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Preparing for the Fall Quarter

‘Students will have what they need’ to progress toward their degree, says Associate Dean Mary Finn

The COVID-19 pandemic may have upended many aspects of everyday life, but it will not interrupt the ability of Weinberg College students to continue their studies.   

That’s the message from Mary Finn, the College’s associate dean for undergraduate academic affairs who is overseeing efforts to ensure that students stay the course during a time of uncertainty.  

“We will provide a curriculum that will enable students to make progress toward their degree, and we will make sure that students have what they need to move forward,” Finn said.  

Acknowledging that the uncertainties of the still-unfolding pandemic “are beyond our control,” Finn said that all classes will have a remote option. 

Lab classes will take place on campus, and other courses may also include some in-person experiences. But regardless of the structure of the class, students will be able to complete the semester remotely — whether they are living on campus or elsewhere.   

Committed to students and safety 

“We don’t know what the fall is going to bring, but we are planning to bring our students back,” Finn said. “That’s the plan, and we hope that our curriculum will have an on-campus presence. But we are committed not only to our curriculum and to helping students progress toward their degree, but also to keeping everyone safe and healthy.” 

By bringing students back to campus, Finn added, the College can ensure that all students have equal access to teaching, whether that takes place remotely or on campus.   

“We know that what students experienced in the spring was a very wide spectrum of accessibility to remote teaching,” Finn said. “And that spectrum was often influenced by income and identity status. Even if a large proportion of our teaching this fall ends up being remote, students will have more access to technology and support if they are on campus.”  

Classes that have an in-person element will see a reduced number of students in the classroom at any given time. Some professors may divide their students into groups that will attend class on different days. Other faculty may offer occasional in-person meetings and review sessions in addition to content that is delivered remotely.   

Whatever the format, Northwestern is “maintaining high expectations for the quality of our classes, and our faculty are working very hard to prepare for the fall quarter,” said Miriam Sherin, associate provost for undergraduate education.  

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