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Return to Campus Letter #5: Clarifying the Different Course Modalities for Fall 2021


Return to Campus Letter #5

April 28, 2021

Dear Brooklyn College community,

This Return to Campus Letter is the fifth in a series describing our preparations for the fall and highlighting our attention to health and safety in that work.

In my last letter, I discussed the Brooklyn College Reentry Review Board, which is revising our Reentry Plan in preparation for a gradual return to campus. In this letter, I will discuss the in person, online, and hybrid classes we will offer in the Fall 2021 semester.

Our facilities and environmental health and safety teams are working throughout the campus to assess the ventilation, safety, and capacity of our interior spaces. They are focusing at this time on the academic spaces identified by Chairs and Deans as priorities. We are assuming a continued requirement of six feet of social distancing between people in all parts of the campus, including in our classrooms. We plan to post safe capacity signage outside the doors of these rooms.

Six feet of social distancing limits the use of interior spaces on campus. It means that, even when a space is well-ventilated, we must reduce occupancy in our classrooms, offices, and common areas. For example, although an auditorium may ordinarily hold 100 people, six feet of social distancing may reduce its maximum occupancy to 25 or fewer.

This fall, to enhance the safety of the entire Brooklyn College community, we plan to offer a mixture of in person, online, and hybrid classes. I’d like to discuss what each of these designations means.

“In person” classes will be offered in a safe and socially distanced way on campus at every class session throughout the semester. In general, only small classes that need to meet on campus for access to specialized equipment, facilities, or for other educational reasons will be offered in person. In person small classes will be offered in larger classrooms to provide sufficient space for social distancing between people.

“Online” classes will be held entirely off campus. They will utilize the range on online tools available to bring classes together for learning, including Zoom and Blackboard. Online classes will ordinarily be offered in a synchronous format, assigned to meet remotely at consistent, particular times each week. Some online classes, however, may be offered in an asynchronous format without a designated time, or in a combination of synchronous and asynchronous formats, as designated by the professors of those classes.

“Hybrid” classes will ordinarily be offered partly on campus and partly online; however, the word “hybrid” has different meanings across the faculty. In the School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences, for example, hybrid may refer to classes that are online for lectures but have students grouped in small pods that rotate on campus for laboratory work. In the School of Visual, Media, and Performing Arts, hybrid may refer to classes that are mostly online but include practice or rehearsal time on campus, particularly with instruments that students do not have access to at home. In the School of Education, hybrid may refer to classes that are online but also require field work in a local elementary or high school. We are developing a taxonomy of what hybrid means across classes. The section on class patterns in CUNYfirst may indicate this information by class already, and we are working to make this section more specific.

We do not expect uniformity across academic departments or programs in terms of the percentage of classes they offer in person, online, or in hybrid format. Courses have different educational needs in terms of access to the facilities on campus.

Moreover, courses may need to convert to online as conditions change over the summer and fall. Please be aware of the possibility of these changes, and regularly review your registration for changes in course modality to ensure that you are taking the classes you want in the format you prefer.

We are working on issues related to possible study spaces, including the ability to take online classes on campus, and connectivity enhancements. I will update you when we have finalized those matters. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue our work in earnest.

In the meantime, you are eligible for a free vaccination against COVID-19, and all City-run vaccination sites are now open for walk-in appointments. I urge you to get vaccinated.

I will issue a Return to Campus Letter #6 next week.

Yours sincerely,

Michelle J. Anderson

President, Brooklyn College

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