NMU revises fall calendar to avoid potential COVID-19 resurgence

MARQUETTE — A proposal to adjust Northern Michigan University’s fall semester calendar year was approved during Monday evening’s NMU Board of Trustees meeting, bumping classes up a week earlier and ending shortly before Thanksgiving.

The board met virtually and approved an amended schedule in which fall classes will begin Aug. 17 and conclude Nov. 24.

The decision comes after NMU President Fritz Erickson previously stated the possibility of revising the fall semester to avoid a potential resurgence of the COVID-19 virus in the late fall.

Erickson said he asked executive leadership of the NMU Academic Senate and NMU Provost Kerri Schuiling to investigate the possibility of starting classes earlier than normal and put that calendar change in his request.

Board Vice Chair Tami Seavoy made the motion to approve the fall academic calendar year change, and Trustee Alexis Hart seconded the motion. The motion was unanimously approved 8-0.

“I think it’s the right strategy and it’s an additional precaution with students leaving — which they often do over the Thanksgiving break — having them come back right after for a short period of time. I applaud the decision and I think it’s the right thing to do in terms of extra precautions in terms of safety of our students,” Hart said.

Classes will be held Aug. 17 through Nov. 24 with the exception of Labor Day. Commencement is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 21 and final grades will be due Nov. 30.

There will be no designated final examination period, which is normally held the final week leading up to commencement; but faculty will have the option to schedule exams, according to an NMU press release.

“This is one of a number of steps that we’re taking to ensure that the start of school in the fall is going to be as safe as possible,” NMU Board of Trustees Chair Steve M. Mitchell said. “We’ll have a number of other safety protocols that we’ll be introducing as the time gets closer to that. So I think this meets the criteria of trying to open as safely as possible just by doing it a week earlier and then getting classes out, so that students don’t have to come back up from home after Thanksgiving. So I think it’s a good move.”

Seavoy asked whether time constraints and pressure for faculty to submit grades earlier would be an issue, but Erickson noted that the university will make any adjustments so they can submit grades in a timely manner.

“This will prevent students from traveling home for Thanksgiving week and returning to campus for the final two weeks of the semester,” Erickson said 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.”


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