EMU Provost Rhonda Longworth revealed in a virtual town hall meeting on Tuesday, June 23, that EMU will not be altering the fall academic calendar, citing the close proximity of the vast majority of EMU students to campus, and the number of students who rely on EMU as their permanent home.
“Almost 80% of our students come from the seven counties contiguous to campus, so the idea that they’re spreading out widely at Thanksgiving and then returning is a pattern that we just don’t see on campus,” Longworth said at the town hall.
Longworth said that even though the university is not making a campus-wide decision to alter the fall calendar, the door is open for deans and departments to make decisions on altered meeting schedules or hybrid classes, and that the planning process for that will be taking place as the health guidelines come into clearer focus.
Some public universities in Michigan have chosen to alter their academic calendars in response to concerns about the coronavirus. The University of Michigan will be ending in-person instruction on Nov. 20, starting at Thanksgiving break, and finishing the semester via virtual instruction.
Central Michigan University is making similar changes; CMU will be starting it’s fall semester two weeks early, on Aug. 17, with classes ending on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.
With no changes to its fall calendar, EMU students will be returning for the first day of classes on August 31. The last day of classes is still scheduled for Dec. 11.
Incoming freshmen are currently scheduled to move in Aug. 28, with returning and transfer students moving in on Aug. 29.
Longworth also said the large number of students that rely on EMU for their permanent residence was a major factor in the decision not to alter the calendar.
“To [alter the schedule] would mean students in the residence halls who really, we found in large numbers, that’s their permanent home, and they don’t leave to the large degree that maybe some other campuses do. So they wouldn’t be leaving campus in the same way,“ Longworth said.
Longworth continued, explaining that some patterns in student behavior are different across the different campuses in Michigan, so the logic in planning for EMU is different than it might be for universities in northern Michigan, for example.
Longworth took issue with the idea of cancelling spring break, like the University of Michigan has done, saying that such a break is important for student mental and physical health. But Longworth cautioned that the winter semester is still far off, and that she would delay in giving information on the winter academic calendar until that semester draws closer.
The virtual town hall also presented faculty and instructors with the still-developing health guidelines that are recomended by EMU’s Public Health Working Group, a group of faculty and academic leaders that are developing the guidelines for a return to in-person campus operations.