XU plans for an atypical semester

Fall semester to have adjusted class size, dining and academic calendar

Measures to enact social distancing for the fall semester include adjustments to the academic calendar, class sizes, dining on campus and housing. Official decisions on these matters will be shared by the end of June.

After announcing a modified fall academic calendar on Thursday, May 28, the COVID-19 Task Force has begun to narrow down changes to campus life and continues to meet daily.

Jeff Coleman, Vice President of Risk Management and Chair of the COVID-19
Task Force, explained that the changes to the academic calendar were recommended by TriHealth, and fellow Jesuit and local universities.

In addition to the semester being shifted up one week, all long weekends — including
Labor Day weekend and the originally scheduled fall break— have been replaced in favor of midweek breaks to discourage travel.

Furthermore, students will leave campus for Thanksgiving break and finish out the semester with remote finals the week of Nov. 30 to avoid a flare up in COVID-19 cases
during flu season.

All faculty members are required to have a plan ready to transition their courses to re-
mote learning for the remainder of the semester in the case of an earlier flare-up.

“I am confident we will be able to pivot (to online learning) whenever or however we need to,” Coleman said.

Though students will be able to return, campus will look much different than what the Xavier community is accustomed to.

First, upon arriving on campus, students may be tested for the virus, though the university is still working out the details of a Test, Treat, and Trace Plan. In the case of students who contract COVID-19, the university is implementing a Quarantine and Infirmary Plan. This plan will designate a building on campus to be used as the space where students who test positive for the virus will be able to stay with healthcare and meals provided. This space will also be used to isolate ill students from the rest of the Xavier community for at least two weeks.

The administration has not determined whether students will be required or encouraged to wear face masks while on campus.

The biggest change for the coming semester, according to Jeff Coleman, will be in the classrooms. “We are redesigning every classroom on campus so that there will be six feet of social distancing between all students,” Coleman said. “That change has cut our classroom capacity by about half.”

A few options are on the table to account for these changes. These options include the potential for half of the class to attend in-persons sessions on alternating days
of the week, or more sections of each class may need to be

In addition, Xavier will explore using larger and non-traditional classroom spaces, as well as a mixture of in person and online formats. Another big change will come to dining.

“Maintaining social distancing requirements in the cafeteria will be a serious challenge,” Coleman said. Chartwells has three tiers of social distancing accomodations that will be enacted in Hoff Dining Commons (the Caf) according to the severity of COVID-19 during the fall semester. Each of these tiers eliminate self-serve stations, such as the salad bar and pizza station, opting instead for pre-packaged options.

Potential changes to dining include online-ordered to go options, replacing custom stations such as the deli and pasta line with daily specials and requiring students to reserve time to eat in the Caf to maintain new capacity restrictions and minimize the flow of students into the cafeteria during rush hours.

The strictest tier would eliminate dining in the Caf and instead all food would be
served in disposable take out containers. The cost of dining plans is not expected to change.

Meanwhile, housing will not look much different than usual, but the university has eliminated all triples and quads for the upcoming semester.

Students can expect further details about potential class schedule changes and
other information by the end of the month of June.

“I’m actually pretty disappointed.” Brooke Antilla, a sophomore marketing major, said of the proposed changes by the planning committee. “I knew nothing could go back to normal but I feel like the changes will make college feel less like home,” she said. “I’m from New York, which has taken much slower steps to reopen (than Ohio) and I had some hope Xavier would feel a little more normal.”

“While I will miss fall break, and I’m a bit indifferent about remote finals, I am happy that this schedule will allow us to return in the fall,” sophomore political science major Blake Girdler said. “Xavier is my home and I’m willing to make some sacrific-
es to be able to go back.”

“We are hopeful that when students return in the fall, we can preserve the Xavier experience the best we can… under the circumstances we are facing,” Coleman said.