Colleges adjust spring semesters – will PV follow suit?

The+University+of+Iowa+and+other+Iowa+colleges+are+planning+to+adjust+their+spring+semesters.+The+question%2C+however%2C+is+if+Pleasant+Valley+will+do+the+same.

Maggie Peterson

The University of Iowa and other Iowa colleges are planning to adjust their spring semesters. The question, however, is if Pleasant Valley will do the same.

Elizabeth Pischke, Copy Editor

With Iowa having just passed 82,000 COVID-19 cases and the state’s positive case rate having only increased since school began, many Iowa colleges have been forced to adapt their spring schedules.

The University of Iowa (UI), Iowa State University (ISU) and The University of Northern Iowa (UNI) have all made changes to their spring semester schedules in an effort to combat the virus. One of the most extreme changes made by all three schools was the decision to cancel spring break. 

In addition to erasing spring break, Iowa’s biggest public colleges are all beginning their spring semesters on Jan. 25 2021 – two weeks later than usual for ISU and UNI, and one week later for UI. However, despite later start times, all three universities plan on completing the school year on their original end dates.

PV alum and current UI freshman Maggie Peterson is not surprised by the schedule adaptation. “I think it makes sense,” she said. “While it kind of sucks for student athletes who aren’t in season because it adds an extra week we aren’t allowed to practice.”

With many of Iowa’s colleges making adjustments to their spring schedules, there comes the question of whether or not PV will do the same.

However, Mike Zimmer, director of secondary education, explained PV has not considered this option yet. “Suspending spring break has not been discussed… at this time,” Zimmer expressed.

According to Zimmer, PV’s schedule is determined by a four step process. First, the administration references the legal start date per Iowa code. This is usually Aug. 23 or the first Monday after. Then, 180 days of instruction, excluding major holidays, are counted. 

Next, the calendar draft is shared with the Pleasant Valley Education Association (PVEA), the school board and building PTAs. These groups then help to determine professional development days, parent/teacher conference dates, spring break and extended weekends. Lastly, a final calendar is approved during a December board meeting. The approval date, said Zimmer, is “often much sooner than any surrounding districts.”

“The official school calendar has not been changed to date,” he elaborated. “We’re reviewing making changes to teacher and student schedules to possibly facilitate improved online and hybrid instruction, but that will not impact the calendar.” 

Despite having no current plans to change the spring calendar, Zimmer said there is still a possibility changes could be made based on guidance from the Scott County Health Department, Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa Department of Education and the Governor’s proclamations. When those changes might happen, however, is still up in the air.

Even though the adjusted spring semester will bring its new challenges, Peterson believed it was for the best. “I think it may help because by canceling spring break, it minimizes travel,” she expressed. “But in all honesty, if [schools are] taking appropriate steps to control the spread of COVID, then I think it’s a step in the right direction to allow for more in person classes next semester.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic still an ever changing event, only time will tell if PV, and other schools, will follow in the footsteps of Iowa’s colleges.