Westminster faculty members have been working this summer to create flexibility in response to the COVID-19 virus. We want all Titans to be able to progress through Westminster’s high-quality curriculum that is guided by dedicated faculty members who want you to succeed. 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 fall, 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.
The first day of classes is Monday, August 17.
There will be no fall break.
The last day of classes is Friday, November 20. The final exam period is Saturday, November 21-Wednesday, November 25.
The last day to add or drop a course is August 24.
Students will return home at Thanksgiving and will not return to campus until the spring semester begins.
In order to allow as many classes to meet safely face-to-face as possible, the locations and times of some fall semester courses have changed.
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 will be scheduled during this timeframe, and dining hours will be 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. While the weather is pleasant, faculty members may hold class sessions outside.
New indoor classroom spaces include:
These spaces are being furnished with desks, white boards and the basic technology you would expect to see in a classroom.
Due to the pandemic, courses will be taught using three different modalities: face-to-face, hybrid and online only.
Many of your courses will be offered face-to-face, particularly when enrollments are small and in rooms that are large enough for physical distancing. All classrooms, labs and studios will be 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 will teach your class in a hybrid format, which will 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 will be structured. These courses will be noted ‘Hybrid’ in the Location column of the Undergraduate Schedule of Classes.
A small group of faculty members will be teaching their courses online entirely this fall. 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) is actively working on technological enhancements to support teaching and learning in this unprecedented environment. We are installing web cameras in classrooms across campus to enable hybrid teaching and learning options. We are also investing in additional Zoom licenses and a lecture streaming platform that will integrate with D2L to make online learning as seamless as possible.
Equipment is being purchased to meet short-term and long-term needs for teaching and learning in the current environment (webcams, audio amplification for larger spaces, etc.).
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 course is August 24, 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 fall. Westminster’s nursing faculty will provide you with informational updates as the summer continues, 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 are going to look different this fall, and we will work to ensure that you have the kinds of experiences that lead toward your teaching certification while protecting your health.
McGill Library will be open, and our library faculty and staff are ready to help with your information needs. You will find that some spaces have been converted to classrooms, and areas like the HUB may have fewer seats to promote physical distancing. You will still find computers 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 will continue to provide peer tutoring this fall, primarily through virtual tutoring sessions. Our trained tutors will be able to 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 also will continue helping 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.