End of Fall 2020 Semester & Spring 2021 Semester Updates

October 26, 2020

Dear Faculty,

As we get closer to the end of the fall semester we wanted to provide a brief update on some important dates regarding fall grading and advising for the upcoming spring term.  Department chairs and supervisors, please make sure you share this message, as appropriate, with your TAs and grad students who are teaching courses for us.

  1. Fall Grading Options: Just a reminder that grading for the fall term will be done using the standard grading options for your courses.  Although there were alternate grading options utilized last spring when we pivoted to remote instruction due to COVID, those were only in effect for the spring 2020 term. 

  2. Fall Grading: The grading window for fall courses will open on Monday, November 30 and close on Wednesday, December 23.  For the first time grades will be entered in UR Student, and instructions are in the attached pdf.

  3. Blackboard Outage: The University will be upgrading Blackboard over winter break to make some much needed improvements to the system.  The outage will begin at 12:01am on Thursday, December 24 and run through Thursday, December 31, and you will not be able to access any of your Blackboard course information – including grade and assignment information for your fall classes – during this time.  While we recognize there is no good time to shut off access to such an important tool, more information about the project and our rationale can be found below.  Questions about the Blackboard upgrade should be directed to University IT at univithelp@rochester.edu.

  4. Spring 2021 Course Offerings: The Eastman and AS&E spring course schedules will be available in UR Student beginning on Monday, November 9th.

  5. Spring Pre-Registration: Course registration for spring 2021 will begin on Monday, December 7th.  The registration window will open for seniors, dual degree, and grad students on the 7th, juniors on the 8th, sophomores on the 9th, and first-year students on the 10th

Thank you for your attention to the above dates, especially the close of the fall grading window on December 23.  If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.





Terry Magee
Eastman School of Music – University of Rochester
26 Gibbs Street, Rochester, New York 14604
(585) 274-1220 / tmagee@esm.rochester.edu


Information from University IT on the upcoming Blackboard maintenance window:

Blackboard will be migrating to the cloud this December.

Why December?

December is the time frame that

  • Blackboard is used the least
  • Is our normal annual downtime schedule
  • And, has been agreed to by all UR Schools


Why Move to the Cloud?

Moving to the cloud will put our learning management system in a state of the art platform. This will bring our system up to the most recent version, and keep it up to date with all bug fixes and updates moving forward.

The version we are running is currently 2 years old and requires updating, and the system will require underlying infrastructure updates in the next year as well. Updates to our current system require extensive downtime. Updates in the cloud happen monthly with zero downtime.

Moving to the cloud also positions us to update to the more modern navigation and course structure available in the future. While we will not be making this change immediately, we cannot make that change without the migration to the cloud.


When will this happen?

The move to the cloud will happen at the end of December. Blackboard needs to be down for the duration of the migration. The migration will begin at 12:01am on Thursday, December 24 and run through Thursday, December 31.

Blackboard will be down during this time frame. This means that access to courses and organizations housed in Blackboard will be unavailable. Additionally, access to a number of services directly connected to Blackboard (Panopto, Voicethread, Yellowdig, etc.) for authentication purposes will be unavailable.


Grades are due during the downtime

We understand that this might be a concern. We highly encourage you to finish your grading on or prior to December 23. If you cannot complete your grading by then, and need information from Blackboard to do that, you have some options:

  • Access to submit final grades can be done directly through UR Student and does not require access to Blackboard.
  • You can download your current grade center so that you can review all of your student grades from the term.
  • If you have assignments submitted that need grading, you can download the entire set of files as a Zip file.
  • If you need to review discussion posts, you can “collect” them and print them (to paper or PDF) for review offline.
  • If you have tests to grade, you can pull up each student attempt and print them (to paper or PDF) for review offline.
  • Access to software services connected to Blackboard will be unavailable, i.e. Voicethread, Yellowdig, please review any assignments in these systems before the downtime begins.
  • Access to Gradescope is also available via NetID login and can still be accessed while Blackboard is unavailable.


I wish to work on my spring course over the holiday

We understand that this is a potential time for you to begin working on your spring course, however, it is also the only time available where we can make this transition.

What can you work on during the downtime?

  • You can work on and update your syllabus and course schedule in Word
  • You can work on and update your Powerpoint slides for lectures
  • You can develop questions to be copied into Blackboard tests later
  • You can make Zoom recordings and save them locally
  • You can access Gradescope via NetID login

What can you not do during the downtime?

  • You cannot set up your Blackboard course (load content, build discussion boards, create tests, etc.)
  • You cannot load your recordings into Panopto as Panopto requires Blackboard login.
  • You cannot create Voicethreads as Voicethread requires access through Blackboard links
  • You cannot set up Yellowdig boards as Yellowdig requires access through Blackboard links


John C. Hain, DMA
Associate Dean of Academic and International Affairs
Eastman School of Music
26 Gibbs St.
Rochester, NY 14604

(585) 274-1020


Download the  “Assigning Final Grades in UR Student” PDF here