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Harvard Tells Faculty Most Teaching This Fall Will Likely Be Online

Harvard University has told faculty that most teaching this fall will likely be online.

Faculty at Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which includes the undergraduate college, were told in an email Monday that "it seems likely that, under any circumstances, most of our instruction will be online."

Dean of undergraduate education Amanda Claybaugh explained in the email that international students will face impediments returning to campus, faculty and students with compromised immune systems will face risks returning to the classroom, and in-person classes will be difficult to hold while still conforming to guidance from public health authorities.

Claybaugh, who leads Harvard's working group on remote education for next year, tells faculty all are expected to attend training for remote teaching this summer.

A spokeswoman for Harvard says the College will announce decisions about fall later this month or in early July.

Another email circulating among some faculty says should the college allow undergraduates back to campus, the current plan would have them take their classes over Zoom from their dorm rooms since there are not enough larger classrooms to provide sufficient social distancing.

That email says faculty could teach from home or their offices.

That second email says while it seems quite possible that undergraduate students will return to campus this fall, it's not clear if all undergraduates or just first-years and seniors would be allowed back.

Typically, at Harvard, undergraduates shop for courses in the first week or so of a semester by attending as many lectures and discussions as possible to see which professors they find most engaging.

This year, students are expected to conduct "virtual shopping" for courses two or three weeks before the beginning of the fall semester. Faculty are encouraged to provide trailers of their courses on top of the usual course description, the email says, adding that the Office of Undergraduate Education wants to see all courses advertised in more vivid ways because the College wants students to get the message that their online learning will be engaging.

In yet another email Tuesday, Harvard Executive Vice President Katherine Lapp announced that Harvard is offering one year's salary as bonus to faculty and staff who want to accept an offer of early retirement.

At the same time, Lapp announced that Harvard, which is projecting a $750 million budget shortfall for next year compared to original budget plans is holding off on layoffs or furloughs, and is extending pay and benefits beyond June 28 for staff and contract workers idled by the shutdown of the campus, including workers who provide dining, custodial and security services.

Fred Thys Twitter Reporter
Fred Thys reports on politics and higher education for WBUR.

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