As the RIT community prepares to return to campus this fall, an environment of physical distancing and reduced classroom occupancies has added a new component to the course scheduling process.
Throughout the summer, teams in every college have worked with staff from the Office of the Registrar to rebuild the fall schedule to accommodate the unique requirements of the fall semester. This work included incorporating physical distancing requirements, revising the class meeting schedule, and updating class meeting locations. Between now and early August, the registrar will continue to add detail to the schedule.
Most of the revisions that students will see involve how their courses will be taught — in person, online, or a combination of both. Additional information will continue to be added to schedules to help students understand how blended courses will work.
“The landscape of higher education has changed as a result of COVID-19,” said Joe Loffredo, RIT associate vice president and registrar. “And, while the situation we are presented with may not be ideal, it’s important to share that we didn’t have to start the process from scratch. The class schedule has been set since April.”
Loffredo explained that colleges and academic departments have had to add and move course sections due to increased freshmen enrollment and new requirements for physical distancing and changing capacities in classrooms, labs, and studios.
“By far, our biggest challenge has been that classroom spaces have been reduced by at least 50 percent in every space across campus,” added Loffredo. Work has been underway to split classes to account for reduced occupancies throughout campus.
Loffredo says that faculty and staff have developed creative ways to teach classes using non-traditional learning spaces such as holding wellness classes outdoors and transforming larger university spaces like Ingle Auditorium and the conference rooms in Louise M. Slaughter Hall to accommodate larger volumes of students.
“Our returning students become very attached to the courses that they select, and we don’t want to change that,” said Tina Sturgis, senior associate registrar. “We are reacting to the needs of our students, and the schedules that they will ultimately receive will make sense to them, as well as to faculty and staff.”
Incoming first-year students will have their course schedules created by academic advisors. Those schedules will be ready for viewing in SIS starting Aug. 8.
“RIT will certainly look and feel like a different place this fall,” added Loffredo. “But, RIT has been agile and responsive to all of the changes that has come its way, while keeping the university community — students, faculty and staff — at the center of decision making.”