With a challenging Fall 2020 semester full of uncertainties and plenty of coursework, Baker University students, staff and faculty are looking forward to resting their minds and bodies. Looking ahead to the Spring 2021 semester, it was hard for many people to imagine another term with zero breaks from classes.
After analyzing how the university did with COVID-19 this semester and considering the dangers in the coming months, a new calendar with a later start for the spring term was chosen. The process was extensive, but faculty and students came together to try to make the best decision possible.
First, the administration and the faculty chairs agreed on a few calendar options and sent it to the Educational Programs and Curriculum committee (EPC). The EPC then sent it to the Faculty Senate who then transferred it to the University Academic Council (UAC) for final approval.
“Technically, the Spring 2021 calendar was approved last year; however, the administration felt it needed to be adjusted in light of the pandemic,” Faculty Senate Chair Nicholas Pumphrey said. Three possible calendars were sent to the EPC to discuss, and they initially chose one that included no breaks.
Student Senate President Jasmine White and Student Senate Vice President Sophie Heldenbrand were the student representatives for the Faculty Senate meeting. They presented data from a student survey and provided feedback. According to White, the biggest issue this semester was the lack of breaks and she urged the Faculty Senate to consider this when making their decisions.
“No breaks cause continuous stress,” White said. “I was able to be a voice to advocate for the student body because I know we are all struggling.”
Though it was not realistic to have a full spring break with the changes, the administration promised to put a few long weekends in place.
After much deliberation, the Faculty Senate passed a late-start/late-end calendar proposal, voting in favor 36 to four. The UAC then voted in favor as well, solidifying a final plan for Interterm and the spring semester.
Interterm will begin on Jan. 11 and will end on Jan. 29. Students and faculty will have Jan. 18 off in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Spring 2021 term will then begin on Feb. 2 and end on May 14 with final exams scheduled for May 17 through May 21.
Three separate days of break were sprinkled into the spring semester schedule.
No class on Mar. 19 to prepare for midterm exams.
No class on Apr. 2.
No class on Apr. 28 to allow for the Scholar’s Symposium.
According to Russell, the biggest factor for pushing the calendar back was community safety. Many people struggle with the flu virus in the winter months, specifically December, January and February.
Pushing the start date back eliminates a large period of time when people become sick with the flu. The administration would like to avoid what many are calling a “twindemic” within the community, which would be two viruses circulating at once.
“From my perspective as a virologist, that is the right thing to do,” Russell said in an interview with The Baker Orange Videographer Aunna Wolfe.
Having graduation scheduled in late May also allows for an outdoor ceremony to stay aligned with COVID-19 regulations.
The updated calendar was sent to the registrar’s office where Ruth Miller adjusted all the academic administrative dates. Following that, the updated calendar was posted to the Baker website and students at the Baldwin City campus received an email from Miller on Oct. 27 to notify them of where to find the revised schedule. The full schedule can be found on the registrar’s page of the Baker University website.
With many classes now either fully online or hybrid and having what feels like crammed semesters, students wondered if there would be any reduction in tuition, housing, meal plans etc. According to Russell, since the semester is not shorter in terms of class days, the costs will remain the same.
Because four days of break were taken away and class will be held in place, students will be in class the same number of days. Tuition is based on the number of credit hours, 12 to 18 for a full-time student, not the length of the term. Meals do not cost during breaks and students will be eating the same number of meals as before the change.
Overall, Russell is extremely proud of how the Baker community has done with the newly implemented COVID-19 rules and regulations, like wearing masks, staying on top of hybrid classes and being aware of cleaning and safety protocols. The vast amount of positive contributions allow for students and faculty/staff to remain on campus this year.
In Wolfe’s interview, Russell said, “I am so proud of the Baker students. I just feel that they have put their best foot forward. They have been pretty resilient.”