Frequently Asked Questions

Regarding Fall 2021 Course Planning and Modalities

In the fall of 2021, what’s the difference between a hybrid and in-person course?

The definitions have now been revised. In person courses now refer to classes which require students to attend one or more in person classes on the Brandeis campus per week. Hybrid/dual mode courses now refer to classes in which the professor is willing and expects to teach students who are both attending the class in person and participating through Zoom for each/most class sessions.

May faculty request/expect that all students attend in person classes if they include or alternate between remote and in person class sessions?

Such courses would be classified as in person, and the expectations/requirements of the class would be that students are able to be physically present. Faculty are asked to include the attendance and participation expectations in their syllabi.

Will students living in time zones outside the US be able to enroll in a course that meets once a week in person and once online?

In Workday, as in Sage, students will be able to enroll in all scheduled courses, no matter where they will be located in the fall, although they will be asked to follow the guidelines about teaching modalities. If there is a required in-person component listed in the syllabus, then students must be able to attend the in person component, and the class would be considered in person, not hybrid. Faculty should emphasize in the syllabus and in first class meetings that students should not enroll in these courses if they are not able to be physically present. Only with the permission of the instructor may a student enroll and participate in an in person class if they will not be on campus in the fall. If the instructor grants permission, the course will then be taught in a hybrid/dual mode. Please encourage international students on F-1 visas to work with their academic advisor and ISSO advisor to be sure they understand under what enrollment circumstances they may maintain their F-1 records.

In the definitions of hybrid/dual mode from the Office of the University Registrar, there are two options listed. Can we do one or the other or does each hybrid class have to include both components?

Faculty can choose one or the other option.

Is a student free to participate “asynchronously” in a course designed for remote synchronous participation?

If synchronous participation is required for success in a course, the professor should note this in the syllabus, perhaps detailing the participation component of the course grade, and then inform students who inquire about this possibility that they may not expect to participate solely by viewing recordings of a course.

This spring some students living on campus or in the area are choosing to participate remotely in classes when given the option of attending an in person class with dual mode options. How can we prevent this in the fall?

The syllabus should clearly state that in person class sessions are not optional, and that the professor and university expect all students to be in the classroom for in person class sessions.

There were new three-day-a-week blocks added to the block system, how do I reference them and how should I enter them in the planning document?

The new block definitions and codes are below. The Office of the University Registrar has not yet been able to incorporate them directly in the planning sheets, so departments/programs should please add a reference to them in the comments section.

Also, please be aware that the Registrar’s office will group these new blocks with the existing block that overlaps for compliance purposes. For example 1A Block: 8:00 - 9:30 M W overlaps with the new 4A-F Block: 8:30 - 9:30 M W F.

What is the process for requesting blocks for courses meeting one time for three hours per week? Are the blocks for courses meeting once per week listed somewhere or are we to request our own times based on the current block schedule?

Departments/programs may request these blocks in the comments section of the Registrar’s planning file - any three hour request should be designed to minimize overlap with the existing blocks - i.e. it should start or end with the start or end respectively of one of the existing blocks.

Is there an overall cap on the number of students allowed for in person classes?

For planning purposes the Registrar’s office is not going to impose an overall cap, unless state guidelines change and we are required to do so. We do expect that we will be requiring at least 3' between seats for social distancing, and that creates overall limits for each classroom. These physical constraints, together with your expected enrollments, and the modalities you may use in your class will factor into setting an enrollment limit for your particular class.

How does the expected enrollment in my course affect my modality options?

If your expected enrollment is under 40 students, then all modalities are open to you. If you expect your total enrollment is going to be 40 or more, then you will need to consider being either hybrid or remote, unless you are willing to divide your students and have subsets meet in-person, which is one hybrid option.

I expect to have a large class (40 or more. How can I subdivide them to allow for an in person component?

One common method has been to split the class in half and have each set attend an in person class session one day a week. Less common is to divide into smaller subsets and have in person meetings for each grouping in alternate weeks. Another method would be to offer two sections of the class at the same time - one that is fully in person and another section that is fully remote, and to then allow the remote students to listen/follow the in person components - this is one way to accommodate dual-mode learning while having control over which students are using which mode, and this allows you to set explicit expectations for each section based on the delivery mode. Such dual sections would be considered as one section for instructor work-load purposes. Depending on what makes sense in terms of classroom constraints and pedagogical constraints the Registrar’s office would adjust the overall enrollment limits on the classes accordingly.

When will we learn about the room capacities, to assist us in deciding on enrollment limits? How does the shift from 6' social distancing to 3' distancing impact our classroom inventory?

Generally this shift will result in rooms that are closer to 50% of our normal capacity. Below is a chart of how the shift to 3' distancing would change the inventory. The exact seat counts will vary a bit once Facilities configures the actual seating. We also anticipate converting some other spaces, like rooms in the Hassenfeld Conference Center, into classrooms, as needed.

3' distancing* (*Based on estimates by Facilities from square footage and floor plans)

Classroom capacity Count of Room
< 10 9
10-19 22
20-29 27
30-39 3
40-49 6
50-99 2
100+ 1

Can adjuncts or people who come in once a week continue to teach remotely?

It is the university’s expectation that faculty will teach in person classes except for pedagogical reasons approved by the chair or medical accommodations approved by HR (see below). Chairs are asked to ensure that no more than 20% of their department's fall 2021 courses are fully remote.

Would it be possible to have students in performance classes without masks, especially for vocal/singing classes?

The health and safety protocols committee is gathering information and will share any updated guidance if/when it is available.

When will the schedule of classes be posted and what is the timeline for student registration, etc.?

This information has been included in information distributed by the Registrar’s office to department chairs and academic administrators (see attachment for target dates). The fall course schedule is expected to be released by mid-June and returning students will register/enroll in courses after that time. First year students will enroll in July.Will there be a fall 2021 suite of courses designed for international students? How can we accommodate their needs, and how many students are we expecting to have visa issues in the fall?

Yes, the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences has reached out to departments that have been asked to provide courses for first year students who are not able to arrive on campus to begin their fall 2021 classes. These remote courses will be offered in time blocks relatively convenient for these students. Through gradual reopening of consulates and visa processing, we are expecting the number of students who are not able to travel to the US in the fall of 2021 to be smaller than in the fall of 2020.

When can we begin to apply for Course Assistants and Graders for the fall?

The Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences will be sending a memo to all department and programs chairs in April detailing the fall criteria for CA and Grader approval. At present, because of cuts to the instructional support budget, we are expecting that 1 CA or grader can be requested for courses with at least 30 students enrolled (regardless of modality), unless a pedagogical case can be made for a lower enrolled course. Additional CAs or graders can be requested for each additional multiple of 30 enrolled students. Requests may first be submitted one week after first years enroll in July.

Will Digital Assistants again be available to support Faculty?

Some limited digital assistant support will be made available to faculty for the fall, but the library (which now houses the instructional design team) will be taking over managing and implementing the program, with some financial support from the School of Arts and Sciences. Additional information will be available by the end of the semester.

Will the summer bring more classroom improvements regarding HVAC and technology equipment to facilitate hybrid/dual mode teaching? Will training in using ECHO 360, Zoom projections, etc. be available?

Yes, classroom improvements will continue during the summer months, and yes, training in technologies to facilitate hybrid/dual mode teaching will also be available and announced to faculty.

What is the process through which faculty can request a health-related accommodation?

Human Resources will soon be releasing information about this policy and process.