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Message from the Provost (sent to the Faculty and Staff on 06/18/2020)

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for your continued patience and hard work as we plan for a fall semester that may be the most unusual in our history. As you know, we have a number of committees or workgroups providing recommendations on a variety of issues related to our COVID-19 response. It’s important you continue to check your email regularly as the workgroup recommendations are released.

I’d like to thank the members of the Return to Class Committee, led by Interim EHS Dean, Maureen Cluskey, for preparing a set of recommendations regarding our return to class this fall. In this message, I want to preview a few key points that will help guide faculty and staff members. I anticipate a full set of guidelines from the committee next week.

The Return to Class committee asked me to share the guiding principles they used to develop the recommendations the university has adopted. These principles support the mission, vision and core values of Bradley University:

  • We acknowledge the importance of in-person learning to engage and empower students for immediate and sustained success while supporting the health and personal needs of students, faculty, and staff during this global pandemic. This is a challenging task.

  • We believe the student’s academic experience, while different, must remain of the highest quality.

  • We believe the process is collaborative and respectful.

  • We believe the faculty, chairs and deans should develop the appropriate pedagogy for the delivery of courses.

  • We know it will take cooperation and consideration from the entire Bradley family —  students, faculty and staff — to have a successful year.

The committee’s recommendations will assist in planning and implementing a productive return to class for the fall 2020 semester:

Academic Calendar Decisions

Classes will begin Aug. 26 and finish Tuesday, Dec. 8. Wednesday, Dec. 9 will be Study Day and the final exam period will be as scheduled, starting Dec. 10 and ending Dec. 16. All academic deadlines will remain as posted (i.e., add, drop, IN, IP dates). The university has canceled the traditional Fall Break and will hold class Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 12-13. Bradley will not, however, hold class Monday or Tuesday, Nov. 23-24, prior to Thanksgiving. Students won’t return to campus after Thanksgiving, but will attend classes virtually through the end of the semester instead. I expect faculty to teach through the end of the semester and not end their classes at Thanksgiving.

Course Schedules and Classroom Capacity

Bradley will maintain its current schedule of classes with proper physical distancing and will allow no more than 50 people physically present per class. The committee recommends holding classes in their assigned classrooms, face to face, if possible. Teams have measured the majority of classrooms and determined the COVID-19 capacity of each. The deans have access to this information and each has designated a staff member to manage any changes to class locations. You will receive those details when the full set of guidelines from the committee is released. Any changes to the current classroom schedules must be made through this designated group to make the best possible use of classroom space for everyone’s benefit.

Bradley does not have ample space to observe physical distancing for every course and their respective campus-based classrooms and still have the entire enrolled class together. You should be aware some course content may be delivered in synchronous or asynchronous online modes due to these capacity guidelines. This means you will probably have to deliver course content both face to face and virtually/online. I know this isn’t ideal, but we must adapt to these unusual circumstances. Creative delivery of course content will be the responsibility of the deans, department chairs and faculty members. I hope you’re able to take some time this summer to prepare, and I will continue to provide you with more information about virtual/online options in the coming weeks.

All faculty members should prepare to pivot course content entirely online if the university has to make the transition to teaching completely online as we did in March 2020. Additionally, there may be a scenario where a student has to self-isolate and not attend face-to-face classes, so it is imperative we can deliver classes online at any time during the semester.

Canvas/Sakai

Bradley recently announced the adoption of Canvas as a Learning Management System (LMS). I want to remind you you’re not required to convert to Canvas immediately. Sakai will remain in place for this academic year and Canvas will be an option if you so choose. The university  adopted Canvas based on feedback received from a number of campus individuals who have had an opportunity to test this learning system and its enhanced online learning capabilities.

Online Course Development training

The Fundamentals in Online Learning & Design (FOLD) Institute consists of asynchronous modules, time for individual course planning, practice using digital tools, and synchronous meetings with faculty cohort members and the facilitator/coach to discuss teaching strategies. FOLD lessons are relevant to both Sakai and Canvas platforms. The first institute started June 15 with over 70 people participating. Two more institutes will be offered June 29-July 10 and July 13-24. You can click here for more information and to register for FOLD.

Guidelines and Expectations

The Return to Work team recently shared the university’s expectations and guidelines all employees must adhere to while working on campus. These are guidelines regarding facial coverings, symptom monitoring, elevator usage, building access, meeting protocols, cleaning and disinfecting processes, and more. A FAQ page was developed and will be updated regularly. Other key decision points will be added as they are determined; many will be directly communicated to you.