As we move forward with plans for your education in the fall, I would like to provide you with information regarding what to expect in light of the ongoing pandemic. PCOM School of Pharmacy is planning to conduct in-person classes (with some restrictions on daily attendance) in conjunction with live-streaming of classes during the fall term. Therefore, course delivery will involve a combination of campus-based and virtual instruction for all students.
Although we are faced with ongoing uncertainty, your faculty in the School of Pharmacy remain committed to providing the highest-quality education consistent with all of you becoming leaders within the pharmacy profession! Our dedicated faculty have worked many hours to ensure minimal disruptions in learning thus far, and will continue to innovate as we deliver the curriculum in the weeks and months ahead. We also remain flexible and prepared to adapt the current academic plan as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve in Georgia.
Below are some details regarding delivery of the pharmacy curriculum for the upcoming fall term.
Core courses in the curriculum will be conducted live on campus following the required two-week self-quarantine period for all students [PDF]. Core courses will be delivered from a PCOM lecture hall/classroom/laboratory space led by a course faculty member (unless instructing from home to due unforeseen circumstances). Elective courses for third-year students will be delivered virtually.
Learning groups will be utilized for on-campus attendance in core courses. Students will be divided into 3-4 learning groups of 25-34 students with the option to attend live on-campus courses at least one day in a week to accommodate social distancing. Learning groups can attend live-sessions on designated days according to a rotating schedule. All students will have the option to access live-streaming of course sessions virtually through Blackboard/Yuja.
On-campus attendance in didactic “lecture-based” courses is not required. Attendance will be required for Integrated Case Studies and Patient Care Skills Labs (i.e. “Required Experiences”, please see your School of Pharmacy Student Handbook for 2020-2021).
Patient Care Skills Labs and Integrated Case Studies courses will meet in small groups. Virtual instruction is not planned due to the ability to meet in small groups of 15 students to maintain social distancing. Sessions will be scheduled during your designated on-campus days. Students requesting and receiving an excused absence from Required Experiences will be given an opportunity to make-up lab activities as time allows, and no later than the following summer.
Course exams will be conducted in sufficiently large spaces on the PCOM Georgia campus. Exams will be scheduled in a staggered manner so that only one class (first, second or third year) is on campus at a time. A combination of both Lecture Halls C and D in addition to a small classroom or laboratory space will all be used simultaneously to maintain and maximize social distancing.
Orientation sessions will now be held for first, second and third professional year students. During the weeks of August 10th and August 17th, 2020, virtual orientation sessions will cover expectations for the 2020-21 academic year.
Campus resources and activities will continue to be available as space and conditions allow. PCOM has taken steps on-campus to promote healthy practices and ensure your safety as much as possible. These include the use of physical barriers, Personal Protective Equipment kits for students and faculty, training modules on COVID safety, traffic flow signage, and changes to public restrooms. Students will continue to have access to all of the necessary resources that would normally be available in a fully face-to-face environment including co-curricular activities (with some limitations), meetings with faculty and advisors, and access to the PCOM Library, Financial Aid, and the Office of Student Affairs.
Understandably, you may have numerous questions as we approach the fall term, therefore please email me or one of the following school administrators below with any questions or concerns you may.
As always, the well-being and safety of the PCOM Community is our primary concern, and I am confident that our careful and deliberate approach will help us exceed your expectations for the fall as you take one step further in your career. Given the fluidly changing nature of the outbreak, we will keep you apprised of any further information as it becomes available. In the meantime, thank you for your dedication to the profession and I look forward to seeing you all in the fall!
Stay safe and healthy.
Shawn D. Spencer, PhD, RPh
PCOM School of Pharmacy