Students respond to fall semester schedule changes made due to COVID-19
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Students respond to fall semester schedule changes made due to COVID-19

Mara Stoll is worried her Belmont education might not have the level of quality she’s come to expect next semester due to changes being made in the wake of COVID-19.

“I am concerned that I will come back … and end up wasting my time with classes that don’t provide me with the features and elements that they were supposed to,” said Stoll.

The fall semester is seeing huge changes in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, as detailed in an email sent out Tuesday by university President Dr. Bob Fisher. But for students like junior religion and the arts major Mara Stoll, Fisher’s email raised more questions than it answered.

Stoll said she’s struggled with online classes in the past and would consider taking the semester off entirely, but she doesn’t want to lose her scholarship by doing so.

“I hope that there will be accommodations made for students who choose to take a semester off or two,” said Stoll.

While Stoll said she understands the difficulties Belmont faces in making these decisions, she hopes her concerns are addressed soon.

The same is true for incoming freshman Devan Starkey, a creative and entertainment industries major who is worried that a shortened semester may be uniquely challenging.

“I don’t think I like a shortened semester. Lessons are going to possibly be shortened, so that would mean we would have to learn things in a shorter amount of time,” Starkey said. “I’m not sure if everyone would be able to do that.” 

Starkey is also concerned about how the semester’s changes will affect housing on campus, as those changes were not detailed in Fisher’s email. 

“I did not see it being discussed in the email, and I feel like that is a major thing that needs to be addressed.”

For students like sophomore elementary education major Ashyln Nicole Hay, though, Belmont’s level of communication has been reassuring — even if it still raises a number of questions.

“I think Belmont has personally handled it so much better than other schools,” Hay said. “I think that is one of the perks of being at a small private school.” 

Not all of Hay’s worries have been resolved, though. While she has no desire to pay full price for a remote semester, she would also be uncomfortable living in the dorms and dining regularly on campus with COVID-19 still presenting a major concern.

“I definitely think if they do what they’re planning in the email … then they should really consider lowering the prices or doing some sort of compensation,” Hay said. “Their prices right now for going online would be ridiculous.”

Fisher’s email did not address any potential changes to tuition.

Echoing a similar sentiment regarding online learning, sophomore Tyler Krippaehne was relieved to know that in-person classes would be an option, he said.

But Krippaehne also has concerns about the health risk Belmont’s plan could present.

“I feel like there’s only so much you can do if you’re going to control student numbers in a classroom,” said Krippaehne. 

“That doesn’t really matter if the dorms are going to be full of students hanging all the time, because then they’re just interacting there even if you’re being safe in the classroom.”

Though the announcement is fielding mixed reactions, students like Starkey are pleased to hear communication from the university — even if they hope to hear more in the coming months.

“I feel mostly relieved but also a little overwhelmed. The email did share a lot of information but I feel like there needs to be a little bit more specification,” Starkey said. “But I’m sure that’s what we will figure out when we go back.” 

This article written by Justin Wagner and Madison Bowen. Contributory reporting by Evan Dorian and Kendall Crawford.

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