No, your in-person instructor can’t make you take an online midterm this week


Brian Hayes

File photo, Ablah Library, 2017

With in-person classes on hiatus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wichita State instructors have two weeks to adapt all course content for remote delivery.

Students and instructors alike may be wondering what this extended break means for in-person classes that had midterms scheduled for this week. In short, there will be no class-related activities at all — even online — for classes that normally meet in person.

“That means no in-person class meetings, no online interactions, no assignments,” David Eichhorn, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, wrote in an email to LAS faculty and staff. “If you are teaching an online class you may continue teaching that class as normal. If you are teaching a hybrid class, you may continue online instruction for that class, but not in-person.”

Students are encouraged to report to department heads, deans, or the provost if class activity is not put on hold during the break.

“I understand the frustration of faculty who teach in-person classes and who are now going to lose a week of class,” Faculty Senate President Jeff Jarman said. “But the health and safety of faculty, staff, and students is more important than that one week of class.”

Jarman said instructors should be understanding of the toll an extended break could take on students.

“Lots of people were going to give midterms, and now for many students, it’s two weeks in between their last academic activity and when they might have a midterm,” he said. “As faculty, we all just have to be aware of that reality and help our students succeed in class in spite of the global pandemic.”

University President Jay Golden has said that after two weeks, the university will reevaluate whether classes should start meeting in-person again or remain online-only. He said canceling in-person classes for the remainder of the semester is not out of the question.

In an email to staff, Dean of the Institute of Innovation Jeremy Patterson acknowledged the unpredictability of the situation.

“When communicating to students we need to emphasize that this is temporary, but we should be prepared for this to be in place for the whole Spring semester,” Patterson wrote.

According to a university FAQ, the Media Resource Center has started training a group of more than 50 faculty, referred to as “Online Faculty Fellows,” who are “serving as resources to their peers” to help with course design and Blackboard usage.

“There are those of you who are fully immersed in this world of distance, remote teaching. And those of you who have less experience. I am appealing to the former to support the latter,” LAS Dean Andrew Hippisley wrote in an email to his college.

Moving online will sacrifice the quality of certain academic offerings, Engineering Dean Dennis Livesay admitted to faculty and staff in an email.

“There will be loss, and our instruction will admittedly suffer, especially in design and lab classes,” Livesay wrote. “We are working on access to digital engineering software, but there will be issues given licensing and hardware requirements.”

Across all of WSU’s academic colleges, instructors are being encouraged to reach out to students early this week to explain how they should prepare to proceed with their coursework after the break.