SUMMARY: This memo describes plans for a residential/remote model of instruction for Fall 2020 in Yale College. It explains the rationale for this mode of instruction, describes some adjustments to the course selection process, and contains a calendar of important deadlines for students. A detailed announcement regarding the form that the fall semester will take will be coming from President Salovey by early July.

Dear Yale College Students,

The University will announce its plans for the fall by early July. In the meantime, we are writing to update you on how the Yale College faculty are planning their courses for the Fall 2020 semester in light of the current public health situation. The faculty are committed to making sure that your education continues to be rigorous and engaging. They are spending countless hours working to refine their courses, and they are eager to welcome you this fall. 

The message that follows contains four sections: Planning for Residential/Remote Instruction; Policies and Resources for Remote Instruction; Registration and Pre-Term Advising; and Important Dates for August 2020. We encourage you to read it in full.

Planning for Residential/Remote Instruction

Given the uncertainties of the fall semester, we have asked Yale College instructors to plan their courses with a residential/remote model in mind. This model assumes that, while Yale students may be able to return to New Haven and live in residence, classes will primarily be offered using remote modalities. Courses will be built primarily for remote delivery so that all enrolled students may participate: both those who are in residence and those who (for any reason) are not. In certain exceptional cases, classes that cannot be conducted without an in-person component (certain lab- or studio-based courses) may be developed to include some such components, with social distancing, if the public health situation permits. Limited exceptions for additional in-person engagements, such as tutorial or discussion sessions, might also be possible as enhancements in other types of courses; details will be provided as the public health situation becomes clearer.

Rationale for Residential/Remote Instruction

We considered a number of possible models for fall teaching: each model, including the residential/remote approach, has drawbacks. However, the residential/remote model offers the following advantages:

  • The residential/remote model is flexible. The residential/remote model presumes that the public health situation will permit students to return to campus. However, it allows us to transition relatively swiftly and seamlessly to a fully-remote scenario if the public health situation requires.
  • Remote teaching allows us to adapt at the local level. We may need to quarantine locally or isolate members of our community; remote teaching allows those in quarantine or isolation to continue teaching and learning. We may need to contact-trace to identify potential exposures; remote teaching reduces occasions for contact and will simplify this process. Remote classes will allow students, faculty, teaching fellows, and staff to remain at home if they need to care for children or vulnerable people, or because they are vulnerable to infection themselves. 
  • Including a residential component will enable students to return to campus. This will make learning more accessible to those who rely on the university’s housing and resources for their learning environment. Students who return to campus will have communities in which to learn together, as much as is possible under social distancing. But it will also allow students to learn from home without impeding their progress toward their degrees. This will allow us to accommodate students who are unable or prefer not to return to campus for a range of reasons.
  • The residential/remote model limits face-to-face student interaction with faculty and staff; this helps to reduce the risks of spreading COVID-19 to vulnerable members of our community.

Policies and Resources for Remote Instruction

Faculty and staff are incorporating feedback from last semester's and this summer's online courses to make sure that the courses you take this fall are engaging and meaningful, despite our unusual circumstances. Yale College faculty have come together, along with staff and student representatives, to form the FAS Academic Planning Committees and Task Forces. These groups have spent hundreds of hours to develop an extensive set of resources to help instructors restructure and refine their courses for remote delivery through investments in technology and innovations in pedagogy. These faculty-developed resources complement the resources already available through the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning. 

Evaluation in undergraduate courses will take the form of letter grades. There may be adjustments to current policies (for example, policies regarding incompletes) to account for the changed circumstances caused by the pandemic. These will be announced in the coming weeks.

Registration and Pre-Term Advising

Given the constraints created by the pandemic, and as a remedy to the unpredictability, volatility, and logistical difficulties of the traditional course selection period, Yale College will adopt a pre-registration and advising system that provides more advance planning while preserving students’ ability to explore and discover new courses. 

In the coming weeks, you can expect additional information on this from the Yale College Dean’s Office. Information on courses will be available to you in August, and you will be able to submit your initial course selections before the term begins. In addition, you will continue to have the ability to shop, drop, and add courses through the first week of classes. The Yale College Committee on Advising, Placement, and Enrollment had developed plans to implement a new approach to course selection for the fall term of 2021. While the pandemic requires us to implement a version of these changes ahead of schedule, we hope that going forward, these new procedures will promote better course planning, reduce delays and uncertainty at the beginning of the term, and ease stress for students, faculty, and staff.


Important Dates for July and August 2020

As announced on May 28, the Fall 2020 semester will follow a modified calendar. Yale College classes will begin August 31 and end December 4. All post-Thanksgiving activities, including the last week of instruction, reading period, and final exam period will be online. The semester will end December 18. 

Below are additional dates to assist with your planning for Fall 2020.

  • August 10-21: Early course registration period.
  • August 21: Course selection is due, followed by a shop, drop, add period extending through the first week of classes.
  • August 24: Start date of a staged arrival period, if conditions allow students to return to campus. You will be informed when you may arrive on campus.
  • August 31: Yale College classes begin.

Concluding Thoughts

The coming semester will be experimental and challenging in ways that we cannot anticipate. Some aspects of our plans will be successful; some may not. But we move forward because we value the community of learning that our students, staff, and faculty members help to build at Yale. Even as we adapt to the constraints that the pandemic brings, the aim of a Yale College education remains unchanged: we seek to educate exceptionally promising students of all backgrounds from across the nation and around the world to develop their intellectual, moral, civic, and creative capacities to the fullest. 

We are confident in our colleagues’ ability and commitment to provide an engaging learning experience, and we are grateful for the dedication, energy, and creativity that you will continue to bring to it. During these unsettling times, we look forward to working together to help our community flourish.


Marvin Chun, Lynn Cooley, and Tamar Gendler
Dean of Yale College, Dean of the Graduate School, and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

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