For the first time since Jan. 31, Ball State’s Board of Trustees met in person in Cardinal Hall B on Friday. At the meeting, the board passed a resolution to adapt the spring 2021 semester schedule.
Susana Rivera-Mills, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, introduced the resolution to cancel spring break and begin in-person instruction for spring 2021 on Jan. 19 at the earliest.
The resolution was developed by the Academic Planning Group task force, led by Rivera-Mills, and included two different avenues academic affairs staff may take in delivering spring 2021 instruction.
The first scenario, Rivera-Mills said, would include all in-person classes beginning on Jan. 19.
“What we’re hoping is [to provide] additional time prior to returning to campus in the event the pandemic does have a surge over winter, ” she said. “By not having that spring break, we would still retain the typical 15 weeks of instruction that is needed.”
The second scenario for the spring 2021 calendar would include staggered start dates for courses, with those requiring the most in-person instruction beginning first.
“On that start date of January 19, some or all of our courses would begin online temporarily,” Riviera-Mills said. “It’s possible we would have our least flexible courses phased in first for on-campus instruction and additional courses would phase in as cohorts.”
Rivera-Mills said the Academic Planning Group will continue discussing the two options for the spring calendar and evaluate the success of the fall semester.
"We're very hopeful that our fall semester ends successfully," she said. "Then we would be able to follow pretty much the guidebook that we have been using for the fall and allow additional time with the spring schedule."
Rivera-Mills said finals week and commencement ceremonies would keep their originally scheduled days under the adapted calendar. She also noted other public universities in Indiana, including Indiana University and Purdue University, have canceled their scheduled spring breaks.
To end the meeting, Ball State president Geoffrey Mearns discussed the state of coronavirus cases at the university.
"We are now conservatively estimating the number of people on our campus who have recovered from the coronavirus," he said. "As of yesterday afternoon, we estimated that approximately 90% of the students and employees who previously tested positive have now recovered."
According to Ball State's COVID-19 dashboard, 888 of 972 total people with positive cases were estimated to have recovered.
"I appreciate the progress we've made as a campus community over the past two weeks," Mearns said. "I'm also proud of how our students continue to adapt to the modifications in their coursework and their participation in campus life."