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The reality of COVID-19 is unfolding across the University of Hawaiʻi 10-campus system. After a weeklong spring break, about 46,000 students and 9,700 faculty and staff are swapping face-to-face courses for virtual classrooms as they transition to online learning. The significant move for the remainder of the semester is in response to the global health crisis and an effort to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“We know that it is not what they were expecting when they signed up for the semester,” said UH President David Lassner. This is taking place all across the United States and other countries as well. We think our students are very well equipped to adapt fully to online learning, most of them have already taken one or more online classes.”

Ironing out concerns

person typing on laptop

Many faculty expressed concerns about the transition to online delivery of courses. The faculty union, the University of Hawaiʻi Professional Assembly (UHPA), and UH administration formed a working group that meets daily to address faculty needs.

“This will probably be the most difficult semester for the University of Hawaiʻi this century. It’s going to take a lot of adaptation by everyone, faculty, students, support staff, leaders and managers, administrators, all are learning to work together in new ways,” Lassner said.

UH has provided a range of tools to help faculty prepare, including a checklist with online resources, online mini-lessons, online office hours and one-to-one consultations.Instructional designers on every campus and faculty with prior experience teaching online have also been key to preparations.

On-campus resources available

UH campuses are still open for students, including libraries and other services, along with student housing and dining halls (with takeout service only) at UH Mānoa and UH Hilo.

The university is allowing employees, who are able, to work remotely from home. Employees who are still going into work are practicing social distancing.

—By Moanikeʻala Nabarro

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