The start to this spring has been difficult at best, and we hope everyone is beginning to settle into the semester. We are writing today because we have been made aware of some confusion surrounding Sprinkle Days and want to provide clarity and introduce additional policies regarding how these days should be approached. These policies are intended to ensure that students are able to engage with and digest their class materials in the face of what can be very real, and sometimes unexpected, challenges.
Sprinkle Days: As originally communicated, the intent of these days is to provide some meaningful respite during the semester, especially since Spring Break – a full week plus the surrounding weekends without class – was cancelled. The overall policy for weeks with Sprinkle Days is they should have proportionally less instructional content than weeks that do not have Sprinkle Days. In addition, asynchronous instruction is not to be used to “make up” the difference. To better facilitate this, policies moving forward include:
- Instructors may not post lecture material or anything else students are expected to be responsible for on a Sprinkle Day.
- Assignments – including problem sets, papers, exams, midterms etc. – cannot be due on a Sprinkle Day or the calendar day after a Sprinkle Day. However, when a Sprinkle Day falls on Friday, assignments (not made on a Sprinkle Day or the day after) may be due the following Monday. Exceptions to this policy are allowed this week only for previously assigned work since you are just being made aware of this new requirement.
Instructors may hold non-mandatory office hours on a Sprinkle Day if they wish to be available to students, but, again, Sprinkle Days should not include anything mandatory or that students will be expected to have done.
Flipped Classroom Instruction: Many instructors are using a flipped classroom style to teach their courses. In order for students to come to class prepared, they need to have ample time to engage with the posted material before class. Given all other student responsibilities, instructors teaching in this fashion are now required to post their videos a minimum of 24 hours before the class meeting in which the material will be discussed.
Excused Absences: Because of the challenges all of us are facing due to the pandemic, students, as well as instructors, are more likely to miss class or a due date for a variety of reasons, including technological failures that are in many cases not the responsibility of the student. More people than normal are also having to respond to family emergencies in these unusual times. Therefore, absences or late submission of work due to technology issues, illness, family emergencies and extreme weather should be treated as an excused absence and need to be accommodated.
We realize that many of you are already doing these things, and we greatly appreciate that. We are providing this communication to clear up some confusion we were made aware of and to provide additional guidance. We thank you all for the dedicated work you are doing on behalf of our students in these difficult times. Please do not hesitate to contact one of us if you have questions.
Reginald DesRoches, Provost
Christopher Johns-Krull, ARC Chair