Update on format of fall classes

We are writing today to provide an update on our course schedule and planning for the fall semester. Because of the dynamic, evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the thousands of courses at UWM, this work is complex. We ask for and value your patience and understanding as we seek to continue your education in ways that are healthy, safe and academically robust.

The Registrar’s Office has begun noting in PAWS which classes will be online or hybrid during the fall semester, and many students are likely seeing changes in their class schedule. Please be aware that changes will continue to be made until July 20, and the schedule students see now may not be their final schedule. We strongly urge students to delay making housing commitments until scheduling changes are finished on July 20.

It is important to keep in mind that before the COVID-19 pandemic, UWM already had the largest online education program in Wisconsin. Sixteen percent of our classes were online before the pandemic, and 44% of our students were taking at least one online course. For Fall 2020, we are expanding use of hybrid formats that combine face-to-face and online instruction. This will allow us to provide more students with face-to-face instruction while still meeting social distancing guidelines, but even so, like most universities nationwide, we do not have the classroom space to provide the same amount of face-to-face instruction as in the past.

We also must remain flexible in response to evolving public health regulations.

With that in mind, current plans call for roughly one-third of UWM’s approximately 6,000 classes to involve some face-to-face instruction this fall. This does not mean that every student will have a class that involves face-to-face instruction, as many of these classes will be quite small. Class formats are being determined at the department level with consideration for health and safety and educational effectiveness. The number of hybrid classes students have will vary from program to program.

The quality of instruction remains a priority, and UWM has invested significantly in hardware and software for remote learning in recent months. Also, most of our instructors have or will have completed training in online and blended instruction before the fall semester begins. Moving forward, faculty, instructional staff and graduate teaching assistants will be expected to add to their skills in this area on an ongoing basis.

We know that many students are concerned about the proposed temporary rule announced Monday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requiring international students enrolled only in online classes to leave the United States or face immigration penalties. We share these concerns and ask for patience while we work on options for these students.

We recognize that all of our students have questions and concerns about their specific schedules, including how they can make modifications to address their specific needs. We encourage them to wait until July 20, when class formats will be finalized, and then reach out to their advisors for assistance.