Northwest announced Dec. 18 via a Northwest News email and on social media that it amended the spring 2021 academic calendar, eliminating spring break, ending in-person classes on April 23 and adding a preparation week before finals start May 3. The move caused the University to receive some negative feedback from professors and students alike.
Students and parents have expressed their thoughts on the sudden change to the spring semester’s layout, which wasn't announced until after last semester ended. Some have shown support while others have had to pay a literal price when they had to suddenly cancel any planned trips for spring break.
Provost Jamie Hooyman said the University waited as long as reasonably possible to make any decisions regarding the spring semester.
The whole point in waiting, she explained, was to gather as much information about what the spring might look like in regards to COVID-19.
“This has been an extraordinary year with the global pandemic,” Hooyman said. “Normally you don’t look at the academic calendar during the academic year.”
Hooyman said the University decided to wait on making any decisions knowing with about a year’s worth of experience in a pandemic that things are constantly changing. Some good; others aren’t.
When COVID-19 cases continued throughout the fall semester, she said the University was forced to make a decision and it chose to change the spring semester schedule right before winter break.
Vice President of Student Affairs Matt Baker said that the cancelation of spring break was disappointing, but the right thing to do.
“We know that students are mobile and travel and the best guidance from the CDC and the state department of health is that COVID will not be under control in early to mid March,” Baker said.
He also said the University has been gathering as much up-to-date information as they can and making decisions from there, helping to explain why the announcement was made so late in the fall semester.
In a comment on Facebook, a parent expressed their frustration, but also said they understood why the University changed the spring calendar.
“Flights were booked and reservations were made,” said Marian Rosburg Govreau, the mother of freshman student. “We were so bummed when spring break was canceled.”
Junior Abby Boren commented on the University’s first tweet about the change in the spring schedule saying that they were taking away the “one breath” students get in one of the hardest school years due to the problems caused by the pandemic.
“Who in the world thought this was a good idea?” Boren said in her comment.
Despite some people’s frustrations with the change, some have been supportive and understanding of the University’s decision.
Freshman Morgan Moe said that she thought the University made a good decision when they canceled spring break.
“I feel like if they minimize travel it’s going to end up being safer in the long run,” Moe said.
Moe said she did not have any big plans for spring break other than going home and visiting some friends. She noted that the University did take away the traditional nine day break, but there will still be a three day weekend which includes March 8, a day Northwest decided to not hold classes.
Moe said she was happy with the three day weekend and the opportunity to plow straight through the semester.
“Instead of just having that break where I get used to not doing any school work, I can just go straight through and just have a good focus on school and just get it done,” Moe said.
Moe, a psychology major, said when she spoke to some of her friends they expressed that they were disappointed in the cancelation but Moe seemed more understanding if anything.