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Student Concern for Spring 2021 Schedule Change

At this point, we’ve all heard about Beloit’s proposed plan to push back the beginning of the Spring 2021 semester. As usual, students have reacted to the change with a variety of opinions, and many present very valid concerns. 

First and foremost is the health and safety of the Beloit community. Covid cases in Rock and Dane Counties, as well as all over the state, have been on the rise in the last few weeks, a foreshadowing of the “second-wave” predicted for flu season. The Beloit Administration has proposed this plan in light of the spike, which is very much a danger to consider. However, students present a counterpoint that extending break until February creates a lot of time off campus, and not everyone has a safe environment to return to. Is there going to be accommodation for this? Students will need access to healthcare, such as Covid testing and potential care in case of a positive test. How will these students be taken care of, especially those insured through the college?

Students have also raised concerns about financial security during the extended time. Many rely on work-study and on-campus jobs that are inaccessible when students are outside the state of Wisconsin. These jobs are often crucial to students’ ability to pay for the upcoming semester or other necessities like food and rent for those who live off-campus. What compensation will be given to these students? While there is additional aid for those directly affected by COVID, I question how many will be left ineligible for this assistance and still in need of help. 

Many are worried about how this change will affect their summer plans. While I appreciate the change in start date from Feb. 23 to Feb. 15, Those who have already solidified their plans are still at a disadvantage. How many will lose job and internship opportunities because they can no longer make their start date? This once again raises the question of how the school will compensate for loss of income due to the schedule shift.

I’m left wondering why the administration chose this plan rather than utilizing the flexibility of the mod system. Wasn’t this system the precaution in case we were not able to return to campus? Why delay an entire semester when we could just do the first mod virtually?

While I understand and value that the administration is trying to do what’s safest for the entire community, I have some issues with how this situation was handled. Why was this proposal delayed until students had already begun to leave campus for break? Those unable to return are now having to adjust to just over two months at home when they are only prepared to be away for one. What about their cars, plants, pets, and personal belongings? Who is going to take care of those things in the cold winter moths? These are all things that could have been accounted for had students been given the appropriate amount of time. 

After days of reflection, I can see both sides of this situation. The college has a duty to the entire community to make the appropriate adjustments in order to keep us all safe. But, I do think students are extremely justified in their upset. This “proposal” was  presented to us as a possibility, but since it’s release, it has only been made more clear that the decision has essentially been made to proceed, despite the fact that students have been vocal in their hesitation. Again, if this had been presented in a more timely manner, there would have been less rush and more flexibility to adjust the plan based on student concern. 

While I don’t necessarily love the idea of spending extra time at home, like most of us, I of course prioritize our campus safety, even if it means an extended break. My issue lies more within how the administration communicates with students rather than the schedule change itself. This is just another example of Administration putting student opinions and concerns on the back burner.

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