• Art Jahnke

    Senior Contributing Editor

    Art Janke

    Art Jahnke began his career at the Real Paper, a Boston area alternative weekly. He has worked as a writer and editor at Boston Magazine, web editorial director at CXO Media, and executive editor in Marketing & Communications at Boston University, where his work was honored with many awards. Profile

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There are 8 comments on Leading the Charge: The $7 Million Story of BU’s Hybrid Teaching Transition

  1. This is such an inspiring story of human resilience, ingenuity, and teamwork! Another silver lining during this horrendously challenging time. Well done BU!

  2. I do believe this article is slightly misleading in that the cost of the transition is $7 million + an as yet undetermined number of undergraduate, graduate, faculty, and staff lives, which will be lost or permanently changed as a result of infection with COVID-19. The most sophisticated and up-to-date testing system in the world will be worthless if it is misapplied, which is precisely the case here. By refusing to consider classmates and instructors who attended class with a student who tests positive ‘close contacts,’ BU is willfully sticking its head in the sand and defining the criteria for quarantine based on the bottom dollar rather than epidemiological concerns and best practices with respect to contact tracing. In doing so, BU shows a callous and, frankly, disgusting disregard for human life. Technological upgrades to support hybrid models of instruction, which are, incidentally, also suspect in light of the added burden of spacial constraints and anxiety in the classroom, are of the least concern when the basic infrastructure for health and safety is not sound. The cheery and optimistic tone of articles like these only serves to highlight that fact as the voices of those who are most vulnerable within the BU community are drowned out and ignored in decisions about policy. Trust has been irreparably broken and that is something cannot be bought.

    You can read more about BU’s decision not to inform instructors about students in their classroom who test positive for the virus here: http://www.bu.edu/articles/2020/citing-student-privacy-bu-faculty-wont-be-told-if-students-test-positive-for-covid-19/. I would encourage you to read through the comments.

    You can read about the ethical considerations related to BU’s policy which are not being promoted in BU Today in Daniel Star’s blog here: https://allcaution.com.

  3. Why spend $7 million when you have to cut jobs due to a $96 million deficit? Seems irresponsible.

    Oh wait…that’s BU’s whole reopening strategy.

  4. This reads as a propaganda piece by BU. Great, a lot of money was spent on updating classrooms to be advanced enough to run the LfA model. Helping instructors with remote teaching should be at the forefront of this model, however this article completely ignores the fact that this model has become an experiment where instructors had zero say in their safety. Instructors have to come to campus or risk losing their jobs / funding (read Health Insurance) while putting their health at risk. So, stay at home without pay or potentially get sick at which point the university will not take responsibility for the other people they could possibly infect. This has repercussions that go beyond JUST the BU community, many people live in houses with non-BU community members. Will BU be responsible for the long term health problems that we simply do not know about because this virus has not been around long enough for us to know everything about it? There are many way BU could’ve handled this a lot better without losing the trust of its stakeholders. Staff members that don’t have to be on campus, shouldn’t. If your class can be online, why not just be reasonable and let that class be online?

    We are trying to act like this is a normal situation, this is not normal. We are living through a pandemic that has killed a lot of people. Can we not just acknowledge that we have to make sacrifices to daily lives for the sake of saving lives? Is it really a better education when you have one instructor splitting their engagement between online and in-person students? Are we really going to have a better education because we went to campus for classes for a few months, when the instructors are dealing with the anxiety of potentially being exposed yet not informed?

  5. Incredibly impressive to say the least. It’s inspiring to see what an institute like BU has been able to put together at a time of crisis, while many organisations and educational institutions world over have struggled dealing with the change.

    I do appreciate the concerns some of the faculty have with BU’s decision to choose in person classes against all online, like many institutions, however, as a parent it’s a hard choice to risk our children’s health too. We are all in this for the long haul, despite many positive articles about vaccines. If we are 18-36 months away from any medical solution (maybe more) and we are seeing some of those having recovered from Covid19 getting reinfected, then what choice does an organisation have but to plan teaching solutions that are flexible and also ensure student retention. I do realise that only time will tell who’s wiser but in my humble opinion, testing and planning to deal with the pandemic makes more sense than to clamp down in fear… and I say this seeing our government battle with keeping 1.3 billion people safe in India and deal with a struggling economy and job losses. Do you plan to deal with the situation and keep things working to the best extent possible and with calculated risks or let people die jobless, hungry and penniless?

    Wishing BU and the Terriers the best!

    1. With all due respect, there is an important distinction here. You and your child had a choice. Many of us within the BU community did not have a choice. We were ordered back into the classroom in cold, clear, unsympathetic terms. More importantly, that decision was made without our input or consideration. In particular, graduate students have had virtually no influence, no voice in this process. The university administration has not consistently provided us with the same information they provide to the undergraduate population. As a teaching fellow I can also confidently assert that BU has shared virtually none of the information with us that it has shared with faculty. Instead we are expected to comb through BU Today (housed under BU marketing, mind you) or else hope someone within our departments will happen to mention to us crucial information about policies which directly impact our health and safety as well as the health and safety of our households. Furthermore BU has been non-transparent, failing to include a multitude of perspectives in their conversations and often hiding changes to policy or pretending like the changes were the plan all along (remember the great testing app that was advertised as the key to their testing operation in June?). All of these actions erode trust and that is why so many of us are angry. BU has lost our trust. Segments of the BU community have been disenfranchised in this process and as someone within that group, let me assure you, the psychological effects of that kind of marginalization within your own institution are deep and will not soon be forgotten.

      All of this aside, the most pressing concern we have at this time is BU’s decision not to inform instructors and classmates when someone they share a classroom space with tests positive for the virus. This is not best practices. This is not upholding contact tracing. This is not, as you say, ‘planning to deal with the pandemic.’ This is wishful, magical thinking based on economic rather than health concerns. As you note, we are most likely in this for the long haul, so why is it that BU insists on trying to recreate a world that can no longer be rather than invest in new innovative ways to get on with the business of living? It is not us, the concerned faculty and graduate students who are in denial about this situation, it is the administration and the parents and students who refuse to acknowledge the ‘new normal,’ as BU likes to say. There are viable alternatives. You just don’t like them, but that’s not my problem.

      So forgive me, if I seem a little upset when people say things like, ‘we’re all in this together.’ We’re clearly not. Please don’t pretend like we are.

  6. As the parent of a grad student at BU, I would like to comment. My child is being told to go back into the classroom against their will. My child was not offered the choice to be remote. My child, as a teaching fellow, will not be informed if a student In the class tests positive for COVID-19. My point here is that my child should not be forced to risk their health and possibly their life so the administration at BU and parents of undergrad students as well as undergrads themselves can pretend that everything is “normal.” The reality is we are living through some very difficult times and we need to adapt to a new normal so that everyone’s children can be safe.
    BU should learn from the the number of colleges/universities that have opened and then closed due to a spike in Covid-19 cases among their student population.

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