Urgent Message COVID-19 Updates »

Coronavirus Updates

For the most up-to-date news, please see the University’s official COVID‑19 information webpage.

Academic Calendar and Course Modalities

The Academic Calendar for fall 2020 has been updated with the goal of preventing the potential spread of COVID-19 through students leaving campus for an extended period of time at Thanksgiving and then returning to campus afterward. Here are the highlights:

  • Classes begin Monday, Aug. 17.
  • The last day of classes is Wednesday, Nov. 25.
  • Reading days are Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.
  • Take home and online final exams will be scheduled from Dec. 2-8.

The University of Texas at Dallas will offer five different modalities of learning for fall 2020. The form of instruction for any individual course will be based on class enrollment, room availability, and faculty preferences. However, an asynchronous option will be provided for all courses.

Course Modalities

  1. Traditional Classroom/Laboratory Course (i.e., face-to-face) – The instructor and students are present in the classroom/laboratory each class meeting according to the class schedule. The availability of courses in this modality will be limited due to classroom availability.
  2. Blended (Hybrid) Classroom Course – Online activity is mixed with face-to-face meetings in the classrooms. The instructor and students meet all together face-to-face one or two days per week. The face-to-face meetings are accompanied by online instruction.
  3. Flexible Mode Course (i.e., HyFlex blended learning) – Online activity is mixed with classroom face-to-face meetings. UT Dallas is implementing a student group rotation model, wherein faculty deliver instruction face-to-face in the classroom during each class meeting, and students attend class face-to-face one day per week. Students will attend class online with synchronous (i.e., in real time) transmission when they are not in the classroom face-to-face.
  4. Remote/Virtual Course – Instruction is delivered online in real time according to the day and time in the class schedule (i.e., synchronously). The instructor delivers the instruction from home or the office. Students complete the course at a distance. [Note: These courses are traditional classroom courses that faculty are offering virtually in fall 2020.]
  5. Fully Online Course – These courses are designed with the truly distant student in mind. Students complete the course at a distance.

Asynchronous Access

  • All courses, regardless of modality, will have asynchronous (i.e., not in real time) access so that students who cannot or choose not to return to campus can take their courses online.
  • Syllabi, course assignments, class recordings, etc. will be posted in eLearning so that they can be accessed by students outside of scheduled class time. Syllabi must also be posted in CourseBook in compliance with state law.
  • By incorporating asynchronous access into every course, faculty and students will be prepared to transition off campus if required by COVID-19.

Student Action

The fall 2020 class schedule is being updated to reflect the modality of each course. As those course changes are made, students will receive an email that outlines the new class information. If they would like to do so, students will be able to make changes to their schedule according to the academic calendar.

Virtual Teaching and Accessibility

Online Resources

As a reminder, there are numerous online resources available to support virtual teaching and instruction. Preferred platforms are those already in use at UT Dallas, including eLearning (including Blackboard Collaborate) and Microsoft Teams or Webex conferencing. Other technologies that faculty members already use for their courses may continue to be used, but they should not try to acquire new technologies.

In addition, the University’s Center for Teaching and Learning is regularly providing webinars to help faculty transition to virtual learning.

Accessibility Requirements New 7/14

Course materials should be accessible to students, regardless of disability. A text equivalent for every non-text element should be included for all course materials. This includes images, graphics, video and audio.

Text-based course materials

Text-based course materials, such as syllabi and readings, must be made available in an accessible format. Detailed instructions are available from Microsoft on how to make Word documents accessible Opens in a new tab. and how to those can be saved as accessible PDFs Opens in a new tab..
Documents should:

  • Include alternative text with all visuals.
  • Use meaningful hyperlink text rather than URLs.
  • Ensure that color is not the only means of conveying information.
  • Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.
  • Use simple structures for tables, and specify column header information.

PDFs from external sources can be checked for accessibility and made accessible. Adobe Acrobat allows users to create and verify PDF accessibility Opens in a new tab..

Live virtual classes

Subtitles must be made available during live virtual lectures or class meetings.

  • Microsoft Teams provides automatic real-time closed captioning, which can be turned on by participants (please note that captioning will not appear on iPhones or iPads). Teams meetings that are recorded may be uploaded to Microsoft Stream to creat automatically-generated captions Opens in a new tab.. Refer to instructions below.
  • PowerPoint for Microsoft 365 can transcribe your words as you present and display them on-screen as captions in the same language you are speaking, or as subtitles translated to another language. Instructions for setting up PowerPoint captions and subtitles Opens in a new tab..
  • Instructors who choose to use another platform are responsible for ensuring that live captioning is available to all students.

Pre-recorded lectures

If lectures are prerecorded, a text alternative must be made available, either as open or closed captions, or as a separate transcript file. Videos published in Microsoft Stream will have automatically-generated captions Opens in a new tab.. Any on-screen graphics should be described audibly in the lecture or in the transcription to make that content available to students with low or no vision.
When uploading pre-recorded video to Stream, follow these steps to trigger Stream’s production of closed captions:

  1. Open the video playback page in your browser.
  2. In the Details pane, select the ellipsis (“More”) button, and then select Edit.
  3. Under Details, specify the Video Language. Currently, auto-generated caption files can be created for English- and Spanish-language videos in MP4 and WMV formats.
  4. Next, in the Options window on the right, select Autogenerate a caption file.
  5. Select Apply at the top of the page to save these settings.

Note: Automatic captions generally take 1-2 times the video’s duration to finish processing (that is, expect to wait roughly two hours for the creation of captions for a one-hour video). Instructors may need to edit the captions for accuracy.

Resources for Course Accessibility

Frequently Asked Questions

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