June 8: Block Schedule with Hybrid Learning Announcement

Dear CSB/SJU Faculty and Staff,

I hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe and that you are finding joy and peace amid the uncertainties of COVID-19. Each of you proved integral to this spring’s shift to online learning and, given all circumstances, I believe the academic year ended successfully thanks to your work and commitment.

To plan for the 2020-2021 academic year, the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University have developed a planning team composed of representatives from across our institutions with the goal of safely bringing students, faculty and staff back to campus. We recognize COVID-19 has impacted, and will impact, every aspect of our community, and our plans to return in the fall will thoughtfully consider all aspects of the student experience.

After careful examination of the safety parameters that COVID-19 demands, it is clear that we cannot maintain the current academic schedule for the coming year. The planning team reviewed several alternative learning scenarios and has decided to integrate a block schedule with hybrid learning (with flexibility for simultaneous virtual and in-classroom participation), for academic year 2020-2021.

We are confident this plan will create a learning environment that not only sustains but enhances our interactive and in-person academic experiences with safety and flexibility. This plan supports engaged and purposeful learning and development, which reside at the heart of the CSB/SJU experience, even within the uncertainties of COVID-19. The decision to incorporate a block schedule and hybrid learning has been vetted by the planning team, approved by the presidents, endorsed by the Joint Faculty Senate and reviewed by CSB and SJU Student Senates.

What is a block schedule and hybrid learning?

With the block schedule, the semester will be broken into four blocks, approximately four weeks each. In general, students will take one class during each block and faculty will teach one course during each block. This schedule supports many of the safety parameters we must develop, and maintain, in response to COVID-19. For example, students and faculty meeting with one class at a time will be moving across campus less often, leading to less exposure to others and better support for contact tracing. In addition, the block schedule supports safer busing, dining and classroom disinfection by reducing the frequency of travel and the number of people within and across campus(es).

Hybrid learning allows faculty and students the flexibility to attend class virtually and in a synchronous way, when needed, even as others attend class in person. We believe this enhances our ability to maintain a safe community and to accommodate members of our community who are at higher risk for severe illness. Hybrid learning includes technology that allows for innovation in our classrooms and maximum flexibility as health and safety guidelines change.

More information about the block schedule, including an FAQ, is available on the COVID-19 website. Submit questions via this form, and we will do our best to address them in a timely manner. We will continue to update these resources as we plan additional details about our return to campus. While this is only one of many decisions supporting our ability to return safely to campus in the fall, we believe it is an important step to reshape a safe and thriving community. We will continue to keep you updated as additional information is available.

Thank you for all you do for our students and the entire CSB/SJU community.

Sincerely,

Richard Ice
Provost