Five strategies for adjusting your school’s course schedule in an uncertain fall semester

Socially distanced classrooms

Every week we work with dozens of schools on their course scheduling. The approaching fall semester is unlike any other: unpredictable and full of uncertainty.

Here are 5 strategies we’ve seen schools pursuing to create the best course schedule possible under these unusual circumstances.

1. Creating contingency schedules

On-campus classes might have to move online. You might need a larger room. You may have to change start times. Our clients are using our schedule cloning feature to take a finished and sometimes published schedule, clone it, and make these adjustments. Then they have a backup schedule ready in case things change.

2. Reducing room and course capacities for social distancing

A room that supported 50 students in the past may only support 25 while social distancing measures are in effect. Or perhaps only subsets of the students will meet at once (e.g. half on Monday and half on Wednesday). Our new social distancing extensions let schools reconfigure their schedules under these COVID mandates.

3. Increasing break-times to support class sanitization

10 or 15 minutes between classes may have been sufficient in the past. But now, many schools need extra time between classes for sanitization and disinfection. Our clients are changing their break-time preferences in ofCourse to allow 20 to 30 minutes between classes.

4. Converting classes from in-person to online

Our clients are moving some or all of their classes online. But even when the room requirement goes away, you still have to be mindful of double-booking professors or degrading your course diversity. Schools are relying on our collision management system and diversity algorithm to protect them from these sorts of conflicts.

5. Shutting down the schedule war room and moving to ofCourse

Before Covid-19, a schedule war room with whiteboards and sticky notes was common at schools. But this isn’t effective if you’re working from home. Neither is the other approach—a tangled web of scheduling emails with versioned spreadsheets. That’s why we’ve seen an unusual number of schools move to the ofCourse platform at this normally quiet time of year. With ofCourse, you can easily collaborate online with colleagues to build a beautiful class schedule — no spreadsheets or sticky notes required.

No one is enjoying the current situation, but we all know a schedule must be made. At ofCourse, we’re continuing to provide tools to help schedule-makers in this battle — a battle that is being fought twice this year, and a battle that just had many of the rules changed.

Chris McGrath

Chris is the Creative Director at ofCourse.

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