Classes will begin Aug. 17 and end Nov. 24. The college will observe the Labor Day holiday, but there will be no fall break, which is typically two days. The Tennessee Board of Regents approved the schedule change. It is designed to protect students and employees from a possible resurgence of novel coronavirus infections in late fall.
“Our priority is to keep the campus community safe,” Northeast State President Bethany Bullock said. “The change of schedule will reduce the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks for students and employees and hopefully allow for a healthy return to campus for the spring 2021 semester.”
The shift is similar to what other colleges are doing, including the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, which is having classes on Labor Day, canceling fall break, ending classes before Thanksgiving and having final exams online afterward.
The Northeast fall schedule will contain a variety of teaching modalities to include in-person, online and hybrid course offerings. Any courses that are held in person this fall will include social-distancing and sanitation protocols that will be in effect across all campuses.
A committee has been charged to consider course modality changes and scenarios should outbreak of COVID-19 occur before Thanksgiving.
The college also will be sending a washable mask to all students before the fall semester with information about the fall schedule and protocols for campus and classroom access.
College officials have plans in place to increase communication over the summer to students, faculty and staff about the early start and early end dates.
“We completed a spring semester that required significant changes, and we learned valuable lessons that will serve us well going forward,” Bullock said. “We know our faculty and staff will continue to go above and beyond expectations to serve our students with quality instruction and services.”
Bullock said the vast majority of community college students have jobs, and many students have children. She said she believes the early start and early end dates this fall will assure students, their families and their employers that the fall academic term will be completed by Thanksgiving before the cold and flu season.
“High school seniors, adults in the workforce who are returning to school and continuing college students have been through so much; we want their 2020 holiday season to be a time where they can focus on their health, safety, families and careers. Finishing early will allow them to do so,” Bullock said. “An additional bonus to the early start/early end this fall is that our winter graduates will have additional time to prepare for the next steps in their careers or university transfer plans."