The Academic Experience
The 2020-2021 academic year is designed for flexibility and accessibility. Our world-class faculty are prepared to deliver inclusive, high quality and engaging course content regardless of format. Last summer, faculty and students have engaged in discussions to learn from each other and improve the virtual learning experience. Additionally, faculty are working closely with their colleges and Academic Innovation to create distinctive and meaningful experiential learning activities. Our goal is to ensure widespread access to a high quality academic experience for all students regardless of the unpredictable circumstances that lie ahead.
Courses will be primarily online
The majority of courses will be offered fully online. A limited number of courses will be approved to meet face-to-face based on strict criteria. All face-to-face courses will offer a parallel online component for students who are not able to attend in person. This allows maximum flexibility to accommodate the health, safety and at-home situations for all.
The student-faculty connection is top priority
While online sessions will primarily be offered asynchronously, every course will include regular, interactive (synchronous) faculty-student dialogue in one-on-one or small group sessions to enhance the connection we crave.
Student support services and resources will be improved
The Student Support Gateway offers timely resources to support student learning in a primarily virtual environment. Academic Innovation is hosting a series of webinars for students to help them navigate digital tools available to enhance the learning experience. In addition, a Learning Hotline for students will be established in the coming weeks. Support services (such as tutoring) will continue to be primarily offered virtually with in-person sessions offered by appointment.
We will create distinctive experiential learning opportunities novel to life during a pandemic
UTSA has the opportunity to develop an interdisciplinary experiential learning initiative whereby different disciplines identify courses that can use disciplinary approaches to capture life in the time of COVID-19, especially as they relate to the UTSA community.
A new First Year Experience program is in development
Our incoming freshmen will be starting their UTSA journey during an extraordinary time in U.S. history that includes a worldwide pandemic, racial injustice, and an extremely contentious federal election. The graduating class of 2020 finished high school online, they will largely begin college online and they will encounter professional fields vastly changed by rapidly evolving virtual technologies. As they navigate this historical moment, our new Roadrunners bring a broad range of experiences, diverse sets of strengths as well as complex and unique needs. Thus, a working group is exploring how to embrace this moment to support, bolster and enrich the college experience for our new Roadrunners.
Safety measures for in-person classes
While most classes will be online, precautionary measures will be upheld in order to protect the health and safety of students and faculty in face-to-face courses.
Classroom capacity will be reduced
UTSA classrooms with fixed seating or tables can only accommodate 20-25% of their normal capacity with six feet of separation at all times. Smaller spaces with mobile tables and chairs or labs and studios can accommodate 40-45% of standard occupancy. Thus, no in-person class will have more than 40 students enrolled.
Face masks will be required in the classroom
All students and faculty will be expected to wear masks or face coverings in all indoor settings while also maintaining social distancing.
Campus cleaning and disinfection
The Public Health Task Force report defines cleaning and disinfection protocols, including regular cleaning and disinfecting of all classrooms, community spaces and high-traffic areas. Additional resources will also be made available including hand sanitizer stations, disinfecting supplies, plastic barriers for high traffic areas and online training to help students, faculty and staff take personal safety measures in gathering spaces like classrooms.
UTSA is still obligated to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to their courses, regardless of course format.
Student Disability Services and Academic Innovation’s accessibility specialists are working in partnership to support faculty and students with accommodation needs in online courses. Academic Innovation offers several course design accessibility resources to faculty and staff to review and ensure accessibility within their digital materials and courses.