On Thursday, Oct. 29 William Jewell College announced changes to the spring semester schedule. The regularly scheduled Spring Break will be removed in favor of taking five miscellaneous days off throughout the semester. Each respective class is planned to have a single mode of delivery for the entirety of the semester. Additionally, all students, faculty and staff will be required to take a COVID-19 test prior to the beginning of the spring semester.
The email announcement from Dr. Anne Dema, provost, and Shelly King, dean of students, stated that rather than having a week off for Spring Break, there will be no classes on: Friday, Feb. 5; Wednesday, Feb. 24; Tuesday, March 16; Thursday March 18; and Wednesday, April 14.
“Faculty will be encouraged to make a clear statement in spring syllabi that these are days off, and they recognize the importance these breaks have to the student experience” the email stated.
These days off are intended to reduce interruptions while still providing breaks throughout the semester. They are intended to truly be days off – without increased workload for students.
“This change enables a less interrupted mid-semester schedule, which is a time that often involves personal travel, thus mitigating increased exposure risks… The College will still observe one Advising Day (Mar. 30 (T)), Good Friday (Apr. 2), Easter Monday (Apr. 5), and Colloquium Day (Apr. 23), meaning there are no classes on these days. Feedback from faculty and student surveys indicate that this is the best option among those considered, other than wishing things were normal and no changes were needed and we could enjoy a normal Spring Break – a hopeful position but one that doesn’t seem likely,” stated the email announcement.
Each respective class intends to have a single method of delivery for the duration of the semester. Each professor will choose a mode of delivery prior to the start of classes. The College does not intend to go completely virtual other than when it may be required by Operation Safe Campus.
All students, faculty and staff will be required to participate in COVID-19 testing prior to returning to campus in January 2021. Faculty, staff and select student groups will have an opportunity to test Wednesday, Jan. 6 on campus. Employees – excluding those essential to on-campus operation – will work virtually the week of Jan. 4 – Jan. 8.
Students, both returning and new students, will be tested during the week of Jan. 11 – either on-campus or through an at-home test.
Results of these tests will determine when members of the community are able to return to campus. If faculty and staff test negative, they will return to campus Jan. 11. If students test negative, they may return to campus beginning Jan. 17. Spring semester classes will begin Jan. 19.
After opening Jan. 17, residence halls will remain open until the end of the semester.
Everyone who tests positive will be expected to follow the Isolation Guidelines in Operation Safe Campus. The College will provide more details about the testing in the future.
The email announcement also confirmed that commencement is planned for May 15, 2021. The plans will be adapted as needed given the state of COVID-19 at the time.
The changes to the calendar were approved by the president’s cabinet and were informed by feedback from faculty and staff. The email emphasized the need to make the changes now in order to begin planning for the spring.
“Please know that none of these decisions were made lightly or in haste. They are the result of good deliberations among members of the Jewell community with the best interests of all in mind and a desire to be proactive in support of Operation Safe Campus,” stated the email.
Those with questions or concerns are encouraged to contact Olivia Eggleston, Student Senate president and senior nonprofit leadership and Applied Critical Thought and Inquiry major; King; Dr. Ian Coleman, faculty council chairman; Chris McCabe, staff council chairman; or Dema.