Changes coming in Northwest fall semester

As institutions around the country prepare for the upcoming academic year, Northwest Mississippi Community College has announced a number of changes that will take place in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In keeping with an emerging trend in higher education and having determined it is in the best interest of the health and safety of students and employees, the college will bring the fall semester to an early close in anticipation of possible future waves of the pandemic. The new schedule will allow students to complete the semester prior to Thanksgiving break, with the intention of minimizing the number of people on campus during the height of flu season.

According to Northwest President, Dr. Michael Heindl, the fall semester will begin as originally scheduled, with day and evening classes beginning on August 17. For academic on-ground classes, the college will adopt a new hybrid instructional model, moving from 16 weeks of instruction to 12 weeks.

Courses will hold two 50-minute in-person class meetings each week, Monday/Wednesday and Tuesday/Thursday, and 80 minutes of online instruction. This new model will be substituted for classes formerly scheduled for the current Monday/Wednesday/Friday and Tuesday/Thursday sequences. More modest alterations will be made to the schedules of career and technical classes on a program-by-program basis. The eLearning calendar will continue to observe the state-wide virtual college calendar dates.

“The new schedule will allow sufficient flexibility should health conditions necessitate a move to a fully online environment for a period of time,” said Dr. Matthew Domas, vice president of Instruction. “It is also designed to allow a seamless transition for students currently priority registered for the fall semester. No schedule changes will need to be made by those students.”

Additionally, for the first time, Northwest will offer an online winter session, which will help students make faster progress toward their degree goals, as well as potentially increase enrollment. The winter session will run from Dec. 14 – Jan. 15, with students on a break the week of Christmas.

“We will analyze student needs and offer the most desired courses during this session,” Domas said. “This will provide new students and existing students the opportunity to get ahead or catch up if they missed out on a course in the fall.”

The Spring 2021 semester will begin on Jan. 25, use the same hybrid model for courses and will conclude on May 8, 2021, as scheduled. Scheduled holidays and breaks will occur as currently scheduled, with the exception of Easter break. A change in the schedule will allow Easter break to occur on a Friday and Monday, as opposed to the current Thursday and Friday.

While classes will end early, offices will remain open when not on an already scheduled holiday or break. Normal operations will continue.

For more information about Northwest, visit northwestms.edu.

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