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Degree Programs

Covid-19 Policies and Syllabus Statements
for DU Writing Courses

The DRAFT materials below, written to address the specific challenges of Covid-19, should appear in all WRIT syllabi.  Still to be developed are some scenarios to help professors address situations that might arise.  --Doug Hesse

 

What You Can Expect in HOW This Class is Taught

The University of Denver has followed careful criteria in assigning every course, including this one, to a specific teaching modality. A modality is simply how course meetings take place: in-person, entirely online, or a hybrid: some in-person and some online. The campus aim is to create, even in our current situation, the exceptional course experiences that are a hallmark of a DU education and a particular point of pride in the writing program. Your professor has worked carefully to adapt their teaching to the circumstances of this course, creating a rich learning environment that may, in fact, differ from their customary teaching approaches. Students should also be willing to adapt to these circumstances, possibly engaging new opportunities. You can expect all courses, whatever their modality, to feature appropriately rigorous expectations, and to teach the same content and skills as have always characterized DU classes, using strong teaching practices that fit the course situation. Changing circumstances may compel your instructor suddenly to shift your course to a new mode, possibly entirely online. They will do so while maintaining course quality and integrity. DU is likewise confident that you will make any transition with the same professional attitude and behavior that your professor will demonstrate. Writing courses feature frequent exchanges between students and professors, including frequent advice on your writing, especially on drafts. Writing is a class in doing and coaching. Your professor is skilled in creating quality exchanges in whatever modality your course assumes. –Doug Hesse

 

Safe Behavior in this Class

Teaching and learning have always required safe classroom environments, so the current requirements in light of Covid-19 simply extend some principles of behavior long established in higher education. But these requirements are vital extensions, given the debilitating and deadly threat of the Coronavirus, not only for you personally but for those around you. In choosing to attend the University of Denver, you've chosen to join a larger Community of Care, which means you've chosen specific responsibilities—including in this class. By enrolling in the University of Denver and in this course, you have agreed

  • Not to attend class when you're sick.
  • Not to attend class when you've been exposed to people who have or may have Covid-19.
  • To practice social distancing always, keeping at least six feet from everyone else.
  • To wear a mask—and wear it effectively—at all times.

None of these points are negotiable. They're university policy, part of the social contract you chose when you elected to attend DU. The practices are grounded in medical science and careful research. They're reinforced by official DU policy and the Honor Code, and ultimately subject to the laws of the City of Denver and State of Colorado. We know that some people in some places have foolishly declared they won't abide by similar requirements, largely for political reasons. The behavior of viruses, the nature of disease, and the possible consequence of death are not political. They are grounded in reason and evidence: hallmarks of higher education, which you've chosen to join.

You have chosen to attend a university whose formal vision is "A great private university dedicated to the public good." The public good requires behaving in ways that contribute to health for everyone. Covid-related health requirements are not debatable at The University of Denver.

"What happens if my professor thinks I'm not being safe?"

Your professor will first assume you've made an honest mistake, and kindly ask you to put on a mask, maintain social distance, or even leave the classroom, if you seem to be ill. We know inadvertent mistakes happen, and we'll try to correct them quickly. We'll try to have some extra masks on hand, for example. No big deal. We expect you'll take this corrective in the generous spirit with which it's offered.

But if you refuse a polite request, things get tougher. Ultimately, your professor has the authority to ask you to leave the classroom. Please do so immediately. We can't imagine why anyone would believe he or she has the right to ignore university policies, endanger others, and ruin a learning opportunity for  classmates, so we expect a clear formal order to change behavior or to leave will be the end of it. However, if you persist in staying, your instructor will do one of two things, both with serious consequences for you. If your professor believes the class is at risk due to your behavior, he or she will ask class members to leave, thus costing a learning opportunity for everyone. Alternatively, or additionally, he or she may contact university security to have you escorted away. Your instructor will file an incident report.

We're confident that things won't come to this, that you'll respond quickly and collegially to requests conveyed in a professional manner. Still, here's the specific university policy regarding disruptive classroom behavior:

The University is committed to a positive and safe learning environment. Individual instructors have the right to determine whether specific Student classroom behavior and conduct is disruptive to the learning environment. In extenuating circumstances, instructors may require a Student to leave an individual class meeting based on disruptive behavior and conduct. However, instructors are not authorized to permanently remove a Student from the course without following the appropriate process. Instructors should initiate this process as soon as possible after the initial disruption. More information can be found at: Disruptive Classroom Behavior

Note to Faculty

If you have to remove a student from class, or if you encounter untoward resistance to a reasonable request, please submit an Incident Report to Student Rights & Responsibilities found at SRR Incident Report. SRR is creating a COVID specific incident report and will include this on their website found at SRR

Please consult with Doug Hesse or Richard Colby, or contact one of the following Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence colleagues:

  • Kristine McCaslin, Kristine.McCaslin@du.edu, Director of Student Rights & Responsibilities and CARE Behavioral Intervention Team
  • Niki Latino, Niki.Latino@du.edu, Interim Vice Chancellor/Associate Vice Chancellor, Chair of the CARE Behavior Intervention Team

 

Taking a Class Online Instead of In-Person, As Scheduled

NOTE to Faculty: Our primary policy is that students should take a course in the modality they want or need.  For example, if they want to take a course completely online, they should register for an online section.  However, students may want or need to shift from a hybrid/f2f course to completely online.  Our policy is to work with students in this situation.  Crucially, though, we expect that professors will need to make online minimal adjustments in these situations; as you'll see in the language below, we make very clear to students what they can--and cannot--expect.  Everyone will have a strong Canvas presence for any course. You need NOT create a second or parallel version of your course. You'll also see that students need to contact the program off to request this change.

Dear WRIT Student,

The Writing Program has a mixture of hybrid and completely online courses this fall. You should sign up for a section in a modality that meets your needs. We understand that things can change or come up, so we're anticipating two possible situations below.

What if I get sick during a hybrid course or otherwise need to move to take the course completely online?

Don't worry. If you sign up for a hybrid course but become ill, you can shift to a completely online mode for the remainder of the quarter. You must notify your professor very clearly, as soon as possible, if you need to shift to online. He or she will make some adjustments in course planning. All WRIT courses, including hybrids, are designed to shift completely to an online version, with readings, writing assignments, and most activities that take place online. All course goals, amounts of work, due dates, and so on will remain the same. But, as we'll explain in answering the next question, you won't have the same of experience that your in-person classmates will have, even if you'll experience a quality course from a dedicated professor.

What if I want to take a WRIT course/section completely online, even though it's scheduled as hybrid?

First, you should make every attempt to register for a purely online course. You'll get the very best experience. If there are simply no alternatives for you (and we ask you to contact writing@du.edu for help), you may take an online version of a hybrid course.

However, you must understand that hybrid courses are specifically designed and optimized to have an in-person component. If you take a hybrid exclusively online, you accept that won't be able to benefit from many course features. For example, you may not be able to attend class meetings synchronously. If you are able to view classes "live" as opposed to through recordings, the streaming production values will be limited, and you won't be able to interact with the professor or other students. You will have access to the professor through her or his office hours, or any additional arrangements for all in-person students; however, you'll likely have limited to no "extra" direct interactions with your professor. As with all courses at DU, the syllabus, assignments, and exams are available through Canvas. You'll be able to complete all readings and writing assignments, though your instructor might make some modifications, as he or she finds appropriate. All course goals, amounts of work, due dates, and so on will remain the same.

If you want the fully supported and optimized experience planned into a hybrid course, you should attend the class in-person. Alternatively, you should enroll in one of the purely online sections. But if you have no alternatives, contact us, and we're fairly confident we can work things out.

Questions?

Please send an email to writing@du.edu.

Sincerely,

Doug Hesse
Professor and Director of Writing

 

The Nature of Hybrid Courses in Writing  

Note that the content that previously appeared here is now available at the link immediately above.