August 20, 2020
August is always a month filled with great anticipation here at the Tuck School, and despite the unique circumstances of our time, there is much energy and excitement as we prepare to embark on a new academic year.
T’22s are nearing the end of Tuck Launch and preparing for their first official day of classes on Monday, with plans for first-year Fall A instruction long set. T’21s are concluding internships—hopefully enjoying some well-earned rest—and are awaiting more details about the beginning of the second-year fall term which starts in a few weeks. This is why we write today.
Consistent with our last update in July, our expectation remains that the fall term at Tuck will blend in-person, hybrid, and online experiences. Online instruction will remain integral to the success of the fall term, but we will endeavor to offer as many in-person engagements as we can, consistent with public health guidance and dependent upon the prevalence of COVID-19 on campus and in the local community.
We anticipate that the transition back to our distinct in-person learning community will be phased and gradual—and we’ve prepared for this transition accordingly.
Throughout the summer, Tuck made investments in technology and public health supports to ready classrooms for hybrid learning, from the installation of wall beaming microphones to upgrading the filters in our classroom ventilation systems—we’ve even done timed tests for classroom cleaning. These advancements will no doubt serve our community well in the months ahead.
The Deans’ Office has also been working in partnership with a faculty advisory committee and groups of T’21 students to explore plans and test hybrid arrangements for the fall term. Throughout higher education, “hybrid” is being used to describe many different arrangements. For our purposes, hybrid instruction at Tuck refers to synchronous learning in which some participants are in the classroom and some are remote. The same can be true of professors. The test runs of various hybrid models conducted with T’21 students this summer were particularly insightful.
Here are some of the common themes that we heard:
Tuck Hybrid Phase One
Informed by the feedback T’21s shared with us, we have now devised a plan for how we will begin the first half of the second-year fall term.
There will be two blocks each day—morning and afternoon—during which second-year students will be allocated classroom space to participate in classes, on-campus. As social distancing mandates limit our classroom spaces to roughly 20 percent of normal capacity, there will be a rotating, equitable system for when students have classroom allocations.
Receiving an allocation for a morning block will allow you access to a designated classroom from 8:30 – 11:45 a.m. After this time, you will need to vacate the room for cleaning. Receiving an allocation for an afternoon block will allow you access to a designated classroom from 1:15 – 6:00 p.m. There will be no classroom access for evening courses which start after 4:30 p.m. as to allow for deep cleaning of classroom spaces each night. Students will also be encouraged to disinfect the spaces they use and cleaning supplies will be provided.
During Phase One, professors will not be in the classroom so that all students can see the professor’s face fully (i.e., not masked). Our hybrid tests this summer indicated that this enhances understanding and learning, especially when there are students participating remotely.
Our current allocation plan means that within each block, there will be one class period during which all of the students in the classroom will be participating in the same course, each logged in via Zoom as to retain certain functionalities across the hybrid audience. During the other class period within a block, the students in the classroom may be taking different courses. Noise-isolating headphones will be necessary for students in the classroom. There may be a small number of courses that are not allocated to classrooms, particularly in congested time slots.
We are deploying this arrangement at the beginning of the fall term as to enable students to have opportunities to learn with peers in a classroom environment. Recognizing that classroom capacity is severely limited due to public health considerations, we will allocate those opportunities in a transparent and equitable process. As we gather experience with this arrangement, we will determine what aspects are working well and what aspects can be improved.
To participate in this phase one hybrid classroom environment, students will need to sign and abide by Dartmouth College’s Community Expectations, complete the daily TSA screening when arriving to campus, and will need to remain masked at all times while in the classroom.
Please note that attending class on-campus during any phase of the fall term will remain optional. All fall academic offerings will be made available to students online so that they can make the participation decisions that are best for themselves and their loved ones. Receiving a classroom block allocation does not require you to use it.
Next week, we will provide even more details about this first phase. Second-year classes begin on September 8. Students will receive their block allocations the week before.
Our current assessment is that the Tuck community is uniquely positioned to be successful with a blended fall term. We have the culture and agility to collaborate and adapt. But, consistent with the first of the five principles that continue to guide our decisions amidst the pandemic, all our fall plans are highly dependent upon each of us following public-health protocols and banding together to try to overcome the challenges posed by this pandemic.
Let’s work together to make this year the most dynamic and impactful in the 120-year history of Tuck.
Joe, Sally, and Brian
Dartmouth has formed a high-level task force to plan for and manage possible disruptions related to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, monitor federal and state recommendations, implement guidance, and communicate with our community.