BELOIT—The start of the spring semester at Beloit College is being pushed back to Feb. 15 as COVID-19 and flu cases continue to rise.
The spring semester was scheduled to begin in January.
In keeping with Rock County’s recommendations for schools to remain closed for two weeks after the Thanksgiving break, Beloit College informed its students who were leaving campus for the break that they should not return until the start of the spring semester.
Before returning to campus, students will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Additionally, students will be regularly tested and required to wear masks, physically distance and gather in extremely small groups.
“We have said all along that we would rely on science and move quickly and nimbly to adjust if necessary during this unpredictable pandemic,” said Beloit College President Scott Bierman. “We began with the health and safety of our community at the forefront. Scientific advice of how best to respond to COVID is driving our plans.”
Starting classes in mid-February with a mix of in-person and hybrid learning will allow enough distance between the holidays and any potential surge.
“We believe that bringing students back to campus in mid-January—when health care facilities are already overrun—would be irresponsible,” Bierman said.
Classes at the college will end May 21, and graduation will be May 30 to allow students to start jobs or internships in June.
“Changing our academic calendar in this way gives us a good shot at more in-person instruction, especially in the second mod, beginning April 6,” said Cecil Youngblood, Beloit College’s dean of students.
At the pandemic’s start, Beloit College converted its standard academic year into mods: 7.5-week, two-course modules that allow for intense focus. Breaking the semester into two halves, with two courses each, helps minimize disruption should a change from in-person to remote learning occur mid-semester.
Beloit was the first college to revise its semester in this way.
Additionally, students created their own Statement of Culture and Behavioral Expectations that mandated masks, physical distancing, and small group gatherings to keep COVID cases low and allow them to remain on campus. Students were widely praised in national media outlets for their mature, proactive approach to the pandemic.
Throughout the fall semester, Beloit College has been regularly offering COVID-19 tests for students through its Chicago-based testing partner, Tempus. More than 2,500 tests were conducted on campus this fall, college health officials have said previously.
Beloit College is planning a two-week Career Accelerator program for students from Jan. 25—Feb. 5 to help them identify, prepare for, and apply for internships, jobs, and other career-related opportunities. Students will be able to attend remote site visits, network with panelists, and receive resume reviews and advice from a host of talented alumni and business professionals.