Many of you have likely received an email from the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences this morning regarding changes to course instruction for the Fall 2020 semester consistent with the recommended guidelines to promote health and safety on our campus. The Department of Biological Sciences wanted to follow up with some specific information for our majors and minors. All of our courses are being offered under multiple formats during the Fall 2020 semester, including traditional face-to-fact on the main campus (FA), online (OL), audio/visual (AV), and hybrid (HY). Below is a general description of our current plans for providing instruction by these different mechanisms. Students may contact their instructors for additional details about a specific course. Please keep in mind that these plans may be subject to change as needed in response to changing conditions, but in all situations our priority will be to provide our usual high level of quality instruction to all of our students.
For those courses that can take place in a room large enough to allow for safe socially distancing, these courses are offered in the traditional manner with lectures and exams taking place in person at the regularly scheduled time. Office hours scheduled by individual faculty may occur virtually through the use of Blackboard Collaborate Ultra or Zoom.
The sections of BSC 108 and BSC 109 Introduction to Biology for Non-Majors I and II, respectively, that are traditionally taught in an online format (900-level sections) are being taught in the same format as previous years with all lectures and lab activities being available completely online with no in-person meetings. In these courses, the student will have the opportunity to regularly interact with the course instructor during the week virtually for office hours and review of material.
For those sections being offered in the AV format all lectures will occur synchronously at the regularly scheduled time, however, the lectures will take place live virtually, e.g., using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra or Zoom. Furthermore, all lectures will be recorded (e.g., Panopto, Collaborate Ultra or Zoom) and made available to students for secondary viewing. Student will take their exams online at the regularly scheduled times using the Respondus Monitor program (available to students for download from the UA OIT website), which requires students to have a webcam and stable internet connectivity on their personal computers so the exams can be taken off campus.
HY Courses and Lab Sections:
For lecture sections and all lab sections designated as HY, students will be required to participate in face-to-face instruction during the course of the semester. The exact frequency of that face-to-face interaction will depend on the enrollment numbers for specific sections and the social distancing capacity for the classrooms to which sections have been assigned. However, each course and lab section will setup a weekly calendar for the entire semester allowing the students to know which days they will be attending in person and which days they will be participating virtually. All students will attend at least one lecture per week and participate in hands-on activities for multiple lab sections throughout the semester. For lectures, the classrooms are equipped with webcams that allow students to participate in the lecture virtually if they have not been assigned to participate in face-to-face instruction for that particular day. Furthermore, all lectures will be recorded (e.g., Panopto, Collaborate Ultra or Zoom) and made available to students for secondary viewing. Because of the need for social distancing some students will take their exams in person while other students will have the option of taking their exams online at the regularly scheduled times using the Respondus Monitor program (available to students for download from the UA OIT website), which requires students to have a webcam and stable internet connectivity on their personal computers so the exams can be taken off campus. For the times that individual students are not assigned to participate in hands-on activities for the lab section, those students will instead be assigned to participate in alternative lab activities virtually each week. Students will also have multiple opportunities during the week to regularly interact with the course instructor or lab section GTAs virtually for office hours and review of material.
Special Accommodations for Students Who Become Ill or Placed Under Quarantine:
Students may work with the Office of Disability Services for assistance with course accommodations as recommended by the College (https://as.ua.edu/advising/covid-19-homepage/covid-19-faqs/). If at some point during the semester, students who are enrolled in any course regardless of the instruction designation were to be diagnosed as COVID-19 positive, the student will be allowed to continue the course in a virtual manner and will be given the option of completing all missed assignments and exams within a reasonable amount of time once they are able to resume activities. For those students registered for courses designated as either FA or HY who are required to quarantine for an extended period of time (e.g., 14 days), the students will be allowed to continue in the course in a virtual manner until they return to campus.