College announces remote Interim, hybrid spring semester

St. Olaf will hold classes online during the Interim term and will return to a mix of in-person and online classes during the spring semester, President David Anderson ’74 announced in an email to students on Oct. 7. The plan includes a two-week break between the end of Interim and start of spring semester and a period of coronavirus testing and quarantine when students, staff and faculty return for the spring.   

The decision comes after overwhelming student, staff and faculty support for this plan from a survey sent to the community by the President’s Leadership Team on Sept. 25. Results from this survey, shared with the community Sept. 30, showed that 79 percent of faculty, 87 percent of staff and 60 percent of students preferred the plan described above instead of a second plan which would have seen a mix of online and in-person for both the Interim and spring terms. 

The College will incorporate three “rest days” into the spring semester academic calendar, according to Anderson’s Oct. 7 email explaining the decision. The incorporation of these rest days responds to student and faculty concerns about the lack of breaks during the fall semester.

As expressed in the survey, the most important consideration for student, staff and faculty’s spring scenario preferences is “having sufficient breaks during and between terms for wrap-up, preparation work, rest and relaxation,” according to the wording of the survey.

“Minimizing campus exposure during highest flu (and possibly COVID) season” is the second most important consideration for the community, the survey showed.

The selected online Interim and hybrid spring plan ensures that these considerations are met while maintaining a practical vision of the 2021 year that will be altered by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Anderson’s Oct. 7 email to students explained.

“The pandemic has imposed limits and constraints on many areas of our lives, and this is one of them,” Anderson wrote in the email. “It simply wouldn’t be practical to have everyone back for Interim, test and quarantine, and then, one month later after the Interim break, repeat that process.”