The Adjusted S20 Calendar–A Proposal

Given that faculty are currently mapping out their post-April 6 online teaching, it is essential that they have a revised academic calendar upon which they can  structure their planning.

An Adjusted S20 Calendar will be announced soon. Current thinking is that  it should have  five fewer class days, no weekend class day slots, and essentially  the same study day /exam day wrap up. Thanks to those who provided input over the last 24 hours..





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20 thoughts on “The Adjusted S20 Calendar–A Proposal

  1. I strongly disfavor extending the semester. Faculty and students alike are dealing with an immense amount of disruption. Teaching virtually while in a public health meltdown and while also homeschooling children for the first time is pushing me well past my limits. Cornell has been extremely responsible and sensitive in its treatment of this crisis so far. I am also concerned that to the degree that students have tried to make future plans based on the current calendar, yet another change may be logistically and psychologically destabilizing for them.

  2. How about cancelling the Spring Break?
    Nobody is travelling anywhere anyway. There is a perfectly good week to utilize!

  3. It is not clear how we will give online exams. Some courses need to give exams, and cannot rely on take home exams or papers. These are introductory courses that test understanding and memory of specific material. Various proposed solutions like locking student computers and tracking IP addresses are not workable solutions as other schools found out.

    One possible solution is to convert all courses to S/U and rely on an honor system, since grades will not be an issue. Another solution is to impose severe time restrictions on the exams so the students cannot look up the answers. But that would create problems with disabled students who demand extra time.

  4. Not having any assignments due during the last week is not workable.
    We have to cover the material before we can give an assignment, and we have to give enough time to do the assignment. Given the tightened schedule, a lot of assignments will have to be due the last week of classes. All that used to be due the week before will now be pushed to the last week. Also, student presentations are typically during the last week of classes.

    One solution is to cut the semester 1 week short by eliminating weekend classes, and allow assignments to be due the last week, since the student load will be a little less throughout.

  5. It looks like a reasonable schedule. Losing a week at the end to eliminate weekend classes is also reasonable.

    Except that it is not clear how we will give exams remotely. There is no generally accepted way to monitor remote exams, and some courses cannot convert to a take home exam or a paper. We have to give exams, especially for introductory courses, where the exam is designed to test the understanding and memory of specific material. Various methods like locking student computers, tracking IP addresses etc have been shown to be ineffective in other schools.

    One solution is to make all courses S/U as suggested in the proposal. That will make exams less critical, and an honor system might be employed. It is also possible to make exams severely time restricted to prevent students from looking up the answers. That would not prevent students from working in teams. And also it would require eliminating time extensions given to disabled students, if it is legally permissible.

  6. Posted by Risa Lieberwitz, ILR School, member of Faculty Senate:
    Some ILR faculty found the proposed Adjusted Academic Calendar to be a reasonable approach. There were also a number of concerns expressed by some faculty in the ILR School, summarized as follows:
    Concerns regarding the proposed change in the last week of classes:
    1. Faculty expressed confusion about the proposal for the last 5 sessions being “no due date” sessions. For example, a number of faculty have a research paper due on the last day of class; would this now be off limits?
    2. The same concern was expressed about having presentations (which many faculty schedule on the last teaching days) fall during the last five-day session. Would this not be permitted, since they’re technically due then?
    Concerns about teaching additional days, including Saturday and/or Sunday:
    1. A number of faculty found that teaching makeup class days on Saturday and Sunday is a bad idea. Concerns were expressed about the inconvenience to both faculty and students, and the difficulty for students and faculty who are religious and may choose not to attend on those days.
    2. Faculty questioned whether we need to have 28 class days, including whether state and/or federal regulations will be waived during a national emergency.

  7. I echo the sentiments of the many people who have suggested that we should not try to make up days on the weekends. This not only infringes on the religious observances of many students and faculty, it also cuts into badly needed time to rest and regroup. The reality is that most of us already need to put in extra time on the weekend; cramming extra meetings into that time is not going to improve the quality of learning. I think all of us can figure out how to achieve our major learning objectives even if we end up losing one or two days of instruction over the course of the semester (or in this case, the second half of the semester). Given that we all have to significantly modify the structure and delivery of our courses anyway, this is the least of the changes we will be accommodating.

  8. Please don’t do this. These extra two weeks off are really important for everyone to regroup and deal with these unique circumstances. I am having a hard time seeing how this will really help anyone.

  9. I am not teaching this semester, but I agree with many of the previously made points, that is, let’s just shorten the semester a bit and not get worried about having an exact number of MTWTF’s. For sure, let’s preserve the 2 day weekends…for everyone’s sanity.

  10. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on these proposed changes despite the rapidly changing situation.

    These are comments compiled from the Biomedical Engineering department faculty.

    1. Please clarify the date for students to request S/U grading. Is that the same as the now-extended drop date of April 21?

    2. The designation of the last five days as “study/class days” should be more nuanced. While having smaller assignments made later in the term not due this week makes sense, it does not make sense to not allow semester-long project reports to be due during this time. Forcing all assignments to be due before May 10 will lead to more stress as students have less time for wrapping up and final editing on longer-term projects. How about: Larger projects/assignments already announced and underway before March 13 (or some other date?) may be turned in as late as May 14. Any smaller assignments or new work assigned after March 13 must be due before May 10.

    3. The current plan of remote finals until May 23, with the dangled possibility of commencement occurring on May 24 seems problematic. Certainly this could not be an in-person commencement, as it seems impossible for students to be participating in remote final exams while, at the same time, getting back to Ithaca for a ceremony. This proposed schedule thus essentially precludes any in-person commencement (which seems likely anyway). Is the University planning some virtual event? If this is the case, the University should make it clear that this is the plan as soon as possible. We realize that this is a fast moving situation that requires rapid serial and nested decision making. Whenever possible, however, it would be helpful to make clear the impacts of some decisions. For example, remote finals through May 23 seems to imply no in-person commencement on May 24. So, announce that. It will enable better planning, decrease wasted planning for changing situations, and likely be a bit less emotionally burdensome for all involved.

    4. The goal of maintaining the “same weekday distribution of class days” may be a bit too much to ask. Many faculty are now caring for young children at home and will be for a month or more. Some faculty are doing this on their own. There is already a significant amount of new work entailed in retooling instruction and tailoring assessments for online offerings. This new work is coming for some faculty in an environment of canceled conferences and meetings and, thus, an environment with enough time to both make these changes and to teach on some weekends, etc. For other faculty, this new work is coming in an environment of significantly increased and stressful duties at home. Maybe it would be better for all of us to take a big breath and realize we can all cut a bit of material from what we teach without the world falling apart. How about a compromise that just drops the weekend classes (which are almost certain to run up against the desire of some faculty and students to participate in religious life) and accepts a 3-day shorter semester, with particular impacts on M, T, and F classes? Seems like a more reasonable compromise.

    Chris Schaffer, on behalf of the BME department faculty.

  11. Pushing the academic calendar to the day before scheduled commencement seems like it will create an additional burden and stress for students. As the proposal notes, “Students living at home may have a hard time getting their work done. There may be a family illness or tragedy situation. There may be an internet connectivity problem. There may be a laptop availability problem. Instructors will have to be sensitive to these realities.” Cornell does not need to make up the suspended class time. Many universities have fewer weeks in the semester than Cornell and this is a once in a generation – maybe once in a century – event. The lost instructional time should be accepted and faculty should be given the flexibility to adjust accordingly (as long as the considerations detailed in the proposal are kept in mind).

  12. As a Christian, I’m rather upset at the idea of treating Sunday April 26 and Sunday May 10 as a working Tuesday and Friday, respectively. As faculty we are expected to provide religious accommodations for our students but this new calendar does not do the same for us. I need to honor Sundays by attending (and serving in) church services – even if they are forced to be online.

    Please consider a semester with one week less than what was intended and not add to the stress by forcing us to choose between our work and our religious observance.

  13. I strongly discourage the extension of the semester. I teach classes where I often expect crises and disruptions (e.g., data delayed, software screwy, outside client non-responsive) and I teach my students how to expect and deal with those disruptions, but never at their expense – I don’t ask them to do more work or later work that may conflict with other plans they already made. Instead, I adjust expectations. Yes, we all just lost two weeks and we may lose more, but tacking a few days onto the end of the semester is not going to address that issue. I think we should just accept that we lost some content and look for ways to make sure we still achieve our larger learning objectives. Let’s be empathetic to the disruptions to students’ studies, their living arrangements, their activities, and their relationships on campus, and let’s consider that, in I suspect most cases, there are more important lessons to learn here than the content of the missed two weeks.

  14. It seems to address all of the issues very well. It will help instructors develop a schedule more easily. I like the relatively low-pressure way it makes up the missing class days.

  15. I think this makes sense to me and looks fine. I think the landscape architecture department can make this work with our course load.

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