On June 12, the University of Iowa announced that they would be keeping the semester on the same academic calendar, although there will be changes. Students, faculty, and staff will be required to wear masks in all campus buildings, and the university is going to put all classes online after Thanksgiving break.
The time between Thanksgiving break and the end of the semester is only three weeks. Making students go online for that short amount of time will be complicated for both the students and the faculty teaching them. Many students have final projects or presentations that will be confusing for them to finish online. There are classes that require students to be on campus, whether they need to physically be in class or to use the resources that campus provides.
Putting students online for only three weeks, after fourteen weeks of in-person classes, will throw them off of everything that they have been doing in the semester.
To make sure that students have the resources that they need, and to provide some sense of normalcy, the University of Iowa should condense their semester in order to be finish by Thanksgiving.
Iowa’s plan to keep the same academic calendar for the fall semester has also been adopted by some Big Ten schools. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is keeping their same academic calendar, and Ohio State is slightly adjusting yet still holding classes online after Thanksgiving.
Although Iowa can find continuity within the conference, it can’t within the state. Iowa is the only public university in the state that is keeping with the same semester schedule.
Both Iowa State and University of Northern Iowa changed their academic semester schedule to accommodate the COVID-19 pandemic. They are planning on starting classes a week early on August 17 and holding finals in the week of Thanksgiving, ending the semester on November 25.
Iowa State president Wendy Wintersteen said in a statement to students and staff that “We are making every effort to maximize in-person learning and the student learning experiences that are a defining characteristic of an Iowa State education. Adjusting the calendar will allow us to complete the semester before Thanksgiving and minimize the potential spread of COVID-19 due to holiday travel.”
Ending the semester before Thanksgiving, in conjunction with Iowa State and Northern Iowa, will minimize the potential spread of COVID-19 as much as possible.
The university has stated that they will keep residence halls open during the three weeks that there are online classes. For those three weeks, students living in residence halls may decide to come back from their hometowns, just to be able to be in Iowa City while taking classes. Ending the semester before Thanksgiving could deter some of those students from coming back, since without classes, they won’t have much to do in the city.
Nobody can stop students that live off-campus from coming and going as they please. But ending the semester early may encourage students to stay home for a while, stopping thousands of people from traveling to and from Iowa City.
Frankly, the UI keeping the semester the same just shows the administration’s laziness toward their students and staff. Nobody wants to go back to online classes. For once, Iowa should follow Iowa State.
Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.