Possible changes to the 2021 winter semester due to COVID-19
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has caused multiple changes in the academic calendar at Elon University, and the winter semester has not been immune to these changes. Elon’s calendar committee decided to shift the semester by one day.
Elon’s winter session, which lasts three weeks in January each year, allows students to complete a one-semester course in three weeks, with classes taking place every day of the week. The winter session of this academic year is scheduled to start on January 6, 2021 and end on January 27. The false break will then last from January 27 to February 1, when the spring semester begins.
Rodney Parks, the university’s registrar, said the change happened because the university wanted to make sure there wouldn’t be a long period between the winter term and the spring term . Their hope is that the shorter period will discourage students from leaving campus multiple times and thus further expose members of the Elon community to COVID-19.
“We want to keep the students here on campus as safe as possible,” Parks said.
In an email, Parks wrote that the decision to test for COVID-19 upon the student’s return to campus “has yet to be made.”
“The Ready & Resilient committee is discussing this, and I believe they are looking at some of these new tests available,” Parks wrote.
Students returning to campus for the winter semester will also be required to submit proof that they have received a flu shot prior to their return to campus.
The Ready & Resilient website says there will be repercussions for students who do not receive the vaccination, as they will not be able to return to their classes in person.
Other changes for the winter semester are the cancellation of short-term study programs abroad and creation of a “Maymester” when these programs are now planned.
After arousing the interest of faculty, Elon’s Global Education Center offered the “Maymester” option to all students who were already enrolled in programs for the winter term. The “Maymester” programs are expected to begin shortly after graduation in May and run concurrently with Elon’s first summer semester.
Parks also stated that there is no additional charge for another course taken during the winter term if students choose to participate in “Maymester” in addition.
Sophomore Lauren Jablon – who was scheduled to study in Aguas Calientes, Peru during the winter term – said she liked the idea of “Maymester”.
“I think it’s smart,” Jablon said. “And if it’s done right, it could be awesome.”
Class structures on campus during the winter semester will run the same as the fall semester. According to Parks, some classes will be remote and others will retain a “hybrid” format, with students attending classes in person only part of the time. The format of the lessons depends on the preferences of the teacher, as well as the size of the classes.
Parks also said that students who take their courses fully online for the winter term will be able to register independently and ahead of other students, but only for courses that have an online option.
“The faculty has done a great job creating unique learning opportunities that meet the guidelines and keep everyone safe,” Parks said. “We will see this continue through the winter term and hope spring returns to normal for us.”
According to Parks, the spring semester schedule is still pending, along with methods for testing students when they return to campus after Fake Break. However, if the spring semester needs to be changed, the schedule changes will be similar to the fall semester.