Academics

As the challenges presented by COVID-19 continue to change rapidly, the University of Denver’s top priority remains the health, safety, and well-being of our community. We are also, of course, committed to our mission to prepare students for lives of purpose.

FAQs

  • If I don’t want to participate in digital contact tracing, will I have to take all my courses online?

    High participation rates in digital contact tracing are critical to our campus limiting the spread of the Coronavirus so we can remain on campus for the entire term. However, we only strongly encourage everyone to participate in contact tracing, and we will not require it. Thus, there will be no penalty for not participating, and you will not be forced to take classes remotely.

  • Is the schedule final or are individual class formats still being determined?

    The fall schedule as it appears now is as final, as the schedule usually is at this time. A small percentage of courses change over the summer every year, and we anticipate the same for this year. If you believe something is listed incorrectly, please contact your department head or dean.

  • When will Fall 2020 classes start and end?

    The Fall 2020 quarter for most units will start September 14. Instruction will end Friday, November 20. Most students will leave campus after their last day of class and remain away from campus for the remainder of the quarter, taking final exams online. The Law School fall semester begins on August 17 and the last day of fall semester classes is Monday, November 23. The Law School’s exams will also be online.

  • How will Fall 2020 courses be delivered?

    There will be four modes of classes:

    • Online — a class designed from the ground up so all students can attend the main class experience online. These courses may be synchronous (will have days/times published in the schedule of classes) or asynchronous (will not have days/times published in the schedule of classes).
    • Hybrid — a class that has both in-person and remote learning elements, with the frequency of in-person learning based on instructional needs. Hybrid courses will require students to be on campus for a portion of their coursework. Specific frequency of in-person class meetings will vary by course, but the course will meet in person at least one day per week. The other days the course may meet online synchronously (the other days of the week will be published in the schedule of classes) or asynchronously (the other days of the week will not be published in the schedule of classes).
    • Hyflex—a class that is designed to be multi-modal such that each student can either choose their mode of engagement in the course for the day or will be assigned a mode of engagement for that day. That is, in some cases, students can choose to attend face-to-face meetings in person or participate fully online, and can choose to go back-and-forth between these different modes of participation throughout the duration of the course. In other cases, students will be assigned a day to participate in person and will not be allowed to attend class on other days. Classes are conducted for the most part as if it were a regular face-to-face class, where cameras and microphones are set up in the room and students have the option of viewing and participating in class activities in person or remotely. Instructors will be in the classroom every day the course is scheduled.
    • In-person — a class for which there is at least some essential material that can be acquired only through in-person attendance. All in-person classes and the in-person portions of hybrid classes will be streamed and/or recorded to allow students who become ill or who need to self-isolate or who cannot attend for some other reason to keep up and continue to make progress. Instructors, however, will not be expected to engage online students as if the course were a hyflex course.
  • What is the Pass Plus/Pass/No Pass grading model? Am I eligible?
    • The Pass Plus/Pass/No Pass opportunity is optional, and is being offered for spring and summer quarter 2020 only;
    • All undergraduate and graduate courses at the University of Denver are eligible for Pass Plus/Pass/No Pass grade designations for spring and summer quarter 2020 (The Sturm College of Law operates on a semester system and moved to a Pass/Fail system on March 23);
    • Pass Plus (P+) is defined as a grade of C- or higher. Pass (P) is defined as a grade of D+, D or D-. No Pass (NP) is defined as lower than D-. None of these options will impact GPA calculations;
    • Students can make the decision whether to exercise the Pass Plus/Pass/No Pass option up to 72 hours after their final grades for the quarter are available for viewing;
    • Students should consult with their program advisors as they consider the Pass Plus/Pass/No Pass option;
    • It is important to note that the Pass Plus/Pass/No Pass option may not be appropriate for students in some graduate programs with accreditation, licensure and/or professional requirements;
    • If a student chooses the modified grading policy it will have no impact on their GPA calculations for financial aid eligibility; and
    • Students will be allowed a one-time opt-in and opt-out for each course in which they are enrolled.
  • Should instructors let students into their course from the waitlist?

    Instructors should limit in-person, hybrid, and hyflex courses to the number that was used to determine the size of the room assigned to the class. Instructors teaching online courses may add students as they see fit.

  • How will I know what modalities my classes are in?

    On July 15th, the registrar released the course schedule with class modality (online, in-person, hybrid, and hyflex) clearly listed. Below your course title, you will see the following designations: lecture (which means in-person), hybrid, or online. Advisors will be available to assist students who need to change their courses due to changes in modality.

  • Will the University consider another Pass Plus/Pass/No Pass grading model if we need to pivot to fully online?

    In the event we would need to move online in the fall, we would explore options, and a pass plus/pass/no pass grading model would be a likely outcome. However, this method can complicate students’ ability to get licensed or into medical school if we utilize this option for a long period of time.

  • What is DU doing to ensure high-quality teaching and learning this fall?

    This fall is dramatically different from the spring term when the faculty had fewer than 14 days to entirely change their courses and every course needed to be online. This fall, we divided our courses into in-person, hybrid/hyflex, and online. In-person classes were determined based on the high-impact outcomes of those courses. Hybrid/Hyflex was determined by the faculty members’ desire and capabilities.

    New technology has been deployed all over campus moving our 286 learning environments. Previously fewer than 50 classrooms were equipped with cameras, speakers, microphones and monitors. Now, only 70 remain unequipped. Moreover, the University has invested $3M into teaching supports, including additional classroom assistants to help faculty manage technology difficulties.

  • What if I prefer to take courses in a different modality?

    Online classes cannot be converted to in-person because we do not have the physical space on campus under the de-densification ordinance to adapt. However, if necessary, students may complete an in-person class, or a portion of the class, in an online modality. Programs may use several strategies to help students stay on track. These include course substitutions, modification of academic plans, modification of graduation requirements, and/or allowing some students to take scheduled, in-person or hybrid/hyflex courses in an online modality for limited or extended periods. Individual units will make these decisions on a case-by-case basis.

    For students in an in-person or hybrid/hyflex course who then become ill and need to temporarily quarantine, the instructor will work with them to identify an appropriate way to make up the missed classes. This may include allowing a student to watch a video recording of the course and/or to engage in other online activities. Students unable to attend in-person sessions for longer periods should contact their advisor, instructor or dean’s office to get help in navigating to the best outcome.

  • I’m in a course of 15 students or fewer – why is my course online?

    The university does not have sufficient physical resources to have all classes in-person this fall. Several classes need to move to an online format to fit within our constraints. The classes chosen to be held online are mostly large classes, but some were selected because the department has significant experience in online delivery and is better positioned to deliver high-quality instruction in that modality.

  • Why is DU not having a usual 10-week quarter?

    The fall quarter will be the full 10 weeks of instruction. The quarter has not been shortened. Finals were shifted by five days to support students returning home and not taking classes while traveling.

  • Are professors going to take feedback from teaching assistants to decide whether or not the class should be online, in-person, hybrid or hyflex?

    The modality of the course was selected and placed in the schedule of classes before TA assignments. Therefore, it was not possible to request their input. TAs can request work as normal. In addition, additional classroom assistants are being added as a support for the coming year to lessen the burden on faculty and enhance the experience for students. These classroom assistants will be assigned to numerous classes primarily to make sure technology is running and to serve as a helper. 

  • What does six-foot distancing look like in a classroom?

    All classrooms are being digitally and physically measured and reconfigured to ensure we have at least six feet between all seats. This evaluation of our current learning spaces has been going on for several months, and testing was carried out during summer in-person courses to ensure compliance in a real-time scenario.

  • Will it be possible to teach in-person classes outside of the classroom, following social distance guidelines and wearing face coverings?

    The University is evaluating outdoor spaces to support students during the time between classes. Students will need a place to eat, relax between classes, or take an on-line course sandwiched between two in-person classes. Facilities is currently evaluating all our outdoor spaces to help design, define and bring on spaces that can serve the needs of the University in the fall. Additional information can be found in the action plan (on pages 25-26).

  • For instructors teaching in-person courses, what kinds of classroom activities can be accomplished safely and support key learning goals?

    Our faculty are very creative, and we want to encourage in-class activities. However, we must maintain our distancing requirements. Please contact the Office of Teaching and Learning with specific questions on activities, and we will consider possible solutions for you.

  • What advice does the University have for using face shields instead of cloth face coverings?

    Unfortunately, plastic face shields do not provide sufficient protection and are not recommended by the CDC or our health experts. As such, we have decided to remove the face shield as an alternative to face coverings. Some units have very unique challenges, which we are using experts on campus in aerosol science to help design solutions. These solutions are forthcoming but will be incorporated into the action plan.

  • Can I request to take an in-person class online?

    Students at the University of Denver are required to attend classes under program accreditation requirements, University of Denver policies and guidelines, and individual professor attendance policies. In this time of uncertainty, the University recognizes that students may be unable to attend in-person classes or the in-person class sessions of hybrid/hyflex classes because of quarantine requirements, health accommodations, or travel restrictions. All academic programs at the University of Denver are committed to helping our students stay on track for graduation during the pandemic, and we will work with students to assist in making academic progress in their degree programs.

    Programs may use several strategies to help students stay on track. These include course substitutions, modification of academic plans, modification of graduation requirements, and/or allowing some students to take scheduled in-person or hybrid/hyflex courses in an online modality for limited or extended periods. Individual units will make these decisions on a case-by-case basis.

    For students in an in-person or hybrid/hyflex course who then become ill and need to temporarily quarantine, the instructor will work with them to identify an appropriate way to make up the missed classes. This may include allowing a student to watch a video recording of the course and/or to engage in other online activities

    Online students, however, may have a different experience than the in-person students for class sessions that were designed to be in person. In-person courses at the University of Denver for fall 2020 were specifically designed, selected and optimized to have an in-person component because of the nature of the course or the high-impact qualities of the course.  Thus, if possible, students able to attend in-person class sessions are encouraged to do so to be fully supported and to have an optimized experience. Please connect with your instructor, advisor or dean to determine the best plan of action.

  • Will I be able to stay on track academically during this crisis?

    We are committed to ensuring student academic progress is maintained during this challenging time. What does this mean? It means that we will work closely with you to make sure you stay on track and not lose progress to your degree as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Specifically:

    • For students anticipating graduation in June: We will be rapidly conducting degree evaluations for all those intending to graduate in June, looking for missing classes, seeking alternatives, and communicating frequently. 
    • For our commitment to diverse learning styles and neurodiversity: We will be ramping up resources, tools and advising to support the transition and navigation into these new online learning environments.
    • For students who anticipate technology challenges with online coursework: Please contact the Provost’s Office (provost@du.edu) and we will help you troubleshoot. 
    • For students using GI Bill benefits: We know you are concerned about potential impacts to your benefits as a result of transitioning all courses online. A legislative solution is currently moving through Congress. Please be assured that as updates come in, Veterans Services and the Certifying Official will update you as soon as possible. 
    • For all students: We are working to create or modify policies to support your success and help you stay on track for degree completion. 
  • Will students need to re-register for courses?

    Students will not need to re-register for courses if there are no problems with their schedule or the modality of their courses. Students who need to—or want to—make changes to the classes they were planning to take may make changes at any time after the schedule is published, with the exception of the week of first-time first-year undergraduate student registration (July 18-24) when registration will be closed to returning students.

Fall 2020 Classroom Experience

  • What happens when a student contracts COVID-19 during the quarter?

    Students who fall ill with COVID-19 will be able to take the in-person components of their class online during the period they are in isolation. However, students who become severely ill can use the existing process best designed for their needs and circumstances, such as medical withdraw, grade replacement, and incompletes.

  • Will students be required to wear a face covering while in class?

    Currently, DU’s Return to Campus Protocol requires wearing cloth face coverings at all times while on campus will be required for all DU community members except:

    • When alone in a private office;
    • For students, when alone — or with a roommate — in an assigned dorm room;
    • When eating and drinking while practicing social distancing — including in a campus dining facility if sit-down dining is resumed during Fall quarter;
    • When an alternative has been approved as part of the Americans with Disabilities Act or religious observance accommodation processes.  
  • How will wearing a face covering and other safety precautions be encouraged or enforced?

    All instructors, staff, and students will be required to complete a Canvas course related to COVID19 supports, expectations, and procedures. This course will be part of a community public health campaign that communicates to instructors, staff, and students the benefits of wearing a face covering and following other guidelines such as handwashing and sanitizing, including sanitizing classroom spaces. Finally, the DU Honor Code has been changed to reflect the requirement to comply with COVID19 related protocols. Students not wearing a face covering will be in violation of the DU Honor Code and can be required to leave campus if they refuse to wear a face covering.

  • What if an instructor gets sick and needs to miss one or more classes?

    Every course should have an instructional continuity plan such as designating a teaching partner to take over the class in the event of instructor illness or emergency. 

  • What if there are new stay at home rules that require in-person, hybrid, and hyflex classes to be shifted fully online?

    Every course should have a plan in place to switch to fully online learning (either synchronously or asynchronously) in the event that in-person/hybrid/hyflex courses are no longer able to be offered.

  • Can instructors use paper assignments and paper handouts?

    No. DU will be paperless for Fall Quarter 2020. Instructors must distribute and receive all assignments and class material electronically.

  • How will instructors hold office hours?

    All office hours will occur online or by phone unless instructors can ensure proper distancing. Most faculty offices are too small to ensure proper distancing.

  • How many students are allowed in each class taught in-person?

    Class size will depend on the size of the room. DU will follow guidelines from the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE). Under current guidelines, classes in regular sized rooms are capped at 50 students. Classes held in “extra-large” spaces are capped at 100. DU has very few spaces that qualify as “extra-large” under current guidelines.

  • When will instructors know what room they will be teaching in?

    Now that the Registrar’s office has a draft of the revised 2020 schedule of classes that includes the class modality, they will be working to place those classes into physical locations as quickly as they can. Classrooms will be assigned based on size and the technology available in the room.

  • What technology will be available in classrooms?

    Classrooms will be equipped with a camera and microphone to transmit video and audio content to students who are not able to attend that course in person. Courses scheduled to be taught as “hyflex” will be scheduled in classrooms with enhanced technology to facilitate teaching and student online participation.

  • Will classes be held on Saturdays or Sundays or during extended hours?

    Currently, the only programs that will host classes on Saturday or Sunday are programs that were previously scheduled to hold courses on weekends. No courses that originally were scheduled for Monday-Friday have been rescheduled to Saturday or Sunday at this time. Similarly, at this time, we have not yet had to expand the hours during which courses will be offered. As state and local health guidelines evolve, however, changes may have to be made to the schedule. Any decision to expand hours of operation will be made collaboratively with units.