Planning for the Fall 2020 Semester Amid COVID-19

We find ourselves in unprecedented times. Aside from education, perhaps few sectors have encountered the foundational upheaval that COVID-19 and the resulting changes to our lives has caused. Some disciplines and courses, such as the traditional Basic Public Speaking course, are particularly impacted. However, we are fortunate to have the various tool at our disposal that we do. Where social distancing has separated us from one another, there is myriad technology available to alleviate the logistical and psychological turmoil that can result. While available technology and tools can be helpful, the mere abundance of options can be a daunting and overwhelming process resulting in a foray with decision fatigue.


Hopefully by now, the spring semester is in the rearview mirror. Educators used the tools at hand in the circumstances provided to salvage and adapt courses. Summer is here, but in many cases the real uncertainty and anticipatory breath holding is related to fall plans, or lack thereof. Institutions across the country and world are starting to announce various steps and decisions toward ensuring classes can continue this fall with safety as a vital consideration. According to the American Council on Education (ACE), a recent survey of college and university presidents on COVID-19 related actions for resuming in-person and on-campus operations found that allowing remote work and limited in-person class sizes are the most common plans and considerations ("Figure 7"). While the use of digital tools has already been increasing in frequency and availability, the new-normal of in-person education may involve digital and online components more than ever before.



According to Susan Grajek at Educause, of those colleges and university that have identified possible teaching scenarios for this fall, 82% are planning to offer HyFlex (hybrid-flexible) courses. HyFlex Instruction, a term coined by Dr. Brian J Beatty at SF State University, allows students to choose to attend class online or in person, even on a daily basis. In the public speaking classroom,