TU’s plans for spring 2021 living and learning

By: Grace Coughlan, Associate Editor and Caitlyn Freeman, Assistant Editor 

 

Towson University President Kim Schatzel announced plans for the spring 2021 semester in a campus-wide email Oct. 14.

Here are some of key points:

The current academic calendar will remain the same.

  • Minimester will be Monday, Jan. 4 through Friday, Jan. 22.
  • Spring term will be Monday, Jan. 25 through Tuesday, May 11.
  • Spring break will take place from March 14–21 (Sunday to Sunday).
  • Final exams will be held May 12–18 (Wednesday to Tuesday).

Minimester 2021 classes will be online, while spring classes will be integrated.

Spring semester will be online for the first two weeks, Jan. 25 to Feb.7., then will transition to integrated learning.

“After those first two weeks, beginning Feb. 8, classes may continue to be offered remotely, but, in addition, face-to-face and hybrid instruction will be held on campus,” Schatzel said. 

85% of learning will function remotely while in-person classes will function at low capacities, following the health guidelines. 

“Faculty will continue to have the ability to determine the modality of their courses,” Schatzel said. “More information about course modalities will be made available prior to the start of spring registration.” 

On-campus housing will be available at 30% capacity, with increased quarantine and self-isolation rooms.

According to Schatzel, TU will reduce the number of students allowed to live in university-owned housing. 

“On-campus, university-owned residence halls will house approximately 2,300 students, with the university fulfilling those requests already made for the spring term,” Schatzel said. “The 2,300-student limit is a much-reduced density, representing approximately 30% of residence halls’ total capacity.”

Similar to housing guidelines for the Fall 2020 semester, only two students living in residence halls are able to share a bathroom with no guests permitted in the buildings. This time, all students will have individual bedrooms, unlike before.  

As a result of quarantine and self-isolation space for the fall semester reaching capacity in late August, the University will increase the number of quarantine and isolation spaces available. 

“Quarantine and isolation space on campus will be doubled to 196 beds, with additional residence halls in queue if needed,” Schatzel said. “More staffing to support and care for students in quarantine/isolation has been added to the Division of Student Affairs.”

Safety protocols remain in effect.

In terms of the COVID-19 measures, TU will continue to use The Tigers Care QuickScan, require the use of face masks indoors and outdoors when physical distancing isn’t achievable, and continue sentinel testing to determine the presence of COVID-19 on campus. 

Students, faculty and staff will also be required to test negative for the virus within 10 of their return to campus this spring. 

New CRISP partnership will enable rapid response to COVID-19 positive testees.

Schatzel also announced that the University System of Maryland (USM) has partnered with Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients (CRISP), a statewide health information exchange which will better enable rapid response to individuals who test positive for COVID-19.

In addition to our continuous efforts to address the pandemic and to keep our community safe, we have also been observing and discussing the variety of approaches taken by other institutions, learning from their successes and challenges,” Schatzel said.

Junior Anna Herb was anticipating a return to in-person learning and felt disappointed that learning modality will be mostly online. 

“I think all of us were anticipating an in-person semester in the spring, so seeing that it would be mostly if not 100% online was a shock,” Herb said. “I understand that these are precautions that are necessary, but Towson isn’t lowering the costs of simply attending classes, and as an out-of-state student, it is incredibly expensive to sit at home barely retaining anything.” 

Senior Ashley Adebusuyi says she doesn’t agree with the University’s decision to move residents back on campus before being sure of the semester’s modality.

“I think the plan is just as flawed as it was this semester,” said Adebusuyi. “The only difference is they had more time to come up with a good one and they have failed once again. Having people move in just to have online for the first two weeks and then a high chance of just cancelling all together does not make sense.”

Schatzel says she is proud of the faculty and staff’s commitment to students.

“TU faculty and staff have continued to demonstrate how much they truly care about each and every one of our students,” Schatzel said. “From providing support to the student emergency fund to finding creative solutions for unprecedented issues, the care for our Tigers is evident.”

More details regarding the 2021 semester will be made available in coming weeks.

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