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Important Updates for Your Fall Semester Classes

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Posted on Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Dear Titans:

I hope that your summer is going well and that you are looking forward to classes resuming this fall. As you likely have seen from President Richardson’s communications and Westminster’s social media, we plan to welcome you to campus next month. Classes will not necessarily look the same in the fall as they have in previous semesters, and so I wanted to give you a sense of what to expect as we make adjustments related to the COVID-19 virus. There are many important details about academic life, and I encourage you to read this email in its entirety.

When and When Are My Classes?

Classes begin on Monday, August 17, and we will not have a fall break this semester. Final exams conclude on Wednesday, November 25, and you will not return to campus until spring semester classes begin. You can view the current Academic Calendar on the College’s website, being sure to select the 2020-2021 tab.

Some of the locations and times for a few courses have changed to reduce overall classroom density. Several rooms on campus not typically used as classrooms have been adapted for use this fall. I encourage you to review your class schedule on my.Westminster or the Undergraduate Schedule of Classes to see how your class times and locations have been adjusted. In case additional adjustments are made before classes begin, you should verify your schedule when you arrive on campus.

How Will My Classes Be Formatted?

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.

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. 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, noted as Hybrid in the Location column. Hybrid courses 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. Remote portions of your classes will be enhanced by new cameras that allow faculty to live-stream class sessions. Again, your professors will communicate with you about how your specific hybrid classes will be structured.

A small group of faculty members will be teaching their courses online entirely this fall, noted as Online in the Location column. These professors will communicate with you about how you will learn in the course and through what online platforms.

What If I Have Health Vulnerabilities or Become Sick?

If you become sick this semester or are in a high-risk category for the COVID-19 virus, you can continue to participate in the excellent Westminster education that you have come to expect online or other virtual learning modalities. If you need academic accommodations due to COVID-19, please contact Ms. Faith Craig 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 and other offices on campus, including Residence Life and Financial Aid.

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, 2020, as reflected on the Academic Calendar.

What About Nursing Clinical Experiences and Student Teaching

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 members 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 will look different this fall, and we are working to ensure that you have the kinds of experiences that lead toward your teaching certification while protecting your health.

Are McGill Library, the Academic Success Center, and the Professional Development Center Open?

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 information 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 Center’s website.

The Professional Development Center also will continue helping you develop your résumés, 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 log-in and password.

e are looking forward to seeing you in just over a month. For our returning students, we have missed you. For our newest Titans, we cannot wait to meet you and make you a part of the “We in Westminster.” It is going to be a unique semester for us all, but Titans are no stranger to situations that are unique. And we certainly do not mind a challenge! Be well, and we will see you soon.

Dr. McMinn