan" according to ACAF 1.6.

The new fall schedule will be finalized as soon as possible, "certainly by June 1 at the very latest"

"After the fall semester has changed, all students will be given the opportunity to be re-advised in light of any changes to mode of delivery," according to the email. 

Stensland said the details are still being worked out and the provost’s office is currently seeking feedback from individual academic units.


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