David Zheng

As students await an official Yale College announcement about the fall semester, notes from a Tuesday faculty meeting outlined  details of ongoing academic planning — featuring bullet points stating that the “bulk of instruction [be] conducted remotely” and that “letter grades will be offered; details TBD.”

The News obtained the presentation slides from a Tuesday meeting between Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tamar Gendler, Yale College Dean Marvin Chun, department chairs and directors of undergraduate studies. The presentation concerned “Planning for Fall Undergraduate Teaching” and stated that the slides could only be circulated among faculty. Contents of the slide deck, which came in bullet point form, contained seven slides, and three faculty members confirmed that the slides had been discussed at the Tuesday meeting. Gendler and two directors of undergraduate studies told the News that these details are not confirmed and added that more decisions must be made before the University can announce a final plan for the fall.

“We remain in the planning stages, and no final decisions have been made,” Gendler wrote in an email to the News. “We expect that additional information will be available to the community in the coming weeks.”

According to the slides, Zoom will act as the primary mode of instruction. Where feasible, laboratory and studio courses may be in-person, according to the slides.

The majority of the information contained within the slide deck focused on academic concerns. Still, a section titled “Health and Safety Constraints” contained a bullet point stating “vulnerable and quarantined students and faculty participate remotely” and that there could be “some portion of students non-residential.” That same slide also referred to “de-densified” residential areas, classrooms and laboratories.

“I would say these are suggestions that administration hopes will be taken up by departments,” said one DUS who requested anonymity to discuss the confidential matter. “But it is still unclear how much leeway individual departments will have in terms of how or if they will respond to these suggestions.”

One member of the FAS, who preferred to remain anonymous due to the confidentiality of the slides, said that inside Tuesday’s Zoom meeting, Gendler and Chun’s presentation was met with “more frustration than shock.” 

In an email to the News, Gendler wrote that the meeting was convened at this stage of an ongoing process to solicit insights and feedback from department leaders, who will ultimately play a central role in implementing policies for the fall.

She wrote that at the meeting, “some of the possible constraints and configurations were discussed, so that departments have an opportunity to reflect, think creatively about, and comment on how they would build a safe and meaningful fall semester for all students given the challenges of COVID-19.”

According to a May 28 announcement from University Provost Scott Strobel, classes for undergraduates will begin on Aug. 31. 

“Planning for all of next semester’s possible scenarios and grading policies is still in progress, so it’s too soon to announce any specific recommendations. However, I will provide updates as soon as they are ready to share,” Dean Chun wrote in an email to the News.

Matt Kristoffersen | matthew.kristoffersen@yale.edu

Valerie Pavilonis | valerie.pavilonis@yale.edu