As the Fall 2020 semester draws near, Trevecca Nazarene University officials released the Back Home to the Hill Plan today.
The plan, which outlines specific steps the University will take to keep the campus community healthy in the midst of a global pandemic, included changes to the academic schedule and specified health protocols such as wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing and reducing gatherings in common spaces such as dining locations or residence hall lobbies.
“While we, like you, long for normal, we know that there are many things about our daily lives that have changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” University officials wrote in an email announcing the plan to students, faculty and staff. “We’ve entered the ‘new normal,’ and we believe the best way we can love our community and fellow students is to make adjustments that keep each other safe and healthy.”
Those adjustments include practicing health and safety protocols during the Fall 2020 semester and reimagining the academic schedule, officials noted.
KEY POINTS OF THE BACK HOME TO THE HILL PLAN
- In-person, on-campus classes for traditional undergraduate students will begin on Aug. 17 and the Fall 2020 semester will close on Nov. 24.
- Most in-person, on-campus classes for non-traditional and graduate students will also begin in August. Program directors will communicate specific information to students in their programs.
- Traditional undergraduate students will follow the 7-7 plan, which splits the semester into seven-week modules. Students and faculty will split their course loads between the two modules, focusing on two to three courses during each half. Fall Module 1 finals are scheduled for Oct. 2-3, while Fall Module 2 finals are planned for Nov. 21 and 23.
- Students will return to their permanent residences before Thanksgiving and not return to campus until the Spring 2021 semester.
- There will be no fall break this year, and students are strongly encouraged to stay in Tennessee and on campus during the Fall 2020 semester.
- Fewer classes will take place at the same time, decreasing student traffic across campus and in buildings and limiting the potential exposure of faculty and students.
- Staggered meal times, expanded grab-and-go selections and limited seating to allow for social distancing in the dining hall and other on-campus dining locations.
- Social distancing will be practiced within classrooms and common spaces. Students and instructors should expect to wear face coverings during class sessions.
- Increased campus cleaning schedule with cleaning supplies and disinfectant available in classrooms and common areas for student and faculty use.
Detailing personal and community health and safety protocols, the plan also highlights an innovative approach to the semester. The 7-7 plan splits the semester into two seven-week modules, with students focusing on two to three courses during each module.
“Students will have the benefit of greater focus and concentration in two to three areas of intensive study, rather than carrying the stress of the entire curriculum throughout the 15-week period,” said Dr. Tom Middendorf, university provost. “Should the virus force us to pivot to online instruction, this plan creates added flexibility and removes the pressure of managing five or six online courses at a time from our students and faculty.”
Reimagining the semester allowed officials to reallocate classroom spaces, making it possible for fewer classes to take place at the same time, decreasing student traffic across campus and in buildings while also limiting the potential exposure of faculty and students.
At a time when many institutions are moving a high percentage of courses to online-only delivery, Middendorf says the 7-7 strategy will allow Trevecca to safely run in-person courses and create the face-to-face, mentoring interactions the University is known for.
“We are a Christian community,” he said. “Relationships matter, and we believe we do community best when we can be together. This plan allows us to maintain the level of interaction our students expect from faculty and staff, while also reducing the potential for exposure for both students and faculty since both will only be meeting with half of their classes during each seven-week module.”
Trevecca’s COVID-19 Task Force as well as a number of ad hoc committees devoted to specific areas have worked to create plans, protocols and best practices outlined in the Back Home to the Hill Plan. They were guided by an advisory board, made up of medical and business professionals, as well as local, state and federal COVID-19 guidelines.
To learn more about the Back Home to the Hill Plan, visit Trevecca.edu/BackHomeToTheHill.