The COVID-19 pandemic has had resounding effects in nearly every aspect of life, and a student’s college education is not exempt.
To abide by constantly updating rules and regulations from local governments and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), many public and private colleges and universities across the nation had to juggle dates and initiate changes quickly and frequently to preserve the safety of their staff and students in classrooms, residence halls and other common areas.
For the St. Louis Community College (STLCC) system, with a location in Wildwood, the following will be in place, as of press time, for fall 2020:
- Enrollment is open; the first day of semester-long fall classes is Aug. 24. Meanwhile, 12-week courses will begin Monday, Sept. 21.
- The campus will close for the Labor Day weekend, Sept. 5-7.
- Midterms will take place Oct. 16, with grades due by Oct. 19.
- The withdrawal deadline for full-semester classes is Friday, Nov. 13.
- STLCC’s fall break begins Nov. 25. The college will remain closed for the Thanksgiving holiday from Nov. 26-29.
- The last day of fall 2020 classes is Dec. 13, and all final exams will take place during the window of Dec. 14-20. Grades will be due by Monday, Dec. 21
- The college’s official degree conferral date is Wednesday, Dec. 23.
It should be noted that there are various lengths of classes and various start, midterm, withdrawal and finish dates for specific classes. More specific information can be found on each class’s schedule.
The dates for fall 2020’s enrollment and holiday breaks have remained unchanged from how they had been scheduled for fall semesters in previous years. This is because the calendar was previously approved by the St. Louis Community College Board of Trustees in advance of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We actually approve an academic calendar quite a bit in advance of that year rolling around, because beyond setting the semester dates, there is a lot that has to be built into this calendar for the start of this fall,” Dr. Andrew Langrehr, vice-chancellor of academic affairs, said. “So, in terms of start dates and end dates, and when holidays are, the board approved them some time ago and we haven’t adjusted it in the current circumstances.”
While the official 2020-2021 calendar has been approved, dates are still subject to change as the semester continues if new updates or mandates are issued by St. Louis County or the CDC.
“St. Louis Community College, without having dormitories or residence halls, doesn’t have that pressure point that some others do, but we are keeping an eye on things …” Langrehr said.
What has been adjusted, according to Langrehr, is the format of the classes, many of which have been moved online.
“We haven’t changed the calendar in terms of when we start,” Langrehr said, “But we’ve made adjustments to the modality of our classes and where they might fit in the semester.”
Many of STLCC’s classes have been shifted online in the form of what Langrehr said the college is calling “Live Virtual Lectures.” Unlike other online classes, these lectures will require students to complete classwork in addition to clocking in at regular class times throughout the week.
Other classes may feature an in-person and online hybrid format that includes classroom time and online lectures while reducing a student’s overall time on campus. Some classes, however, will continue to meet in person due to their inability to be carried out via an online modality.
“Think of an organic chemistry lab or an art class where students need to use a kiln, things like that,” Langrehr said.
The greater abundance of online classes and virtual student services is being paired with other initiatives, such as social distancing and mask requirements for students, faculty members and visitors on campus.
This means changes have been made to common areas and other spaces. While STLCC had to cease dining services, amenities like libraries will remain open but with reduced hours and limited capacity. Resources such as electronic databases and the “Chat with a Librarian” feature will remain active online.
Dr. Christine Davis, vice-chancellor of student affairs, said it’s difficult to conduct campus life virtually but noted that the STLCC staff has worked really hard to transition some things to online options. “Of course, all of us would love to be back on campus and seeing our students, it’s just not a reality right now,” she said.
For those who are attending classes or visiting the campus in-person, classrooms will be cleaned between uses. Additionally, masks have been purchased and will be available on-site for students and staff members who need them.
Whether it’s through in-person or virtual means, all students are encouraged to circle back with their academic advisers to check their schedules as the semester draws near. This is because the decision to switch to online classes for the fall semester was determined during the summer, meaning that students who registered for classed before July 1 may be experiencing changes to their upcoming class schedule.
“Students started to enroll for the fall midway through the spring before we knew all the ramifications of where we are now,” Langrehr said. “So, there are a lot of changes going on with the schedule, and we’ve been working hard to communicate (that information) through our website and through emails and texts.”
For more information about the fall 2020 semester, visit stlcc.edu. Questions also can be directed to STLCC’s Call Center at (314) 539-5113.