The Indiana Daily Student asked for questions on social media last week after IU announced plans to handle the 2020-2021 school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In an interview, IU spokesperson Chuck Carney provided some early answers.
This FAQ has been edited for length and clarity.
Why did IU choose to make a decision about the entire school year, rather than just the fall semester?
The reason we made the decision about the whole school year is that’s generally how our academic planning is done. We rarely decide something about the fall without having the calendar set for the spring because it really generally works better if we can plan that way. I think, looking at this particular situation, that made it possible for us to plan things a little bit more concretely for sure. In our case, we were able to then offer the winter session, which will allow some possible additional hours to be taken online between the fall and spring semesters.
Is there any chance the plan for the spring term could change?
Everything is reliant on how the health situation plays out. We’re in a time when everything has changed on a dime (starting this) spring when the pandemic hit, so it’s impossible to say that nothing will change. Right now, this is the calendar we plan to move forward with, and we hope to stick to that because it will allow us to complete the academic year and get everyone the fullest academic experience. We will certainly be monitoring everything and having continuous meetings.
What are being done about the costs of housing, tuition and fees?
As far as fees and tuition, we’ll be putting that on the update website. There hasn’t been any revision to that at the moment. All of that is still being worked through, and I’d emphasize that the announcement was to get the academic calendar set. Contact (Residential Programs and Services) with any questions you have about (housing) to check about your own individual, particular case.
Why were fall and spring breaks removed from the schedule?
It goes back to recommendations from state and federal authorities about safe practices and really limiting travel. There’s no IU-sponsored travel because of the pandemic, which might change over time, but it will still be limited because of the restrictions to keep the spread of the virus down.
Was there any consideration to students needing a mental break during the semester?
I know that it was seriously considered because we know that students really enjoy that spring break time, but it was really decided in the best interest in trying to limit the number (of coronavirus cases), that would be the best thing to do. It’s a difficult decision, but it’s really done with the best recommendations of public health authorities in mind.
How will we know if our class lengths are going to change?
That will be determined in the coming weeks at the school and department level. A large consideration is scheduling classes to have the most spread instead of having people concentrated in one place and increasing the spread of the virus. It’s difficult for the registrar to figure out how to schedule things (in a regular year). It’s going to take a little time for them to figure that out.
For more information and updates, visit fall2020.iu.edu.