How Fullstack Academy Is Responding to the Coronavirus

By: David Yang

This post was initially published on March 11, 2020, and has since been updated. We have since moved all campuses to remote until May 4, 2020. See the full details below.

A note from Fullstack Academy co-CEO and co-founder, David Yang:

Dear Fullstackers,

On March 4, Nimit and I decided to take necessary precautions and transition our New York City campus to Remote (synchronous Live Online) instruction in response to the growing coronavirus pandemic. I want to explain why we took those precautions, why we’re excited about Remote instruction, and finally, our plan for returning to normal operations.

The Reason for Closure

After reading the thread below on March 4, it became clear to us that to protect the health of our students and employees, reducing “community spread” was of paramount importance and that earlier action would produce better health outcomes.

Some key quotes from the thread:

“The *earlier* that schools were closed (ideally even in *advance* of outbreaks) the lower the number of excess deaths in 43 US cities during the 1918 Influenza pandemic. #COVID19 #schoolclosure 4/”
“But school closures and NPI must be applied *early*. Compare St. Louis and Pittsburg in the 1918 influenza pandemic. St. Louis closed its schools *before* local cases had doubled, and for longer, than Pittsburg. It had many fewer excess deaths. #COVID19 #schoolclosure 6/”

More and more schools have closed since then (including most residential colleges) and transitioned to online learning. These actions are driven by the idea of “flattening out the curve” of infection—in essence load balancing the total number of infected people so that our healthcare system can handle the increased load. 

I want employees and students to know that this decision was not taken lightly, and we would take intensive steps to continue in-person education if we believed it was feasible. The magic of coding bootcamps is the close-quarters intimacy of constantly working together, pairing together, and going through an intense communal experience. We also know how excited students are to come to Fullstack and how much effort, energy, and time they devote to their studies with us. We are committed to making sure that the trust and energy students put into their education with us will be met with equal intensity to see their success.

Going Remote

Fullstack first launched a fully Live Remote program in 2016 when video-conferencing technology became significantly better and easier to use with the launch of Zoom. Fullstack's Remote Immersive received raving reviews from students who had developed their own culture in the Brady Bunch intimacy of Zoom conference calls and breakout rooms.

Today, we run several fully Live Remote cohorts through our University programs, so the tools to make Remote happen have continued to improve. We’ve invested in making our learning management system support real-time interaction, and almost all our programs already use other collaboration tools like Slack and Asana. Our curricula, learning exercises, group projects, and other activities have all been designed with the idea of Remote in mind, and we believe there will be minimal disruption to normal classroom activities.

Our instructors and employees have been trained and brought up to speed on Remote instruction, and we’re going to continue monitoring its efficacy during this ramp-up.

Returning to Normalcy

It’s too early to tell right now how COVID-19 will impact America—we are still on the upward trajectory of awareness and transmission. We’ve set a tentative date of March 30 [Editors note: We’ve made some updates—see below for the latest]. for resuming normal campus operations and bringing students and employees back to campus.

We have several things that we’re working on in the meantime to optimize for safety:

  1. Temperature-based monitoring for fever 
  2. Hygiene stations throughout campus (hand sanitizer—yes, we were able to secure some)
  3. Increased cleaning procedures covering high-traffic areas
  4. Hybrid option for students who wish to remain Remote

Of course, we’ll continue to monitor the situation closely and adjust our decision based on new information. We’re also closely following best practices from the CDC.

We also want to minimize friction for students who are concerned about being sick or need to self-quarantine. Any students who have been accepted or are currently enrolled and become sick or are asked by local health authorities to self-isolate can transfer to a future cohort at no cost if they wish. If there are other situations related to COVID-19, please reach out to us—we don’t want decisions about your education to interfere with your health.

Updates as of March 19, 2020

Since this post was initially published, Fullstack Academy has extended the tentative date to April 20 for returning to in-person classes and events.

We also wanted to provide a little more clarity on how remote classes work.

Our online model is fun and interactive. We utilize the Zoom platform in conjunction with Slack, and it’s a great time to be part of a community getting through a tough time together.

In addition to the same lectures, workshops, and teamwork that we do in-person, we also host virtual game nights, virtual background contests, and “bring your pet to lunch” sessions, and we will continue to incorporate feedback and fun elements as we progress through the programs. 

This will be very similar to any in-person lecture you may have had in the past, but instead of an instructor at a podium, you’ll be viewing and interacting with an instructor via screen-share.

Each lecture is followed by a targeted workshop. These lessons are designed to reinforce the concepts you’ve just learned. They will include:

  1. Text overviews to refresh your knowledge of the lecture material.
  2. Codeblocks to give you an idea of what you’re going to be doing.
  3. Coding fields that let you write your own code from scratch and manipulate pre-existing code for targeted learning purposes.

Each workshop is structured in a checklist setup, so you’ll know exactly what you’ve completed and how much more you have to go.

Additionally, the tools we use allow you to ask questions directly and share your code in real-time. Our instructors are able to see your code and work with it to guide you through any difficult points. 

The online experience that you are in has been road-tested for years and has proven outcomes. At the same time, we understand that you had initially enrolled in an in-person program. This is why we’ve been collecting and incorporating your feedback to improve the experience. 

In the end, our overriding purpose is to transform your lives by helping you get the career outcomes you dream of. We take this very seriously, and everything we do is designed around it.

Updates as of March 30, 2020

After careful consideration, Fullstack Academy has extended the tentative date to May 4 for returning to in-person classes and events.

For students enrolled in our April 2020 cohort, please note that students will start the course remotely. 


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