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University of South Carolina makes major changes to fall semester due to COVID-19

In anticipation of a possible resurgence of coronavirus on campus, there will be no Fall Break and in-person instruction will end at Thanksgiving

COLUMBIA, S.C. — University of South Carolina President Bob Caslen posted a message online to students and faculty at USC on Sunday, May 17, informing them of two very big changes to the Fall 2020 schedule.

First, there will be no Fall Break. Classes will now be held on Oct. 15-16 rather than students taking a break.

Second, face-to-face instruction will end at the Thanksgiving Break, beginning Nov. 24, and classes will resume remotely on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. Reading Days will be Dec. 2-4, and final exams will be Dec. 7-14.

Caslen writes: 

The recommendation to cancel Fall Break and essentially accelerate in-person instruction for the semester was developed with significant input from faculty, staff and student government leadership serving on the FPG (Future Planning Group). Two critical pieces of information informed these changes:

  • Canceling Fall Break — the public health risks associated with thousands of students and faculty returning to campus after Fall Break travels could be significant for the campus and Columbia communities and could jeopardize the continuation of the semester.
  • Remote learning following Thanksgiving Break — our best current modelling predicts a spike in cases of COVID-19 at the beginning of December, which also will likely coincide with traditional flu season.

While fall semester will include face-to-face instruction, it should be noted that a portion of courses already scheduled to be delivered face-to-face and for which many students are already registered will need to be switched over the summer to online for the safety of students and their instructors. All undergraduate and graduate students will have the opportunity to be re-advised. All student learning and evaluation occurring after Thanksgiving, including exams and tests, will be done remotely.

I realize that students and faculty look forward to getting away and recharging in the middle of the semester, and I appreciate that many of you will not be pleased with the decision to cancel Fall Break. These changes are part of the new normal that all of us must embrace as we return to campus for work and study, and they are necessary for us to successfully resume in-person instruction. Most importantly, they reflect our top priority: your health, safety and wellbeing.

Fall semester classes are scheduled to begin Aug. 20. The new schedule meets requirements for federal financial aid and for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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