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Academics

Overview

UC San Diego is planning to offer a small percentage of Fall 2020 courses using an in-person or hybrid modality, with the rest taught remotely. As arranged by departments and colleges, the in-person courses are primarily lower division classes, graduate seminars, and research or studio-based courses, with a maximum size of 50 students and most far smaller. The Educational Continuity Task Force is developing guidance and a process for instructors and Teaching Assistants who need to switch between in-person and remote teaching preferences; more details will be available soon.

Continuing students have already enrolled in fall courses, choosing their preferred class modalities directly; entering students are starting to enroll as of Aug. 10. We will keep tracking enrollments, classroom space and course modality changes in real-time, and will be working with departments and colleges to make necessary adjustments that give our students access to the classes needed for timely academic progress. To date, upper division and graduate students have, on average, signed up for 0.5 in-person courses (excluding research) and lower division students have signed up for 1.5 in-person courses. This means that while many students are choosing a fully remote course load, a good number are choosing to do a small number of classes in-person.

The International Students and Programs Office (ISPO) is helping the campus meet the needs of international students by providing a summer orientation program for new students, weekly updates for both new and continuing students, targeted advising, year-round programming, and regular updates on changes in immigration policy. The International Faculty and Scholars Office (IFSO) is similarly assisting international professors, visiting scholars and their families with the immigration guidance that impacts their status.

As fall approaches, the Teaching and Learning Commons and our keep teaching website are ready to assist instructors and TA’s with developing strategies for impactful remote instruction or refining elements of their remote courses. The Executive Vice Chancellor’s Office is also continuing the departmental technology liaison program started in Spring Quarter to provide discipline-specific assistance to faculty and teaching assistants. Academic units interested in developing fully-realized online courses or requesting R-course approval for key offerings are encouraged to consult the Digital Learning Hub; course designers and other resources are available to smooth the way.

Because not all students have equal access to educational technology, the campus’s Laptop Loaner Program will keep enabling students to request a laptop, hot spot or other technical support. Likewise, the Computer Lab Lookup is continually being updated as we strategize on providing students the ability to use campus computer labs for remote instruction. 

More generally, we should all be mindful that incoming students are new to UC San Diego and may not be familiar with the services and programs available on campus or in the remote learning environment. Faculty and staff are encouraged to explore ways to connect and support people new to the Triton community. Please visit the Academic Success website to connect to many of the resources available to help support our students.

Classroom Logistics

The Classroom Collaboration Working Group—which includes Resource Management and Planning, Emergency Operations Center, Facilities Maintenance, Environmental Health and Safety, Academic Affairs, and the Registrar’s Office—has been developing a comprehensive plan for the use of classrooms, teaching laboratories, and other learning spaces. Their priority is to create the safest possible environment for students, faculty and staff based on the latest guidance from CDC and UC San Diego Health experts. Initial work is described below and further updates will be forthcoming.

To make the classroom experience healthier for faculty and students, the campus will implement the following policies and procedures including an enhanced daily cleaning schedule, providing sanitation supplies in each classroom, improving ventilation in campus buildings, and specifying social distancing requirements for classroom ingress, usage, and egress.  

Expectations for in-person instructors and learners

All faculty, students and staff will be required to complete the daily symptom and exposure screening and receive approval to come to campus, and wear an approved face covering  for the duration of each class session. In addition, all faculty, staff and student employees are required to complete the UC Learning COVID-19 Training. The Office of Students with Disabilities will offer support and provide accommodations as required. Faculty members will be provided with a supply of face coverings to distribute to students who lack one.

Classroom ingress, usage and egress

In order to minimize classroom density and to ensure 6-ft physical distancing is maintained, all students will need to leave a classroom before the next group of students is allowed to enter. Queueing stickers inside the classroom will ensure students maintain physical distance while exiting. Designated waiting areas outside each classroom with adequate space to enable 6-ft physical distancing will be identified and marked so the incoming students can safely wait until the departing class has completely exited the building and then maintain distancing as they enter.

Classroom hygiene

The daily cleaning schedule will be enhanced to include a second cleaning. Each classroom will be supplied with sanitation wipes to be used by students and faculty to self-clean occupied space (seat, desk, podium) upon entering the room. Sanitizing wipes and instructional signage will be provided and maintained by Facilities Management, who will also refill wall-mounted hand sanitizers and maintain soap and paper towel supplies in restrooms.

Classroom ventilation 

The campus is running a 24/7 HVAC operation (90% buildings with HVAC have MERV14 filters, and the rest have MERV 8 or 11 filters). Air ventilation has been improved by maximizing outdoor air intake and exhaust fan speeds. As part of a comprehensive preventative maintenance program, skilled technicians will inspect, clean and maintain all building air-handling systems bi-annually.  Preventive maintenance includes:

  • Vacuuming and cleaning air intakes, catch basins and air-handling rooms
  • Washing air handler fins and coils
  • Checking and replacing all pre- and post-filters at least once a year, more often on smaller buildings
  • Cleaning and disinfecting all building air handling systems, including disinfecting cooling coils and condensate drains, to ensure fresh air intakes are as clean as possible
  • Cleaning, treating and testing the water in all closed and open loop systems

Classroom capacity and seating

The Classroom Collaborative Working Group has conducted a detailed review of each classroom’s capacity and mapped out where students need to sit to maintain social distancing. The seats that may be used in a given classroom will be the same for any class held there; other seats/desks will be blocked off or removed. Maximum occupancy number will be based on the minimum of:

  • Current San Diego County Health Requirement OR
  • No more than 50 people in an inside space OR 
  • No more than 25% classroom capacity

The specific classroom seating plans have been developed by Resource Management and Planning and reviewed by the Emergency Operations Center to ensure occupancy limits are not exceeded and a minimum of 6-ft physical separation is maintained between any two students. Teaching labs and studios are still undergoing individual review due to their specific requirements.

Outdoor learning spaces

Building off a suggestion offered by faculty, multiple locations across campus have been identified as potentially suitable for outdoor instruction, based on having appropriate power, shade, acoustic isolation, and the capacity for distanced seating. The Registrar’s Office is working with departments to identify appropriate courses that can take advantage of this option, as county public health guidance permits.

Teaching Technology Upgrades

Information Technology Services (ITS), has completed a number of summer upgrades to classroom technology and capability, in preparation both for physically-distanced, in-person instruction and remote learning. These include:

  • Greatly enhanced WiFi strength and reception in lecture halls and large classrooms
  • Dedicated internet ports in each classroom for instructors that prefer a plug-in connection
  • Video tracking cameras in a full 50% of classrooms, which enable live video and capture of both the instructor and the entire whiteboard simultaneously
  • “Simulcast” capability in all classrooms. This allows course lecture audio, video, and slide material to be broadcast live to students, wherever they reside. The lecture is also automatically recorded for students to view asynchronously via Canvas and the campus’s podcast website.

Campus will provide a personal lapel-style microphone for each instructor teaching in-person. Instructors will be able to better project their voice for both in-person students and those tuning in remotely by using a microphone (which students often requested prior to the pandemic) without having to worry about sharing the mic with others. 

Classroom support personnel will be on call throughout the quarter to address any needs or questions. Help guides, video “how-to’s” and more information will be posted in the coming weeks.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition and mandatory fees are set by the Regents for all UC campuses and, under the circumstances, will remain the same. Tuition and mandatory fees have been set regardless of the method of instruction and will not be refunded in the event instruction occurs remotely for any part of the Academic Year. Mandatory university charges for tuition and student services continue to help cover ongoing operations such as the delivery of instruction and the cost of student services such as registration, financial aid, and remote academic advising. Our teaching continues, even as its method of delivery has changed. Students are connecting with and learning from world-class faculty, completing coursework, earning full course credit, and making progress toward an immensely valuable UC San Diego degree. UC San Diego student services continue to be available to students via remote options to ensure that the quarter remains a very powerful and enriching one for our students.

Some campus-based fees were established to support certain efforts like the CAPS Mental Health Fee which is supporting the costs associated with many essential mental health services. Others were established to maintain the safety of buildings or other facilities when necessary for the health and safety of students—e.g., to address seismic deficiencies. Campus-based fees will continue to be collected.