Western Carolina University is focused on providing our students with a quality education and preparation for responsible citizenship in a changing world. Our core values embrace excellent teaching, scholarship, and service; collaboration with and respect for our communities; free and open interchange of ideas; cultural diversity and equal opportunity; responsible stewardship and organizational effectiveness; and environmental sustainability.
As we continue to offer courses and programs beyond the classroom, we are actively planning for the fall 2020 semester. We anticipate that we will be utilizing a variety of instructional arrangements with student success, faculty expertise and flexibility and staff support as our guides.
Instruction for the 2020 fall semester will consist of face-to-face, online, and hybrid courses. This will provide meaningful face-to-face interactions between faculty and students while meeting social distancing protocols and/or effective online instruction as necessary.
As the COVID-19 situation evolves, we may be required to move exclusively to online teaching, or another multimodal instructional strategy, for all courses. In the event of a rebound in local infections, remote options will be planned for and available to support continued physical distancing and to support vulnerable students and staff, students in quarantine or isolation, and students and staff who cannot physically return to campus.
A 3-hour Monday, Wednesday, Friday class may occur in one face-to-face meeting and two asynchronous or synchronous (online) meetings per week.
Face-to-face meetings will be limited in size to adhere to social distancing practices. A class of 30, for example, that meets in a classroom seating 15, under social distancing practices, may have 2 groups meeting face-to-face on alternate days.
Maintaining these face-to-face meetings while maintaining social distancing standards will provide students with the support needed and will allow for meaningful interactions between faculty and students.
As part of our preparations for August, the Provost's Office has partnered with Facilities Management, Institutional Planning and Effectiveness and the Registrar's Office to ensure faculty and students can return to classrooms (including at Biltmore Park) that accommodate the need for physical distancing.
Every classroom was inventoried and classified by type to determine capacity and the methods necessary to meet physical distancing guidelines. Where needed, new furniture was ordered and new classroom layouts were designed. This project involved the removal of 3,000 pieces of classroom furniture. The photos below show examples of classrooms before and after in Killian and Stillwell.
All 110-coded classrooms now have their furniture spaced for a minimum of six feet spacing between student stations. A signage project is currently underway, and is expected to be completed by end of business, this Friday, August 7th. Signage includes a wall poster indicating maximum occupancy, and the intended furniture layout. Floor stickers indicate the placement of each desk and table, and tabletop stickers indicate where to sit.
Recommended layouts to provide a minimum of six feet spacing between student workstations are actively being produced and distributed. All 210-coded room layouts should be distributed by end of business, this Friday, August 7th. The removal and movement of furniture in 210-coded spaces is to be locally managed by departments who are primary users of these spaces. Requests for furniture placement stickers (floor stickers, and table top stickers) can be made to the Print Shop. Requests for assistance with furniture moving and storage can be made to Facilities Management. Most academic buildings have storage space available in rooms designated for classroom furniture storage.
New classroom capacities, along with updated layouts and room photographs are being updated in 25Live as they become available. Users are encouraged to refer to 25Live for the most current information. It is anticipated that all spaces will be updated by end of business, Friday, August 7th.
The current guidance for accessible spaces is to arrange seating to allow a minimum of six feet between seats. This applies to break rooms, lounges, study spaces, and hallways. Facility coordinators can use their discretion as to which spaces remain accessible for use. Requests for assistance with furniture moving can be made to Facilities Management.
One of the hallmarks of our educational programs at WCU is an emphasis on experiential and applied learning. Clinical, laboratory, field-based, and service learning courses are critical components of many undergraduate and graduate programs.
Additionally, high impact practices such as first year experiences, service learning, capstones, and internships, are common educational approaches at WCU that require creativity and additional support to employ.
Faculty and staff have a number of resources available to facilitate incorporating experiential and applied learning elements in courses this fall when appropriate.