Chancellor announces early start date for fall semester

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The fall 2020 semester will begin a week early and finish the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

The semester will begin Aug. 17. Final exams, classes and other on-campus activities will finish by Nov. 24, and Dec. 10 is the last day for grade submissions.

Students are expected to return to campus for classes Aug. 17. (Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto.)

Chancellor Victor Boschini announced Friday in a campus-wide email that the purpose of these changes is to help keep the TCU community healthy by reducing non-essential travel over breaks and minimize time on campus during cold and flu season.

To achieve the compressed schedule and adhere to accreditation guidelines, the university will forgo Labor Day and fall break. Also, two days of lectures, held either on Saturdays or online, will be added.

Though classes will be held the same weekdays and times as originally scheduled, there may be some modifications to the course schedule so classrooms allow for social distancing guidelines to be met, said Holly Ellman, the associate director for communications, in an email.

Another alteration to the schedule concerns the December graduates, whose commencement will not be held until spring 2021.

The graduates will still be classified as the class of 2020, and their diplomas will be mailed to the students’ permanent address.

The adjustments go along with the TCU Connected Campus plan, which outlines some academic requirements for faculty. Instructors have to be prepared to teach each class using four course design models: on campus, modified on campus, dual and online.

The TCU Connected Campus plan.

Both the modified on campus and dual models have online and in-person elements.

In the former, when there are too many students enrolled in a course to meet social distancing guidelines, the students will be divided into sections, each meeting once a week in person. The other meeting or meetings will be virtual, either on TCU Online or Zoom.

The dual model applies when some students are unable to attend face-to-face classes. For Tuesday/Thursday classes, most students will meet in class one day a week, while the other students will have a Zoom meeting with the instructor on the other scheduled class day, receiving the same lecture. Both groups will then have a virtual meeting to participate in the second lecture. For Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes, students who can be in an on-campus class will attend each day, and the others will have access via Zoom.

TCU is providing stipends to faculty and staff as they complete additional tasks to prepare four class models.

The deans will select 40 college eTrainers to participate in the Koehler Center’s “Train the Trainer” program, enabling them to help other instructors complete the 12-hour online Hybrid Course to teach them about digital tools they can use in courses. These eTrainers can receive $2,000 for the summer and $2,000 for the fall if they choose to remain in that role both terms.

Instructors can receive $300 in a summer stipend for completing the Hybrid Course or demonstrating the skills to opt out of some or all of the course.

Finally, the university will provide up to $1,600 in fall stipends for instructors who redesign their courses ($400 for each course), have their course designs approved by the colleges and included those designs in syllabi before Aug. 24. College eTrainers are eligible to receive these stipends in addition to the $2,000.

Visit this website for more information about the fall semester.