Communication 5: Spring 2021 Planning

Greetings Colleagues,

I am writing to share with you that the Academic Planning Advisory Committee has started meeting to plan for the Spring 2021 semester.  The general outlook for the spring semester looks very similar to our present condition with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although there may be a vaccine available sometime in the spring, it is unlikely that it will be widely available to members of the campus community as initial doses are typically directed towards first responders and individuals at greatest risk.  Most analysts believe that widespread access to the vaccine will not be available until late in the second quarter or early in the third quarter of 2021 at the earliest.  Our planning is based, as always, on maximizing the health and safety of the campus community.  With this consideration in mind, I want to share some important updates.

First, faculty will soon be receiving a survey to solicit their preferred teaching mode for courses they are scheduled to teach in the spring semester.  The selection options (on-ground, hybrid, or remote) for the spring semester will have remote delivery set as the default.  This notification is intended to allow you some time to think through your options between now and the delivery of the survey next week.  Our intention is to have the relevant delivery mode identified in the course schedule by October 15, so that students can see how all courses will be taught in advance of making their schedules.

Once your preferences are received, the same process will be followed as was used in developing the fall semester schedule.  Your Dean will review your preferred choices, discuss with you any potential changes to your preferred mode of instruction, and then the staff of the college will submit the Schedule Section Change Form for every class to the Office of Records and Registration for updating in Banner.

Second, the Academic Planning Advisory Committee has started discussion of the calendar for spring semester.  There is still some time before decisions about the spring calendar need to be made, but I want to share with you what the current thought is about spring so that you can begin thinking about the implications of these potential changes to the calendar on your approach to teaching and learning.  The two major changes under consideration are moving the start date of the spring semester from Tuesday, January 19, 2021 to Monday, January 25, 2021, and cancelling Spring Recess currently scheduled from Monday, March 15 through Friday, March 19, 2021.  If these proposals are adopted, the spring semester would end on its currently scheduled date (Wednesday, May 19, 2021) when final grades are due.  In conjunction with the possible elimination of spring break, the Committee would engage with the Division of Student Affairs and with the Campus Senate to provide activities designed to alleviate stress and foster decompression during the week original designated for spring break.

I want to thank every member of the campus community for their dedication and perseverance to the UIS Mission during these trying times.  The UIS commitment to providing safe access to world-class teaching across multiple teaching modalities remains at the forefront of our deliberations and decision-making.  More significant, because of the commitment of our faculty, staff, and students, our efforts to open for fall semester have thus far been successful.  Our goal is to extend that success into spring semester.  Thank you for all of your efforts!

Dennis R. Papini
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs & Provost