Update: Fall Instruction and Student Activities - 2020

Date: July 30, 2020
To: ISUCVM VM 1-3 Students, ISUCVM Administration, ISUCVM Fall Instructional Faculty, Year Coordinators
From: Jared Danielson, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs
Subject: Update: Fall Instruction and Student Activities – 2020

As discussed in communications from university and college leadership, instruction at the Veterinary College during the Fall 2020 Semester will differ from prior semesters, due to the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19, as well as institutional responses to it, have caused a variety of emotions, including considerable uncertainty, for many members of the ISU Community. We have heard a variety of perspectives from students. Some are eager to resume ‘business as usual’ immediately, while others are very concerned with the risk associated with any face-to-face interaction. Our plan for Fall 2020 is intended to support student learning and ensure normal progress towards degree completion, while simultaneously taking prudent precautions to protect health and safety. This communication provides details regarding how VM 1-3 instruction will be offered in the Fall. By August 1st, students will receive a more detailed course schedule from Ms. Mindy Schminke.

Measures to Protect Health and Safety:
Consistent with University guidelines, face coverings will be required in all instructional settings, and face-to-face classrooms and laboratories will not exceed 50% normal instructional capacity. Hand sanitizing stations and sanitizing products will be provided for classrooms and other common areas. Faculty, staff, and students are asked to sanitize personal workspaces within common areas (classrooms, study rooms, Vet Med Commons, etc.) before and after use. Additionally, as much as possible, student learning groups (Professional Learning Communities or PLCs) will remain consistent across courses, thereby reducing the numbers of individuals students interact with face-to-face. 

Fall Course Format: 
An inevitable outcome of reducing instructional capacity to 50% is that core instruction must be offered virtually or in more sections with fewer students. We have taken both approaches. Most core didactic (lecture) instruction will be offered in a blended format in which content will be delivered via a combination of one or more of the delivery methods defined below:

  • Asynchronous virtual content is pre-recorded by the instructor and available for viewing online.
  • Synchronous virtual content will be delivered in real-time with students present via online platforms such as Zoom or Echo360.
  • Synchronous in-person lectures or labs will be delivered in real-time to small groups of students. 

Both synchronous and asynchronous lecture recordings will be available for viewing via Echo360.  Opportunities for synchronous (same time) interaction between students and faculty will be provided regularly for all lecture courses in online and/or face-to-face formats. Details regarding how this will occur will vary across courses at the discretion of the instructor, and will be described in each course syllabus. The majority of laboratory instruction will occur face-to-face in smaller groups than usual, with numerous opportunities for face-to-face interaction with faculty members and other students. Unlike what was shared in earlier announcements, the overall timeframe for the instructional day will not change. Rather, due to our ability to utilize smaller consistent learning groups throughout the day, and reduce traffic between classes, we will follow the typical 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM course schedule for VM 1-3 professional courses. Commons and study areas will be open for study, with distancing requirements posted on the doors. Students will receive their detailed course schedules from Mindy Schminke by July 31st. Instructors are asked to provide a course syllabus on their Canvas course webpage by August 12th, and to provide details within their Canvas course regarding what students should do the first day of class.

Completing coursework in quarantine or self-isolation
Students should stay home when they are sick. Additionally, quarantine or self-isolation will likely be required for asymptomatic students who have been exposed to or tested positive for COVID-19. Instructors are encouraged to provide flexibility for students who miss courses due to illness or self-isolation. Echo 360 recordings will be available for students to stay current with the course work.  Laboratory instructors may provide alternative options for labs and assignments that are missed. Students who miss extended periods of class, particularly laboratory classes, will likely be required to complete make-up assignments following the end of the semester. The University is currently reviewing make-up options and requirements, and may provide additional guidance.

Accommodations for students concerned about their risk for COVID-19
As clarified in the communication you received from President Wintersteen and Provost Wickert, students at a higher risk to develop severe illness from COVID-19 based on their age or underlying medical condition, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control, will be given preference for alternatives to face-to-face instruction. However, most core courses currently have required face-to-face elements. Students who believe that they cannot participate in face-to-face courses owing to an elevated risk for COVID-19 should contact Dr. Jared Danielson, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs, or Dr. Monica Howard, Director of Student Programs, to discuss options for deferral.

Clubs and other Student Activities:
Club activities are an important part of veterinary education, and we support holding club meetings and related activities in Fall 2020. Clubs should follow guidelines for distancing and face-coverings, and are encouraged to use virtual options where feasible. Club officers are encouraged to contact Dr. Monica Howard with specific questions about club activities.

While there is no question that Fall 2020 will be an atypical semester, I am confident that it will be a powerful and effective semester for student learning. I have great confidence in our students, faculty, and staff. Students should please feel free to contact your instructors, me (jadaniel@iastate.edu), other OASA faculty or staff, or utilize the COVID-19 Feedback Drop Box with any additional questions you may have.

Kind regards,

Jared Danielson
Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs