Despite all the challenges of the COVID-19 virus, our faculty want you to progress through Westminster’s high-quality curriculum. We recognize the need to be flexible. We also want you to have the benefit of learning within a community of students. The “We in Westminster” is powerful when it comes to your education.
The academic calendar is the starting point for our 2020-2021 planning. It is the framework around which we build our year.
The faculty adopted a compressed academic schedule for the year, during which students will take the same number of courses they normally do, but in a schedule that limits time away from campus during the semester.
Tuesday, January 19 is the first day of classes.
Thursday, February 18, and Tuesday, March 16, are self-care days on which no classes will be held. There will be no spring break.
Friday, April 2 is Good Friday. No classes will be held, but campus will remain open.
Wednesday, April 21 is URAC: Undergraduate Research and Arts Celebration.
Friday, April 30 is the last day of classes. The final exam period is Monday, May 3-Thursday, May 6.
Saturday, May 8 is Commencement.
In order to allow as many classes to meet safely face-to-face as possible, we have created some new classroom locations and class times.
In order to spread classes across the day (and to spread out lunchtime traffic), the MWF 11:40-12:40 common lunch period has been eliminated. Classes have been scheduled during this timeframe, and dining hours have been adjusted to accommodate the new daily schedule.
Over the summer, we determined the “physical distancing” capacity of our classrooms and labs (that is, room capacity limits that allow 6 feet between people) and identified areas of campus where we can hold larger classes and still allow for physical distancing. When the weather is pleasant, faculty members may hold class sessions outside.
New indoor classroom spaces include:
These spaces have been furnished with desks, white boards and the basic technology you would expect to see in a classroom.
Due to the pandemic, courses are being taught using three different modalities: face-to-face, hybrid and online only.
Many of your courses are being offered face-to-face, particularly when enrollments are small and they are scheduled in rooms that are large enough for physical distancing. All classrooms, labs and studios are configured so that students are 6 feet apart. On the Undergraduate Schedule of Classes, such courses have a building and room number in the Location column.
Some faculty members are teaching in a hybrid format, which include a combination of face-to-face and remote learning. This will look different for each faculty member, and you will receive information from your professors about how they will approach the hybrid environment. In some cases, this may mean that a subgroup of students will meet in the classroom for one session while another subgroup participates in the class session remotely; for the next meeting, the subgroups will switch and the first subgroup will view the class session remotely. In other cases, professors may meet with all students in the classroom for one session, and then the next session will be remote for everyone. Again, your professors will communicate with you about how your specific hybrid classes are structured. These courses will be noted ‘Hybrid’ in the Location column of the Undergraduate Schedule of Classes.
A small group of faculty members are teaching their courses entirely online this year. These professors will communicate with you about how you will learn in the course and the online platform through which you will receive instruction. These courses will be noted ‘Online’ in the Location column of the Undergraduate Schedule of Classes.
IT Services (ITS) implemented a variety of technological enhancements to support teaching and learning in this unprecedented environment. Web cameras were installed in all classrooms across campus to enable hybrid teaching and learning options. We also invested in additional Zoom licenses and a lecture streaming platform that integrates with D2L to make online learning as seamless as possible.
Faculty are preparing for the possibility that individual students may need to learn remotely for a variety of reasons, including illness, quarantine or isolation protocols, or a high risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
If you need academic accommodations due to COVID-19, please contact Faith Craig (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the Disability Resources Office prior to your scheduled move-in day to identify that you need to participate in classes remotely, and she will help you work with your professors.
If you need to adjust your fall schedule, please contact your academic advisor via email. The deadline to add or drop a spring semester course is Tuesday, January 26, as reflected on the 2020-2021 Academic Calendar.
For students in the nursing program, we continue to work closely with directors at the UPMC Jameson School of Nursing on how clinical experiences will take place this year. Westminster’s nursing faculty will provide you with informational updates as the year progresses, and we remain committed to protecting your health and safety during your clinical experiences.
Similarly, School of Education faculty members are working with local school districts to ensure appropriate protocols for student teachers. K-12 classrooms look different this year, and can change from week to week. We will work to ensure that you have the kinds of experiences that lead toward your teaching certification while protecting your health.
McGill Library is open, and our library faculty and staff are ready to help with your information needs. Some spaces have been converted to classrooms, and areas like the HUB have fewer seats to promote physical distancing. Computers are still located throughout McGill, and you can reserve study rooms through the Reserve a Campus Location site. Online resources, including databases, journals and e-books are always available.
The Academic Success Center continues to provide peer tutoring this year, primarily through virtual tutoring sessions. Our trained tutors can support you in a variety of courses, as well as in skill development (e.g., effective studying, time management). You can schedule a tutoring appointment on the ASC website.
The Professional Development Center continues to be an important resource as you develop your resumes, prepare for interviews (including access to business clothing in the Career Closet), develop your professional social media presence, connect with professional mentors and search for internships and jobs. Many of these services can be provided remotely, and you may schedule an appointment through your Handshake account. The login information is the same as your Westminster login and password.
In response to the disrupted learning environment created by the coronavirus and its potential effects on student performance, Westminster College is modifying the grading policy outlined in the 2020-2021 Undergraduate Catalog, pp. 14-15. For the Fall 2020 semester only, the following policy will apply:
Students currently enrolled in a cluster must earn either a passing letter grade, Pass, or CR in both courses to complete the requirement. For repeated courses, the most recent grade—letter or alternative—will replace the previous attempt, but alternative grades will not factor into the calculation of the student’s term and overall grade point average. The P/CR/NC option may not be available in all programs or classes. Externally accredited programs in Education, Music, and Nursing may not permit P/CR/NC grades. Students in these programs should consult with their academic adviser or the Registrar about specific restrictions when considering grading options for Fall 2020 courses. In any instance where there is an external need for a letter grade—e.g., graduate and professional programs—and P/CR/NC is selected, Westminster College cannot take responsibility for the student’s choice and will have little, if any, ability to remedy the situation. The P/CR/NC option does not apply to S/U courses or Fall 2020 courses for which a grade has already been earned.
Students are not required to move to the P/CR/NC option, but they may opt into it for any or all classes. Students have until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, December 15 to opt into P/CR/NC via the grade selection form below. They may opt in prior to this time by submitting the form. Westminster College will include a designation on all students' transcripts indicating the extraordinary circumstances encountered in the Fall 2020 semester.