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July 14 - To the Salve Regina community: Academics and the classroom experience

Dear Salve Regina community,

I would like to begin this weekly update by thanking you for the many thoughtful comments and questions that we received in response to our campus readiness plan, which we introduced last week. As we focus on the finer details of our plan, we continue to welcome and encourage your feedback. Please do not hesitate to submit your comments, questions or concerns to coronavirus@salve.edu or call (401) 341-2329.

In this week's message, I would like to focus on academics and the classroom experience for the upcoming semester. Our academic plan has been designed to maximize flexibility, minimize risk and respond to uncertainty. The plan accommodates a variety of possible scenarios, including staggered classes, students learning while in quarantine, faculty teaching while in quarantine, international students learning from their home nations, and students or faculty with health concerns choosing to learn or teach from home.

Even as we seek to preserve the traditional residential learning experience, our highest priority remains the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. Regardless of the challenges ahead, our faculty will continue to seek creative and interactive strategies to engage students deeply in the learning experience.

Learn more about dual modality and new classroom technologies in this video featuring Dr. Steve Rodenborn, dean of undergraduate studies, and Irving Bruckstein, chief information officer.

Courses in Dual Modality

Undergraduate and graduate courses will be offered in two modalities: in the classroom and remotely to allow for students to attend in person or virtually as circumstances change. All faculty will prepare their fall courses to accommodate students who are learning remotely, allowing students to keep their current course schedule even if they do not return to campus.

Undergraduate students who decide to learn remotely should email Page Cote in the Dean of Undergraduate Studies Office for further information. Graduate students who decide to learn remotely should email Tiffany McClanaghan in the Office of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education as soon as possible.

Some fall courses will be offered exclusively online, particularly in situations where faculty members are unable to teach on campus due to identified risk factors. Students can visit My Salve to see which courses will be taught online. Students who wish to add or drop an exclusively online course can change their schedule in My Salve or contact their faculty advisor for assistance.

Learning Continuity

Classroom spaces will be outfitted with videoconferencing systems and technology to enable livestreaming and lecture capture to access in real time or on demand, allowing learning continuity for students who are unable to attend class due to illness, quarantine, social distancing or other reasons. The technology will also allow students who cannot return to campus due to health concerns or border restrictions to enroll in a full-time schedule remotely.

Classroom Occupancies

Classroom occupancies will be reduced by 45-60 percent due to group size restrictions and social distancing requirements. To accommodate those restrictions, Salve Regina has identified additional classroom spaces and will extend the academic schedule to weekday evenings.

Learning Groups

Classroom spaces will be assigned based on enrollments that meet occupancy limitations. While some classes will be able meet in full, others will need to be organized so that classroom attendance is staggered or rotated due to social distancing requirements.

A learning group is defined as a subset of the enrolled class that will attend class sessions together when the course needs to be staggered.

For courses that meet twice each week, classes will be split into two learning groups, with one group attending in the physical classroom while the other group attends remotely. Learning groups will alternate on the second day. Classes that meet three times each week will be similarly divided to meet occupancy requirements.

Social Distancing and Face Coverings

In classroom spaces with mobile furniture, seating arrangements will correspond to social distancing standards. In spaces with immobile furniture, such as Bazarsky and DiStefano lecture halls, ropes and signage will direct students to appropriate seating. Students and faculty will maintain social distancing at all times, including in laboratories and during small group work.

To maintain social distancing in the hallways of academic buildings, classes will dismiss at varying times based on even and odd numbered rooms. Hallways that are narrower than eight feet in width will flow in one direction only.

Students and faculty will wear face coverings at all times. Students who refuse to wear face coverings will be asked to leave the classroom (excepting those with medical accommodations). Students whose accessibility will be limited by these protocols, including students who utilize lip reading, should contact the Office of Disability Services for guidance.

Cleaning and Ventilation

Disinfecting wipe stations and cleaning supplies will be provided in classrooms, office spaces and common areas across campus. Students and faculty will be required to wipe down their personal spaces when entering classrooms.

Cleaning and disinfection schedules will be increased across campus to meet or exceed Centers for Disease Control guidelines. All classrooms will be deep cleaned every evening.

HVAC systems will be set to increase the flow of outside air into buildings with air distribution systems. Before the fall semester begins, all systems will be checked for proper operation, filters will be changed and upgraded if possible and water systems will be flushed. In historic buildings without HVAC systems, occupants will be encouraged to open windows and doors to ensure maximum exposure to fresh air, as long as weather allows.

Laboratories and Experiential Learning

In order to accommodate social distancing and group size requirements, courses with a laboratory component will be adjusted to smaller sections with shortened times. Some music, dance and theater courses will be moved to larger spaces, and there will be no live audiences for performances. Education and social work students will continue with their community clinicals in accordance with placement guidelines. Nursing students will work in small groups in the simulation lab with aggressive cleaning procedures in place and appropriate PPE.

McKillop Library and Computer Labs

The library will remain open to the campus community, with substantially diminished seating capacity, and closed to the general public. Appointments will be required for the use of library tables and computer labs. In addition, computer labs will be accessible remotely via a new software solution, giving students who need access to specialized programs the ability to log in from anywhere, including their residences.

We will continue to provide you with weekly updates pertaining to the 2020-2021 academic year throughout the summer, most often on Tuesday afternoons. I hope you will also bookmark our Back to Salve website and visit it often, as new information will be added as details are finalized.

As a reminder, we have also scheduled three town hall meetings to provide the latest information and address your questions. Faculty and staff have already received an invitation to their town hall, which is scheduled for tomorrow at 2 p.m. Our two town halls for students and families will be held 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 22 and 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6. Invitations are forthcoming – please join us if you can.

My best,

Dr. Nancy Schreiber
Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs