Beloit College adjusts academic calendar, provides model for other institutions to consider because of coronavirus fears

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Beloit College has established a 2020-21 academic year calendar that might be valuable for other institutions to consider.

Recognizing that a typical semester can’t be promised, the provost first considered 3-1/2 week modules, which meant that faculty would have taught one class at a time. According to the Chronicle, the committee examining various options rejected that idea but agreed to

…a later start date and two seven-week modules instead of a full semester. That way, if the college needed to move everyone online either early or late in the fall, it could do so with fewer disruptions. The deal was ratified and publicly rolled out within two weeks, giving Beloit a leg up at a time when families are struggling to make sense of what the next academic year will look like.

The Beloit Action Plan means students will take two classes at a time. Intensive mentoring and rich discussion about careers are included. And there’s a promise to not increase tuition.

The college’s leadership has made public a plan that other institutions might consider. I recognize that at many institutions, students take more than four classes in a semester; I don’t pretend to have a solution for that. I also accept that any one-size-fits-all plan might be impractical. Nevertheless, the transparency and honesty associated with this plan is admirable.

We know as the spring term winds down, college and university leaders are focusing on what can be done with the fall. An important marker of their thinking can be found in survey data collected by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

Among the findings:

58% are considering or have already decided to remain fully online for fall 2020

62% are considering decreasing, or have decreased, the number of in-person courses for fall 2020

73% are considering increasing, or have increased, the number of online and/or remote courses for fall 2020

Flexibility and contingency planning are mandatory right now. No matter the position we hold at our institutions, creative ideas must be offered in the spirit of doing what’s best. Beloit’s Action Plan might not fit where you are, but normal operations in the fall aren’t guaranteed.

Let’s think positively, openly and creatively about how we deliver instruction to our students.

China adjusts its coronavirus death toll; critics say cover up exposed

Public Domain image

Reuters notes the Chinese government has increased its reported death toll from Wuhan, where coronavirus was first detected. And the critics are quick to say “told you so!”

Nearly 1,300 people who died of the coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan, or half the total, were not counted in death tolls because of lapses, state media said on Friday, but Beijing dismissed claims that there had been any kind of cover-up.

A simple question to you conspiracy theorists: If there was a cover up, why fix it now? Do you really think the Chinese government is going to bow to international pressure to correct a death toll? Or perhaps you’re going to tell me that today’s “news” was a carefully planned shell game to make the government appear to be honest brokers on the world stage.

Neither you nor I possess any evidence to suggest today’s news is anything more than an admission that early reporting was flawed. So take your conspiracy theories and go away.