Spring semester to continue as planned


Josh Meredith

A student walks into the Health Professions Building

Hayden Olberding, Digital Editor

The university is continuing with its plans to begin classes and continue campus housing in the spring.

Despite pandemic numbers getting worse in Vanderburgh County, the university will continue the spring 2021 semester as planned.

Classes are moved back eight days from their original date and will be, online until Feb. 8, with exceptions to specific classes.

Students living on campus can move into their housing on Jan. 8. 

Amy Price, director of housing and residence life, said students can move back in after they have filled out an intent to stay form. This form will provide the number of students returning to campus to other areas of the university like food services and public safety.

“Right now there is no specific procedure requiring people to quarantine or anything like that,” Price said. “Except for new incoming international students.”

Price said new international students are required to quarantine for 14 days. She said a group of students from Panama recently finished their quarantine in November.

Price said nearly 100 international students will be staying in campus housing over winter break.

Non-international students are not required to quarantine as they move back on campus. The university is asking students to remain home if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or if they test positive for COVID-19, according to Price. 

Shelly Blunt, associate provost for academic affairs, said classes will begin at a later date than normal to reduce the density on campus.

“I think there’s great concern about overwhelming the health care system within the region,” Blunt said.

Blunt said December and January are the height of flu season and impacted the decision to delay the start of the semester.

One date that stayed the same was the Jan. 8 move-in date. Blunt said this date remained so students could have access to technology.

“One of the things that we learned from the spring is that not everyone has the same type of technology capabilities at their homes,” Blunt said. “ Being able to have students come back to campus, and, you know, use the resources here on campus was important to us.”

Blunt said the choice to make most classes online from Jan. 19 to Feb. 8 was to reduce the number of students on campus. Classes will return to being held in person or online on Feb 8.

A list of classes meeting in person on Jan. 19 can be found on the university’s website.

The university made rapid result COVID-19 testing available to students on Dec. 1. Blunt said she thinks the university’s COVID-19 task force will decide how the tests will be used in the spring.

The university is not requiring students to take a COVID-19 test before classes begin in January.

Positive COVID-19 cases are increasing daily in Vanderburgh county, with over 4,000 positive cases and 56 COVID-19 related deaths since Oct. 1. 

When classes began Aug. 24, Vanderburgh county had a moving average of 21 new positive COVID-19 cases. On Dec. 1 the moving average was 196 cases according to Indiana’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Corbin Brent, a senior public health major, said he agrees with the university’s decision to delay classes in the spring. 

“I think it’s well-intentioned, especially given that people will be spending time with their families,” Brent said.

He said it was logical to start the semester later than usual to compensate for students being introduced to a new environment.

Brent said one reason the students wouldn’t want an online semester is that he thinks some students don’t perform well online.

“If you wanted to play it 100% safe, the safest thing would be all online,” Brent said. “But that is not what the majority of students would want.”

Brent said a lack of breaks in the fall negatively impacted his semester.

“I just know without having the fall break this past semester; it was just a long semester with no real break,” Brent said. “That was pretty tiring, and I think that’s one thing that affected me more than I expected.”

Brent said not having a spring break is a noticeable miss in his semester.

He also said he noticed students becoming more relaxed with university policies like the mask mandate. 

“I think definitely some students take liberties,” Brent said. “If they were at a friend’s house off campus that would be one thing because they have an appropriately sized social bubble.”

Brent said he sees groups of students in the Jazz lounge without masks. 

“Even though they may be in a social bubble, it is the other people in the jazz lounge that there is still that risk that does not get thought about,” Brent said.