Georgetown University announced virtual learning will extend into the spring, though some hybrid classes will be available to seniors and graduate students living on campus and in the surrounding neighborhoods.
The spring plan gives seniors not currently living in Washington, D.C., the option to live on campus, University President John J. DeGioia (CAS ’79, GRD ’95) wrote in a systemwide email Monday. The university expects to house approximately 500 seniors, bringing the total number of students on campus to roughly 1,000.
All classes will remain virtual, with the exception of around 200 hybrid courses for graduate students and senior undergraduate students, living on campus or in D.C., according to the email.
The university also announced it will operate on an altered calendar in the spring semester to minimize travel and account for the worsening COVID-19 pandemic as cases and deaths across the country are rising exponentially. For undergraduate students, classes will start Jan. 25 to provide extra time between semesters. Spring break and Easter break will be combined into one break beginning at the end of classes March 26 to April 5, when classes resume, according to the registrar’s academic calendar.
DeGioia emphasized the provisional nature of Georgetown’s spring plans in a video address released alongside the email announcement.
“We are entering what we expect will be the most difficult months of the pandemic,” DeGioia said in the address. “We will monitor the status of the pandemic throughout November and December to determine whether we can achieve our goals for the start of the spring semester. Once the spring semester is underway, we will continue to closely monitor and, when necessary, adjust our approach.”
The university piloted 17 hybrid courses during the fall semester and plans to expand the offerings as long as pandemic conditions permit, according to the email.
The university’s plan comes after a fully virtual fall semester with only about 500 students on campus, including students with unstable or unsafe living situations and nursing students. Students who lived on campus during the fall semester will be offered on-campus housing again in the spring.
The university is also designing an optional summer residential program for the Class of 2024 to experience residential life together on campus and take classes, according to the email.
The university plans to roll out opportunities for students to study and gather on the main campus. Seniors and residential students will be prioritized for access, according to the email.
For all other students, the university has partnered with WeWork, which provides shared office and workspaces, to offer free access to study spaces with reliable WiFi for both domestic and international students.
Further Information on Finances, Grading and Research
The university announced it will provide the same tuition reductions in the spring that it provided to undergraduate and graduate students in the fall. Undergraduate students not living on campus will receive a 10% reduction, while graduate students will receive a 5% discount.
The university first announced the 10% tuition reduction for off-campus undergraduates July 21. In the preceding weeks, more than 2,000 community members had signed a petition calling on the university to reduce tuition and extend the deferral deadline. On July 29, the university said it would apply the discount to all undergraduates.
Georgetown has yet to release financial aid information for the spring semester. Students and families initially protested the university’s financial aid packages for fall 2020, which included inexplicably increased expected family contributions and reduced aid. The university subsequently revised the aid packages, waiving students’ summer work requirements to lower expected family contributions.
Additionally, the university’s modified grading policy will remain in place. As in the fall semester, students will have until the last day of study days to decide if they want a letter grade or a satisfactory, credit or no credit notation on their transcripts, according to the university’s FAQ page.
Research opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students will continue in the spring semester, with most research being conducted virtually. Professors and students can apply to conduct in-person research, though the project and location are subject to further approval based on safety measures, according to a Nov. 16 email from Sonia Jacobson, director of the Georgetown Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.
The university also plans to offer hybrid academic settings for all medical, nursing and law classes, according to DeGioia’s email. Many of the classes offered in person will focus on hands-on learning or lab-related coursework, and the university will increase the number sections for these classes to reduce their density.
The Georgetown University Law Center will prelude its spring semester Jan. 11 by offering a series of weeklong online classes to students. The semester will commence fully Jan. 25 in conjunction with all other Georgetown programs, according to the Georgetown Law academic calendar.
Georgetown Law plans to offer hybrid options for first-year courses, clinical seminars and select Master of Laws classes, which many international students have traveled to the United States to take. Any expansions to the hybrid model would focus on upper-level classes, according to a statement from William Treanor, dean of the Law Center.
The School of Medicine will continue to follow its block-based program, in which students take classes in four-week modules. Blocks 7 through 10 represent the equivalent to the spring semester, with block 7 beginning Jan. 4 and block 10 ending April 23.
MBA programs will also continue their module-based schedules, in which classes are approximately six weeks long with exams at the end of each module. Modules 3 and 4 comprise the equivalent of the spring semester, and module 3 will begin Jan. 12.
Separately, the School of Continuing Studies announced it plans to continue a completely virtual learning environment, DeGioia wrote in his Nov. 16 email. The SCS will follow a different academic calendar from other Georgetown programs, beginning classes Jan. 13 and ending classes May 5.
All other graduate programs will follow the same academic calendar as the main campus, with classes beginning Jan. 25.
The university also stated in the faculty senate meeting in which the spring plans were announced that graduate student workers working under faculty who teach hybrid courses would not be required to teach in person.
This is a developing story.