Fall 2020: A Note to Students
Dear School of Drama students,
I write to say hello and update you on our current thinking about the Fall semester.
I wish I could give you a concrete answer as to when we will know exactly what the Fall will look like. Unfortunately I cannot. Given the nature of the pandemic and the complexity of the situation, it is clear that there may not be a final decision for the University as a whole about the format for Fall instruction for some time.
While we stand prepared to resume normal operations, we are closely tracking the situation as it unfolds and incorporating new information into our planning of various potential scenarios. Working closely with the academic and administrative leadership, including the deans and department heads, we are creating contingency plans for the following operating models in the School of Drama that may be possible in the fall:
1. Online only. This model essentially continues our current state of School of Drama operations, although there may be flexibility to resume some limited on-campus activities.
2. Hybrid Model. Under the hybrid model the School may offer both in-person and remote instruction for classes and activities. For example, if conditions improve an instructor may teach from their studio or shop to remotely located students, or small groups of students, socially distanced, may be taught in a studio or shop by a remotely located or socially distanced instructor.
3. Delayed start. In this model, we would push the semester back by two to six weeks, based on a reasonable expectation that some more time will allow us to return to normal operations.
In consideration of the possibility that the campus cannot open as normal, the SOD faculty and staff are devising creative solutions to offer Fall courses online in ways that maintain the specific learning objectives of these courses and student progress through the curriculum.
Clearly, we face unique challenges with the continuity of the production season in a purely socially distanced scenario. There have been many exciting and professionally relevant ideas put forward by our creative and committed faculty and staff. These ideas are being gathered and evaluated by several working groups. We will be reaching out to directly affected students, including those involved in Fall productions, soon to discuss these options and seek input. We respect the work you have all accomplished to this point in the development of the Fall shows and any solution will offer you agency over the path forward.
For all the adjustments that are needed to move past this difficult time, we are here for you. We will listen to your specific educational needs and concerns. There is no one size fits all solution to these challenges. We will work with each and every one of you, as we always have, to craft a positive pathway through this time. Please reply to the Eberly Center survey, sent on April 22nd, so that we can hear your thoughts and suggestions about your remote learning experiences during the Spring semester.
While this information may be difficult to read, I hope it coveys some specific information, while also indicating the uncertain nature of this moment. We may all be back in person in the Fall, but it is our responsibility to prepare otherwise. We are doing so with your needs foremost in our minds and we are creative, committed and optimistic. You should be too.
Peter Cooke AM PhD (he, him)
Head of the School of Drama
Carnegie Mellon University