COVID-19 Updates and Guidance > Updates > Academic Planning for Fall 2020-June, 15, 20

Academic planning for Fall 2020

​​June 15, 2020 

Dear students, faculty and staff,

DePaul’s college units are cur​rently working hard to adjust the Fall course schedule in order to provide both on-campus and online modalities. I write today with an update on these planning efforts and an explanation of how the course information will be shared in the next two weeks.

Flexible planning with a focus on health and safety

The health and safety of our community have been our utmost priorities as we consider Fall course offerings. The university already has begun deploying extensive safety measures that are aligned with recommended best practices, but we realize that changes in COVID-19’s progression could alter our plans substantially at any given time. In addition, DePaul’s plans are dependent on the Chicago area reaching Phase 4 of the state’s Restore Illinois plan by the start of the academic year and the state offering detailed guidance for reopening university campuses. As such, the DePaul community will need to remain flexible and anticipate changes as planning for Fall continues.

Course delivery

Academic Affairs is continuing to collaborate with DePaul’s 10 schools and colleges to determine how instructors will offer various courses in the Fall.

DePaul’s plans for Fall present students with several options for how they can take courses. As you will see outlined below, there will be an array of on-campus and online offerings, with as many classes on-campus as we can safely deliver within the guidelines for social distancing. Students can learn more about the various delivery options and how they will appear in Campus Connect in this guide to course modalities. The Office of the Registrar will communicate with students about any changes to their schedules that may result from these measures.

Here is where we stand today:

We have identified a number of classrooms across both campuses that are large enough to accommodate face-to-face classes with appropriate social distancing. (See “Classroom Safety Measures” below.) In addition, DePaul is using a portion of its CARES Act institutional funds to upgrade technology equipment in 110 classrooms across both campuses in an effort to facilitate various combinations of on-campus and online learning.

Some courses already have been prioritized for on-campus instruction. The Deans of the 10 schools and colleges provided Academic Affairs with a list of courses which should be taught in-person in the Fall. In addition, many of DePaul’s first-year courses, such as Discover Chicago and First-Year Writing, will have options for on-campus instruction. Many of these classes will use the new technology to bring together students meeting on-campus with those meeting online. Over the summer, we will continue our efforts to identify additional spaces on campus that will allow for more face-to-face courses with appropriate social distancing.

If students prefer to continue their education fully online, or if their programs remain fully or predominantly online, they will have the opportunity to study with professors who have access to award-winning online course planning support. Since 2008, DePaul has prepared professors to teach online with a professional development program, the DePaul Online Teaching Series (DOTS). On June 8, more than 200 faculty members across the university started their work as part of the Summer 2020 DOTS cohort. In addition, since the start of Spring quarter, the Center for Teaching and Learning has hosted faculty webinars with over 1,000 attendees to further prepare professors to teach online.

With these resources as a foundation, we have defined several approaches to online learning that feature different balances between synchronous and asynchronous instruction. Faculty can view these options on the Course Modalities page of the Teaching Commons website. Some academic units may allow only a subset of these options. Faculty who wish to express a preference for a particular course modality should consult with their department chair or program director.

Communicating changes in the schedule

Academic Affairs and the Registrar are currently in the process of meeting with each school and college to identify as many courses as possible that may be scheduled for on-campus instruction and determine the specific modalities for courses that will be offered online.

As these meetings take place, the university will update course modalities and locations within Campus Connect, with the vast majority of updates completed by June 23. The schools and colleges will finalize these changes with their faculty. As always, specific room assignments will appear immediately prior to the start of classes.

During the week of June 23, students who are enrolled in a course whose modality or campus has changed will receive a message notifying them of any changes. In general, these changes will not affect the days and time that the course is offered. For any further changes that take place over the summer, students will be notified as soon as possible.

Classroom safety measures

DePaul’s planning to ensure classroom safety depends on social distancing, sanitizing and, as detailed in Newsline on June 8, the requirement that members of the DePaul community wear face coverings when on campus.

Academic Affairs is scheduling classrooms so that social distancing can occur with ease, and students and faculty can pass each other safely going to and from classes. Class sizes will be reduced, tables and seating will be arranged to promote social distancing, and no rooms will be scheduled with back-to-back classes, all of which will make it easier for Facility Operations staff to sanitize tables and seating after each class. For more information about DePaul’s sanitizing measures for Fall, please read this June 10 Newsline article.

Student support services

To provide students a range of support options, DePaul is planning to offer both in-person and online student services in the Fall. More information will be shared in the coming weeks on the availability of those services and related safety protocols.

Thank you for your patience as DePaul completes the meticulous work of identifying courses for on-campus instruction and scheduling space for those courses in a way that maximizes safety for all. Have a safe and healthy summer, and keep your eye on Newsline and messages from the university about additional updates for Fall.


Salma Ghanem
Interim Provost