Bloomsburg University hopes to decide if fall classes will be online by July 1.
A task force has been made to consider options for the fall semester. The task force will look into possibilities such as a quarter system for the fall instead of the typical 14-week semester. Students would be enrolled in classes for seven weeks, then different classes for the next seven weeks. This is a normal system for some colleges, such as Dartmouth and Stanford.
“We are keeping a close eye and ear as to all the different possibilities and assessing those,” said Peter Kelly, BU’s Chief of Staff.
According to The Washington Post, California State University has already decided to start their fall semester online.
Students who prefer to live off-campus may be wary to sign a lease with the coming semester’s uncertainty.
Lauren Ackerman, a junior at BU is one of many students tied to an apartment in Bloomsburg they have no use for.
“I wasn’t given any kind of partial refund once the university went online for the semester… [W]ithout access to my meal plan, staying at my Bloomsburg apartment would have been much more expensive,” said Ackerman. “On the other hand, my landlord could argue that since I’m off-campus, I never actually had to leave my apartment.”
Another BU student is stuck paying their $2,500 rent for the semester plus utilities; the landlord won’t turn off the heat in order to protect the pipes from bursting from the cold.
High school students may be wary of the possibility of a virtual fall semester and some are considering a gap year – a year-long break before attending a university. When asked if any future Huskies were considering this option, Kelly said he has personally been reaching out to students who say they are still excited to attend Bloomsburg.
In a press conference with Kelly and Director of Media Relations and Content Strategy, Tom McGuire, several questions about the coming semester were addressed. The university’s president did not attend.
“I personally have not heard about any students who plan to come to BU who are considering [a gap year], but it’s certainly a possibility,” said Kelly. “There is also the possibility, unfortunately, that families are impacted financially.”
Bloomsburg has been hosting virtual sessions with prospective students and decision day – the deadline for students to declare their acceptance and submit their deposit – has been pushed back to June 1, normally May 1.
“Our entire admissions staff, and alumni and professional engagement staff as well, have literally gotten on the phone and tried to reach out to… every student, who has said that they were coming to Bloomsburg University this fall,” said McGuire. “There is constant outreach going on to these students to… let them know that we are here and can work with them…”