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Ad Astra Blog

Principles for Planning and Scenario Modeling for 2020-2021

by Tom Shaver

While disruption in higher education is certainly not a new topic, COVID-19 has intensified, accelerated, and even somewhat redirected this disruption. 

The academic core of our institutions, the course schedule, was massively disrupted by a complete and almost immediate move to online delivery this spring. Uncertainty about the ways to contain the spread of the disease on campus while delivering quality instruction has many institutions looking at multiple schedule scenarios for the upcoming fall term. 

Helpful Resources for Planning 

We have aggregated some content from the Academic Planning Resource Center to help you create and vet scenarios for this fall. A great summary article from Inside Higher Ed outlines 15 different potential scenarios 

Irrespective of which approaches might make sense for you, there are a few things that should anchor your planning:   

Develop multiple scenarios. There’s so much uncertainty now, and it’s unlikely that there will be an obvious path forward emerging soon. 

Make sure that the scenarios maximize quality and safety to the extent possible, minimize unnecessary disruption.  

For this reason, strategies like the ‘Block Plan’ in the Inside Higher Ed article should be considered a last resort because they would require rebuilding the entire calendar of courses and restructuring or restarting existing registrations. 

Closely follow evolving developments and announcements from our state and federal governments.  

Every dimension of society is wrestling with how we can balance the need to remain as safe as possible and our need to live and function as a society. A new normal will emerge on how to balance this incredibly challenging dilemma, and our colleges and universities should be part of that new normal. 

  • Schools can open too early and fully, unnecessarily exposing students, staff, and faculty to heightened risks. 
  • Schools can open too late or cautiously, ignoring the inevitable daily exposure students, staff, and faculty are subject to outside of our campuses. This approach might further threaten financial sustainability and the mission of graduating students. 

Tom Shaver – Founder and CEO of Ad Astra 

Maloney, Edward J. and Joshua Kim. 2020. “15 Fall Scenarios.” Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved April 23, 2020 (https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/blogs/learning-innovation/15-fall-scenarios#.XqBEfferWU8.link

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COVID-19 Aligned Scheduling