Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Southeast reworks fall schedule

Friday, June 26, 2020
Deborah Below - Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success (left). Diane Wood - Professor of Biology, Faculty Senate chairperson. (right).
University Photos

Southeast is adopting a new fall schedule this semester, which includes having class on Labor Day (Sept. 7) and the cancellation of fall break (Oct. 8 and 9). Students will continue class remotely after Thanksgiving and the semester will end on Dec. 11, a week earlier than was planned. In-person classes are to start on Aug. 24 as planned. The new schedule is meant to reduce traveling and the possible spread of COVID-19.

The plan was presented on June 22 by President Carlos Vargas at the Southeast Board of Regents meeting.

Faculty Senate chairperson Diane Wood said the Faculty Senate executive committee was involved in the creation of the new schedule and helped create a new proposal.

“The initial proposal was to start a week early,” Wood said. “When I was talking to [Provost Mike] Godard about it I said ‘Look, there are a lot of people who have made summer plans. If we do this, then all those people who made those plans would have to cancel.’ And on top of all that there are faculty who do research during summer, and a lot of the time that research takes them elsewhere.”

After discussing the schedule further with Godard and discussing ways to make sure it didn’t disrupt prior plans, the executive committee arrived at the current iteration, Wood said.

Wood said the schedule is a win-win for students and faculty, despite the removal of scheduled off days for Labor Day and fall break. She said the move to virtual education after Thanksgiving will help balance out the additional days of classes.

“The worst part of it was when we got back from Thanksgiving,” Wood said. “Everyone walked around like zombies.”

As of now, Southeast officials have not specified if masks will be required anywhere on campus, but Wood said she will require one in her classes regardless.

“I may have students in my classes who have illnesses where if they were to get COVID, they would get very sick. As a result, I’m going to add in my syllabus that in the classroom we have to wear masks, and I will be wearing one,” Wood said. “I think at this point I have to think about other people, because I don’t want to be responsible for causing others to get sick.”

Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success Deborah Below said administrators began discussing plans for fall 2020 in May after spring semester ended.

Despite classes moving online after Thanksgiving, Below said students living on campus will not be required to move out at Thanksgiving. Chartwells dining will also continue through the end of the semester on Dec. 11.

“We don’t foresee any reasons why students couldn’t continue to use their residence hall room just like they would an off-campus living environment,” Below said.

Below said the university has been meeting weekly and sometimes even multiple times a week to determine how to safely reopen. In addition to the Emergency Response Team the university has put together, Below said it is important for students to also understand their role in the process.

“What’s most helpful to us is really getting the students to begin thinking about their role in understanding what they can do to maintain their own personal health and the health and safety of the people around them,” Below said.

Below said the university wants students to begin thinking about their role in how they can help control the spread of the virus and that university officials are working closely with the OWC to determine ways to safely reopen campus. The OWC is a student committee of eight to 10 students.

“Each week those students serve as a tremendous sounding board for us and that will include any guidance related to how we social distance, how we maneuver indoor spaces on campus, and when we require face covering,” Below said.

SGA President Logan Phillips said he has been in touch with university officials regarding the new calendar.

“Although the changes for the fall are not ideal for anyone, we want to make sure the students' needs are met,” Phillips said.

In a newsletter to students on June 23, Vargas stated plans for fall 2020 commencement and the spring semester will be communicated when the information is ready.