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Delivering the fall semester amid COVID-19 pandemic

Lake Superior State University (LSSU) announced that it will run in-person classes in the fall – with a twist. Lake State plans to start the fall semester on August 10 and complete it by Thanksgiving. That will get LSSU students off campus early and allow them to avoid travel during the height of flu season.

Lansing Community College also intends to take a hybrid approach to course delivery. It will deliver as many classes as it can online. The only classes it will deliver in-person are those that require hands-on or laboratory instruction.

The trade unions’ summer instructor training programs will not be running this year at WCC. That gives WCC a chance to combine these two approaches. WCC could run 12-week lab sections for the vocational/occupational courses on campus, starting in early August. Instructors in those programs could deliver the lecture components of these classes online to minimize in-person contact. The lab work could wrap up by the end of October or the beginning of November – before cold and flu season gets underway.

The College could conduct lab classes only one or two days per week, or departments may have to alternate building usage. For example, lab classes may be conducted in the OE Building only on Mondays and Thursdays. The LA Building may be in use only on Tuesdays and Fridays, and so on. This would allow the College to close buildings for at least two days following classes to allow for extensive cleaning.The SC Building would remain closed. Students would have to leave campus after completing their lab work.

Advantages of running a shortened fall semester

Starting and ending the semester early would also allow WCC to take an extended semester break, which would help avoid congregating during the height of the cold-and-flu season. It would also create a 6-8 week building maintenance window for completing urgent projects. Winter 2021 might also need to be a 12-week semester (no spring break), delivered like the fall semester, if necessary. A shortened Winter semester would also allow the delivery of a normal Summer 2021 semester and the resumption of summer trade union programs if conditions permit.

WCC cannot implement these strategies without the consent, cooperation and support of the bargaining groups – the WCCEA, the OPTs and especially the Custodial and Maintenance staffs. An altered-calendar approach would require creativity, commitment on the part of the students, staff and faculty, but it could enable WCC to deliver all classes to all students during the pandemic.

Photo Credit: Rex Roof , via Flickr