Oct. 7, 2020
Today, Chancellor Phil DiStefano announced that the campus will transition from our current remote teaching mode of operation and resume in-person and hybrid in-person teaching on Wednesday, Oct. 14.
I’m writing today to provide information and direction on how this announcement affects instruction and other key academic elements for the remainder of the fall semester.
Return to On-Campus Teaching Activities
Transitioning back to in-person teaching and learning will require clear communication among instructors, students, and academic leadership.
- We expect most classes to fully return to their original fall 2020 instructional modes by Oct. 14, with exceptions based on specific public health requirements and individual faculty requests, subject to department chair and dean approvals.
- All instructors should immediately communicate with their students to give them clear and specific guidance on when and how they will transition back to an on-campus teaching experience. Make your expectations clear regarding upcoming assignments and class attendance.
- Students who have questions should check with their instructors for further guidance.
- Instructional personnel should consult with their chairs, directors and/or deans to resolve any logistical challenges associated with the transition back to on-campus teaching activities.
- Some departments/programs, colleges/schools and individual faculty have asked to return to on-campus, in-person teaching before Oct. 14. Faculty should work with their departments/deans to ensure that any early return to in-person instruction is conducted in an orderly, effective, and equitable manner, keeping in mind the needs and challenges of our students. Students should not be penalized if they are unable to attend class in person before Oct. 14.
- We’ve created a new set of FAQs for our return to the in-person/hybrid instructional model.
Fall Semester Grading
All current pass/fail standards, deadlines and limitations will remain in place for the fall 2020 semester. The spring 2020 easing of pass/fail restrictions will not be repeated.
As of fall 2020, the deadline to make a decision on whether to exercise the pass/fail option has been permanently extended to the end of the 10th week of academic instruction (Oct. 30, prorated for shorter-term courses). In addition, due to requirements from the Colorado Department of Higher Education, CU Boulder will retain the P+ designation to designate pass/fail grades where the underlying letter grade earned was C- or higher.
While the pandemic persists, it is more important than ever that instructors provide their students with meaningful and specific course progress reports before that deadline, so that students are in a position to make sound grading-option decisions. Before Oct. 30, instructors must communicate with students in a clear and easily accessible fashion about their course performance to date, and should also respond promptly to any routine requests from our campus academic support units for updates on a student’s midterm grade status.
I urge all instructors who are teaching online or remotely to reflect on the fact that many of our students find this mode of learning more demanding than traditional in-person learning. Reach out to students who are struggling, and resist the temptation to compensate for the lack of in-person contact by assigning more work than is typical for the course.
Faculty Course Questionnaires (FCQs)
In spring and summer 2020, per my directive, the university began using a new faculty course questionnaire (FCQ) question set that was developed and piloted in 2016–17 by the three-campus FCQ Redesign Project. This new question set will continue to be used in fall 2020 and hereafter.
In spring and summer 2020, due to the short timeline to implement the new question set, custom questions could not be included on the FCQ. In addition, results were not posted or made available to anyone but the course instructor. As of fall 2020, departments, programs, colleges and schools can request custom FCQ questions, as has been usual practice, and FCQ results will again be available to department leads and administrators and posted on the FCQ Results page. I realize that many faculty and other instructional personnel are anxious about how FCQ results may be affected by the changes in teaching necessitated by COVID-19. I will be discussing this issue with chairs, directors and deans in the upcoming months to ensure that temporary dips in FCQ results are not viewed as a strike against an instructor when it comes to annual evaluations or future reviews for reappointment, tenure or promotion.
An announcement about our planning for spring semester, including instruction modalities and any changes in the academic calendar, will be made during the week of Oct. 19. The spring schedule of classes will be released on Nov. 2, and student registration for spring 2021 will begin on Nov. 9.
Please join me in thanking our students for their outstanding work in helping to turn the campus around in a positive way. Thanks to them, we are able to return to teaching and learning as we had planned it for this semester. Thank you for your continued hard work and dedication as we navigate these historic and challenging times.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs