WSU Tri-Cities announces plans for spring 2020 semester

RICHLAND, WA - In coordination with the Washington State University system, WSU Tri-Cities has decided to modify its academic calendar for the spring 2021 semester and will continue to operate in a mostly virtual learning format while offering an additional handful of in-person components for approved courses.

Instead of beginning on Jan. 11 as previously scheduled following the winter break, courses will begin one week later on Jan. 19. Additionally, to help combat the spread of COVID-19, three scheduled no-class days will be offered beginning in February in place of the previously scheduled spring break.

The three no-class days will be observed on Feb. 25, March 17 and April 13. President’s Day on Feb. 15, a previously scheduled no-class day, will also still be observed. Final exams will still take place May 3-7, as previously scheduled.

“We can all do our part in reducing the spread of COVID-19, and this modified schedule helps to discourage travel during what is normally a very popular week to travel,” WSU Tri-Cities Chancellor Sandra Haynes said. “WSU Tri-Cities also partners with other WSU campuses regularly to offer shared classes on multiple campuses through our virtual AMS system. This helps to ensure minimal disruptions to students in those courses by offering the same schedule as other WSU campuses.”

The delayed start time also allows for a larger margin of time for any future decisions from the U.S. Department of Education regarding instructional models.

While most courses will continue to be offered virtually, several additional courses at WSU Tri-Cities were approved for in-person components that require the adherence to strict social distancing, the wearing of masks and safe sanitation practices to help prevent any spread of COVID-19.

“The safety of our students, faculty and staff is paramount,” Haynes said. “Our students were calling for additional classes to be offered in-person that would be conducted safely by strictly adhering to social distancing and by following all state protocols for COVID-19. We are committed to an excellent education, both virtually and in-person, for all who attend WSU Tri-Cities, and we hope to gradually offer additional in-person courses when safe to do so.”

Students who are unable or feel uncomfortable attending courses with in-person components will still have the opportunity to complete those same course components virtually. All WSU Tri-Cities classrooms were outfitted with technology to support Zoom and other virtual learning components.

Haynes said she encourages students to continue with their education and not take a gap semester or year, as it could present many potential hardships and barriers for students in returning to complete their university degree.

“Studies consistently show that students who take even a semester break are significantly less likely to return to complete their degree, and may experience a decline in information retention and other skills that make returning to school that much harder,” she said. “We want to see all students graduate on-time and begin their careers so that they can support themselves and their families.”

WSU Tri-Cities is planning a town hall soon to talk about plans for spring, where individuals can get their questions and concerns addressed. More information will be shared shortly on how to participate.

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