The College released the academic calendar for the 2021-2022 academic year yesterday, announcing that Oberlin will return to a standard two-semester schedule. President Carmen Twille Ambar sent the official calendar in an email to students, citing the ever-shifting public health landscape as the reason the calendar was not finalized earlier in the year.
The upcoming summer semester, which ends Sept. 2, has pushed most key dates in the 2021-2022 calendar back. The fall semester will begin on Oct. 4, over a month later than usual, which gives second- and third-years enrolled in the summer semester time for a month-long break.
After a year of ObieSafe restrictions and remote learning, students will likely start returning to a sense of normalcy next year.
“We anticipate dining, residential living, and academic delivery will be similar to what we enjoyed on campus prior to the pandemic,” President Ambar wrote in her announcement. “Courses will return to in-person instruction, and students will enroll for an in-person experience on campus.”
The announcement comes during the College’s third consecutive week with zero cases and as vaccinations become more widely available. Just last week, the College vaccinated nearly 600 students, faculty, and staff with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The College anticipates that almost 80 percent of campus will be vaccinated by July 1.
“It’s an academic decision, but … there were public health decisions and factors that went into that decision, too,” Chief of Staff David Hertz said. “I think it’s clear that the entire campus community worked so hard to keep us safe so that we were successful during this pandemic year. And that helped us in our evaluations that led us back to the two-semester plan.”
At this time, the College will not require students to be vaccinated in order to return to campus. However, students are encouraged to receive a vaccination as soon as possible.
While the new academic calendar is dramatically different from years past, it does bring a welcome relief for students enrolled during the upcoming summer semester who are now guaranteed the month of September off. Many had expressed concerns about burnout and stress from jumping straight from this academic year to the next one.
“I’m excited to have breaks again because this past semester’s ‘go, go, go’ [expectation] was, and is, really draining,” College second-year Dewi Beer said. “I knew but didn’t fully understand how much I needed those weeks to recharge. That said, I’m a little nervous about continuing the fall semester after winter break. I don’t know how that will go, seeing as winter break is usually really relaxing, and I don’t know how finals not having happened yet will affect that.”
The current calendar was created with this concern in mind while also balancing requirements that the College must meet to maintain its accreditation. By placing finals a few weeks after the winter break, administrators hoped that students would not spend their time off preparing for finals.
College third-year and Co-Chair of the Student Senate Disability Equity and Mental Health working group Arman Luczkow said that one of his priorities for the 2021-2022 academic calendar was to ensure that third-years’ mental health was protected. Even though the new calendar might create issues for second-years hoping to do internships the summer of their junior year, Luczkow believes that the disruption will be minimal and points out that current third-years have already made significant sacrifices.
“One of the things that was brought up by other senators is that by starting the summer in June instead of May, you’re cutting down the time for [current] second-years and everyone else to find internships,” Luczkow said. “My personal opinion on that was that third-years already had to suffer through losing a summer to crappy remote internships, losing a Winter Term, losing our next summer, and now again, having a shortened Winter Term, which is quite a lot. Second-years can survive with one month less of summer.”
The fall semester will end on Jan. 24, meaning that winter break will occur in the middle of the semester. Winter Term 2022 will take place between Jan. 25 and Feb. 17. This pushes back spring semester as well, with Commencement currently scheduled for June 5, 2022. Registration for the fall semester will take place during the week of June 7, 2021.