Boston University Students Will Have Choice of In-Person or Remote Classes This Fall
BU Students Will Have Choice of In-Person or Remote Classes This Fall
Other changes after the COVID-19 interruption: a return to normal grading and a strict safety-focused teaching format
This fall, Boston University’s arriving freshmen and returning undergraduate students will have a choice of attending in-person classes or taking classes remotely under a new hybrid teaching format the University is calling Learn from Anywhere (LfA).
The flexibility of LfA is designed to accommodate safety requirements that may be imposed by public health authorities to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as by travel and other challenges faced by BU students. The aim is to present the same academic content to all students, whether they are in a classroom, in a BU residence, or in another country, and to allow all students to take part in the same classroom discussions. Learn from Anywhere accommodates those students who may not be able to arrive on campus at the beginning of the fall semester, or who may choose to postpone their return to campus to maintain strict social distancing. But it also enables BU students to return to residential campus life in the fall.
“The LfA format lets students decide how to take classes, based on their needs and their comfort level,” says Robert A. Brown, BU president. “BU students now have the option to either be in the classroom in person or to participate remotely from their dorm room or off-campus home, and they can exercise that remote option at any time during the semester. LfA also enables the University to provide the necessary social distancing in classrooms, studios, and laboratory spaces.”
The LfA format was recommended after careful study by the University’s Undergraduate Programs Working Group, chaired by Sue Kennedy, interim associate provost for undergraduate affairs, and was approved by the University’s committee tasked with overseeing the reopening of BU’s campuses.
“We chose LfA because it protects the health and safety of everyone, students and faculty, and provides the kind of flexibility that students need in these difficult times,” says Kennedy. “It enables the University to meet the needs of all students, and to deliver the same high-quality teaching BU students are accustomed to.”
Because safety precautions will limit the number of people in any given space at the same time, Kennedy says, large fall classes could be divided into small groups of students that will rotate with equal time through in-person class sessions. Under one possible scenario, if a class has 50 students, yet density requirements mandate that only 18 can be in the classroom at once, the class would be divided into three smaller groups, called platoons, and each student would attend every third class in person, and attend the other classes remotely.
“Platooning is a fair and safe way to ensure the face-to-face interaction that is so important, both to students and faculty,” says Kennedy. “We want to make sure that all students have that opportunity.”
She says schools and colleges may elect to offer more and smaller breakout sessions, where a limited number of students can share quality time with instructors or teaching assistants.
If, during the course of the semester, a student begins to feel uncomfortable in an in-person class, the student can elect to attend that class remotely. Similarly, says Kennedy, if a student is unable to arrive on campus in time for the start of the semester, the student could begin the semester taking only remote classes and start in-person classes at a later date. International students who are unable to arrive on campus in September can also start the semester remotely and begin in-person classes when they arrive at BU.
We chose LfA because it protects the health and safety of everyone, students and faculty, and provides the kind of flexibility that students need in these difficult times.
Kennedy says unlike this past spring semester, when students learning remotely were given a choice of Credit/No Credit grades, fall semester grading will return to normal. She says students who have registered for fall classes do not need to take any action at this time, and all students will be notified if any action is needed at a later date.
“We want to offer students the flexibility that will be necessary this fall so that our new students can be on campus and engaging in person and so that our returning students can continue to make progress towards their degrees,” says Jean Morrison, University provost and chief academic officer.
Physical preparations for LfA are well underway. The University has begun installing the additional technology required to bring LfA to hundreds of classrooms across the Charles River, Fenway, and Medical campuses. Plans for the training of classroom assistants who will be on hand to help instructors interact smoothly with students attending remotely are underway.
“In small classes with fewer than 20 students, communication with remote students should happen relatively easily and naturally,” Kennedy says. “We’ve already seen that happen in the second half of the spring semester.” In larger classes, faculty may have support from a “LfA classroom moderator,” she says, who will alert instructors when remote students have questions and advise remote students when to ask, or respond to, questions. Classes with more than 100 students may have two or more assistants.
LfA may also make adjustment of some course content necessary, and in some cases, courses may have to be restructured. Kennedy says the ease of the transition to the new format will vary from course to course, with the most difficult being those with components like labs, clinical work, and hands-on instruction. The Undergraduate Programs Working Group has asked faculty and department leaders of those courses to explore creative solutions that retain the high quality that students expect. Those solutions will be worked out in the next two months, Kennedy says. Some may switch to virtual labs and some may decide to defer labs to the spring semester, she says. Other solutions could involve supplementary videos or personalized Zoom sessions.
LfA classes for the fall are one part of the University’s broad plan to repopulate the residential campus in accordance with strict public health and safety guidelines. BU’s four-phase plan for reopening the campus will begin with the gradual reintroduction of research and clinical services; it will welcome medical and dental students back in July; it will create public health and safety protocols that will guarantee a safe return of residential undergraduate students in the fall, including a new, specialized testing lab and program for the virus; and it will establish a stable “new normal” that will sustain University residential life for the long term.
BU’s COVID-19 Recovery Plan, announced in April, tasks several working groups with investigating every aspect of BU’s return to campus life and determining what actions are needed for the safe return of academic, research, and residential programs. The overall effort is coordinated by the Augmented Budget Committee, led by Brown and Morrison.
“The unprecedented disruption caused by COVID-19 has caused us to rethink almost every aspect of our academic community and the operation of the University,” says Brown. “We are now well on our way to creating a campus environment where our students can study and learn with our faculty and staff in as safe an environment as possible.”
Will students who attend classes physically and who attend remotely be graded differently? I think it will be more challenging for students who have to choose taking classes remotely.
While grading is the prerogative of each professor, BU will be transitioning away from the Credit/No Credit option that was in place during the spring 2020 semester, and back to traditional grading practices.
And how will this affect cost? Will remote and on campus students be expected to pay the same amount? Wouldn’t be surprised after seeing how they refused to refund CGS students…
YEah I definitely would like to get a reduced tuition rate since we don’t get to have access to so many facilities. It is just so not fair that they are charging so much. Especially to the international students.
Is this a final decision?
To preface, this is not meant to be a criticism of BUs proposed framework, which is forward looking and tries its best to accommodate for a wide variety of situations; but a criticism of the financial implications: by keeping the tuition the same, it is posited as a direct substitute for the traditional semester, which it is clearly not.
My question, as it has been since we went remote in March, is will this new format come with a reduced tuition? A large part of what we’re paying for is the access to on-campus facilities and resources, but most importantly the networking opportunities (all of which will be greatly hindered). Also, the remote learning experience has not been mediated or standardised, and I’ve found that the success of the remote class largely depends on the instructors ability to adapt and adjust course based on evolving student feedback and learning needs. At this time, where the quality of remote classes can be way below courses offered for free online (the one in person class a week does not make up for this), it’s difficult to justify keeping the cost the same. With this, it’s obvious to anyone that what we’re getting an inferior product, especially to those that have scholarship contracts with certain promises built in. In this time where many students and families and countries are facing large economic and financial hardship, I think there is clearly a need to re-evaluate the current tuition and cost breakdown to account for all these factors—at the very least for this semester and until a more adequate framework for remote learning is put into place. As one student of many who view university as a holistic package and learning experience, even though this is potentially the best BU can do in regards to the fall, it is still a fraction of what the current tuition is built to account for. I’m interested to hear the administrations response and thoughts on this, because I can imagine that many students and parents share my views.
Articulated well YKB.
Let’s see what the hierchy of BU has to say…..if anything. They’ll probably give the boiler plate response of we appreciate all you do, yadah, yadah, yadah…
Completely agree. Love the way in the university is forward thinking, however I second every point made about tuition. We cannot be expected to pay the original agreed tuition for an eduction and college experience that is not the same as it was before.
As challenging as this situation is for families, it is just as much for teachers. I for one, have put countless hours into creating on-line courses and assignments that have meaning and promote learning. I’ve had individual zoom sessions with students when needed and have worked diligently with students to further them in their academic journey.
Just because a class is on-line doesn’t make it any less valuable. I still need to be paid for my services and time. By asking the institutions to lower tuition costs demeans the dedication and work I’ve provided for the benefits of my students.
BU is making attempts on all sides to ensure the validity of its program but keeping safe its students and faculty. We are in unchartered territory as this virus progresses and I applaud BU for looking forward.
I’m sure YOU do not get paid 56,000 per student. No it doesn’t diminish your teaching skills but you’re only a fraction of the cost. Keep teaching—that’s your job.
I understand and don’t think that the tuition discount should impact professors. The fact of the matter is that with less students last quarter the university had less overhead and reduced expenses so where does that go?
If their costs are lowered why can’t that be passed on to the parents who are paying for their children to attend Zoom University. My son had biology and chemical labs online which were ridiculous. On top of that, the TA who taught was so difficult to understand that they had a translation on the side of the screen that made even less sense than the teacher. This is simply not the same experience and should not cost as much as inperson clases.
Thank you. I appreciate all of the hard work that goes into teaching students.
As a full-time and committed BU instructor, I can vouch that my salary is not solely based on face-to-face class time, but in all the preparation, professionalization and, most importantly, research and writing that I do regardless and beyond class time and modality.
With all due respect, the entire labor force is being forced to bear the brunt of the downturn of the economy. Why do you feel that professors should be exempt from the financial pain that the rest of the public is feeling?
I absolutely agree with BU PARENT 2021. Professors should not be exempt at all. I’m surprised they are not more sympathetic for a tuition decrease despite understanding the debt students put themselves into coming to such a reputable college such as BU or really any college in general. Also, I know my professors reuse slides and worksheets, so yes it takes planning but many times professors recycle other people’s work.
Claims the entire labor force is bearing the brunt of the downturn is hyperbole at best. Many people are changing the way they work; reinventing communications and collaboration methods. Compensation has been maintained for many industries including education. Educators at all levels are building curricula and delivery methods outside of what they have ever done before. If anything, they need to have an increase for the extra effort no one will find in their job description.
The matter of overhead reduction is probably offset by the additional technology support and infrastructure needed to make these changes.
They are not exempt. They are feeling it too.
I am a grad student at BU, and I, at first, thought the same about tuition. But think of not only the time our instructors are putting into creating on-line appropriate and effective curriculum, but also the cost of the technology needed to make this possible. This article speaks of moderators for example, who will help the instructor with coordinating online classes. These moderators will need to be trained, etc.
I’m not defending anyone, and as much as I’d love for tuition to be reduced (it feels like I’ll spend 30-50 years paying off my loans instead of paying off a mortgage), but there are sadly additional costs associated with online teaching.
If we chose to do remotely taking classes, I am sure the cost of living on campus would be zero but what about the tuition? Should it be the same as the one who take the course in person?
If the grading system is just same as the one who remotely taking classes, what about labs, group projects, and other interactive courses?
If there is an international student who might take course at around 2-3am, would he or she have any other possible ways to take course at least their daily time? Well for final or midterm would be exceptional because of cheating.
Would you risk yourself to go back to school in person while there is risk that over people from 200 counties come to BU.
Would you risk yourself to take online course while may pay the same tuition like others taking courses in person and while may take course in 2-3am on online
Or would you rather have leave of absence to see how this fall semester handles this situation and take other chances?
What choices would you make?
How does deferring labs to the spring semester work? Most STEM students already have at least 2 labs every semester and what if a student wants to study abroad in the spring (if those aren’t canceled) won’t that mean they can’t cuz they would miss the deferred labs?
Will there be some kind of accommodation for students from different time zone?
Learn from Anywhere is designed to accommodate students who cannot return to campus, while still maintaining a robust residential on-campus experience. Many courses will have asynchronous elements, meaning that lectures can be recorded and available for students to experience at any time. This may not be possible for all aspects of all courses. Faculty will be working through the details of what specific courses will look like over the summer.
I am wondering how this decision does work to protect faculty, teaching assistants, and teaching fellows, who seem to have no choice as to whether or not their classes will be offered in person.
I am also curious about this… If there is a second wave of infections, I am not sure that I want to be in a ‘physical’ classroom, but it sounds as if I have no choice as a full-time member of the Faculty…
I was also wondering about the faculty and TAs – seems like they would likely be exposed to a full class of students if everyone chose to take turns being in class. How is this reducing the teaching teams’ exposure?
Hi Erin. The health and safety of our faculty, students, and staff are our top priority as we prepare to return to residential teaching and learning in the fall. We are developing specific guidance outlining what the return to residential education, with students on campus and in classrooms, means for faculty and teaching fellows. This guidance will be shared in the coming weeks.
Will tuition be lowered if we attend remotely??
What about housing and housing costs?
If we choose not to return at the beginning of the semester, would we still have to pay the housing fees? Because what if we want to return in the middle of the semester? Will our space still be reserved for us then? Do we pay depending on the nights left??
What about our stored things; will they keep storing them for us?
What about graduate students?
Last month, we announced in BU Today (http://www.bu.edu/articles/2020/remote-in-person-hybrid-teaching-graduate-professional-programs/) that a select number of graduate and professional programs would be offered both in-person and remotely. These programs have already begun work preparing for the fall, and we have expanded the number of programs approved to utilize this model (see: https://www.bu.edu/articles/2020/bu-expands-fall-hybrid-simultaneous-graduate-program-offerings/). There remain a small number of graduate and professional programs that are particularly challenging to convert to the hybrid modality, including programs with significant experiential or hands-on components. The Graduate and Professional Programs Working Group is working with individual schools and colleges to develop plans for how these programs will operate in the fall. I hope this helps.
I really want know the answer to this question as a graduate student!
I think it would be helpful if remote classes are more standardised and consistent. I’ve witnessed a disappointing number of professors present unreasonable, inconsiderate, and even dangerous expectations for remote classes. We need to remember that many people are still actively experiencing the difficulties of a pandemic, and it’s not over until it’s over. BU should also be very patient and careful about reopening in-person classes, especially considering the large student population.
What about fall study abroad? Is it still happening as planned?
As the story mentions, that’s one more key question still being examined.
The classroom or lecture hall is not the only component of campus life that will have to be restructured to adhere to social distancing guidelines. What will be done about dining services, which are impossible to stagger? I don’t see how BU can find a fair solution to this problem; students have differing, busy schedules that are often hard to plan around regular mealtimes, and denying a student food at any time is not acceptable. What about large residences? Due to limited space on campus, there is no way to decrease the student population there. There is also just the concern of students walking down Commonwealth Avenue; the sheer volume of students walking down the street at once during the school year is a danger, and it will not be prevented by remote classes, as students will have other places to go. I would like these issues to be addressed, and for BU to take the true implications of reopening campus seriously. It doesn’t make sense unless all aspects of regular campus life are addressed.
Thank you for this important question. BU is taking a comprehensive approach to all aspects of reopening the campus for fall — from classroom spaces, to residences, dining halls, and other shared spaces — with safety as our primary concern. We will be sharing more information about those plans in the coming weeks. Housing and Dining, additionally, are developing a guide book, which will be sent to students sometime in June.
Housing works behind the scenes regarding assignments and handling payments. Residence Life staff are on the front lines responding to crises in person and haven’t even left campus since Covid-19 hit the scene. Housing and Residence Life are two separate departments, so which do you mean?
Many schools are electing to end the semester before thanksgiving break to cut down on risk of people spreading covid in the colder months after they travel. Will this be considered by BU as well? Also, if a student elects to do a full LFA semester and does not return to campus, can they received their housing cost back for the fall semester, or defer it until spring?
As the story references, that is one question still being explored closely, about the semester’s end.
Good job BU. This plan is student focused and makes the best of a bad situation. I wonder if other schools will follow suit. It won’t be the same as past semesters, but that is expected considering the current virus conditions in the US. To me, it looks like BU is trying to make the best of a bad situation.
I agree BU is making the best of a bad situation. Too bad you can never win with everyone in the comments section lol.
I value that students are given flexibility in how they attend classes. The decision to go hybrid will hopefully encourage them to feel empowered to make the best decisions for themselves in terms of their safety, health, and academics. I am concerned that I don’t see how the hybrid models offers faculty and staff options to do the same. It seems they (and any class moderators) are the only constant physical presence in this puzzle. What will the university be doing so staff and faculty have the same choices in how they wish to take care of themselves, especially when teaching in classrooms that will now have rotating student bodies?
Agree. Faculty and staff need to feel safe and not risk their health. If teaching online was OK for spring, it should be OK for fall.
Good question, Sam. As we’ve mentioned a little earlier, the University is focused on a return to campus that protects the health and safety of ALL members of our community. We are developing specific guidance outlining what the return to residential education, with students on campus and in classrooms, will mean for faculty and staff. We will be sharing this guidance in the coming weeks.
I’m curious what they will do about fitness classes the dining halls, and clubs. I am a film student so I’m also curious about how our classes would go since they’re so hands on. I am otherwise pretty pleased with this solution so far.
Thanks, Jess. Housing and Dining are developing a guidebook, due out later this month, to specifically address some of your questions about public spaces. With regard to film classes and other creative and hands-on fields, there may be an adjustment to course content. We’ve asked faculty and department leaders of those courses with labs and hands-on instruction to explore creative solutions that preserve the high quality that students expect. Those solutions will be worked out in the next two months. Some may switch to virtual labs and some may decide to defer labs to the spring semester. Other approaches could involve supplementary videos or personalized zoom sessions. We will provide more information in the coming weeks.
Advanced Standing students( Dentistry ) are considered undergraduate or graduate?
Why was this announced through BU Today, and not through official correspondence from the university? Not everyone reads this publication, and this wasn’t even the top article in the email, meaning that one could easily casually scroll past it. This information needed to be disseminated by the university in a more equitable way, ensuring everyone is aware of what is happening in the fall. Continuously disappointed at the lack of transparency and clarity about the unfolding situation.
It’s on the main BU page, also.
It might be, but as faculty, I was neither consulted nor alerted to this through official university communication. If someone has to purposely seek out this information to learn more, then it hasn’t been communicated appropriately.
I agree. I’ve been frustrated by this too. We need an official announcement via email. Publishing an article via the the University Newspaper is not the proper method for communicating University wide changes.
There was an email from Provost Morrison on Friday 5/29 that outlined this plan.
What about professors and grad student TAs? Will they have the same flexibility to choose in-person or remote engagement (in this case, teaching), based on their own comfort level with group gatherings or, even more urgently, based on their own medical constraints (if they are immunocompromised, etc.)?
Thanks, AJ. As we’ve said in response to earlier questions, health and safety will be our primary concern as we prepare to return to residential teaching and learning in the fall. We are developing specific guidance outlining what the return to residential education, with students on campus and in classrooms, means for faculty and teaching assistants. This guidance will be shared in the coming weeks.
I agree, BU has done a good job by offering 3 different options to accommodate students. My son WILL be returning to campus for his sophomore year. We are very confident in the plan that BU has put forth and are outlined in President Brown’s 4 phase plan of returning to campus, including testing & tracking.
Removing Credit/No Credit grading options for students is the wrong choice. The reasons that CR/NCR were implemented will still exist for students in the fall under LfA. BU should be mindful of the inequity that their students will be facing in the fall. With some students fully remote and others rotating in and out of the classroom, there will be no standardized learning experience. Students who are allowed to go to class on one particular day might be in person for the most crucial lecture of the semester, understand that content better, and thus perform better on exams than their remote counterparts. Remote students will always be at a disadvantage, especially if they are in another time zone. How can a student who is in class at 3am on their laptop learn the same way as an in-person student. While I understand that BU wants to uphold the rigor of the grading scale, it is unreasonable to expect that students with wildly different learning experiences will be fairly graded on the same scale. BU was very understanding with implementing the Spring 2020 grading scale. I hope that BU will reverse this grading scale decision, looking beyond their reputation and thinking about the experiences of their students.
I fully agree. I may have to stay remote for LfA, and I can’t imagine performing the same as I do on campus when I’m taking classes on my laptop from 11 PM to 5 AM.
I have been involved to-date in four online courses. Each course was accessed differently, either with a link shared by the professor, via Blackboard, or other more complicated mechanism. There must be a better way!
If students are only going to have in person classes once every three weeks and online classes twice every three weeks, there needs to be a large reduction in tuition and fees until we are back to normal. We don’t need a new normal, we need NORMAL.
There is no justification for full tuition, fees, etc. when the students are not getting the full product and experience they signed up for by enrolling at BU.
Many of the science and engineering students are taking labs online. This coursework cannot be fully mastered and understood without hands on experience.
If you rented an apartment and were told you could only enter it every third day, you would expect a huge reduction in the rent payment. The university needs to look at the entire product they are providing now, and realize it is not the same as before the plandemic.
I completely agree. As a music student, my degree requires courses such as group piano and ensemble credits. This Spring semester proved to be almost impossible, especially for students without the resources. I don’t see how an orchestra ensemble for example could possibly work under this model. For the amount BU costs per year, it needs to meet a certain standard for it to be worth attending.
The bu health insurance cover covi19 hospital and intensive care if need it at 100%?
BU would help foreign parents to stay in campus while these event occur?
What will happend with the continuity or drop off the semester in these event?
What refund we will get?
How the grades will be reflecting in her record?
We are parents of a freshman and are wondering what will be the arrangements to occupy the dorms. Do you have a plan for this issue yet?
Thanks for reaching out to us on this, Gabriela. Guidelines are being written as we speak on residential accommodations and will be communicated to students sometime in June. Students’ health and safety are, of course, our primary concern, and one essential aspect for preserving this will come through building smaller communities and shared spaces. Again, a plan for this is in development, and students will receive further information in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.
How will housing work? Am I going to be expected to return to campus to live in a triple? I would prefer not to have to wear a mask to sleep while residing in the dorms.
I feel pressured as a student to return to campus because I do not want to miss out on a hands on teaching experience but at the same time do not feel safe returning to campus if I have to share a living space with several people. There is no way that I can force my roommates to social distance within the living space and in their activities on campus.
Please BU, consider changing housing arrangements for students who chose to return to campus. Please also consider that not all students will be able to pay extra for more social distance friendly housing.
This is an excellent question, and we want to assure you that the University’s chief commitment as we return to residential education this fall will be the health and safety of our community. We are still working out the details, but building smaller communities with limited shared spaces will be an essential aspect of protecting everyone’s health. We will be communicating with students in the coming weeks once a plan is in place.
When can we expect the guidelines so we can make a properly informed decision and make travel plans? Will students who elect remote learning in fall have a place to live in spring? Will students arriving in fall have a quarantine period/phased arrival dates? Students will be arriving by the thousands, from states with varying levels of quarantine and distancing, having traveled by plane, and put together in small rooms/big buildings where they’ll have to share elevators and bathrooms. Is it overly optimistic to assume that incoming freshmen will behave like responsible adults when it comes to distancing, masks, etc? It seems like they’ll be expected to spend an inordinate amount of time in their rooms, for classes and studying if the library limits #s.
Guidelines for residential life are being written as we speak, and will be communicated with students sometime in June. With regard to the move-in process, we plan to break that up into smaller groups and extend the process over a longer period of time. Housing and Residence Life will communicate with students directly as soon as that information is available.
Will Mugar and/or other libraries/study spaces be open during Fall 2020?
Thank you for your question, Úna. Similar to the University, the Libraries has been planning its return to campus in a gradual, phased way informed by public health advisories and local and state requirements. Mugar Memorial Library, BU Libraries’ main branch, will be open to faculty and students in time for the fall 2020 semester.
Over the summer, the Libraries plans to implement procedures and protections similar to those commonly seen at other customer-facing businesses, including decreasing density, implementing safety-driven changes such as the addition of plexiglass barriers as appropriate, designing new traffic flows for floors, stairways, and elevators, and increasing sanitation protocols. We will provide updates to the BU community throughout the summer about the Libraries’ progress.
Remote classes are NOT a workable option for visual arts students (or theater or music students or lab-intensive science students). My senior son essentially LOST his senior spring of instruction due to the pandemic, despite the thoughtful effort by staff to make the most of the situation.
Remote learning is not what BU students sign up for. The best option would be to do as several other schools have done: start early (mid August) and go on break before Thanksgiving. The school could then even stay on recess until mid February and eschew a Spring break.
As the parent of an incoming freshman, who may potentially be receiving a third of her BU education in person and two thirds remotely stuck in her dorm room (under the “platoon” scenario), I really will have to seriously consider whether or not she should attend BU this fall. I can’t imagine that paying full tuition for a possible hybrid education experience is fully justified. Perhaps a “gap year” may make better sense until this is all figured out and things return to full in-person instruction.
I don’t think anything can truly be “figured out” as long as COVID is a threat to society. Which will probably be for a few years since there is no guarantee that the first vaccine will work. Your daughters gap year might be going on for a while just saying.
My son will be a sophomore and has a lab heavy schedule – how will chemistry or bio labs be handled?
If I choose for him to live at campus, is he going to be crammed into a room with other students? If there are reduced amenities such as food, activities, etc, why would I pay for him to sit in his room?
What will be the pricing impact for those of us who have non financial aid, but have been hit by Covid in ways that spending for BU will be more of a challenge.
BU has already raised tuition for next year, which is honestly, offensive. If anything, you should be freezing it for at least 1-2 years, and reduce or not charge fees. If my son isn’t going to go to class for a safety reason (which is valid) then why would I pay for any services at all?? Does he need to sign up to eat at the union?
I’m an incoming student and I’m just glad to be on-campus during my first year at BU.
The main concern is the housing. So many students share one bath room. When one person gets COVID-19, many students will get it too. Some students possible die.
If student die from COVID-19, how BU is going to handle?
Without vaccine, BU housing is very danger place to stay and worst than senior center.
Considering that BU is giving the option to stay at home I believe many immunocompromised students will chose to stay at home. This is something that is unfortunately forgotten, but students die every year on campus and BU has a system to properly handle that so I believe they can modify that plan to use for COVID. There is no guarantee that a vaccine will come anytime soon let alone work and the only way to function is using masks and proper hygiene which is what will be stressed according to this article. Also, BU has been removing students in triples and quads/suites to lessen density in one room to account for social distancing. I do not know why BU housing would be a worse than a senior center, considering there is a demographic and therefore outcome difference of young adults and senior citizens. Again, masks/hygiene need to be followed something that was not known at the early stages of the pandemic which caused such a major surge in the nation. Times are different know and we need to proceed with caution but not assume the worst since we are learning more everyday.
It is still extremely dangerous for students to go back to relatively high-density residences. Covid-19 is obviously highly contagious and potentially deadly, even for the young and healthy. Even with the LfA option, students are going to feel pressured to return to campus for hands-on learning so they do not face the disadvantages and stresses that often accompany remote learning. We need to be a lot more wary than we are now.
The American economy will not be stopping anytime soon regardless of the virus the President of the US has made that very clear. For some students, including myself who are in CFA NEED to be in person. I cannot risk not finishing college on time. Considering measures are being taken to maintain my safety, I will have to take my chances and other students may have to do the same. Students are being given an option to stay at home or come back to campus. If that is perceived as ” putting pressure to return to campus” that’s something they needs to reassess mentally because there are no signs pointing to that.
Residences are being broken up currently as mentioned earlier so I dont know why you are talking about high density residences again. Also, safety measures are being taken (wear a mask, wash your hands, etc). I dont know what else anyone can do to prevent getting the various besides being holed up in their house and not leaving for the next 1-2 years.
Thinking worst case scenarios, should the COVID-19 resurge in Boston and at BU (which is a possibility), how will BU take care of our students? Specifically: to prevent the spread, when they are exposed, when they must fully quarantine, when they are ill with the virus and hospitalized and when they are released from the hospital and need support and care to fully recover?
What are the plans? What can we parents expect? We parent must understand the potential risks to our students health as a part of coming back to campus.
Thank you for reaching out on this. We certainly appreciate your concerns as a parent. The Medical Advisory Group that we’ve formed is developing a detailed set of plans to ensure that we are prepared to test, trace, and treat all members of the BU community in the fall. We are working to set up a COVID testing facility on campus. Additionally, Residential Life and Student Health Services, among others, are working ensure our on-campus environment is as safe as possible for students and that we are prepared in the case of a student falling ill. As the health and safety plans get finalized, they will be shared with the community.
As the parent of a rising Senior, I have been waiting to see how the University handles the “pricing” issue. My thought all along has been that the University will do everything they can to maintain “one price” regardless of which learning channel the student chooses because to offer an “online” price will force the University to place a value on the “in person” experience. They clearly don’t want to do this as, like any purchase, the purchaser will make a decision whether the product is worth its price.
Despite the University’s desire to not to institute a variable pricing policy, they will be forced to take a stand once other Universities and Colleges which do choose to institute variable pricing. In these economic times, it may be the difference for financially strapped schools keeping their doors open or closing them.
I have a few questions that can hopefully get answered.
1. Will ALL classes be offered BOTH remotely AND LfA style?
2. If not, when will we know how each class will be offered?
3. Is it confirmed that LfA will happen for sure, does this decision not ultimately fall on the government of Massachusetts?
4. How can we keep up with the measures BU is taking to make campus safer?
5. When will we know the tuition costs for this new program?
Will there be an option to take some courses LfA style and some in person? For instance, if there’s a large lecture we don’t feel comfortable attending but a small, more hands-on course that we want to take in-person, will that be an option or will we have to do all courses in person or LfA?
Thanks for this question, JJ. LfA is a hybrid approach, focused on returning BU to a safe residential experience, with in-person classes — albeit in smaller groups, with a remote learning component. If a class has, for example, 50 students and density requirements mandate that only 18 can be in the classroom, the class would be divided into three smaller groups, or rotations. Each student would attend every third class in-person, while attending the other classes remotely. Large fall classes might be divided into small groups. Another option we’re exploring is moving large lectures (with discussion sections) to a remote/asynchronous model. We are still sorting out the details for this, and will have more information on class structuring in the coming weeks.
I am a current undergraduate student, and am feeling a lot of anxiety and uncertainty about fall semester. I would appreciate having several questions answered about this decision.
1. If students can’t return to campus, or decide not to return to campus, in the fall, what is happening with room assignments (I live in KHC)? Will our current room be held for us until we are able to return? Will we still be charged room and board?
2. What activities will be running? I am a Dean’s host for the college of engineering, as well as the president for a student organization, and LfA could seriously impact events for these organizations.
3. How are lab classes going to work? Will there be any in-person labs, or are all labs going to be remote?
4. If we want to attend in-person lectures that need to have a rotation, how will we know when we are able to attend? In my experience, many people registered to a class only attend for tests, and I’m concerned that will cause interested students to lose out on in-person teaching.
5. Will places that accept dining/convenience points be open, or just dining halls?
Additionally, I would like voice a concern about receiving this email via BU Today. It’s fine to use it for occasional updates and summary articles, but using it to disseminate vital information about fall semester risks students missing information. Comments above mentioned also receiving official communication from the provost on this topic, but I certainly did not.
How about international students? If we cannot return due to travel ban imposed by the US gov, will our F1 status be jeopardized?
As parent of an international student from Asia, who’s going to be a sophomore, we have a lot of anxiety and uncertainty about how to decide whether it is totally safe to let him return to and live on BU campus in the fall semester. We also have many questions like those “what if”, in case he unfortunately got infected by the COVID-19 and not sure how BU could help take really good care of him.
If we reluctantly have to let him learn remotely from home, the big time difference will inevitably cause a lot of negative impact on his learning experience and many challenges in attending online classes from a 12-hour-difference time zone… any special arrangements being considered by the University administration for international students like us?
Thank you for reaching out to us. BU is doing everything possible to accommodate the needs of international students who may face travel restrictions or have health concerns. As noted earlier, health and safety will be our primary concern as we prepare to return to residential teaching and learning in the fall. At the same time, the Learn from Anywhere model has been designed with special attention to students who are unable return to campus. Many courses will have asynchronous elements, meaning that lectures can be recorded and available for students to experience at any time. This may not be possible for all aspects of all courses. Faculty will be working through the details of what specific courses will look like over the summer.
Hi, I am a current international grad student, May I ask is it possible for international students to take courses remotely in their home country in this fall semester?
As faculty I can tell you I have been given zero opportunity to weigh in on whether this model is feasible for the type of courses I teach. In addition, BU seems to expect that faculty will teach in person, with all the risks that entails, while students have a choice. Faculty should have the same choice as students re: whether to be on campus or teach remotely. How could there be any other fair way to do it?
Last Tuesday, 6/2, Provost Morrison invited all faculty to take part in a survey to collect views on the return to a residential campus and the move to the Learn from Anywhere (LfA) approach to teaching for undergraduate and graduate courses. To access the survey, you may copy and paste the following url into your browser:
Survey responses are anonymous, but are due by 9am on Monday, 6/8, so we encourage you to send as soon as possible.
Additionally, President Brown and Provost Morrison have been working with the deans, Faculty Council, and department chairs to gain input and feedback on proposed plans, so we encourage you to reach out to your Faculty Council representative, as well, with any concerns or ideas.
Yes, there was a survey, David. It came out after this decision was made. And its deadline is after this decision was made. As a faculty member it’s hard not to feel betrayed and once again by passed for the sake of money decisions.
But my real question is what happens to faculty who decide they can’t safely return to a classroom?
how will this decision affect international students’ f1 status, if they cannot return to campus due to travel ban?
The International Students & Scholars Office is closely monitoring the recent entry ban that may impact a small number of our graduate students from China. The ISSO has added a summary of the new travel/entry ban (https://www.bu.edu/isso/2020/05/29/presidential-proclamation-bans-entry-to-the-us-for-small-number-of-graduate-students-and-researchers-from-china/) as well as a link to the Presidential Proclamation on the news section of the ISSO website and additional details (https://www.bu.edu/isso/news/what-does-the-chinese-entry-ban-mean-for-me/) as to how the ban could impact members of our student community. We would encourage students to contact their ISSO advisor (https://www.bu.edu/isso/contact/student-advising/) with specific questions.
What about the spring semester? I am in my last year of grad school and cannot afford to move back to Boston for just one semester.
I second this.
At this time, we have only made the decision to use the Learn from Anywhere approach for the fall 2020 semester. Our decision about the spring 2021 semester will be made based on the most up-to-date public health guidance and state and local restrictions, so we are unable to say definitively what the spring will look like at this point. We very much hope that we will be able to continue to provide residential education in the spring semester as well.
LfA for spring semester was briefly mentioned back on June 7th by David Lazar regarding when a decision would be made. If a student chooses to LfA entirely from their home state/country, not BU dorms, for the entire fall semester, and has cancelled the housing contract as advised, can they choose to LfA for the spring semester as well since they will not have a housing assignment? When will the decision on spring be announced? I know they can reapply for spring housing in November, but what if they prefer to continue to LfA in spring?
I just can’t believe the university hasn’t said anything going forward regarding furloughs and layoffs to set our minds at ease. Communication has been so few and far between that it has made it impossible to prepare for a situation like that from a staffing perspective.
BU is taking things day by day. I think it is more important for them to first figure out how students will be affected since their tuition payment is what goes towards salary, research, etc. If they tell students they can come back not only will they be able to gauge their future income, but there will be more money to work with. None of this planning can happen, when students are the main source of income and they dont even know what the heck is going on. Also, its June can we all calm down theres plenty of time to make decisions and it is better to be cautious and wait since new information about COVID is being discovered on the daily.
when is fall semester resuming? is BU still planning on September 2nd or will it be moved to early august due to Covid?
Thanks, Emily. BU is studying whether any changes will be made to the academic calendar for the fall semester. Any changes to the regular calendar will be communicated to students, faculty, and staff as soon as possible.
According to BU Today, “BU Suspends Study Abroad Program for Fall Semester Because of COVID-19 Pandemic”.
It seems that decision is based on “ongoing concerns about global health risks and the safety and well-being of students, faculty, and staff”
My son has been accepted in BU for 2020-21, from Europe where we are from. But, according to information in BU Today, a likely scenario for the fall semester – (why not also spring?) – is that “the class would be divided into three smaller groups, called platoons, and each student would attend every third class in person, and attend the other classes remotely”.
Honestly, this is not an international experience in the sense we expect from this special year for our sons.
In case we have no other information or specific guideliness on how things will be, and it seems that now a day nobody can make predictions on the future, I think that the smarter decision to make is to postpone the experience for the next course 2021-22.
Will the spring 2021 semester be like this too? Will the student still have the choice of online or in-person classes?
At this time, we have only made the decision to use Learn from Anywhere for the fall 2020 semester. Our decision about the spring 2021 semester will be made based on the most up-to-date public health guidance and restrictions.
A couple of questions it would be helpful to have answered:
Housing was completely booked so there must be students for who housing will not be available in the Fall. When will students be told of the housing plan? Will students be polled to see how many plan to return to campus so decisions about housing can be finalized?
For students with scholarships which require them to live on the Charles River campus, will they be penalized for not feeling comfortable returning to campus?
Will housing deposits be returned or credited to the Spring semester for students who opt to LFA and do not return to campus?
If BU is considering a change to the start of the semester and/or any other scheduling changes such as students returning home by the Thanksgiving holiday, what is the timeline for communicating that information?
The students will attend every 3rd class. However, if a professor is infected or exposed and has to quarantine, the class will have to be held remotely won’t it?
When can families expect to hear about how dining will work? There will need to be some assigned block of time a student can be in the dining hall in order to guarantee that reduced capacity is being met.
Thank you for considering these questions.
I appreciate that students are offered flexibility and support. However, I am becoming increasingly concerned that staff and faculty are not afforded this same flexibility in choosing how they feel safe to return to campus. It’s additionally disheartening that these public statements are made before all staff and faculty are informed. Administration says they are inviting faculty and staff to weigh in on concerns and ideas for Fall, but I have not seen these ideas and feedback incorporated into such a reckless plan.
This isn’t a final statement from the school so I think this is just a way to keep everyone at bay. I disagree with the fact that you think this is a reckless plan. In my opinion reckless would be acting like everything is normal like last fall. Staff and faculty are not required to live in a dorm which is what most of this article centers around. Essentially, the point of this article is to say that students will be given choices, nothing more. I would wait to be concerned till after the President releases a statement, and we get closer to the fall semester.
What will happen to student activities? As a film student, a large part of my college experience goes to what I do outside of academia. Last semester, student activities were cancelled. What will this look like in the fall? Also, would FPS be open to borrow cameras and other equipment?
The abrupt end to our spring activities was really really hard. The campus was eerily quiet and just weird without our students and the many activities that bring us together and make this place come alive.
Coming together has always been an integral part of the BU residential experience. This fall, it’s important that we continue these endeavors. While of course practicing appropriate social distancing protocols, we’re planning for many engagement opportunities, club and organization activities, and traditional programming, using a variety of delivery platforms that will allow in-person and remote participation.
Feel free to reach out to me directly via email at email@example.com if you’d like to learn more about activities this fall.
As BU plans to open some international students like me may not be able to travel or may not want to travel due to health concerns and choose to study using the LfA program. I have signed a housing agreement to stay on campus.
If i do not come to campus, will I still have to pay for Fall housing and dining if i opt to stay at home? Also, will i still be able to get a housing assignment for spring if I cancel my agreement? Is there going to be any changes to housing agreements that you would know of?
When has BU ever made a student not physically living on campus pay for housing or a dining plan? No student living off campus all these years has had to do this, why would BU change its policy during a Pandemic? I dont understand why this question is being asked in the first place, it just seems so far fetched.
What about professors and TAs? Even if you break down large classes into “platoons” , with each platoon only going to class every other or every third class, instructors are still exposed to everyone as they cycle through. Also one can not assume all instructors have their own transportation or live close to campus. They may have to take public transportation and risk further exposure. I appreciate the flexibility for students but I feel this plan neglects staff.
Thanks, Dominique. Based on input we received from last week’s faculty survey, we are working with Faculty Council and the Deans to develop specific guidance outlining what the return to residential education, with students on campus and in classrooms, means for faculty and teaching fellows. This guidance will be shared in the coming weeks.
Has BU considered the Massachusetts travel advisory “All visitors entering Massachusetts to self quarantine for 14 days as you monitor your health”. What is BU’s message to out-of-state parents who plan to drop off their incoming freshman at BU?
I am graduate student and will be starting 2 year of my dental public health program at BU this fall. I am just wondering if I have the option to go for online or in person classes this fall semester.
When will the incoming freshman be able to choose to attend classes or take them remotely?
Are we allowed to take all classes online while being on campus? and can we choose to do in-person for all classes as well??
I’m a Sargent student, and f I choose to in-person during the fall, will all the Sargent courses that I choose be in person or online? Or is that depends on the teacher? Since many international students might lose the visa and students status base on having online classes.
Under the University’s new hybrid teaching format the University is calling Learn from Anywhere (LfA), you will have the option of taking the classes in person or online. Learn more about it here: http://www.bu.edu/articles/2020/remote-in-person-hybrid-teaching-undergraduate-programs/
Since BU’s reopening guidelines and plans were announced in early June (at a time when it seemed like we had successfully bent the curve on COVID), there have been over 800,000 new cases of COVID in the US, with an increasing fraction occurring among young adults and a massive resurgence of the disease in multiple areas of the US. In response, university after university is revising reopening and campus residency plans, yet BU remains silent.
The world has CHANGED in the past 6 weeks. How is BU adapting in the face of the current COVID reality? Your students – and their parents – need information that addresses the current situation.
– What are housing plans (forms still show multiple kids to a room. Really??)
– What are dining plans?
– How are you handling labs (not the list of all possible theoretical options but the actual Sept 2020 plan for each lab course)
– How are you dealing with the fact that remote learning is NOT the same as in person. Watching a lab is not the same as doing it. If it were, the NIH would be working from home.
– What facilities/services/activities on campus will actually be open?
– How do you envision students dealing with the 20 hours of each day that is not spent in class?
– How will you ensure day-to-day social distancing in the large, varied community that is a university?
What, exactly, will be the difference between coming to BU and staying at home? Because taking online classes at home sounds infinitely more attractive right now than taking online classes while confined to a dorm room with roommate(s) 24×7.
Information, please. Thanks –
I, like many, would like to be on-campus for the fall semester, as this past semester was an academic disaster for me. How do I make clear to the University my intention to return to campus? My father brought up the topic, and so I’ve been looking for some way to do it. I must be looking in all the wrong places, because I cannot find it.
Start by filling out this survey: [https://shib.bu.edu/idp/profile/SAML2/POST/SSO;jsessionid=4bb4lgpo24stnjg2synjgrz4?execution=e1s1].
While it’s not a binding survey, it will communicate to CAS that you’re planning to come back in the fall. If you live in on-campus housing you can also contact Residence Life to verify that you will be returning to campus. In addition, you can contact your academic advisor to be absolutely sure CAS is aware of your plans to return to campus this fall.
How do we know which classes will be offered in online version and which ones in-person? How would dividing a large class into several small classes to achieve ideal number of persons gathering in one room affect teaching and learning? — I am beyond being confused and would like to hear an answer from BU. Thank you very much for your care for all students and families.
Thank you for reaching out to us, Wendy. Most courses in the coming semester will be offered in the Learn from Anywhere framework, which is to say they’ll be simultaneously in-person and remote. There will, however, be some courses offered only in-person or only remote, and the schools and colleges are working to finalize those determinations. With regard to how the division of classes into rotations will affect teaching and learning, our primary objective will always be the health and safety of our community. This new approach however, will enable students to have full access to courses, while following public health guidelines around physical distancing and limiting the number of people in a given space.
I understand that international students who choose to study completely online from their home country will lose their F1 visa. Will there be any problem in applying for a new F1 visa when they are ready to return to BU in person, next semester or next fall? Or would they be advised to take leave of absence instead?
We appreciate that there are many complicated questions about how the LfA modality will impact international student’s visas depending on whether they can return to campus and participate in hybrid instruction or whether they prefer to enroll remotely from home. The length of F-1 visas and SEVIS records depend on a number of factors so it will be important for us to review your student’s immigration documentation and fall registration status to accurately respond to specific case questions. International students are urged to contact their ISSO advisor for guidance. Recent communication from the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) indicates that we may be required to end student’s SEVIS records which in some cases, may require them to obtain a new F-1 visa before they can return to the US to resume studies. BU’s ISSO office is seeking further clarification and will continue to send notifications via email to students and update their website.
Have there been guidelines posted for commuters or students living off campus? What if one day you have a class where it is your turn to attend the class in-person, followed by a different class that meets remotely? Where can students go to participate in the remote class if they won’t have time to return home before the second class meets?