Belmont to allow remote learning, cancel fall break amid fall semester changes
Sweeping changes will affect this fall semester’s schedule — with the cancelation of fall break and an option for fully remote learning only scratching the surface.
The return to on-campus classes will include options for students to combine in-person and online learning to attend classes in a way that doesn’t risk their health, according to an email sent out Tuesday by university President Dr. Bob Fisher.
Those options will include the ability to enroll in a semester of fully remote learning, as well as classes that may involve online features to manage classroom density.
“More details about both of these options are forthcoming, but for now we want you to know that we’re planning to accommodate as many different needs as possible,” said the email.
Songwriting and English major Caroline Caldwell said she is happy to involve remote learning in her curriculum, and hopes faculty make changes to keep students socially distant wherever it won’t hinder learning.
“If the majors for which it is feasible to implement those changes do so, the more hands-on majors like AET or nursing will be able to meet in-person. I guess it’s really case-by-case,” said Caldwell.
Belmont’s Return to Learn team — led by university Provost Dr. Thomas Burns and Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness Dr. Paula Gill — will provide more information about students’ options in the coming months.
The semester will also begin August 19 and end as early as November 20 — and this is made possible by a wealth of scheduling changes.
Classes will be held on Labor Day and throughout fall break — the latter of which was to be extended to a week this year — and changes will be made to class length and “outside-of-class engagement” to ensure that a full semester’s worth of content is delivered before Thanksgiving, Fisher’s email said.
Classes’ beginning and end times will also be staggered to manage the amount of students moving from class to class at once.
“These decisions were made (and future decisions will be assessed) with the goal of continuing to offer you the opportunity to ‘Be Belmont’ – and be AT Belmont – while minimizing risk to students, faculty and staff,” Fisher said in the email.
For students like Caldwell, the scheduling changes present some concerns about students’ mental and physical health — though she knows Belmont is doing everything it can, she said.
“I get that there’s not gonna be a solution that makes everyone happy, but I don’t know how it’s going to affect our mental health, not having any breaks for four months,” Caldwell said.
Ultimately, Caldwell’s main concern is the safety of the Belmont community, she said.
“I just want everyone to be as safe as possible and I know that administration is doing their best to prioritize our safety and education to the best of their ability.”
Fisher echoed that sentiment in his email, saying Belmont’s priority moving forward is the safety of its community.
“I’ve often said that Belmont is ‘a small town in a big city.’ Our commitment is to do our very best to make Belmont the safest small town in the United States.”