Proactive planning for a successful spring semester.

University of Miami
Office of the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost logo
October 21, 2020
Dear Faculty,

Thank you for nine successful weeks of the Fall 2020 semester so far—we have learned many important lessons in providing our students with an enriching learning experience while managing to slow the spread of COVID-19 on campus, and not registering a single case of transmission in the classroom to date. This is remarkable and is, in no small part, due to your support of and dedication to our students and to one another.

We will remain vigilant, however, and with the benefit of our considerable public health expertise at UHealth, Miller School of Medicine, School of Nursing and Health Studies, and Emergency Management, we continue to proactively prepare for the anticipated impacts of COVID-19 over the coming weeks and months. To help guide our planning, we established the Ad Hoc Faculty Committee on Spring Semester Planning, which is composed of deans, assistant and associate provosts, and representatives from the Faculty Senate.

After careful deliberation, this committee and other University units have proposed important steps to ensure academic continuity by providing support for best practices in remote and in-person instruction and by promoting community well-being by reducing opportunities where transmission is likely to occur. Highlights include:
  • The revised Spring 2021 semester calendar (available here) is a compressed schedule that starts classes a week later while still ending classes as originally planned.
    • Classes begin on Monday, Jan. 25, and the semester ends Wednesday, May 12. Classes end Friday, April 30, with reading days scheduled May 1-4, and finals May 5-12
    • Spring recess is canceled. Health experts agree that limiting travel helps to reduce transmission both on campus and in the communities where students travel.
    • Introduction of two Wellness Wednesdays (March 3 and April 14) with no scheduled classes.
  • Spring faculty accommodation decisions have been made and course assignments and modalities are being updated now through Nov. 16.
  • Time between classes has been increased to 25 minutes. Revised class times will be shared at a later date.
  • Discontinuing the use of most classroom tents and many nontraditional classroom spaces across campus and moving into more conventional academic spaces, representing significant cost savings.
  • Continued investment in and promotion of student, faculty, and staff testing, contact tracing, surveillance tracking, physical distancing, protective equipment, and flu shots.
With six weeks until the end of the semester, what we do today will be of vital importance to our ability to stay the course, even as COVID-19 cases are expected to rise locally, nationally, and globally for the foreseeable future. While this can be daunting, I have full confidence in your commitment to making the right choices for your students and the University of Miami community.

As always, I welcome your feedback and encourage you to share what is working as well as what we can improve upon as we gear up for spring.

With profound respect and appreciation for all you do,
Jeffrey L. Duerk, Ph.D. signature
Jeffrey L. Duerk, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
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