COVID-19 Academic Updates

This page compiles all of the recent updates to W&L faculty related to the transition to virtual instruction for Winter and Spring Terms.

Summer Programs Update

W&L has shifted the bulk of its summer programs to virtual experiences; in some cases programs have been deferred to next year or canceled.

Planning for Fall '20

April 13, 2020: We write to let you know that President Dudley has organized a Contingency Fall ’20 Planning task force, chaired by Steve McAllister. This group is starting to think through the many possible scenarios for the fall term in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.

Grading Policy for Winter and Spring Terms

April 1, 2020: As you know, we have been working to develop a grading process for the remainder of the academic year. We seek to maintain traditional letter grades for those students who wish such an option, while also offering an option that might provide less pressure and stress on academic work, given the challenging environment in which we are all working and living. We also seek to maintain our long-standing grading policies and to preserve the integrity of a student's overall transcript of academic work. And we seek to emphasize student autonomy in selecting the appropriate grading option, depending on multiple factors particular to each student.

Virtual Teaching, Privacy, and Education Records

April 1, 2020: With our temporary shift to virtual instruction, we need to think carefully about several issues regarding student (and faculty) privacy, secure modes of communication, record retention, documentation, and communication of grades. I have put together what I hope is a helpful short document that describes best practices for these areas.

Undergraduate Course Evaluations and Tenure Clocks

March 24, 2020: I write with two policy adjustments for winter and spring term, one regarding course evaluations and the other regarding the tenure clock for our junior faculty. Over the past week I have been in discussion with both the Faculty Affairs Committee and the Advisory Committee on both of these matters, while also receiving feedback from a number of you as well. After much helpful discussion, I present to you now one policy revision and one matter for a faculty vote.

Update on Library Support for Faculty

March 23, 2020: Please see this update from John Tombarge about how our library colleagues can support us in the coming weeks. Note that Leyburn Library will remain open to all employees for the coming week, and then it will close but the virtual support described below will of course continue. Students no longer have access to Leyburn, but a separate message has been sent to them outlining the support our library colleagues are offering them.

Undergraduate Winter and Spring Academic Calendar

March 18, 2020: I write to give final guidance on the Winter and Spring academic calendar. I have benefited greatly from the consultation with the Faculty Executive Committee, the Faculty Affairs Committee, and the President's Advisory Committee, as well as a robust discussion forum with over 40 faculty on these questions. Two major concerns arose in those discussions: 1) the need for both faculty and students to have at least some transition period between the end of Winter Term and the start of Spring Term; and 2) a strong desire to have a range of grading options available to students.

Proposed Grading Policies for Winter Term and Spring Term

March 18, 2020: We now turn our attention to the question of grading in both the 2/3-completed Winter Term and the coming Spring Term. The key pressures here are two, it seems to me: first, we want to alleviate as much as possible the added pressures on both students and faculty of letter grades this winter and spring (while still allowing letter grades for those students who want them-and many have said they do); and second, we want to allow everyone's focus to be on the learning process in this new virtual learning environment, with as little additional pressure as possible.

Guidance from the Director of CARPE

March 16, 2020: Washington and Lee has always prided itself on the quality of the education it offers: we are a faculty who care deeply about our students, about their learning, and about their futures. Though this transition to distance instruction may not be what any of us were hoping for, compared to the larger challenges facing our world right now, this shift is relatively manageable.

Undergraduate Spring Term

March 14, 2020: President Dudley's announcement yesterday of the decision to suspend in-person classes and move to virtual instruction stated that plans for the four-week undergraduate Spring Term were still being developed. Today I can confirm that Spring Term will be taught entirely through virtual instruction.

Transition to Virtual Instruction

March 13, 2020: In every message we have sent responding to the COVID-19 crisis, we emphasize how quickly the situation is changing. Clearly that continues to be the case. President Dudley's decision to shift classes to a virtual instruction format following a two-week recess is a response to the rapidly shifting situation both locally and nationally.