By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer
The updated academic spring 2021 calendar changed Wellness Day and one of the study days before finals to instruction days to make up for canceled class during the winter storm.
Provost Dr. Nancy Brickhouse sent out an email to faculty and staff members on Wednesday outlining the make-up days and giving guidance for instruction.
“After consultation with the Calendar Committee, the Faculty Senate, the Provost’s Council, and the Council of Deans, we have determined that the best approach is for us to reclaim March 9 (previously held as a Wellness Day) and April 29 (previously scheduled Study Day) as instructional days,” Brickhouse wrote. “Our plan is to not schedule any make-up instructional days beyond these two.”
Brickhouse said on Thursday, April 29, students will attend their classes regularly scheduled for Monday and on Tuesday, March 9, students will attend their regular Tuesday classes.
Austin sophomore Carlie Dill, a member of the Calendar Committee, said she voted to not make up any days because the week of the winter storm was hard for students, and it was far from a vacation or break.
“I personally do not believe this is an unreasonable way to make up the lost week,” Dill said. “A whole week is a huge loss, so hopefully striving to have extra instructional days will allow for more flexibility among professors. After seeing all the options, I can personally account that this is a compromise. The detail and thought show that they choose a very intentional way to make up these days without just tacking on an extra week which is greatly appreciated.”
Matthew Cordon, chair of Faculty Senate as well as director of the Legal Writing Program and a professor of law, said the options ranged from no make-up days to four make-up days.
Many members of faculty also lost power and water during the winter storm and felt similarly to students that the week was not relaxing, Cordon said.
“Some went days without power and so forth, so last week was no break for them,” Cordon said. “Some individual faculty members expressed the need to make up those days because the time during class is so important. Other faculty thought differently and would have preferred to allow individual professors determine how to make up those days, if at all.”
Cordon also said the university was concerned about “accreditation standards regarding class times and learning outcomes.”
“I thought what the Provost’s Office chose was a reasonable middle ground,” Cordon said. “There was no option that was going to make everyone happy, so I thought the choice represented a reasonable compromise, especially with the accreditation concerns.”
Brickhouse advised in her email that faculty avoid “doubling up” tests and assignments in the next few weeks to catch up.
“Communication with students is critical as they, too, are thinking about how to adjust and complete the semester,” Brickhouse wrote. “They are likely wondering how they will catch up on tests, assignments, and instruction from last week while also navigating new assignments for the coming weeks.”
Brickhouse said the quality of the faculty gives the administration confidence the semester will finish on a good note.
“As I look back over the spring semester to date, it is remarkable how you have navigated the ongoing challenges due to COVID-19 and difficulties of unprecedented severe winter weather,” Brickhouse wrote. “Your care for our students and for one another has been inspiring, and I am deeply grateful to you for your continued perseverance.”