Letter from the Chair regarding Fall 2020

Dear Students,

I hope this message finds you and those dear to you well, despite the challenging circumstances in which we all find ourselves.

The Biology Department has spent considerable time discussing our options for Fall 2020 regarding in-person vs. online courses, as well as the challenges associated with each option. To enable each of you to make informed and timely decisions regarding Fall 2020, we felt it was important to decide how our Fall courses will be taught, and to do so early enough that we could announce the information before registration for Fall quarter begins. Of utmost importance to us is being able to ensure safe learning and working conditions for our students, faculty, and staff. It is clear that there is a very real possibility that any plan for in-person courses could have to be reversed on short notice, leaving us little or no time to adapt our courses for online delivery. In light of the uncertainties about the status of the pandemic in Fall, the seriousness of COVID-19, and our desire to prepare courses that we can be assured of being able to deliver in Fall quarter, we have made the difficult decision that all formal Biology courses will be online in Fall 2020. Variable credit courses such as our courses for research credit or undergraduate TAships are not considered formal courses in this context.

We know that many of you will be disappointed with this news because spending time with peers and taking classes in person brings a rich array of experiences that are very difficult to emulate in an online setting. However, I am hopeful that by committing early to teaching online in Fall, our faculty and staff will be much better positioned to plan and prepare for online teaching than was possible at the start of this quarter. We are in the process of working out details pertaining to our Fall courses including whether those courses will be asynchronous or synchronous, and we will share that information as it becomes available.

With my best wishes to each of you,

Merrill A. Peterson

Professor and Chair