One or more of my classes is listed as meeting in person. How will you deal with social distancing? 

All Merrill College classes that meet in person (for all or part of the course) will be held in rooms that follow social distancing and other rules, including wearing masks at all times. The college has been working — and will continue to work — on systems to make the classrooms as safe as possible.

How often will in-person classes meet? 

Testudo may list classes as “in-person,” but some “in-person” classes may be somewhat hybrid/blended in nature due to limits of how many people can be together in a large classroom. Check with your instructor for details. Also be aware that these plans may have to be modified depending on the trajectory of the epidemic. All instructors must keep to their scheduled times, whether meeting in person or in a synchronous class over Zoom. The college has asked instructors to let students know their plan for in-person and hybrid/blended classes.

Will online classes meet at the scheduled time? 

As in the spring semester, instructors may meet for online classes at the scheduled time on Zoom (synchronous), although some instructors will not use the time to meet as a group and provide learning material in a different way (asynchronous). We are encouraging instructions NOT to lecture for a full class period on Zoom but to think of creative ways to engage students through breakout rooms (Zoom rooms), exercises, guest presenters, etc.  Instructors CANNOT ask you to meet synchronously as a class outside the scheduled time.

What if one or more classes is meeting in person, but I don’t think I can return to campus? I am particularly concerned about fulfilling my requirements for my degree!

You should hear from your Journalism instructors who are teaching in person or in blended/hybrid format today by email. (Teachers teaching only online are not expected to contact you this week.)  If you do not hear from your instructor this week, please contact him/her/them to see if there is a way to participate fully in the class virtually. (Check with graduate or undergraduate studies if you cannot find an email for the instructor.) Alternatively, consider taking a different class that does meet online (space permitting). We realize this is a frustrating situation, but we want to work with you to meet your needs. 

I’m really disappointed that all or most of my classes are virtual. Can I switch into classes that will meet in person? 

We hear you. We’d like to be there in person as well. At this time, our ability to offer in-person instruction is limited by the need for social distancing in the classroom (which means we have relatively little classroom space) as well as the fact that high-risk faculty members can choose to not teach in person. We have invested a lot of effort in making online teaching more vibrant, with 26 faculty members participating in summer projects in online innovation. There MAY be some limited ability to move sections, but we will not know this until a large number of students make their final decisions about coming to campus in the fall.

What happens if I have to go into quarantine? 

All Merrill instructors must have a plan to deliver the course virtually to those in quarantine. So if you’re in a class that meets in person and have to go into quarantine, the instructor will find a way for you to continue in the class virtually (all instructors have been asked to set this up in advance). 

What happens about my journalism class if I get COVID? 

As with any illness, accommodation will be made. Our first concern is your health and that you get better fast. Please work with your individual instructors and note that all courses have a plan to switch to virtual delivery due to the pandemic. We will follow the usual procedures for accommodation for illness (such as extended deadlines, etc.).

What happens if a family member gets COVID and/or there are other duties that I need to fulfill as a caregiver? 

As with any family emergency, accommodation will be made. Please work with your individual instructors and note that all courses have a plan to switch to virtual delivery due to the pandemic. We will follow the usual procedures for accommodation (such as extended deadlines, etc.). In the case of long-term illness or hospitalization in the final weeks of your class, your instructor may suggest an Incomplete contract to give you time to complete assignments after you have fully recovered

What if I think I just can’t handle this and I’d like to take a semester or a year off? 

We understand. This is a very difficult time and a very personal decision. You should make the right decision for you. Stay in touch with us. We will be here when it’s time for you to return.

How are instructors going to lecture in masks? 

We’re looking into obtaining face shields so that you can see your instructor’s face. We realize it can be hard for a lecturer to project and be understood while wearing a mask.

What should I expect when I return to campus? 

There will be far fewer people in the building, with restrictions in place to protect your health and the health of others. Indoor space for socializing will be greatly limited. Within that, we strive to provide a vibrant educational environment — online and in the classroom where we can — that will meet your academic needs for the semester. We are eager to get back in the classroom with you but mindful of your health and the health of those in the community. We are going to encounter unknown factors that are out of our control with the pandemic, but we are 100% committed to your education and Merrill experience.

If all my classes are online, why do I need to pay Merrill College’s professional fee?

We understand why you asked, but moving most of our courses online has necessitated that we spend more money on equipment and software. For example, because of the class format this fall, we have had to retrofit several large spaces in Knight Hall to fit our needs for social distancing and online/in-person hybrid teaching.

In addition, Merrill College is very proud we have been able to allow students to check out video, audio and podcasting equipment so they don’t have to purchase their own. On many mornings, however, this has resulted in long lines of students returning checked-out equipment at Knight Hall. To keep our students safe and healthy, we are purchasing more camera and audio equipment so more students can check out this equipment for the entire semester. This will allow us to reduce the number of students clustering in the tighter spaces near the Knight Hall checkout room and reduce the time needed to sterilize equipment between uses, plus it will allow us to maintain the equipment we already have.