Faculty Senate brings updates on fall 2021 semester, class scheduling

As the meeting was held on International Women’s Day, Tankersley invited all female-identifying meeting participants to turn on their cameras for recognition. “I want to especially recognize the amazing women of Kent State who change the world every single day through their scientific breakthroughs, their creations and innovations, their support of one another, instruction of students, their work and communities and agencies all to better our society,” Tankersley said. 

Emma Andrus, Reporter Kaitlyn Finchler, Reporter

University officials released plans and hopes to move to fully in-person classes and experiences as early as the spring of 2022, Senior Vice President and Provost Melody Tankersley said in the Faculty Senate meeting Monday. 

Tankersley said the “goal for fall 2021 is to significantly increase our in-person instructional delivery” to have as much of an in-person experience as possible.

Some items the university has weighed are the possibility of increasing the number of classes offered at night, implementing Saturday classes and using as many on and off campus facilities for instruction as possible. 

“Our goal with this consideration is to eliminate the need for instructors who choose instruction in person to have to simultaneously deliver remote instruction,” Tankersley said. “We must maximize the full instructional day and use all instructional spaces we have available.”

The intent is to use larger gathering spaces such as conference rooms and meeting halls to accommodate for social distancing needs, Tankersley said. The Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center downtown is one off-campus space the university is considering.  

A driving factor in shaping fall plans is the availability of the vaccine, with the hope that as many students and faculty who choose to do so will be vaccinated, Tankersley said.

“The vaccines being available combined with the continued decrease in case numbers in the state gives us great optimism for our return to a more normal, and a more normal means that we will have more opportunity for in-person engagement,” Tankersley said.

For students who do not wish to have in-person classes, Tankersley hopes they will “find an alternative course that meets the program requirement or section that is offered remotely or online,” so faculty are not required to make accommodations that may not be universal. 

Faculty are required to make a decision of how they will deliver their classes by Friday, March 12 so the planning for students and visual schedule builder can be complete by the time it opens to students on April 12. 

“This will be another opportunity for them to review classroom capacity guidelines, as well as discuss the instructional methods and options that we have available for the fall semester,” said Jennifer McDonough, senior associate vice president of Enrollment Management Operations and Administration and interim university registrar. 

Feedback from students, faculty and advisors helped in developing a plan for course delivery, McDonough said.

“Listening to this feedback over the last several months, what we’ve done is we’ve created this interim instruction method for the fall term that we hope will better display sort of when and how courses are offered in this remote format,” McDonough said. “Hopefully, this will give faculty much more flexibility in how [faculty] can offer [their] course via the web.”

University officials also said there is emphasis on needing everyone to work together to be able to complete their goals for the fall semester.

“Together, we can do this,” McDonough said. “We can increase the number of in person classes, but we need everyone in onboard and doing this one last semester.” 

Emma Andrus and Kaitlyn Finchler cover administration. Contact them at [email protected] and [email protected]