This information was emailed to all DKU MScGH students on February 2, 2020 from Lijing Yan, Director of Graduate Studies, MSc Global Health

As you know, the date to resume school has been postponed from Feb. 3rd tomorrow to Feb 17th and then to Feb 24th (as of now) with the possibility to change again in the future.

The nature of the virus and health risk makes it difficult for us to make a definitive plan but we are moving forward with a plan for your studies over the next few months.  In making this plan we had a number of objectives including maintaining the quality of your learning and education as best as possible, continuing to support a collaborative team environment, and allowing you to remain on a schedule to graduate or to begin your fieldwork in May 2020.

With that in mind, we spell out the plan below. Such a plan has received unanimous support from all DKU GH faculty members and approval from our DKU and Duke Graduate School leaders. We thank our Senior Program Coordinator Shuyu and all first-year students for submitting information regarding their location, willingness for remote learning, access to Sakai and their home environment for internet via Wechat already, which is helpful for us when making this plan.

Online learning with synchronous weekly live sessions for first-year students

  • With the week of Feb 3rd-7th as a pilot week and to formally begin from Feb 10thMonday, all DKU-based courses for first-year students will resume in the following format: faculty members will distribute course learning materials suitable for online learning via Sakai or other media for students to study on their own according to faculty-specified schedule.
  • Shuyu will work with all faculty and students to re-schedule a weekly live synchronous session for each course. The session will focus on essential and difficult learning points, Q&A, online interactions and discussions, and other issues. We recommend at least one weekly session per course at a fixed time, lasting 45-90 minutes long to be determined by each instructor.
  • Since our students are in three time zones, these sessions will most likely be in early morning or evening time for China/Indonesia/USA. We appreciate the cooperation from all instructors and students to remain flexible to these odd times for learning.
  • These sessions will rely on WebEx, Zoom, Skype, or Wechat in this order of preference. Duke/DKU IT is preparing guidelines and how-to files for faculty and students and we expect to receive them soon. However, please understand that IT support may be limited and different from usual times and we ask for your tolerance, patience and ingenuity when needed. We realize that a few students may have connection difficulties and we encourage instructors and the students with support from other students work out alternative ways of learning and participation.
  • In addition to online learning and synchronous sessions, faculty members will remain available for virtual office hours via email, wechat or other means jointly determined by faculty and students for each course.
  • We will keep this learning format until it is safe for all of us to return to DKU, to be formally notified by the Emergency Preparedness Task Force of DKU. We expect that we can finish this semester according to the original schedule or with a one-week delay at most.
  • While you can expect that the online delivery of courses will feel different than face to face delivery, one is not necessarily better than the other. We are fortunate to have faculty, staff, and your support that allows this as an option – the best we can have given the circumstances.

Fieldwork, thesis, and graduation, and moving forward

  • We encourage each student to work closely with their primary fieldwork (first-year students) or thesis (second-year students) supervisor to keep making progress in preparing for their fieldwork or theses.
  • We recommend weekly online individual video/voice/teleconferences starting from the week of Feb. 3rdfor as long as necessary.
  • It is likely that location, time, and format of defenses for second-year students may be affected. We have not reached a decision regarding these details yet and will discuss and share with you the decisions as soon as possible.
  • Graduation (commencement ceremony in May) for second-years and the semester at Duke in the Fall for first years remain unaffected unless it is necessary for us to make changes as the epidemic unfolds.
  • We will monitor the situation closely and keep in frequent communications with all of you for return to DKU campus for reconnection, engagement, and face-to-face learning.
  • This has been a shock to us all and requires a great deal of flexibility from faculty, staff, and all of you as we move forward. This email has covered a lot but there will be unanswered issues for sure. Please feel free to get in touch with me, Shuyu, your supervisor, or course instructor any time regarding your questions and concerns.

This outbreak has solemnly reminded all of us the threat of emerging new infectious diseases, the difficulties in preventing and controlling them, and the need for multidisciplinary and multi-faceted measures in overcoming them.  The silver lining in this event is that the importance of global health – something very familiar to all of us – has become more apparent to many more people. We hope that the outbreak will not only bring the unfortunate physical and mental sicknesses, deaths, and social and economic losses, but also learning and growth for a better and healthier world tomorrow.