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Potsdam Prepared: Fall 2021 Updates

Update on Fall 2020 Courses

July 30, 2020

Dear Students,

We are looking forward to starting our academic semester in just a few weeks!

Later today you will receive an email from Eric Duchscherer, Interim Dean of Students, with more details regarding the Fall 2020 semester. As a reminder, you have until Saturday, August 1 to indicate your preference on whether or not to return to campus to complete your studies.

President Kristin Esterberg will be sharing information related to a virtual town hall for parents and their families about our plans for the fall semester in the coming days. However, to help inform your decision, I wanted to provide you with an update on the course offerings for the Fall 2020 semester. Please know that this information is subject to change as the College continues to make adjustments to ensure a safe academic experience for all.

Our academic semester will begin on August 31 and courses will be taught in a variety of ways through November 21 (Thanksgiving Break), when students will need to return to their homes for the remainder of the semester. Beginning November 30, classes will resume but will be fully remote (meaning you will finish the semester from your home).

Please note that at any time we may be directed by the Governor and SUNY System Administration to move completely to distance learning and have students return to their homes. It is important that students plan in advance for any technology needs to participate in courses. We will continue to work closely with our academic faculty to ensure a high-quality experience no matter the format in which the course is being taught. 

Information is available through BearPAWS on the current plan for course delivery. Please note: course numbers and sections will not change even if the course will be offered online.

Keeping this in mind, we would like to clarify the ways, often called modalities, that a course will be delivered.

“Virtual” – This is a designator being used for courses that originally were being taught face-to-face but due to COVID-19 will now be taught fully remotely – in other words, there will be no on-campus, in-person components.  Please note that these remote classes may still have class components that happen at the scheduled course time, just in an online environment.

“Online” – This is a designator being used for courses that originally were being offered online. Online courses that do not have days and times listed have no course requirements that must occur at a specific day/time.  Instead, there are assignments and activities scheduled week-by-week that students must complete by certain deadlines.

All other classes – For any course not designated as “online” or “virtual” in the course schedule, the professor is planning to include both virtual components and on-campus, in-person components (as possible and in line with health and safety regulations). You may still be enrolled in these courses even if you choose to be fully remote, completing coursework from your home.  The professor will work with remote students to make the content available.

If you are choosing to attend a face-to-face class, you will be required to follow the on-campus policies and procedures related to testing, wearing a face covering, social distancing, etc. These specific requirements will be communicated to you later today. In addition, course syllabi will provide further in-class requirements. 

Please note for those courses that are still listed as face-to-face, given the need to reduce density in classrooms and maintain social distancing, classes may be held with only part of the enrolled students in attendance at each meeting time. In addition, class locations for some face-to-face classes will be shifted, so students should re-check their schedules closer to the start of classes.

Individual faculty members will communicate the expectations for class participation as we get closer to the start of the semester. In the meantime, if you have specific questions regarding course offerings, please contact your individual instructors.

We realize that there are a lot of questions regarding course offerings, so we will continue to update the Academic FAQs that can be found online. If you have specific questions about your status as a student or questions related to your personal circumstances, please use the specific contacts identified online.

It is very important that you fill out the survey that will be sent to you later today. Whether you are returning to the Potsdam area or completing your studies virtually, please know that we are here to support you in achieving your educational goals!


Bette Bergeron
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs