Teaching and Learning Modalities

Our plan to safely welcome students back to campus on time requires that we begin the semester with a one-week period of remote learning for all classes, regardless of whether the courses will ultimately be blended or fully online. Doing so allows for adequate testing and quarantine periods for our campus community, and it reflects the current health conditions and guidance in Pierce County. Because we’ll be learning remotely that first week, faculty will be in touch with you by September 4 to let you know where and how to “show up” for their classes. 

Beginning in week two, we will begin to move to in-person learning for blended courses as long as doing so is supported by the current conditions and health authorities. Your faculty care about your health and your education, and we’ve asked them to determine a timeline for introducing in-person instruction that supports their course content and lesson plans (for example, it may make more sense to complete a unit first). Faculty will give students a minimum of one week’s notice before the potential addition of any in-person learning elements. 

Flexible learning environment
Our phasing-in to campus learning will also be shaped by the nature of courses themselves. A  select number of classes have been identified as priorities for in-person learning because they have learning outcomes that can most readily be achieved through face-to-face instruction. Those courses — which include some labs, clinical and performance-based experiences, and formative community-building classes for first-year students — will phase back in first. 

More in-person elements of blended classes may be added as public-health guidance indicates it is appropriate to increase population density on campus. Additional in-person elements will be implemented by individual faculty in the manner that best suits their courses and learning objectives.

Plans and potential pivots
It’s important to underscore that the return to the classroom may not follow a straightforward path. While our campus experienced a pivot in one direction last March — going from fully in-person to fully remote — the potential pivots in Fall 2020 may happen in different ways and at different times. Some will be by our own design. 

In addition to starting the term remotely, we will also be ending the term remotely. Your courses will continue after Thanksgiving break, though in-person instruction will conclude when the university closes for Thanksgiving break. The two weeks of instruction following Thanksgiving, and finals week, will be remote. During this time, campus will remain open and housing and dining options will remain available in accordance with overall University pandemic response. (See below to learn more specifics about campus housing and dining.)

Other scenarios, such as presumed positive cases among students, faculty, and their respective households, hold the potential to be more unpredictable and disruptive. Naturally, if you or a member of one of your in-person courses tests positive, or if a member of your household does, you can expect up to a required 14-day quarantine. As you think through different scenarios, you can see that this type of disruption could happen as many times as community members test positive across different classes and living situations.

Remote Learning
There may be the necessity for some students to participate in remote learning because of their own personal circumstances, such as their health or the health of a household member, or in response to a requirement for a period of isolation or quarantine. For short-term accommodations (two weeks or less), students should work directly with their faculty to develop a plan for remote learning. Students who wish to participate in classes remotely for the entire semester should contact the Office of Accessibility and Accommodation at oaa@plu.edu to request educational accommodations.

Research with Human Subjects
For Fall 2020, all undergraduate and graduate student research involving human participants must be conducted online or remotely. Exceptions may be made for graduate students with training in infection prevention and control (e.g., DNP students). Contact the Human Participants Review Board (hprb@plu.edu) if you have any questions. Any research involving in-person interaction must follow current public health and PLU requirements and will require a risk analysis and mitigation plan.

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