Teaching and learning

Contingency planning

We realize that in these uncertain times there is a need for adaptability and flexibility. Changes in government guidance or health conditions may lead us to adjust our plans, such as transitioning to full remote learning, or deferring or canceling certain activities. In the event of such changes, we will be prepared with contingency plans to support and advance academic progress and learning. Here are the current plans.

Academic calendar

Autumn Quarter begins earlier this year, starting on Monday, September 14, and ending on Tuesday, November 24. This will allow us to conclude the quarter prior to the Thanksgiving break. This shift is designed to reduce on-campus presence and operations during the late autumn months and it also helps mitigate the concerns of students traveling over holiday break and then returning to campus. Review the complete 2020-21 academic calendar.


(New: 7/16/20) Student Academic Services, working together with deans and department chairs, is currently reconfiguring the course Time Schedule to provide for needed physical distancing and air circulation in all classrooms. We anticipate having the time block revision completed by August 1 as previously announced, and we will send another update once that work is completed with further instructions.

We are doing this work while attending to guidance from local and state authorities, which we know could alter our plans as we move closer to our quarter start date of September 14. At this point, we are moving forward with a plan to offer the majority of our undergraduate courses in a modified face-to-face (or hybrid) format, while moving roughly 1/3 of classes into fully online formats. Regardless of course format, we are committed to providing a high-quality learning experience for students this fall.

Student survey: To gauge how well the revised course schedule is going to align with student needs, we’re asking students to complete a short survey which was included in an email from Provost Hartley on July 16. While we can’t guarantee that all courses will be available in the format that each student prefers, we are committed to working to find a schedule that helps each student progress toward graduation.


We will utilize a range of in-person and remote classroom instruction modalities to best serve students and course content areas. While in-person instruction will form the foundation of our course schedule, we recognize that there may be students who cannot safely attend classes on campus as well as faculty who are in high-risk groups. We are in the process of revising our Autumn Quarter time schedule with an eye toward:

  • increasing times between classes in order to facilitate movement in and out of classrooms with greater physical distancing;
  • reassigning classes into larger spaces; and
  • providing some fully remote course options

We are working toward a goal of having our revised time schedule available by August 1. Students who are already registered will not need to re-register, but in some cases students may want or need to adjust classes once the new time schedule is published. Academic counselors will be available to assist students in August and early September as needed.

Student Success

We recognize that participation in face-to-face classes will be disrupted if a student needs to move into quarantine or isolation. Faculty will be prepared to work with students on a case-by-case basis to provide alternative or make-up work as appropriate if the student has to miss classes due to COVID-19. Students will also be able to access learning support opportunities online during Autumn Quarter.

Refund Schedule

SPU may determine, in its discretion, that due to government guidance or health and safety considerations, changes should be made to the method of delivering course content and academic services, such as a full or partial campus closure or switching to remote learning. No tuition or fee refunds beyond the university's stated tuition refund schedule will be given based upon how courses are completed. For more information, see “Refunds and Account Adjustments” in the 2020–21 Undergraduate Catalog or the 2020–21 Graduate Catalog.