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OU, OSU change spring semester calendar amid COVID-19 concerns
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OU, OSU change spring semester calendar amid COVID-19 concerns

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The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University both announced changes to their 2021 spring academic calendars Tuesday, including canceling spring break and adding a week to winter break.

Both schools’ in-person spring 2020 classes were suspended after spring break in March as the COVID-19 pandemic set in.

New plans call for 2021 spring semester classes to resume later in January than usual, with no break in March. The hope is that canceling spring break will limit students’ travel — and the spread of COVID-19 — in hopes that the semester can be completed in person.

OU’s classes will begin Jan. 25 and end as previously scheduled May 14, while OSU will start Jan. 19.

This semester, both schools will switch to online lectures and final exams after the Thanksgiving break.

OU’s chief COVID officer, Dr. Dale Bratzler, said in a news release that the university is planning for a potential uptick in cases this winter similar to when students returned to campus.

“We anticipate this could happen again in November, and these steps will help mitigate the possibility of a resurgence,” Bratzler said. “This is especially important as the seasons change, and the combined impact of influenza and COVID-19 spread could be incredibly detrimental to our campus and the surrounding community.”

OSU President Burns Hargis said in an email to students Tuesday that he is proud of students’ efforts so far this fall to keep the community safe, but he said it won’t be any easier in the coming semester.

“This has been a challenging time but we have worked together diligently to deliver both in-person and online classes successfully,” Hargis said in a press release. “In the weeks and months ahead, we must remain mindful of the responsibility each of us has to our greater campus community to keep everyone well and safe.

“My highest priority is the health and wellbeing of our campus community while at the same time preserving our academic mission and providing our students with what they need to secure a quality education.”

University of Tulsa spokeswoman Mona Chamberlin said that in June, TU announced that classes for the spring 2021 semester would begin Jan. 19.

“In September, the university surveyed faculty, staff and students about spring break options for 2021 after it was determined that a traditional March spring break was not a safe option in light of the pandemic,” she said in a written statement.

“Nearly 80% of survey respondents preferred a full five-day break April 19-23, which means on-campus instruction will end April 16.

“Classes for the final week of the semester — April 26 to May 3 — will be held remotely. Final exams will be administered remotely May 6-13. This is similar to the way TU structured the fall semester.”

Charles Scott, a spokesman for Oral Roberts University, said no decision has been made about the school’s spring semester and that plans are still under review.


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Stetson Payne 918-732-8135 stetson.payne@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @stetson__payne

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I cover breaking news, general assignment and other stories. I previously worked at the Enterprise-Journal in Mississippi. I'm from Broken Arrow and graduated with a journalism degree from Oklahoma State University. Phone: 918-581-8466

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