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Academics | Responsible Reopening

Academics Reopening Information

After careful review, the 2020 Fall Semester will be amended due to the current pandemic. The semester will begin as planned on August 24, 2020. However, there will be no Fall Break or final exam week. For undergraduate students, the semester will officially end at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, November 24, 2020.

This updated semester end coincides with the originally-planned Thanksgiving break. Both the first half semester session and second half semester session have been condensed to seven weeks (the start and end dates of both have been adjusted) and will not include any specific final exam days. Faculty members will develop alternatives to the traditional final exam week.

View the revised 2020-2021 Undergraduate Academic Calendar. The University registrar will begin updating dates to reflect these changes in Self-Service, and will work with the graduate program directors on addressing needed adjustments to the Graduate Calendar.

The goal of this model is to maximize personal interaction between faculty and students, and between students in a course, while reducing attendance density in classrooms, thus permitting proper social distancing. During each week of instruction, a portion of students in a given course will meet face-to-face in one class session, while the other portion participates and learns remotely. The next session meeting would have those two student groups switching places. Faculty members will be available to meet with students during office hours that will be held in-person and by phone or videoconference.

As a student-centered institution that offers a highly personalized-education, the University understands the importance of face-to-face learning and its impact on our students. This blended model will best position Mount Union to maintain social distancing guidelines and recommendations while preserving the integrity of the exceptional learning experiences students have come to expect.

The implementation of the Social Distancing Learning Model will be strengthened by a significant investment in faculty training and innovation. The faculty and administration of Mount Union have been planning for two years for the inauguration this summer of a new Faculty Development Center. Led by a respected member of the faculty and augmented by the recent hiring of a specialist in instructional design, the center will provide vital preparation for the Social Distancing Learning Model. A summer institute for faculty will present best practices for blending in-person and remote instruction to maximize learning, student engagement, and student success. These practices represent the most up-to-date teaching strategies in higher education that place students at the center of learning.

Academic Fall Reopening FAQs

  1. Can you provide an online-only attendance option to students who have significant risk factors and/or do not feel safe to be physically present for classes?

    Students may request online-only courses as an accommodation through the Office of Student Accessibility Services. Students will need to provide medical documentation that supports the need for their request. These requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Course availability will depend upon the most reasonable method of accommodating the student's need factoring in the available courses and sections, faculty input, and options for instructional methods.

  2. Can you limit attendance to classes so that students are not convening in large groups for class?

    For classes with more than 10 students enrolled, students will be split into smaller groups for in-person class meetings. The social distancing learning model (SDLM) leverages a flipped classroom approach to manage less frequent meetings of smaller groups of students.  Traditional "lecture" content will be delivered asynchronously in D2L with in-person class meetings focusing on experiential and/or hands-on learning.

  3. Can you ensure physical distancing in labs and other confined spaces that require in-person activities through measures like alternative scheduling? If not, is sufficient PPE in place and best practices available for faculty and students to maintain safety?

    Each lab space will have a maximum occupancy determined based upon social distancing guidelines. However, in situations in which students must share equipment, or be in close contact with peers or instructors, additional PPE will be made available to students and faculty to increase safety (e.g. eye protection, gloves).

  4. Can you reduce the attendance of any class held in person so that there can be physical distancing of >6 feet?

    Each teaching space has a newly established maximum capacity that conforms to the standard 6 feet for social distancing purposes. Classes larger than the maximum will be split into smaller groups, with face-to-face instruction occurring at least once per week. Situations in which instruction demands closer contact between students or students/faculty may require additional PPE and safety protocols.

  5. Will the University be transitioning any in-person courses to a fully-online format?

    Yes, the institution has approved an online-only delivery format for a small number of courses during the fall semester. The total number of courses that will be delivered online represents a mere 9% of all courses being offered this fall.

    Each course that has moved to a fully online format this summer underwent an approval process involving each faculty member’s Dean, the Provost, and the Registrar. Each faculty member who is teaching online will meet with the university’s Instructional Designer before the course begins, where they can receive feedback and make necessary changes before the launch of the 2020 fall semester.

    We understand that students may desire to have more in-class interaction this upcoming semester. Thus, we suggest that students reach out to the Office of the Registrar to explore the potential for making adjustments to their fall schedule. They can be reached by email at registar@mountunion.edu or by calling (330) 823-6018.

  6. What steps has Mount Union taken to insure that any courses of which have transferred to a fully-online format will continue to meet the academic integrity and rigor the University has always provided?

    This summer, starting in June, the University of Mount Union offered an online course to all instructors to prepare them for teaching during the COVID-19 era, a period in education that brings challenges to educators, students, and schools across the globe. The training emphasizes strategies for creating courses that are clear, engaging, equitable, and inclusive, and that can be delivered in face-to-face, hybrid, and in fully online formats. Faculty also attended trainings in how to utilize a number of tools that allow students to collaborate at a safe distance in person and online. While there are clearly differences in online and face-to-face learning, we have prepared faculty deliver lively, engaging spaces for learners.

  7. Can you create alternate class schedules for courses (for instance finishing before Thanksgiving to avoid the potential fall/winter second wave)?

    After careful review, the 2020 Fall Semester will be amended due to the current pandemic. The semester will begin as planned on August 24, 2020. However, there will be no Fall Break or final exam week. The semester will officially end at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, November 24, 2020.

    This updated semester end coincides with the originally-planned Thanksgiving break. Both the first half semester session and second half semester session have been condensed to seven weeks (the start and end dates of both have been adjusted) and will not include any specific final exam days. Faculty members will develop alternatives to the traditional final exam week.

    View the revised 2020-2021 Undergraduate Academic Calendar. The University registrar will begin updating dates to reflect these changes in Self-Service, and will work with the graduate program directors on addressing needed adjustments to the Graduate Calendar.

  8. Are measures in place to support students who may not have computers or internet services capable of hybrid learning?

    Students presenting concerns regarding technology are referred to the Office of Information Technology (IT) Help Desk, where support staff will assist them. 

  9. What if I get sick, and need to miss a significant amount of my classes?

    The first consideration is making sure that you are getting the support that you need to recover as quickly as possible. If you are able, communicate your situation to the Student Health Center, your advisor, or your resident director (if applicable). Managing a long absence requires coordinated communication with faculty and your academic advisor in order to make the best decisions regarding your academic progress. 

    It is critical that symptomatic or exposed individuals not physically attend class or work or participate in other campus community activities. Students in quarantine/isolation should work with the Office of Student Accessibility Services regarding accommodations required for the continuation of their coursework.

Academics Responsible Reopening Resources

View more resources with regard to Mount Union's Fall 2020 Responsible Reopening and academics at the University.