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This page will be kept up to date with information and resources related to how CS courses are handling impacts due to covid-19 (in particular online instruction and potential student/faculty illness).

University and College Info

CS Rooms

Unix lab is by appointment only. See Labs and Office Hours.

A-017, A-019 classrooms have some availability when there are not normally classes in the room. For each, if the room is not being used for a class, you can sit at one of the normal seats in the room to work (and charge your laptop). A-017 is normally free - MWF 12-1, TR 12:30-4:20. A-019 is normally free - MWF 8-9 / 12-1, TR 8-9:30 / 12:30-2, F 1-2 / 3-4. Note - this is open to any students taking a CS course this term. As always, it is up to you to wipe down your work surface before use.

CS Course Policies

Policies for all Courses See the Covid-19 statements in your individual course syllabi (for example, for CS 202) for practices that are shared by nearly all ISU courses during the pandemic. Note that students will be asked to leave if not wearing a mask or practicing safe physical distancing. Note also that you will have assigned seating in all courses; the seating will be determined either by the instructor and communicated to you, or determined on the first day of class. Note also that no student should be penalized (e.g., in terms of attendance) for following recommended quarantine and staying home while ill. Classes and final exams will be via distance after the Thanksgiving break; note that there will be new instructional content after Thanksgiving.

Computers Students should bring their laptop to class if possible. Note that there are charging outlets on the table in the CS classrooms to charge your laptops. If you cannot bring a laptop, you should bring your own keyboard and mouse (which can be plugged into the monitor). The computers in the rooms will remain available as a last resort; if you use the keyboard and mouse in the room you should wipe them down before and after use. DO NOT use cleaning wipes on the computer screens themselves. LCD and LED screens require a different type of cleaning wipe, so do not touch the screens or clean them.

Classroom capacity Most classrooms will be operating at 50% or lower capacity, depending on how many people can be in the room while maintaining safe distances. For the CS classrooms A-017 and A-019, we will allow at most 18 students in the room at a time. For face to face sections of courses with more than 18 students, the instructor will decide on a method to ensure at most 18 students in the class (e.g., assigning subsets of the class to attend each day, or to attend during the first or second half of the period). It is likely that different instructors will use different methods, and you should receive communication about this before classes start. Make sure to check your ISU email regularly.

Unix Lab for Help See Labs and Office Hours for how the Unix Lab will run this year to provide help to students.

Bring with you In addition to your laptop, you should bring each day: (a) earbuds/headphones, (b) hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes, (c) water. (a) so you can watch video lectures and connect to video conferences as needed. (b) to clean your hands and work surfaces before and after use; there will be some available in each building but likely not enough for every student to use in between every class. (c) because all water fountains in all buildings are currently disabled.

Class periods MWF 50 minute class sessions should try to finish in 45 minutes to allow for more time in between classes (hopefully resulting in less congestion).

Best-Practices for Not Becoming Infected or Infecting Others

If every person in the country followed the recommendations of the CDC, the pandemic would be under much better control. Keep yourself safe, keep others safe from you (if you become infected and don't know it yet), and set an example for others following these guidelines - listed in order of importance.

  • Stay home if - you have any new cold-like / flu-like / covid-like symptoms, specifically even if the symptoms are very mild. The virus is normally most contagious just before and just after the first symptoms. It is no longer "tough" to work, etc. when you are mildly sick; instead it is reckless, uninformed, selfish.
  • Stay home if - you are coughing or sneezing. The virus is transmitted much more effectively by coughing/sneezing than anything else (you could infect an entire room, a large portion of a store, etc.).
  • Wear a mask if - you are indoors with people outside of your household. There is no safe distance while indoors. You wear a mask to protect others from your germs, and remember that you are likely most contagious just before having any symptoms at all.
  • Stay outside - as much as possible if you do see/meet someone. The virus is dispersed much better outside than inside. In almost all cases, staying outside is safer than anything you would do inside.
  • No large gatherings - one person could infect dozens or hundreds. You could be the one person that infects dozens or hundreds. Don't be that person.
  • Short and sweet - make any trips indoors around others as short as possible. Order take out rather than dining in, make a grocery list and be efficient at the store rather than browsing aimlessly. The longer you are inside the more likely you are to become infected or to infect others. For outside meetings, minimize the amount of time you are too close to others.
  • Stay a safe distance - especially when inside, keep as much distance as you can between you and others. 6 feet is an easy distance to remember, but there is no truly safe distance when inside. When outside, keep a safe distance as well.
  • Good hand hygiene - wash your hands well before you leave somewhere and when you arrive. When you leave your house to go somewhere, wash your hands. When you return, wash your hands. Or use hand sanitizer if that is more readily available.

If everyone in the country did all of these, we could all mostly go back to work. Do your part.

Survey of CS Majors Regarding Fall Term

Survey results of current CS majors (at the end of the spring 2020 term).

  • Preference for mode of instruction
    • Currently due to Covid-19 - 30% face to face, 34% online, 32% hybrid/mix, 0% depends on the course/instructor, 4% no preference
    • Normally, when Covid-19 is over - 66% face to face, 3% online, 18% hybrid/mix, 7% depends on the course/instructor, 6% no preference
  • Best guess what the pandemic will be like in the fall - 5% much worse than now, 9% a bit worse than now, 27% about the same as now, 27% a bit better than now, 28% much better than now, 9% no idea
  • Most important for keeping face to face instruction safe
    • 82% Students not coming to class if any chance having early covid-19 symptoms
    • 75% Instructions not coming to class if any chance having early covid-19 symptoms
    • 66% Students staying safe distance apart
    • 59% Students wearing masks
    • 57% Temperature checks for instructors
    • 55% Instructors wearing masks
    • 52% Temperature checks for students
    • 34% Instructor speaking from behind plexiglass shield
  • Will have reliable internet at home in fall - 48% definitely yes, 43% probably yes, 9% not sure
  • Additional feedback from students - concern of keeping shared computers clean, cost of tuition, emphasize that people are contagious before showing symptoms (be very cautious), faculty and students who are vulnerable should be online, some still prefer face to face,

Room Setup

Most classrooms are being setup so that they are operating at half of normal capacity and have people spaced out roughly 6 feet apart.

  • Room arrangements for CS rooms: A-017 and A-019 A-015
  • Signs/flyers for the rooms: Do not sit, Rules, Leave room setup
  • Setting up the rooms: do not sit flyer taped to the table in any places where there is a seat that should not be used, rules flyer printed and taped with one per row and at entrance to room, leave room setup flyer taped to whiteboard, room arrangement printout taped to whiteboard, for tables that should have person sitting in the middle of the table - move one of the seats to the front/back of the room, extra seats have do not sit flyer on them.

S/U Grading

For each of your courses in Spring 2020 you were able to choose whether you are given a standard final letter grade (A-F) or S/U (Satisfactory / Unsatisfactory). See - A few FAQ's...

Will S/U be an option again in summer or fall 2020? No, this was a one-time only option because things changed rapidly during the semester. Going forward we are all aware that things will be different and should plan accordingly.

Can a student change their choice from S/U to A-F or vice versa? No, the choice cannot be changed now.

If a student chose S/U but would have earned a C or higher, can they register for the next class? For example, if would have earned a C or higher in CS 151 but chose S/U, can they register for CS 201. If you are in this situation, get in touch with the associate chairperson so that we can let you register.

Lab Hours

The lab is run online using Zoom and is available in person only during certain hours by appointment. See Unix Lab and Help for details.

Admissions / Prospective Students

We are aware that students hoping to attend ISU will have additional challenges in securing all required documentation, etc. in a timely manner.

For those applying for the CS MS, if our normal Graduate Admissions process is not feasible (e.g., you could not do a Skype interview but could do a phone interview due to internet issues, etc.) please be in touch with the associate chairperson. We will also be glad to update applications to Spring 2021 or Fall 2021 for those who need this. Note that our normal admissions deadline for Spring is Nov 15, and June 15 for Fall. At this time the university-required documents for admission (4-year degree or equivalent transcript, English language scores if not from the US) remain the same, and the process for obtaining a student visa for international students remains the same. If there are any changes we will let all applicants know and post details here.

For international students, we are aware that many US consulates have put a hold on taking new appointments for visa interviews. At this time we just have to wait to see how this situation develops. As noted, we will be glad to take students for Spring 2021 or Fall 2021 entry if needed.

Update For new international MS students starting Fall 2020, the latest possible arrival date in the US is Sept 8. For this term only, you will be able to register for classes even if ISU only has an unofficial transcript (official transcripts must be received during the fall term). For those arriving from outside of the US, a mandatory 14 day quarantine will apply. If you will not be on campus by the start of the term, please be in touch with the associate chairperson to coordinate.

Update For the fall 2020 term only, the US administration is allowing continuing international students to register for as many fully online courses as needed. In addition, new international students from India, Saudi Arabia, Ghana and Nigeria can also register for fully online courses while you work towards getting a visa to enter the US. If you are uncertain, check with ISU's International Students & Services.

Update We have not heard yet whether the accommodations that apply for Fall 2020 will be extended to Spring 2021 or not. For those applying for Spring 2021, we advise on planning for spring entry if possible, and we will pass on updates as we get them. We do not expect to hear any updates until some time in November. We will defer admissions to Fall 2021 as needed.

Update We have decided to make our master's program available online, so there should be plenty of courses to choose from for those who are eligible to take courses online and wish to do so.

Covid-19 - Recommended Articles

Note - articles are added to this lest at the bottom, so least recent is first.

Covid-19 - Data and Analysis

Many will be interested in examining the data related to the spread of Covid-19. Some sources of data, articles on simulations, links to research, etc. (least recent first). Note - try the youtube videos first, assuming you like watching videos.