During this global crisis, we are doing everything we can within new constraints to provide an optimal education experience. Mandated physical distancing requirements have reduced our classroom capacity by over 60%, not allowing us to have our normal robust in-person class schedule. However, 40% of all class sections will still include an in-person component and despite schedule changes only 25% of students have a schedule that is fully online.
Our world-class faculty worked through the summer of 2020 to prepare courses to be taught effectively online using increased faculty resources including webinars, certification offerings for online teaching, additional support and guides for structuring courses online, and more. In the spring of 2020, we pivoted to online teaching in two weeks; for the fall 2020 semester, we had the summer to prepare and our classes were better.
The requirements we face in order to open our campus safely have resulted in increased costs. Purchasing adequate amounts of PPE, COVID-19 tests for on-arrival testing, investments to support surveillance testing and contact-tracing, structural modifications to our physical spaces, and increasing our cleaning regimens (with associated costs for supplies and staff) are very costly investments we need to make for the safety of our entire community. We are not passing those costs along to anyone. Our fixed costs as a university—the faculty we’ve invested in and who make us a prestigious research university, staff, infrastructure, and more—also do not change in this temporary environment we face.
IU is uniquely positioned to provide excellent online education for your student. We have a long history in the online learning space: our first online class was offered in 1989, and prior to the onset of COVID, we already offered 1,900+ undergraduate online class sections. Several of our online programs are top ranked nationally. Additionally, this fall students had access to many ways to connect to our campus including our vast library system and all of its resources, our advising team, career coaching, virtual labs, events and activities hosted by our student-led groups, and more.
A degree is an investment that lasts a lifetime. The scale of the issues faced by all parts of the country, including higher education, require unprecedented decisions. While not the circumstances any of us imagined for this fall, our plans ensure your student is one semester closer to entering our vast alumni network, and supports our continued dedication to excellence by keeping our institution intact. We hope your student stays committed to IU this academic year.