Faculty bristle at mandated in-person instruction during COVID-19 pandemic Tuesday, Jan 11 2022 

By Madelin Shelton — 

U of L started the Spring semester in controversy this week, as the administration has received pushback for requiring faculty to teach in-person.

College of Arts & Sciences Dean David Owen sent a reminder to faculty Jan. 4 of the university’s COVID-19 policy. Included in the policy was a refusal to allow faculty to change the modality of the courses. That’s the way courses are delivered as set out in the Schedule of Courses, such as face-to-face or virtually.

Dozens of faculty expressed outrage at the perceived lack of flexibility in the policy, as it doesn’t appear to allow professors to switch from teaching face-to-face to online —even temporarily—unless they must isolate due to COVID exposure or illness.

Faculty members expressed concern for colleagues with children who are not old enough to receive the vaccine, and who see switching to online instruction as the best way to protect their families.

Dr. Tracy K’Meyer, a Professor of History at U of L, described her initial response to the policy. “This idea that we would, across the board, have no flexibility sparked a gut reaction in me that said that’s not fair, that’s not right.”

K’Meyer also said that as far as she knew, there was no appeal or exemption process for faculty to follow. One of her colleagues requested to conduct the first two weeks of classes online because she had a baby too young to be vaccinated, but her request was allegedly denied by university administration.

Owen is reported to have contacted the department chairs in the College of A&S Sunday to tell them that in-person classes were not to be moved to an online format and violating that policy could result in disciplinary action.

At a regularly scheduled College of A&S meeting on Monday that included Owen and A&S faculty, Owen reiterated that he was taking the stance on the policy that Interim President Lori Gonzalez had taken and that there was “no wiggle room.”

There is a petition signed by more than 500 professors, staff, students and other U of L community members opposing the policy.

“The University of Louisville Chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) fully supports the autonomy of University of Louisville Faculty and their right to make flexible choices concerning course delivery modality for the Spring 2022 semester,” the U of L AAUP chapter said in a statement. “Foregrounded in academic professionalism, the desire for flexibility is intended to promote student learning and success in these times of anxiety and uncertainty.”

The College of A&S Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee also came out in opposition to the policy. “The College of Arts and Sciences’ Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee stands in support and solidarity with A&S faculty, staff, and students’ right to teach, work, and learn in any modality that supports their health and safety. In conjunction with A&S leadership, any change to course, work, or learning modalities will uphold ‘our mission of providing an excellent education for our students while also ensuring the health and safety of everyone in the process.’”

The Louisville Cardinal reached out to Owen for an interview that was scheduled for this past Saturday concerning this issue, but it was canceled by his office. Further reporting on this issue will take place after a rescheduled interview.

Photo Courtesy // The Courier-Journal

 

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Incoming freshmen: Here’s how to prep for you first college semester Wednesday, Mar 31 2021 

By Catherine Brown–

Many prospective students will be receiving their acceptance letter from the University of Louisville soon. And while the college experience during the COVID-19 pandemic might look slightly different than your high school experience. Here are a few tips and tricks to make the best out of your college experience.

 

Come prepared.

Read the syllabus before the beginning of the semester to know what your professor expects from you.

In fall 2021, U of L will offer face-to-face and 100% distance education class options. Although classes will be marked as either 100% digital or face-to-face, professors can incorporate hybrid elements to their class. Ensure that the class meets in a way that you feel comfortable.

If you plan to live on-campus, make sure your housing situation allows you to be as safe as possible while being considerate of others. Bring plenty of masks with you and sanitize surfaces in your room often. If you live with a roommate, give them plenty of space within the room. If this makes you uncomfortable, consider living at home for at least one semester.

Have a contingency plan just in case you or someone you came into contact with catches the virus. Meet with other students in your classes virtually who can help you make up assignments or give you class notes.

 

Budget your money well.

As a college student, you’re going to be faced with several choices throughout your college career. For some of us, budgeting is a bigger issue during the pandemic. 

Don’t just buy all of your textbooks before the school year starts. The best tip to avoid breaking the bank is to wait until you get through your first week of classes to start purchasing textbooks. Give yourself time so that you can determine how serious the professor is about using the assigned reading.

Along the same vein–don’t purchase your textbooks from the bookstore unless you can’t find cheaper alternatives. Take time to shop around for an online version or rental copy of your textbook. Use the book’s ISBN to search on Amazon and Chegg for cheaper versions. The ISBN is located on the back near the barcode or within the first few pages of the book, it should start with the numbers 978 and be 13 digits long.

Take advantage of student discounts. Once you have access to your U of L email account, you have access to student discounts on many platforms including Amazon Prime, Spotify and Apple Music to name just a few.

Students also get all of Adobe’s Creative Cloud products for free, as well as, free visits to the Speed Art Museum (located on campus), and free TARC fare. The TARC, or the Transit Authority of the River City, is Louisville’s public bus transport system and can get you anywhere in the city.

These discounts could end up being life savers when you need textbooks shipped or don’t feel comfortable shopping in-person. Student’s Cardinal Card and email address offer great opportunities for students to cope with stress and take their mind off of things at any point during the semester.

 

Give yourself time to breathe.

Don’t schedule classes so close together. Give yourself time to travel between classes. If your class schedule requires you to travel to the other side of campus in just 10 minutes, you might be scheduling your classes incorrectly. Keep travel time in mind and make sure you have at least 15 minutes between the end of one class to the start of another. You never know when a professor might hold you later than expected.

If you attend all of your classes online, you might want to avoid scheduling classes so close together, too. With classes so close together, you could end up with burnout from Zoom fatigue and become overwhelmed from the constant meetings. Take at least 15 minutes to yourself between online classes at minimum.

The past three semesters have been unconventional. You probably didn’t expect your college experience to be so abnormal.

The college experience is supposed to include in-person classes and learning with their fellow peers about topics that they want to potentially dedicate their lives to,” said Abby Huether, a writer for Colorado State University’s features magazine College Avenue.

“But due to COVID-19, college students this semester were forced to make a choice between either continuing their education, which might mean potentially lower-value classes, all while paying the same tuition, or taking a semester off, leaving many students floundering with no idea of what to do with their life,” Huether said.

We all need to take a breather once in a while.

 

Most important of all–keep yourself healthy.

If you plan to take face-to-face classes, remember to keep your mask over your mouth and nose at all times and stay socially distanced from others.

Destiny Smith, a sophomore nursing major, recommends that all students wear a mask, wipe down surfaces that they touch, and wash their hands after leaving every class.

Be in tune with your mental wellbeing, as well. When you start to feel overwhelmed, look for ways to cope with this stress. The university’s Counseling Center offers a helpful toolkit for students to follow with tips and resources.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L prepares transition for in-person fall semester Monday, Mar 15 2021 

By Madelin Shelton — 

The university announced on March 13 that it plans to make a “return to normal” for fall 2021 by having more in-person courses. The decision comes after six months of planning from the Academic Scenario Planning Committee and the Coordinating Committee.

“In our case, a return to normal means we expect to offer students a robust residential experience with in-person classes and fully staffed student services again,” Executive Vice President and University Provost Beth Boehm said.

Elements of this plan include a fall 2021 schedule with face-to-face and 100% digital course designations and incorporating some online expectation into in-person courses. Most courses will be in person, but some online courses will be available for students that accommodate their learning styles and schedules.

In addition, any combination of in-person and online courses may be taken for the same resident or nonresident full-time rate.

Boehm said in the email that the university will still be prepared to flip some in-person courses to online or hybrid if the pandemic continues into the fall.

However, hybrid courses will not be continuing into the fall. “Because many students and faculty find the hybrid designation confusing, and because we do not expect to be required to physically distance to the same extent as this year, all courses will be marked as either face-to-face or 100% digital,” Boehm said.

“As always, our priority this fall will be to keep faculty, staff and students safe on campus while providing a first-class, in-person education for students,” Boehm said.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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