Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Colleges rethink fall schedule


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Ironwood — Gogebic Community College is moving forward with its standard fall schedule and in-person learning, despite many other schools choosing to move from face-to-face interaction and the traditional fall school calendar.

According to Kim Zeckovich, director of admissions, marketing and community relations at GCC, no decision has been made to alter the fall schedule. GCC plans to start the fall semester on Aug. 24.

GCC is not alone in the decision to open up in the fall as originally scheduled. Bay College in Escanaba and Finlandia University in Hancock will also be sticking with their original plans for the fall calendar and in-person learning.

“We know that students and their families choose Finlandia for what it does best: face-to-face instruction delivered by highly qualified faculty and staff who know their names as well as their stories, who mentor as well as teach,” said Dr. Phillip Johnson, president of Finlandia University in his announcement of fall plans.

Johnson said the school is aware the return to campus this fall will not be as it was in January.

Matt Baron, vice president of Bay College said, “With so much uncertainty, we are focusing our energy on being flexible and prepared so in any event we can quickly and thoughtfully continue to deliver a quality education. Our goal is to keep moving forward to serve our communities and students.”

Officials at Michigan Technological University in Houghton have announced they will be using a three-step plan which will start as soon as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order is lifted and gradually bring the school back to “near normal” operations for the fall semester.

Michigan Tech will also be introducing COVID-19 testing program for those who display symptoms of the virus, according to a statement from the school.

Other schools such as Northern Michigan University in Marquette have decided to stick with in-person learning, but to alter the school calendar so students will start a week earlier on Aug. 17 and complete the semester before Thanksgiving.

“This will prevent students from traveling home for Thanksgiving week and returning to campus for the final two weeks of the semester,” said NMU President Fritz Erickson in a press release. “It’s a proactive step designed to enhance safety for our campus and community, while also continuing to fulfill the instructional time requirements for financial aid, as established by the U.S. Department of Education.”

Erickson also announced NMU has hired David Adams as an advisor to set up an environment for safer face-to-face interactions on campus. He has an extensive background in national preparedness, and adaptation planning, including helping to draft the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s 2014 strategic plan.

“This next year we will likely be offering some hybrid mix of educational offerings,” said University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank. “Larger lectures will almost surely be offered remotely, but we hope to offer face to face section meetings for students who can attend. We need to make a substantial share of the curriculum available remotely. At the same time we should try to give as many students a small class/discussion experience as possible, whether in person or online, to foster the learning and connections that small groups are so well-suited to provide.”

According to published reports, Wayne State University in Detroit and Michigan State University in East Lansing are planning for the possibility of the fall semester being held online, and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is still hoping to be able to have in-person instruction this fall, but no decision has been made.