Following upon Father John’s letter to the entire Notre Dame community earlier today, I write to share with you our plan to maintain instructional continuity as we implement social-distancing practices to deal with the dangers of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. We have two overriding aims: to protect the health and wellness of our community by lessening the potential spread of the virus through person-to-person contact on campus and to ensure the instructional continuity for our students.
As you know from Fr. John’s letter, all in-person classes have been suspended through at least April 13. In addition, the University’s spring break has been extended through March 22 to allow us time to develop plans for teaching classes remotely starting March 23. After consultation with faculty members and the deans, and with colleagues at other universities, we have decided to take the actions described below. Before describing them, it is important to emphasize that our University remains open, research continues, and we do not at this point expect this disruption to lengthen our spring semester.
To support your teaching during this transition, a team of faculty members from our colleges and schools, supported by ND Learning (The Kaneb Center and the Office of Digital Learning) and the Office of Information Technologies, has been working diligently to collect and organize a set of online resources. These resources are available at coronavirus.nd.edu/instructional-continuity, and include a remote teaching toolkit, checklists, and instructions designed to help you to teach online courses. The team will update this information regularly with new offerings, advice, announcements about tutorials, and other mechanisms for getting assistance. Please consult this webpage often in the days ahead. The resource website listed above contains a link for you to share tips and ideas; they matter.
Other University administrators are sharing with their constituents similar letters providing additional information and guidance. These letters, along with FAQs from academic and research-related units including Notre Dame International, the Office of Student Affairs, the Graduate School, and Notre Dame Research, are posted at coronavirus.nd.edu.
We recognize that these steps, while necessary, are disruptive, and that delivering instruction remotely poses unique challenges for many courses and programs, especially labs and studios. Consider what essential materials and learning resources your students will need during the disruption, and please let them know what materials are essential as soon as possible so the University can arrange the shipment of anything left in their residence halls. When resources can be made available online through the Hesburgh Libraries, we should do so.
The deans, department chairs, and I plan to meet tomorrow morning to discuss these challenges. Please direct comments or questions to your department chair, or in the case of schools, your dean. Many universities are working through these challenges. We will undoubtedly learn from each other in the coming weeks and months. I ask for your patience and collaboration as we do so.
In closing, I want to express my sincere gratitude in advance for your efforts to ensure we continue to provide our students with the best possible educational experience at Notre Dame under extraordinary circumstances. This semester is proving to be a test for all of us. Thanks to all of you, we will rise to the occasion.
Yours in Notre Dame,