FAQs for Students
Block Schedule Overview
- What is a block schedule with hybrid learning?
A block schedule allows students to take a single four-credit course in an intensive, 3.5-week block. The block schedule will give students the opportunity to dive deeply into a topic and build strong community with peers and a professor. Every four weeks or so, students will move to a new block with a new four-credit course. By the end of the semester, students will have completed the same number of credits they would within our typical academic system (four classes for 16 weeks). Four-credit classes will meet Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
This new structure creates a learning environment that not only sustains but enhances our interactive and in-person academic experience with safety and flexibility at its foundation. Imagine a political science course that delves into the process of an election or a biology class that embeds research into the topics normally discussed in class. The block schedule enhances what CSB/SJU does best by creatively supporting students’ individual learning, even within the uncertainties of COVID-19.
Hybrid learning allows students who cannot be in class to participate in the class virtually. Microphones and video technology will be used to fully engage all class participants, regardless of where you are.
If you have questions or comments regarding the block schedule with hybrid learning, please submit this form.
- Why did we decide to move to a block schedule?
Based on the safety and uncertainty that COVID-19 demands, we could not maintain our current academic schedule in the safest way possible. We needed a more flexible schedule that allows for safety protocols and flexibility. This resulted in the development of the block schedule, where students take one course at a time for 3.5 weeks. Students complete four blocks in a semester and will therefore complete a similar number of courses as they would in a typical semester. (See “Why is the block schedule safer than the current semester structure?”) However, if COVID-19 disrupts or impacts our campuses, hybrid learning allows for us to move to all online learning swiftly and with minimal disruption.
- Why are we moving to a block schedule for the entire year (2020-2021)?
Because we cannot predict the impact of COVID-19, the block schedule with hybrid learning provides maximum safety measures and flexibility for the entire next year. Our hope is we will return to our traditional semester schedule in fall 2021.
- There are schools that have offered a block schedule for decades (Colorado College and Cornell College). What have you learned from them?
We are grateful to both Cornell College and Colorado College, who have openly shared their insights and learnings about the block schedule. We will continue to partner with them, as their faculty and staff will provide training with our faculty this summer on how to teach within the block schedule.
- When will fall 2020 classes start?
The first block will begin on Monday, Aug. 31.
- Why are we not starting early like some colleges?
During our planning, we assessed whether to move the start date for the fall. Because we cannot predict the future impact of COVID-19, we could not confidently alter a start date. Notre Dame, Creighton, and Marquette are implementing an early start to mitigate students leaving for fall/thanksgiving break. We will shorten fall break, and if there were a peak of COVID-19 in November or December, we can accommodate this by moving the fourth block online.
- Can a student take more than 16 credits in the block schedule?
The block schedule is designed for a student to complete one four-credit course within each four-week block. However, we recognize that not all courses at CSB/SJU are four credits, and there will be many one- and two-credit courses available. Most commonly, one- and two-credit courses will be offered throughout several blocks (in a more traditional semester schedule). For example, a two-credit course might meet every Wednesday over two blocks. As another example, music ensembles, which can be taken for one credit, will meet throughout the semester. This will mean, similar to the semester schedule, a student will likely enroll in a four-credit course during these blocks but will also enroll in a two-credit option or music ensemble. There may be other options (it will depend on the course) where a student can enroll in two, two-credit courses in a single block. Students still have the option to enroll in 18 credits as part of their full-time tuition.
- What will the academic calendar look like? Will we still have spring break?
An updated academic calendar is available on the Registrar’s webpage (fall; spring). In efforts to keep our community together and on campus, we will limit the number of breaks throughout the semesters. We will not have a fall or spring break. Instead, we will offer Community Engagement Days at the end of each block to celebrate the work or our community.
Block Schedule Common Questions
- How will students register for the block schedule?
Current students already registered for classes under the traditional schedule. We will create a block schedule that will allow most students to remain in their existing classes. As conflicts arise, we will work with students to ensure they are maintaining progress within their major and toward graduation.
First-year students will be enrolled in classes by academic advising. They will use the information provided in the student portal identify classes of interest.
- How will the text book process work during the block schedule?
Beginning in fall 2020, textbooks for all courses will be stocked in the SJU Bookstore. Having all textbooks in one location eliminates duplication of work and the need for additional textbook buying assistance during the start and end of every semester. Krista Peterson (formally Lindstrand) will continue to be your contact for all matters related to course materials. Rhonda Sauerer will assist with supplies needed for class. Stocking textbooks in one location creates several efficiencies and will be a more streamlined process for students:
- The SJU Bookstore is well suited to house all textbooks because of its location on campus and proximity to the bus stop. Sexton Commons is equipped to handle shipping and receiving large orders.
- Students only need to place one online order for all textbooks, resulting in one confirmation number and one order to pick up. We will continue to support the free service of order pick-up at both CSB and SJU Bookstores. During the opening of the semester, we will offer next day delivery to the CSB Bookstore to reduce the wait time.
- When purchasing in store, students will be able to get all their books with one stop at the SJU Bookstore.
- Book buyback and book rental return services will continue at the CSB and SJU Bookstores.
- How will professors keep students engaged in class for three hours?
The block schedule means students will typically be in class for three hours each day (and extra hours may be included if there is a laboratory component). It will be difficult to lecture for three hours. Therefore, faculty will use a variety of interactive techniques to engage students with the material. There will be discussions, small group work, and projects to help students delve into a subject and further apply what they learn. Class time will feel different than a traditional lecture-based course.
- Three-hour classes, four days a week, sounds overwhelming and like a heavy course load. How will students manage this?
Courses will be structured differently in the block schedule. While we expect a course to maintain the learning outcomes and rigor that exist in a semester-long course, it will be taught differently. Homework and preparation for the next class period will be altered so it is manageable in the short time a student has to study. Time in class may also look different. For example, there will likely be more time to work on projects while in class. While courses will be demanding, they will not be structured in a way that it is not manageable for students to complete their work in the block schedule.
- Three hours is a long time in class. How can we expect to focus this long?
The planning team considered these concerns. Block teaching is one type of Intensive Teaching. Although somewhat limited, research comparing a semester-long course structure to an intensive teaching course structure demonstrates no significant difference on student learning outcomes. However, this three-hour class will feel different than a traditional 60-80-minute class. This time period is not meant to be a three-hour lecture. Rather, it is an opportunity for active learning, enhanced with group-work, case studies, discussions, and other active learning strategies. The extended classroom time is an opportunity to apply what you have learned about a topic which can further support comprehension of important concepts as well with retention of information. While presented and learned in different ways, we expect to have similar learning outcomes for our students in our courses as compared to the traditional semester. These outcomes will prepare you for future courses at CSB/SJU and graduate programs.
Because the learning strategy is different in this three-hour class, we expect transitions and breaks that will allow students to shift their thinking and focus on different things. We expect the amount of active learning conducted during this time will help keep students engaged in the learning process and three hours will not feel like a long period of time
- Since four-credit courses will happen Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, what happens on Wednesdays?
While Wednesday will be a day for studying and preparation for the next class periods, some one-and two-credit courses will be offered on Wednesdays on a semester schedule. For example, all first-year students will enroll in a College Success course that will most commonly meet on Wednesdays throughout the semester. Some students also might take a two-credit course that will meet once per week (for a longer period of time) on Wednesdays for two blocks. We expect this might also be a good time to hold music lessons. Depending on a student’s schedule, one could see a class or lesson scheduled during this time but spaced out through several blocks.
- How will science labs work on the block schedule?
While we are still in the process of finalizing a schedule, it has been decided that most labs will occur during the assigned block for the course. For example, a student might have class in the morning (8-11 a.m.) and then lab in the afternoon (1-3 p.m. or 1-4 p.m.) during the block. Some labs will meet every class period (M/T/Th/F) and some may not meet as much, depending on the course. In other cases, faculty plan to integrate the class and lab and spend one hour in class (8-9 a.m.) followed by two hours (9-11 a.m.) to conduct an experiment applying class material. In the afternoon, you might spend an hour in lab (1-2 a.m.) and go back to class to discuss results and discussions on the concept or topic. There will be some exceptions to this concept, when a lab is offered throughout the semester. For example, when learning the bones, muscles, and other parts of the body in an anatomy and physiology course, you may do this throughout the semester to allow ample time for learning. We will consider the best way to avoid interference with other courses.
The block schedule provides an opportunity for class and lab to be an immersive/intensive learning experience. While the compressed schedule will require adjustments from faculty and students, it may enhance your ability to focus and deeply learn.
- What will a capstone look like?
Similar to most courses, we expect that the capstone for a major will be taken within a single block. In some cases, students may meet and begin work with faculty ahead of this block. This may help prepare students to conduct the work while in the block. In other cases, work from other courses may support preparation for the capstone.
- What will finals look like?
If a course has a final, it will be conducted at the end of the block. It will be up to the instructor to decide how the final is delivered, but it will occur within the timeframe of the block. This means there will not be a week of finals at the end of the semester.
- How do one- and two-credit courses fit in the block schedule?
Some one- and two-credit courses may be offered within a block. For example, if a student wants to drop a class, there may be some two credit options to take within a single block. In other cases, one- and two-credit courses will be taken across the blocks on Wednesdays or potentially in the afternoon and evening. For example, music lessons will likely be held once per week throughout the semester.
- When will grades be distributed based on the block schedule?
Grades will be distributed at the end of each block. However, they will not be officially posted until the end of the semester.
- What will other aspects of campus life look like?
While we believe the block schedule is the best way to remain safe and flexible in response to the uncertainties of COVID-19, we also know there are other aspects of campus life that will impact our plans for a safe return to campus. A planning team is working to develop appropriate safety precautions related to housing, dining, athletics, clubs, study spaces, activities, classroom safety, and others. We are using guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to create protocols and expectations for the CSB/SJU community. We expect to present these to the community in mid- to late July in preparation for the start of the academic year. We will also be prepared to adjust these protocols to ensure the safety and wellbeing for our campus community.
- Will there be time for extracurriculars like clubs and athletics?
Co-curricular and extra-curricular activities will be offered 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Common Curriculum Requirements
- How will the FAE (Fine Arts Events) requirement be addressed in the block schedule?
If Fine Arts events can occur, we will require students to work toward their FAE requirement within the Common Curriculum. We will work with students if events are cancelled due to social distancing and health requirements.
- How will we complete our experiential learning requirement in the block schedule?
We are working with our external partners ongoing to understand if students will be allowed to conduct work at their sites. If Minnesota rules or other aspects hinder this ability, we will work with students to find alternatives for the experiential learning requirement as part of the Common Curriculum.
- What is hybrid learning?
Hybrid learning allows students who cannot be in class to participate in the class virtually. Microphones and video technology are being installed in classrooms across the CSB and SJU campuses to allow this to happen. Therefore, as one example, if a student were quarantined, they could participate in the class through Zoom. The hybrid technology allows this to happen synchronously or at the same time the class is physically taking place.
- How is hybrid learning different from Zoom?
Zoom technology is a virtual meeting interface, and this may be used as part of hybrid learning while other students meet in the classroom. Hybrid learning allows all students to participate – whether in person or online.
- How is tuition justified with hybrid learning?
We will strongly encourage all students to participate in person if this is an option. However, hybrid learning will be an option for all classes to promote safety. We understand the value of being in a classroom to allow for direct interaction with peers and the instructor. Hybrid learning allows students to still have this experience even if they are not physically present in the classroom. If a student participated via hybrid learning online, they are still active members of the class and will participate in small group discussions and other activities. We are committed to providing an exceptional student experience and therefore do not expect that tuition will change due to hybrid learning.
- Can hybrid learning sessions be recorded and viewed again?
Hybrid learning is different than watching an asynchronous lecture (a lecture that occurs outside of a structured course). While some instructors may record different parts of a class, hybrid learning is meant to allow students to experience the classroom synchronously.
- How will the block schedule with hybrid learning impact tuition?
Tuition costs will be similar to the regular semester tuition costs. There will be no additional cost to students to facilitate the block schedule with hybrid learning.
- How will clinicals work in the nursing department?
Clinicals are a vital component to the nursing education experience. While we are still working through details, instead of holding eight credits of clinicals throughout the semester, students will complete clinicals in two blocks of the semester. For example, a nursing student might spend two blocks in clinicals leaving the other two blocks for nursing classes or common curriculum requirements. In some ways, the block schedule gives more flexibility as students will not be juggling all other courses while participating in clinicals. Students will participate in on-site clinical experiences and simulations throughout the two blocks that the clinical course is assigned.
- What will music courses and lessons look like in the block schedule?
Music courses that include music theory, history, literature, and topics courses will be offered on the block schedule. Applied lessons, ensembles, and other one-credit courses will run on a semester system scheduled at times that do not conflict with the block courses. As a hypothetical example, a first-year music education student might take the following schedule in fall 2020: Block 1: Learning Foundations (four credits), Block 2: Comprehensive Musicianship I (three credits) or Skills I (one credit) offered during the whole semester, like other one-credit classes, Block 3: Biology plus lab (four credits), Block 4: Introduction to Teaching in a Diverse World (four credits), in addition to an ensemble(s) for zero or one credit, applied lessons for one credit, and INTG 105 for zero or one credit, all of which would continue throughout the semester.
Music lessons will be offered based on schedule availability between individual applied teachers and their students. The block schedule means that ensembles will need to be offered at different times then they have been in the past. The music department is currently working to redesign the schedule for ensembles and other one-credit courses.
- How will the block schedule affect student orientation and related events?
There may be changes to orientation. If strict social distancing is required, the orientation program may be facilitated online. While we are preparing for several scenarios, we will follow the guidelines of the Minnesota Department of Health and Center for Disease Control and Prevention as we develop this programming.
- What protocols will be in place to control interactions among students outside of the classroom? What will dorm life be like?
There will be additional safety protocols outside of what happens in the classroom. These protocols are currently under development, with guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and will be shared in the future.
- Will students be able to leave campus for breaks?
We will be limiting the number of breaks throughout the semester and will encourage students to stay on campus. We will establish protocols and guidance on community behavior to prevent transmission of COVID-19.
- How will off-campus housing students be supported if all are moved online? Will they be on their own to access Wi-Fi since they opted out of campus residences?
Similar to this spring, we will do what we can to support students who need Wi-Fi access or have specific technology needs. For example, we were able to provide hotspots to some students who could not get access to the internet at home or in off-campus housing.
Block Schedule and Safety
- Why go to the extreme of the block schedule when students may not practice social distancing outside of class?
While we strongly believe the block schedule will enhance safety measures, we will need to adopt appropriate safety behaviors and practices outside of the classroom, in accordance with guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health and Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Why is the block schedule safer than the current semester structure?
The block schedule is safer for various reasons: 1) More time between the morning and afternoon class allows for thorough disinfection of classrooms. The traditional schedule would not allow for this time. 2) Less students in a single classroom because at most, three courses will be taught in each classroom within a block. 3) Instead of interacting with four different groups of students in four classes, students interact with only one group of students in one class. In addition, faculty only interact with one group of students at a time. 4) With the block schedule, we can alter The Link schedule to safely move students across the two campuses. 5) Should a positive COVID-19 case appear on campus, contact tracing will be easier due to less movement. 6) Should a student become ill, this may only impact one class instead of four.
- How will The Link transport students to classes?
We are working through the guidelines and recommendations of the Minnesota Department of Health and Center for Disease Control and Prevention to understand how we will routinely disinfect the buses and other areas of campus. We will follow these guidelines to ensure the safety of our community. The block schedule limits the need for transportation because students will have only one class per day, and some students will not need to travel to the other campus. We plan to stagger courses to minimize the number of students who must take The Link at a given time, and this will also reduce congestion in buildings and classrooms. The Link schedule will be altered to support the block schedule. A new schedule will be released in mid-summer.
- Would it be safer if we drove ourselves to class?
While we have discussed allowing students to drive to class, we are working to create an effective Link schedule that will not make this a necessary option.
- Will The Link be available outside of class times? Many international and out-of-state students rely on the weekend Link for grocery shopping. Will this be possible?
We are working with our safety protocols to understand what type of bussing will be available throughout the semester. This will also consider guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health and Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Will the library be limiting the number of students that can visit at one time?
We are currently working through safety protocols for common spaces across campus. We will follow the guidelines presented by the Minnesota Department of Health and may have to limit access to common spaces to allow for effective social distancing. These guidelines and expectations will be available as we learn more.
- Will library hours or other hours be altered because of the block schedule?
We may adjust hours for services like the library to align with the block schedule. If hours must be adjusted, we will communicate these hours with students and the community.
CARES Act Student Emergency Grants
- What is the CARES Act?
The CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund provides $786,276 to CSB and $678,568 to SJU to be awarded as grants directly to students to help cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19. Expenses include, but are not limited to, food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and childcare. See full update to CSB and SJU students here.
- Do I qualify for the CARES Act grant funding?
CARES Act funding is restricted to students who meet the qualifications outlined by the federal government as part of the CARES Act, which states only students who are eligible for federal Title IV financial aid may receive emergency grant funding, which exceeds 1,370 CSB students and 1,215 SJU students.
To determine how best to distribute CARES Act student emergency grants to eligible students, a team was convened to evaluate options. There was consensus that priority would be given to students with greater financial need as demonstrated by the 2019-20 FAFSA. More information on the four groups of eligible students can be found here.
- If I have questions or would like to talk to someone regarding our family financial situation, who do I contact?
Questions about the CARES Act Grant or applying for financial aid can be directed to Stuart Perry ( [email protected]), director of financial aid at CSB or Robert Piechota ( [email protected]), director of financial aid at SJU. Families who experienced a significant change in their financial situation my complete the CSB/SJU Special Circumstances form, following completion of the FAFSA, and submit it to the financial aid office, along with supporting documentation as explained on the form.
Fall Study Abroad
- What is the latest status on the Fall 2020 study abroad program?
- As a result of the growing global travel restrictions, we have made the very difficult decision to suspend all Fall 2020 study abroad programs. ( See official announcement here). This decision was made after careful evaluation of advisories from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. State Department, Overseas Security Advisory Council, World Health Organization, and local public health authorities. Most importantly, this decision was made in the best interest of the health and safety of our students and faculty.
In addition to health and safety, we proactively made this decision so that students can fully participate in registration for Fall 2020 on-campus classes as well as the CSB Residential Life and Housing and SJU Residential Life and Housing room selection process.
The Center for Global Education (CGE) team is working diligently to provide you with options to move your study abroad experience to another semester:
Students who were scheduled to be on a Fall 2020 study abroad program can elect to automatically transfer their spot to a place on the Fall 2021 program.
For some Fall 2020 study abroad programs, CGE is working to identify the possibility of moving the Fall 2020 program to Spring 2021. Please note, this option will not be available for all programs given Spring capacity issues at some of our international program sites.
If a student elects not to move their Fall 2020 study abroad program to another semester, they will be refunded the full application fee.
For more information on COVID-19 and Study Abroad, visit the Center for Global Education.
- Can student employees who remain on campus continue to work?
- Any student who has received permission to remain on campus should contact their supervisor to discuss options regarding their work assignment. Hours worked will continue to be reported and approved per the student payroll schedule.
- Can student employees work remotely?
- Some students may have the ability to work remotely. Remote work will be determined by your supervisor(s) and will be coordinated directly between the supervisor(s)/department(s) and student employees. Students working remotely will be paid for any hours worked. Hours will continue to be reported and approved per the student payroll schedule.
- Will student employees who cannot work due to COVID-19 still be paid?
- Given that we will hold classes online for the remainder of the semester, the college will continue to pay only those students who are able to complete their work on-campus or by working remotely.
- If I am staying in the local community, can I keep my student employment job?
- All students should check with their supervisor to see if they are able to continue their student employment or alternative option.
Spring 2020 Commencement
- How does COVID-19 impact CSB and SJU’s Spring 2020 Commencement Ceremonies?
When we postponed the May commencement ceremonies, we had hoped to identify a date this summer when we could gather in person to celebrate the Class of 2020. We know the importance of this milestone for our graduates, and we share your preference for an in-person ceremony.
However, given Minnesota’s current ban on commencement ceremonies, we recognize that it will not be possible to hold the ceremony our graduates deserve this summer. The changing orders by the state require that we continue to discern what might be feasible for an in-person gathering.
At this point, we are looking for a spring 2021 date for the ceremony, preferably Memorial Day weekend. Thank you to the members of the senior class who have advised our ongoing decision-making. We will continue to engage students as we finalize a plan. Of course, any plans we make will be subject to the approval of government agencies and health officials.
While we may not be able to gather in person right now to celebrate the Class of 2020, it does not diminish our students’ accomplishments. We share in the joy and pride of our graduates and new CSB/SJU alumnae/i.