February 2, 2021
Dear Mason Community,
I write to update you on instructional plans for the spring semester. As you know, the Seoul metropolitan region, including Incheon, is currently at level 2.5 social distancing. At that level, our guidance from the Korean authorities is that we should have no more than one-third of our students in the building, so as to lower density and the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
In accordance with this guidance, most classes for the Mason Korea spring 2021 semester will begin online. However, along with other universities in Korea, we also plan to have a smaller number of courses meet in a hybrid pattern, and in a still smaller number of cases fully face-to-face, assuming current conditions continue at the start of the semester. These courses will be selected based on the special challenges they present in a fully online mode because they have significant physical components. Examples for Mason Korea include art and design courses, and courses in language instruction. We are making final this list of courses and will provide it by the end of this week.
As always, our instructional mode must be able to respond to changes in conditions. For significant increases in the number of cases, we would act quickly. For significant drops, we will act in a way that gives more time to plan. Regarding the latter, we will reevaluate instructional mode by mid-semester, as we did last fall, to consider whether conditions have improved by later this spring. Currently, we are looking at April 2 as a date by when we will make this reevaluation.
The IGC residence halls will not have a mid-semester move-in period this spring. Nor will there be special refunds related to changes in instructional mode. Instead, refunds will be available on the regular IGC schedule. Hence students with long commutes should strongly consider living on campus, because even students who have no in-person instruction at the start of the semester may have such classes later if lower social distancing levels allow.
I want to emphasize that reducing density in the building and in our classrooms is only one part of the solution to keeping our campus safe. That effort also depends on the commitment of our community to safe behavior on and off campus. Please consistently wear a mask, wash your hands frequently and for at least twenty seconds, use hand sanitizer, and avoid gatherings of groups of people not socially distanced, including at bars and restaurants. Remember, the risk you take affects not just you, but our entire community. Please keep your friends and classmates in mind!
I know that uncertainty about the future and the adjustments we must take to keep our community safe can be frustrating, especially as we enter the second year of the pandemic. However, we have also become much more experienced in living with the pandemic and have demonstrated all last year our creativity and resilience. I am confident that the Mason Nation will do so again.
Yours in Patriot Pride,