Spring semester delayed

Puja Thapa

Hunter Oberst

News Editor

Keene State Owls won’t be returning to campus until mid-February.
While previously expected to return to Keene State College on January 25, students won’t begin their spring semester until February 15 because of concerns regarding COVID-19. The semester will end on May 28. This three-week delay to the semester was announced by Keene State College President Melinda Treadwell on Friday, December 18. In an email, President Treadwell included a link to a video communicating to students, staff and faculty the new changes to the spring semester.
“Following many conversations and lots of engagement with students, faculty, staff, scientists and our local community we have come to the agreement that the best experience at Keene State College is the experience when we’re in community together,” Treadwell said. “I believe our best and most successful semester will occur if we delay our on-campus return.
President Treadwell added in the video that this decision was made based on scientific models tracking COVID-19.
“We have been, for the past several weeks looking at scientific models, predictions for the virus, hearing from our students and trying to make the right decision for our return at Keene State,” Treadwell said. “Our top priority is your safety and the safety of our community. And as we have done through the fall, I know we can operate safely if we listen to the science and we remain Owls United together. We are working with landlords in the city, we are working with your graduate schools in the region that you may be looking toward.”
Keene State’s Director of Strategic Communications and Community relations Kelly Ricaurte said President Treadwell and a team of faculty and staff were studying COVID-19 predictions. Ricaurte said that scientific models predict the virus to be peaking in the region by January 21, however, the virus should be less prominent in the region by the semester’s new beginning.
“What we know at this point is based on predictive models,” Ricaurte said. “By February, COVID will be at a manageable level.”
Ricaurte added that Treadwell spoke with many students on the topic of how to handle the spring semester, and that many students said they preferred to have a delayed semester so that they could engage in an in-person learning experience.
According to Ricaurte, the decision for a delayed semester was voted on by the Keene State College Senate. Keene State College Senate Chair Dr. Patrick Dolenc was unable to be reached for comment on the matter.
The decision was communicated to the KSC community on December 18, the same date that tuition was due for students returning for the spring semester. Ricaurte said this was primarily a coincidence.
“It happened to be on the same day,” Ricaurte said. “It was the first opportunity President Treadwell had to release the information. She wanted students and families to be able to plan for these changes. It was really important we got that information relayed ASAP.” Ricaurte added that the decision was made final the evening of December 17 and was made public the following day.
Ricaurte said that although this announcement was made the same day as the due date for spring tuition, that due date remains. Students and families who may have questions and concerns regarding tuition should contact the Student Accounts Office, Ricaurte said.
Like at the start of the fall semester, students, staff and faculty will be required to present a negative test result for COVID-19 before checking in on campus. Ricaurte said that testing dates and times will be provided on January 11 and that students should check their college email and the college’s website for information regarding testing and re-opening.
For more information regarding the spring semester you can go to www.keene.edu/spring21.
President Treadwell was unable to be reached for further comment.

Hunter Oberst can be contacted at
news@kscequinox.com