What this means is that the schools will run by skeleton crews, and that all courses that can be taught via distance learning, will be taught that way. The pandemic is expected to only last the length of one semester, so clinical courses can be made up afterward. Part of the plan, then, is to quickly and significantly raise the faculty's level of technological skills, particularly in regards to instruction and communication. Even the just the threat of a pandemic will have a significant impact on the adoption of educational technologies. Will this go down in the history books as something that drove communications faster and in a more direct direction, than would have otherwise occurred.
Those who are doing the planning and who are insisting all schools have plans in place within the next month or so, are convinced that the pandemic is not a "what if" situation, but a "when" situation. "This is not like Y2K", is what I've been told.
The President of the college has stated that she'd like to see courses taught as independent study courses; I'm not sure I agree that's a better solution than simply guiding instructors in the use of our learning management system. Perhaps, though, if the level of participation will be quite variable, since it must be assumed that many of the students will contract the flu, independent learning will be the better option. Many believe the success of distance learning relies on the ability of the instructor to encourage the development of a learning community. Learning Communities, in turn, rely on participation.
How will this, if it does at all, affect how we teach at a distance? How we look at teaching at a distance? And, what kind of technologies might this help encourage?
I guess the next couple of years will tell.