The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has caused multiple changes to Elon University’s academic calendar, and Winter Term has not been immune to these changes. Elon’s calendar committee has decided to shift the semester one day forward.
Elon’s Winter Term, which lasts for three weeks in January every year, allows students to take a semester-long class in three weeks, with classes occurring every weekday. This academic year’s Winter Term is set to start on Jan. 6, 2021, and end on Jan. 27. Fake Break will then last from Jan. 27 to Feb. 1, which is when the spring semester begins.
Rodney Parks, the university registrar, said the shift occurred because the university wanted to ensure that there would not be a long period of time between Winter Term and spring semester. Their hope is that the shorter time period will discourage students from leaving campus multiple times and thus further exposing Elon community members to COVID-19.
“We want to keep students here on campus as safe as possible,” Parks said.
In an email, Parks wrote that the decision of COVID-19 testing upon student’s return to campus “hasn’t been made yet.”
“The Ready & Resilient committee is discussing it, and I believe looking into some of those new tests that are available,” Parks wrote.
Students returning to campus for Winter Term will also have to submit proof that they have received a flu vaccination prior to their return to campus.
The Ready & Resilient website says that there will be repercussions for students who do not receive the vaccination, as they will not be able to return to their in-person classes.
Other changes for Winter Term lie in the cancellation of short-term study abroad programs and the establishment of a “Maymester” when these programs are now planned to occur.
After gathering faculty interest, Elon’s Global Education Center offered the “Maymester” option to all students who were already enrolled in programs for Winter Term. “Maymester” programs are planned to begin shortly after graduation in May and run at the same time as Elon’s first summer semester.
Parks also said that there is no extra cost for another course taken during winter term if students choose to additionally participate in “Maymester.”
Sophomore Lauren Jablon — who was supposed to study in Aguas Calientes, Peru during winter term — said she likes the idea of “Maymester.”
“I think it’s smart,” Jablon said. “And if done properly, it could be great.”
On-campus class structures during Winter Term will run similarly to fall semester. According to Parks, some classes will be remote and others will maintain a “hybrid” format, with students attending class in-person only part of the time. The format of classes depends on the professor’s preferences, along with class sizes.
Parks also said students who are taking their classes completely online for Winter Term will be able to register independently and ahead of other students, but only for classes that have an online option.
“The faculty have done a great job of creating unique learning opportunities that meet guidelines and keep everyone safe,” Parks said. “We will see that continue during the winter term and hope that the spring will be back to normal for us.”
According to Parks, spring semester’s schedule is still up in the air, along with methods for testing students as they return back to campus from Fake Break. However, if the spring semester needs to be changed, the calendar changes will be similar to that of the fall semester.