On Friday, University communications sent out an update to all students, listing some changes students may face when they arrive on campus in the upcoming fall semester.
One of the most significant administrative decisions in response to the pandemic is that in-person classes will not continue after Thanksgiving break. This was a necessary decision, as it will eliminate risks associated with holiday traveling.
However, the university’s adaptation plan still has holes to fill. While the university is also considering continuing classes online after Thanksgiving, there is a possibility of speeding up courses and finishing before the break. More specifically, this “accelerated” semester may include Saturday classes according to the email.
The notion of shortening a two-day weekend could cause a student to faint. Though there will need to be a strategy to conclude the semester before the end of November, Saturday and Sunday are coveted and necessary off-days for college students.
Saturday and Sunday are often used to catch up on the week’s homework. The rule of thumb for college classes is that one hour of class time requires about two hours of outside studying. The typical 12-hour student would then be studying another 24 hours each week. If Saturday classes were tacked on, the result would be overwhelming.
The administration also needs to consider just how many students rely on weekends for part-time jobs. The ability to balance work and school will be increasingly difficult without a full Saturday. The problem is only compounded by the financial devastation students and their families have faced during the pandemic.
Considering the difficulties that arose from the spring semester online classes, it’s understandable why Bradley is looking for a way to avoid a virtual semester all together. When COVID-19 became a major problem in the United States in March, adjusting planned syllabuses last-minute was challenging.
However, this time would be different. With an entire semester to prepare for the last three weeks online, the transition will be much smoother. Professors will have a reasonable amount of time to integrate it into their curriculum. They would also have more time to learn online tools like Bongo and Panapto.
Higher education is facing a gauntlet of challenges in the next few years, and adjusting to students returning in the fall is the first.
It’s important not to forget that students are paying to learn and obtain skills. The decision of accelerating the semester or hosting a few weeks online are similarly not ideal or as effective as a normal semester, but one of these scenarios will have to be implemented.
This truly is a difficult time for everyone, and the Return to Class team must make decisions that emphasize safety while also keeping the mental health of students in mind.