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Monday, June 05, 2023 — Houston, TX

Academic Restart Committee outlines fall calendar

Daily class schedules will change: longer classes, 20 minutes between classes


Yi Luo / Thresher

By Brian Lin     6/18/20 6:33pm

In an email to faculty, the Academic Restart Committee announced the first set of decisions for the fall semester: there will be an “independent study” week after Thanksgiving break until Dec. 4, finals will be given remotely and daily schedules will shift to accommodate a maximum class size of 50 people.

In-person classes will begin on Aug. 24 as originally scheduled and end on Friday, Nov. 20, followed immediately by a weeklong Thanksgiving break. By ending in-person instruction before Thanksgiving break, students can leave for the break and not return to campus until next semester, according to Christopher Johns-Krull, the Academic Restart Committee chair.  

After the break ends on Nov. 30, there will be an ”independent study” week, during which, there will be no class meetings but essays and homework can be made due on December 3-4, the last two days of the week.

The study day period and exam period remain the same as originally scheduled — study days will be from Dec. 5 - 8, and exams will take place on Dec. 9-16, according to Johns-Krull. 

Final exams taken will be conducted remotely, and presentations that are due after Nov. 20 will be presented online. 

The Academic Restart Committee strongly recommends that instructors give final exams based on the take-home, open book or open note format specified by General Announcements policy, just as they did in the past spring. The Academic Restart Committee encourages instructors to release take-home exams by Nov. 30, but their release is not required until Dec. 7 at the latest. 

“Maintaining Dec. 4 as the official end of classes and maintaining the schedule of study days and final exam period prevents potential negative impacts to financial aid,” Johns-Krull wrote. 

The Academic Restart Committee canceled the two-day midterm recess, which typically lies in mid-October, but Labor Day, which occurs Sept. 7, will still be a holiday with no classes scheduled. Thanksgiving break is to occur between November 20-30, or between the end of in-person instruction and the beginning of the “independent study” week. 

Classes will be held on Election Day, Nov. 3, but no assignments can be made due on that day and class material must be available online. 

“The special handling of Election Day is required because of uncertainties around the ability of members of our community to be able to vote in a safe and timely manner caused by COVID-19,” Krull wrote.

Daily schedules and the format of classes may change because of new limits on class sizes. Courses that have over 100 students enrolled will be exclusively taught online.

By default, classes of 50-99 students will be taught online, but instructors can request to teach both in person and online with up to 50 students attending in person and the rest learning online. The Academic Restart Committee will soon release guidelines on how to navigate dual-delivery for classes of 50-99 students, with the possibility of dividing the course into smaller sections. 

Students’ daily schedules will change because of the accommodations above, and the time to transition between class meetings has been extended to 20 minutes, from 10, to prevent overcrowding in hallways and at exits. Classes will be five minutes longer to meet the required contact time.

This story will be updated with more information.

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