The most recent email hit university inboxes, social media, and the news on March 20, 2020. Indiana University was postponing Spring Commencement due to the coronavirus. It was the latest in a series of announcements that started on March 10 when IU first decided to move classes online after Spring Break. When that first email arrived, the staff and faculty at the O’Neill School at IUPUI immediately began making adjustments. They rearranged schedules, meeting platforms, and teaching formats to minimize the impact on students.
But as the virus spread around Indiana and the nation, the university needed to adapt to keep its students, faculty, staff, and campuses healthy and safe. On March 15, IU President Michael McRobbie announced more changes:
- Spring Break was extended until March 30.
- All classes will be taught online for the remainder of the spring semester.
- Most residence halls will close on March 20.
- Events are either canceled or postponed. School-level commencement ceremonies—including O’Neill’s—are canceled.
- Staff members are to work remotely, if at all possible.
“We had already planned to test virtual advising appointments the week after Spring Break,” says O’Neill Director of Student Services Nicole Amonette. “So we were in a great position to move forward with our plan and make sure we could still take care of our students. That’s our priority.”
Students who need to speak with an academic, career, or peer advisor can request an appointment at this link from the Student Portal at oneill.iupui.edu or by emailing email@example.com. While Student Services moved to virtual appointments, faculty were planning a new path for their students.
“We are doing everything we can to make sure that when we see our students again online, we are ready to help them finish this semester strong,” says O’Neill IUPUI Executive Associate Dean Tom Stucky. “We know how hard they’ve worked up until now, and we’re not going to let them lose that momentum.”
That means overhauling assignments and lesson plans to better accommodate the online learning environment and adapt to what’s happening now.
“I usually assign my research methods class to do observations of a social phenomenon on campus or out in the community,” says O’Neill assistant professor Dena Carson. “We obviously can’t do that this semester so I’ve changed the assignment entirely to one where our class will now examine media content from TV, movies, music, and more.”
They’re setting up Canvas sites, uploading PowerPoint presentations, recording virtual lectures on Kaltura, and hosting Zoom office hours. Many are taking time to help students get more comfortable with the new technology they’ll use for the rest of the semester.
“I have been practicing Zoom with a few of my students who have not have much experience with it,” says O’Neill adjunct instructor Scott Teal. “They know that we will be flexible and that I am available to help them with any problems or issues they may have.”
It will be a change for faculty and students alike, but students should know that they aren’t alone in this. The same support system that has been there from the start still exists today and into the future.
“We know our students are disappointed that they can’t complete the semester here on campus, and we all share those sentiments,” says O’Neill School Dean Siân Mooney. “I’m sure the changes have added anxiety to an already stressful situation, but we are here to support our students however we can.”
The O’Neill School and other schools across campus have also been compiling resources for its students:
- Counseling and psychological services: IUPUI CAPS is available Monday through Friday -from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Students can call 317-274-2548 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for appointments. For emergencies, call 911 or the Crisis and Suicide Hotline at 317-251-7575.
- Student housing: With a move-out deadline of March 20, some students rushed to find new housing or collect what they could before moving out. However, those without a permanent place to go can apply for a waiver at this link. Students were allowed to come back for the essentials—medicine, academic books, computers—but Housing and Residence Life will make appointments for students to come back and retrieve other belongings after March 20.
- Food resources: Starting the week of March 23, Paw’s Pantry will be open on Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Students can also apply for a food scholarship at helpmeroar.iupui.edu. Campus dining will remain open even though classes are online. And to find off-campus food resources, you can download the Community Compass app at indyhunger.org/compass.
- Financial assistance: For students facing economic uncertainty, contact the Office of Student Advocacy and Support at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Remote learning help: https://expand.iu.edu/courses/keep-learning-at-iu
- Academic resources: IUPUI’s libraries are open and providing access to technology. The Mathematics Assistance Center is taking requests for help via this link. Khan Academy is also a great academic resource.
For the latest updates from the university about coronavirus-related changes and resources, visit coronavirus.iu.edu.