As the fall semester comes to a close, students are reflecting on its oddities, and are cautiously optimistic for changes in the spring.
After Castleton University saw a completely virtual fall semester, the school has appointed a new schedule to take place during the spring semester. On Oct. 16, Associate Dean James Lambert sent out an email to Castleton students announcing the plans.
“We are pleased to say that we can take another step toward normalcy by offering face-to-face courses and providing the safest environment possible through some minor changes to the academic calendar,” Lambert said in his email.
The email explained that the spring semester will begin on Feb. 1, to avoid flu season, which means students will have roughly a two-month break between the end of the fall semester and the beginning of the spring semester.
It was also announced that one-third of spring courses will be taught in-person, half will be taught online, and the rest will be in a hybrid format, a combination of online and in-person.
As for breaks, they will essentially be non-existent, with no spring or winter breaks in order to reduce travel. However, there will be designated days off for students to “recharge,” according to Lambert’s email.
Emily Peters, a senior health science major, says she doesn’t mind learning online, reflecting on this past semester.
“Most of my assignments are reading and quizzes,” she said. “However, I believe my semester has been so easy due to the incredible support of my professors,” referencing professor Tim Thibodeau and Helen Strom-Olsen as her resources and support system during this semester.
Peters says that she was initially excited when she saw the courses would be offered in mixed settings, but this excitement was short-lived as all of her courses were only offered online.
“That’s when the disappointment sunk in,” Peters said. I made the most enriching friendships at this school, and have had wonderful experiences with the professors thus far. I don’t feel ready to leave yet. I was truly hoping the Spring 2021 semester would be held in-person, allowing students sacred time with friends and staff.”
But, Peters said that although this decision was disappointing and discouraging for many Castleton students, she’s grateful that the school’s administration made this decision. She said it couldn’t have been an easy decision, but she feels lucky that the administration has made the choice to protect our school, staff, town, and all students.
Jac Culpo, a senior acting and directing and media and communication double-major, said when he heard the plans for next semester, he spam texted his friends asking if they read the email, to make sure he wasn’t dreaming.
“This semester has been pretty meh,” Culpo said. “Nothing special or exciting, and my grades have definitely been the lowest at college. It’s just a lot harder to stay motivated while at home than when I’m on campus and busy.”
Culpo explained that he’s taking most of his classes in person, with a few exceptions, and he’s fully planning on getting involved on campus as well, saying “I can’t wait.”
“I’m a senior so I’m pretty excited about having literally anything in-person next semester,” he said. “The plans sound solid and I honestly believe hybrid would have been worth a shot this semester, so I’m glad we get to try it next semester.”
Daniel Jackson, a junior musical theatre major, thinks that the plans to go hybrid next semester are very forward thinking, but also a little rushed.
“I’m very much a person who likes to interact with people and enjoys creating personal connections in-person, but a pandemic is not a time for us, as a university, to rush anything,” he said.
Jackson, who has had a hard time adapting to dance, music, and acting classes online, said although he loves performing and doing theatre with other people, he has made the decision to go all online next semester.
“I’m not a fan of online classes, but I prefer them currently because I know it’s a safer decision for me to stay at home in my house of four people, than it is to enter a greater population,” he said.
Jackson says that he truly respects the decision that we have made as community, but it isn’t really something he feels comfortable with, saying “everyone’s health should come first.”
“Going into next semester, I have one request,” concludes Jackson. “Please be understanding with us, the students… We are doing our best to rise to the challenge, but sometimes that’s easier said than done.”