Responding to COVID-19: Spring 2022

Dear Weitzman students, faculty, and staff:

The past two weeks have presented extraordinary challenges to the Weitzman community. Our students have been uprooted from their studios and, in many cases, their homes, seen their travel plans disrupted, and been separated from loved ones. Our faculty has been asked to adopt a new mode of teaching in record time. Our staff, especially our IT Services group, has been tasked with provisioning and documenting resources for remote learning, and otherwise continuing the School’s operations from off campus. I’m deeply moved by the dedication, resourcefulness, and spirit of collaboration you have all shown in working to overcome these challenges. Over the coming days, no doubt we’ll be called upon to confront new ones, and we will need all the patience, understanding, and flexibility we can muster.

As we prepare to begin teaching and learning remotely tomorrow, I’d like to reiterate some of the key changes made to our operations since the beginning of Spring Break.

Grading
Following the lead of the University, which announced on March 20 that it would extend the Pass/No Pass option to all undergraduate and PhD students, we have decided that all Weitzman School students will also have the option to be graded Pass/No Pass for your coursework in the spring 2020 term. We hope that providing this option will alleviate some of the stress and burden on our community.

Students who wish to convert a course or studio to Pass/No Pass will need to “opt in” to this designation by submitting a written request via email to Dana McElroy, Weitzman Registrar, at mcelroyd@design.upenn.edu. (Note that we have modified the procedure to streamline the processing of requests.) Students will have until the end of the day on Monday, April 13 to submit their request. Master of Fine Arts students need not notify Dana because you are already graded on a Pass/No Pass basis. Should you have questions, please direct them to Dana.

If you do not want to pursue the Pass/No Pass option, you don’t need to do anything.

Building Access

As a reminder, effective March 21, all Weitzman facilities are closed to faculty and staff as well as students. The University suspended all operations performed onsite except for those that are life-sustaining, following an order by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. Remote work is not impacted by this order and is expected to continue.

Remote Learning and Teaching Tools for Students, Faculty, & Staff

For guidance with remote access, the place to start is the Weitzman IT Services section of our website: https://www.design.upenn.edu/it/it-services.  This site includes detailed information about software, support, and remote access for students, faculty, and staff.  In addition, please look out for a detailed email from the IT Department directed specifically to students later this evening or tomorrow morning.

Mental Health and Emotional Support

This is an extremely difficult time. Many of us are likely dealing with stress, anxiety, and disappointment associated with so much disruption and uncertainty. I encourage all of you to reach out to friends, family, and the Weitzman faculty and staff for guidance and support. In particular, students may contact our new Director of Student Services, Emily McCully, who will be joining us officially on Wednesday, March 25. Her email address isemccully@upenn.edu. Emily comes to us from the School of Social Policy and Practice, where she currently serves as the Associate Director for Academic Affairs and Global Programs, so she will be able to hit the ground running. Please stay tuned for more information about virtual office hours with Emily and other opportunities to meet and find community electronically.

There is a range of Penn resources in place to support you:

For the Latest Information
Changes to Weitzman School policies and procedures for the duration of the Spring 2020 Semester are documented on our website: www.design.upenn.edu/coronavirus
University-wide announcements and changes to Penn operations are documented on the website: https://coronavirus.upenn.edu/

We are moving ahead with plans for a virtual event for a Weitzman Commencement Ceremony and an online Year End Show. We’ll share details about how you can participate in the weeks ahead.

Finally, in addition to using email and various other digital tools for your coursework, teaching, research, and creative activities, I encourage you to use all means possible to stay connected with your classmates, colleagues, friends, and family members.

Stay safe,
Fritz

Frederick Steiner
Dean and Paley Professor