When is the first day of classes for the fall 2020 semester?
First day of classes for the fall semester was Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. All academic courses will be delivered remotely and online until Sept. 29, 2020, when the delivery of those classes will revert to the originally intended mode—In-person (NORMAL), Hybrid-blended (HYBRID), Remote (synchronous-RMSYNC), or Online (asynchronous-ONLINE).
Could fall opening plans change in September?
Westfield State University continues to plan for welcoming back our residential students and commuters at the end of September 2020. The University has kept in contact with the City of Westfield’s Director of Public Health regarding local COVID-19 trends and has been keeping a close eye on sister state universities and other institutions who began managing an on-campus student presence since the end of August. As of mid-September 2020, all factors and indications remain favorable for Westfield State to move forward with its plan. However, as with all decisions made regarding Westfield State continuity during a very fluid pandemic, the University has contingencies in place, should the current encouraging status of COVID-19 on campus and in the area significantly change.
I have never taken a remote course, and I’m nervous about whether I will be successful. What should I do?
The current environment is creating a good deal of change for all of us, and we understand that some students will be concerned about learning in a new modality. Some faculty are new to this experience as well. Our concern for your success is a part of all that we do, whether you are on campus or off campus. Discuss your concerns with your faculty member or academic/program advisor. Friends who have been in remote classes previously may be able to share their experiences and help relieve some of your concerns. We will also provide resources and assistance along the way. We truly are in this together!
There are many resources available to help you prepare for remote learning. Our Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) offers regular support and tips for online learning. All students have access to online tutoring through the University’s online learning management system (PLATO), here. Other resources with advice for remote learning can be found online as well. For example, please visit Northeastern University’s “8 Strategies for Getting the Most out of an Online Class.” Most resources recommend the following for remote learning:
- Be sure to check your email/class posting each day, probably a couple times a day to receive instructions from your professors. Be sure to ask them questions if you are unclear about the assigned tasks.
- Schedule your time as you would for a regular class. That means scheduling time to be “in class” and time for homework and projects as well. Do your best to keep your schedule.
- Set aside space to do your classwork at home, and keep the work in that space as organized as possible. Take time to organize the desktop on your computer or laptop with specific folders for each class.
- Engage with the instructor and students. Many students actually enjoy online discussions more than in-class discussions.
- Save all your work before you submit it so that you have a back-up copy in case anything goes wrong with the technology. This includes assignments, discussion responses, blog entries, etc.)
What if I need help with remote learning?
Don’t forget that your academic and program advisor, department chair, and college dean can all be resources for you. Don’t hesitate to speak up if you’re struggling; we are here to help you. If you’re having difficulty with technology issues in the remote-learning process, please contact the Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) Helpdesk. At this resource, you’ll be able to complete a ticket to request support.
What if I need academic support? Are tutoring services available?
All students have access to online tutoring through the University’s online learning management system (PLATO) under Student Resources. If you have never logged onto PLATO, you may do that here.
The Banacos Academic Center provides a peer tutoring program which will continue online or by phone. Students should contact their tutor to determine how they will proceed. Students in need of a tutor may request a tutor online.
The Center for Reading and Writing will provide student support through remote means. Please sign up for an appointment at their website.
STEM Tutoring (i.e., mathematics and sciences) will offer online appointments during their regularly scheduled times. The STEM tutoring website will have directions for securing remote appointments.
If you are a student with a documented disability, please contact Disability Services at email@example.com, and if you are part of the Learning Disabilities Program, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will advising and registration proceed as scheduled?
Yes: Advising and registration will take place as scheduled. Please check the Registrar’s website for your advising dates. Students should contact their academic advisor to arrange for a phone, email, or virtual advising session and access to your registration PIN.
Are faculty holding in-person office hours?
No. Faculty will hold virtual office hours and continue to support students’ academic work via phone, web services, and email. If you are experiencing academic issues or have questions about your academic work, please contact your instructor, academic department chair, academic or program advisor, or college dean. We will do our best to address your concerns and questions as soon as possible.
Will my College Dean’s office still be available to assist me?
Yes. The College Dean’s offices will still be available to help you via phone and/or email from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday through the end of the semester.
- College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
- College of Education, Health, and Human Services
- College of Mathematics and Sciences
With whom should I speak about my placement/internship/practicum or other experiential learning?
Questions regarding internships, clinical placements/community-engaged learning, internships, field experience, teaching practicum should be directed to your faculty supervisor, coordinator, or department chair.
Will information about courses being moved online be released before the billing deadline?
We plan to have the spring schedule finalized before registration for the spring 2021 semester and have any schedule adjustments made before the spring 2021 bill is due. As we do not have control over the pandemic and may not be able to accomplish this goal, we will do everything we can to have the schedule for spring 2021 finalized before bills are due.
Is there any possibility that the University will change course and send students home for the semester at the Thanksgiving break?
We are planning to have students return to campus after Thanksgiving. The University’s Emergency Management team, Safe Opening Task Force, and Cabinet continue to work with state and local Departments of Public Health, gathering information and ideas from the campus community through open sessions, and planning for several scenarios. We are aware that an unexpected outbreak of COVID-19 remains a possibility. For this, we remain vigilant and continue our contingency planning efforts.
Will the campus be safe to resume classes later this fall?
The health and safety of students, faculty, and staff is the University’s top priority, and our faculty and staff have been diligently working to create a safe environment for students in the residential halls, classrooms, and dining spaces. Westfield State continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation, and consults with state and local Departments of Health. It also follows the guidelines from Gov. Charlie Baker and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Face coverings, social distancing, frequent hand-washing, and other measures are part of the standard practices in place on campus to help protect community members and our visitors. A safe campus environment is also dependent upon our students adhering to the Protect the Nest Pledge.
Will the fall academic calendar change?
The fall 2020 academic calendar will not change. There is always the possibility that we may need to change course modalities to be fully online, if there is an unexpected outbreak of COVID-19.
How will classes be conducted?
All academic courses will be delivered remotely and online until Sept. 29, 2020, when the delivery of those classes will revert to the originally intended mode—In-person (NORMAL), Hybrid-blended (HYBRID), Remote (synchronous-RMSYNC), or Online (asynchronous-ONLINE).
Will I be required to wear a face covering?
Face coverings will be required to be worn by all individuals without prohibitive health conditions, and 6 feet of social distancing (when possible) will be enforced. Hygiene and social distancing protocols will be prominently displayed on signage throughout the campus. All members of the campus community will be required to wear and display their University-issued ID badges when on campus property and to access campus buildings.
Will Commencement ceremonies still be held as scheduled?
As communicated August 14, 2020, to members of Westfield State University’s Class of 2020, we share with the broader University community the unfortunate news that we will not be able to host the Oct. 24 Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement ceremony as planned.
Following recent discussions with the event venue—MassMutual Center in Springfield—we were left with the sad, difficult reality that we would not be able to hold the ceremony. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s August 7 announcement to remain in step one of Phase III of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan, coupled with further limitations related to gathering sizes for events held indoors and outdoors, lead to further uncertainty that current restrictions would loosen in time for our October Commencement event date. After discussing a variety of potential alternate solutions, including a series of smaller events to accommodate fewer guests and more social distancing indoors or outdoors, it became apparent that the University could not offer a prudent and safe solution to host the 2020 Commencement ceremony this fall.
We share the significant disappointment that the Class of 2020 and their families are experiencing in reaction to this news. Commencement serves as the culminating event for Westfield State graduates and an opportunity for the fuller campus community to share in this annual celebration of our graduates’ success.
Currently, more intimate virtual celebrations by academic college or department are being planned. In addition, members of the Class of 2020 will be invited to walk during a May 2021 Commencement ceremony.
We are proud of all our graduates—but especially our 2020 graduates, who persevered to attain their degrees despite the challenges associated with a global pandemic. We look forward to acknowledging their undergraduate and graduate academic success in person next spring. On behalf of the entire Westfield State University community, we wish the Class of 2020 well-deserved congratulations on completing their undergraduate and graduate degrees.