Hybrid classes require ‘heavy lifting’ from WSU faculty

Classes with more than 100 students will be remote with possibilities for smaller in-person components



WSU President Kirk Schulz said decisions about requiring vaccinations will be made by the end of this semester, pending legal counsel.

MADYSEN MCLAIN, Evergreen roots editor

WSU administrators spoke with faculty senators about the university’s COVID-19 response as fall semester approaches during the last Senate meeting Thursday afternoon.

President Kirk Schulz and Provost Elizabeth Chilton said any class held in Pullman with 100 or more students will be remote.

“We can’t imagine 200 people sitting elbow to elbow right now safely,” Chilton said.

For courses under 100 students, faculty members will teach in the large campus lecture halls to allow appropriate distance between peers. She said about 160 classes have over 100 students with no smaller discussion sections. For those classes, in-person components will most likely be added.

Chilton said faculty members can submit proposals to receive about $5,000 from the WSU Office of the Provost to create more in-person activities for courses. For example, teaching assistants could be hired to lead small discussions.

One proposal included an internship program for undergraduate students for the fall, then in the spring they could be hired as teaching assistants, she said.

Only faculty members teaching classes with more than 100 people can apply, Chilton said.

WSU Tri-Cities Senator Cigdem Capan said limiting the proposals to larger courses excludes other WSU campuses with 70 to 80 students per class that could still use the resources.

The Office of the Provost is putting out another call for requests. Chilton said she hopes to include more proposals without the 100-student requirement.

“There’ll probably be a lot of heavy lifting and heavy work over this summer by people who have to teach in these large classes,” Senator Tammy Barry said. “People appreciate the opportunity for funding, it just reiterated that this is a lot of work.”

Concerns about formatting for a hybrid class structure were also brought up on the Faculty Senate blog.

There is a substantial concern that there will be an increase in workload with a change to hybrid or some online instructional formats. Already, faculty have been asked to redesign their courses over the past year and without compensation,” according to a statement written on the behalf of faculty members. “Ongoing redesign expectations disproportionately impact lecturers and career-track faculty with higher instructional loads.”

For those anticipating being in a classroom, Schulz said decisions about requiring vaccinations will be made by the end of this semester, pending legal counsel.

Schulz also discussed the university’s active fundraising campaign to source donations for academic projects such as lab renovations, scholarships and research.

WSU has raised $85 million this year, and Schulz expects a $110 million total by the end of 2021, he said.