In preparation for the start of Spring Term on March 24, the administration has released a more specific and comprehensive plan, including details on HyFlex class logistics and on-campus student life. Granted the ongoing pandemic and C.D.C. recommendations for in-person instruction, the spring invites an array of logical complexities to ensure both the safety and productivity of all students.
Coming up with solutions specific to possible issues that will arise in the spring will be necessary, according to Raj Mundra, Dean of Studies. For in-person classes that exceed the classroom capacity, teachers will use different solutions for conducting class, depending on the circumstances of their students.
“Say there are 14 students in a class and the classroom capacity is 12. Obviously, if two of those students are remote for the entire term, no problem. If we’ve got 14 students in-person, then we cannot exceed the classroom capacity and that’s very clear. We can’t fit 14 into 12,” said Mundra.
According to Mundra, one way teachers may go about addressing the issue of class overflow is by running a HyFlex class—having two students remotely and synchronously engage. Holding classes outdoors is also a possibility for when the weather improves. In order to accommodate both in-person and remote students, the administration has placed a heavy emphasis on the inclusivity and accessibility of classes. Faculty are referring back to similar experiences from Fall Term, in which many classes ran with multiple in-person students and a percentage of remote students.
“We have outfitted classrooms with the appropriate technology which are three cameras in the classes: one wide-angle [camera] to capture the whole class, another moveable standalone on a tripod, and the third camera is your computer camera that we would use on Zoom. There are many faculty who plan on using all three cameras to design a classroom where remote students and in-person students will be together,” said Mundra.
Aside from class logistics and schedule, the administration emphasized the implementation of safety procedures in the residential life of students, as there will be a large increase in the number of students on campus this spring. The Non-Sibi Safety Pledge will be used to guide behaviors of the Andover community both on and off-campus. A minimum of twice-a-week testing, daily symptom screening, masking, and physical distancing in all community spaces will continue. For boarding students, dorms will continue the ‘pod’ system where a dorm or group of students’ saliva tests are pooled together.
“This is what we’ve been doing with the seniors in the winter term now. Those Seniors in a dorm do not have to social distance while they are in the dorms because they are in the pod group together. We’ve been experimenting with that and have been getting good results in that pod system and plan on continuing that,” said Mundra.
For dormitory housing, the administration plans to place Juniors and Lowers together in the Flagstaff, Pine Knoll, and Abbot neighborhoods, and Uppers and Seniors in the Abbot and West Quad neighborhoods. Students will be housed mostly in doubles—one room, two-room, and three-room doubles—with a few triples and a limited number of singles.
Day students will be assigned home regions on-campus, where they can easily socialize and befriend their classmates. Day students will also be organized into “squads,” with whom they will be assigned locker rooms in George Washington Hall, Borden Memorial Gym, and the Snyder Center to store their belongings.
With 90 percent of Andover students returning in the Spring, the increase in the number of in-person classes this spring requires adjustments to the fall and winter schedules. An email sent out to the Andover community Assistant Head of School for Residential Life and Dean of Students Jennifer Elliott ’94, Raj Mundra, Dean of Studies, and Medical Director Dr. Amy Patel on Wednesday revealed the move of evening classes—periods 7, 8, and 9—into the day. For international and remote students who are located on the West Coast, evening time bands will remain available to offer flexibility.
“Remote West Coast students may take up to six courses within the evening times as well as 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. (EST). Remote international students could take up to six courses within the evening times as well as 8:15 a.m. – 10:20 a.m. (EST). While we will do our best to have students in these time bands, there may be exceptions. We will work with individual students, teachers and academic departments to determine final placements,” wrote Elliott, Mundra, and Patel in the email.
These schedule changes have elicited mixed responses among those in circumstantially different situations. Christine Lee ’23 is comforted by the schedule changes that permit evening classes, due to her unique schedule.
“As a student on the West Coast, I am glad that there are still evening classes to accommodate for remote students in other time zones. Also, I think that the evening classes allow students to get work done during the day or take care of themselves, it is nice that the schedule still has them … Overall, I think it was planned out well considering all of the circumstances of the pandemic,” said Lee.
Brian Masse ’23, who is in the Eastern Time Zone, is relieved that the schedule changes offer an option to opt-out of evening classes for on-campus students.
Masse said, “I, as a student in the Northeastern Time Zone, am thrilled to be ditching evening classes as I’ve found them to be very disruptive and disconnected to the rest of my school day. However, while I am excited to be returning to a more normal school routine, I do [understand] the complication this presents to those that will be studying virtually, and especially internationally,” said Masse.
Lixia Ma, Instructor in Chinese, hopes that the schedule can work for all students, remote and boarding, and appreciates the resilience the Andover community has demonstrated throughout the school year. Ma emphasized that the Andover community should think with the Andover motto, “non-sibi,” in mind and consider “Youth From Every Quarter.”
“It will be ideal if things pan out so nicely as planned, but if this past year has taught us anything, we now know that we must deal with whatever is coming, whether we like it or not. Let’s all hope for the best, and also be prepared to work together to face the less ideal situation when that happens,” wrote Ma in an email to The Phillipian.