Spring Modality Guidance and Fall Wrap-up

This message was sent on Oct. 29 from Steve Cramer, vice provost for instructional continuity and academic affairs, to all faculty and academic staff. A similar message was sent to department chairs earlier in the week.


This message is intended for those who are teaching this fall or next spring. Please disregard if you are not teaching in either semester.

Dear faculty and academic staff instructors (please share with your TAs),

I am sharing information on course planning for spring 2021 and fall 2020 wrap-up. Your department and school/college may have additional details that they will share with you as we plan for spring 2021 instruction.

Spring Semester Planning

Spring semester 2021 will again offer a mix of in-person and remote courses. In-person courses in the spring will continue to observe physical distancing and face covering requirements, but we are also enhancing on-campus testing and safety protocols.

Course modality decisions should be made thoughtfully. Most of our students will reside on campus or in Madison, though of course, some students will also be dispersed globally. Both student conversations and survey responses show the majority of students desire a course schedule that includes a significant level of in-person courses.

Also consider how best to achieve the learning outcomes for each course, and providing the best pathways for degree progress. It is critical when developing the spring course array to ensure that we are offering the needed sections in modalities that allow students to complete their program degree requirements.

Departmental curricular leadership, in consultation with you and your school/college dean’s office, should move forward with making modality decisions and building the schedule of classes (opening for departmental access on 10/29/20, student access will follow in December).

Additionally, please be aware:

  • Due to physical distancing requirements, all course sections with enrollment above 50 will be delivered in remote formats.
  • Other course sections will be delivered in in-person, remote or hybrid formats as best suits the nature of the learning experience as described above.
  • We’ve created new campus guidance for defining modes of instruction and synchronicity, which has been endorsed, in principle, by the University Curriculum Committee. For remote and online courses, instructors are encouraged to carefully consider the mix of synchronous and asynchronous activities.

Fall Semester Wrap-up

Election Day: We are encouraging instructors to be flexible about attendance and make-up work if students are serving as poll-workers on Election Day, November 3. View this “Quick Guide” for resources on how to address and engage in discussions around the election. Be sure to stay nonpartisan. Please also be cautious of scheduling major course assessments that will require extensive time on Election Day or the following day.

Finishing the semester strong: A reminder that starting November 30, all group instruction for the reminder of the semester, including final exams, will be remote (this does not include clinical courses). Group instruction courses in the schedule of classes for the 15-week fall semester must continue to meet remotely and/or progress with learning activities, consistent with the course credit hours, through the end of the semester. Completion of the full 15 weeks has implications for financial aid, veterans benefit and meeting the credit hour requirements imposed by the Department of Education.

Exams: As preparations are made for unit and final exams (all remote for group instruction beginning November 30), please:

I will continue to be in touch with updates and resources, which will also be posted on the Instructional Continuity website and the campus COVID-19 Response website. You can reach out to our Instructional Continuity Team with questions about instruction by emailing instructionalcontinuity@provost.wisc.edu.

Steve Cramer – Vice Provost for Instructional Continuity and Academic Affairs