Gannon announces spring semester changes


Michael Guido, News Editor

Gannon University announced a reformed spring semester schedule Thursday in accordance with the realities of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the changes that have been announced include a delayed start to the semester at both the Erie and Ruskin campuses, the elimination of a spring break and the introduction of a “winter-mester.”

According to a press release, the university will begin the spring semester Jan. 25 at both the Erie and Ruskin campuses in order to “minimize our time on campus during typical flu season and to avoid potential increased COVID-19 incidence around the holidays.”

However, the semester will still conclude at its normally scheduled date, May 8.

Spring break will be eliminated, and Easter break will be shortened to prevent mass travel.

In addition, T.RA.V.E.L., G.I.F.T. and ABST trips have been postponed to the end of the semester.

Gannon will be introducing a “winter-mester,” a 13-course load of online core classes with the goal of allowing students to take advantage of the longer-than-usual break. The course load will be offered from late November through mid-January.

At this time, it is still unclear what specific classes will be offered during this winter-mester and what professors will be teaching the classes.

However, it is known that the abbreviated semester will last six weeks, starting Nov. 30 and running to Jan. 22. Due to the holidays, classes will not be held between Dec. 21 and Jan. 1.

Still to be determined is the fate of the athletic season.

Gannon has said it anticipates many students-athletes returning to campus late in December to prepare for contests and seasons beginning in late January and February. Further updates will be available as more comes from the NCAA and Pennslyvania State Athletic Conferenc (PSAC).

In the press release, Doug Oathout, Gannon’s chief marketing and communications officer, said he understands that these are difficult decisions that will impact many people, but that it is necessary.

“Given what we know right now about COVID-19, we believe it is prudent to plan an alternative structure for the spring semester that limits risk and offers the best chance of continuing face-to-face instruction,” Oathout said. “We are confident that with everyone’s continued patience and commitment to protecting each other we will be a stronger and healthier community.”

Students reacted to the news with surprise and in some cases disappointment.

Courtney Bayne, a junior nursing major, said she was upset that due to the changes she won’t be able to visit her brother, but understood why Gannon acted.

“In the end, it needs to be the goal to keep everyone safe,” Bayne said. “If that means we need to make changes and work around COVID-19, I think we would all take that.”

Bayne said she doesn’t believe this will affect scheduling for the spring semester.

“I should be able to take everything I need,” Bayne said.

When it comes to the new “winter-mester,” Bayne doesn’t believe she’ll be partaking in any classes.

“I’m going to use the extended break to work and see family,” Bayne said.

Kyla McNulty, a junior public service & global affairs major, said that she feels Gannon’s foresight is a positive.

McNulty also said that the offering of classes during break will be helpful for a lot of students.

“I think it was a great idea to offer this option to the student body,” McNulty said.

Chloe Kernan, a junior public service & global affairs major, said that the preparedness will serve Gannon well as the pandemic rages on.

“I know cases are low in Erie, but I think Gannon really jumped into things quick,” Kernan said.

However, Kernan said she would not be participating in the new “winter-mester,” as she will be using that time to prepare for a semester abroad studying in France.

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