Welcome Back to Class


Contributed by MaryAnn Taylor

Dear Faculty and Students,  

Welcome back to a virtual experience at IC. We are grateful to resume our academic experiences and know that this week will bring new routines and updates all around. As we begin getting re-acquainted with one another, from our remote locations, please know that we see and value the extra efforts faculty are making to keep teaching and that our students are making to keep learning under circumstances none of us could have imagined at the beginning of the semester.   

On our first day of remote instruction, our Teaching & Learning with Technology Team reports that we hosted 970 Zoom meetings, and 4,430 users played 1,775 videos on media.ithaca.edu (Kaltura). Congratulations to all on jumping right in to resume our important work, with the help and guidance of one another and an extraordinary TLT team. 

We wish you a successful first week. As we continue this positive work, we offer a few reminders and updates.  

To our students:  

*If you are looking for answers to questions related to academics, you can reach out to your advisors, your dean’s office, and your faculty instructors. They stand ready to support you, and we’ve witnessed their student-centered efforts throughout the break. We also encourage you to revisit the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) coronavirus website section on classes and academics at https://www.ithaca.edu/coronavirus-updates/frequently-asked-questions/classes-academics since that area is updated periodically with information that may be important for you. You may also find resources at the Keep Learning Website, designed for students and accessible at https://www.ithaca.edu/information-technology/teaching-learning-technology/keep-teaching/students-keep-learning.

*We know many of you are wondering about the use of S/D/F and any other amended academic practices we might observe for this unusual semester. We’ve been working on student-centered proposals (see below) which include an exception to the S/D/F policy for the spring semester and have vetted them with the appropriate faculty governance committees.  Soon, we will let you know how to access these choices. 

*We believe students should have grading options as a result of the changing circumstances caused by emergency disruptions experienced this semester. Therefore, we are proposing the following emergency changes to provide temporary exemptions from academic policy, effective for Spring 2020 only, that would broaden support for our Ithaca College students and could help minimize the unintended effects of the semester on their course experiences.  

Links to the appropriate forms and guidance about submitting requests will follow in the coming days. 

 S/D/F (undergraduate) or S/U (graduate) Proposals  

Please be advised that we are also reevaluating withdrawal deadlines. These are not simple issues and will require careful application given each student’s unique circumstances and program. We encourage any student who elects the S/D/F option to have a discussion with their adviser about their choice and the potential impact on their major or program. We will have everything you need to know about S/D/F and the revised guidelines for Spring 2020 ready to share by the end of this week.  We will post the guidelines to Intercom and will also add them to the FAQ website above.  

*This week, as you step back into your courses via Zoom or Sakai or both, remember that you can reach out for help at any time. This is not the time to try problem-solving alone. If the technology isn’t working, your faculty members will understand. They know you might have left many (or all) of your course materials in Ithaca. We will trust you to disclose what you need from all of us to do your best work. Remember, too, that your faculty members are learning alongside you and may be—like many of you—managing a range of at-home issues. This is a time for kindness and understanding and collaborative problem-solving. Please let our IC community support you AND your academic efforts.  

To our faculty:  

*Thank you for the time you have invested in learning and retooling your classes so that you can resume instruction for our students. We know that you didn’t expect to spend your spring break this way, and to add to the complexity, many of you are worried about yourselves or your own loved ones.   

*Your incredible commitment to our students and faculty community has been even more evident these last two weeks, as you’ve offered advice to each other and sought help from others to create the most accommodating and accessible course platforms. You have demonstrated creativity in your approaches to the content of your classes and have anticipated the unique challenges this disruption will present for the students.  It is very clear how deeply you care for your students and for your work.  It’s extraordinary.   

*Please be patient with yourselves and with your students.  While many faculty members have done this before, it is brand new to many others.  The same holds true for students.  We are not accustomed to allowing ourselves the learning curve that we love to see in our students.     

*Visit the Keep Teaching website at https://www.ithaca.edu/information-technology/teaching-learning-technology/keep-teaching and the Keep Teaching Sakai site, as those are updated regularly, and for now, these are the most efficient modes of sharing updates in this ever-changing situation.    

As we all “return” to our coursework this week, we hope there will be joy in reconvening with one another, exploring intellectually rich and meaningful content, and resuming the important work of academic study with community of others.  

We extend our heart-felt wishes for a wonderful start to Part Two of the semester, and we hope you will accept our appreciation for all you have done to prepare for this new chapter.  


 La Jerne Terry Cornish, 
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs  

 Jeane Copenhaver-Johnson, 
Associate Provost for Academic Programs  

Brad Hougham, 
Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs