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Texas Southern University Transitions to 13-Week Fall Semester

Written by on July 20, 2020

By: Isaiah Robinson

HOUSTON—Due to the rising surge in coronavirus cases, Texas Southern University will move to a 13-week schedule for the upcoming fall semester, which has students completing the term before the Thanksgiving break.

The decision to shift to a modified schedule comes after a startling spike in COVID-19 cases overwhelmed not only the city of Houston, but by and large the state of Texas.

TSU’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Research Kendall Harris wrote a letter to the university community to inform them on the new changes.

The conclusion to not have students back on campus after the Thanksgiving break is to help flatten the curve of COVID-19 to the campus.

Even though TSU junior public relations major Chandrelle Lazard understands the reason to shorten the semester, she does highlight a valid point to consider.

“I understand what the administration is trying to do, due to the fact that for Thanksgiving many people travel and adhering to the normal schedule will increase the risk of exposure to COVID-19, but I don’t see much of a difference of permitting exposure if we’re returning to campus, “ Lazard said. “We should continue remote learning, because that’s the best option to ensure faculty and students safety.”

The public relations major also noticed a potential risk for students walking into the newly shortened fall semester.

“The new schedule will add pressure because thanksgiving break is usually a chance for students to regroup before the final weeks of the semester. Students would need to have a break for Labor Day, but it won’t be enough to prevent  potential burnouts.” Lazard said.

Further, the first day of class will be Wednesday, August 19, which is five days earlier than previously scheduled. 

The last day of class will be Friday, November 13, as finals will be held November 14-19, and Commencement exercises are scheduled for Saturday, November 21.

The MyTSU Portal will be unavailable beginning Friday, June 26, and is expected to return Friday, July 10, to make modifications that reflect the new 13-week semester.

During that time, registration will not be available as well. 

Students are encouraged to access their MyTSU Portal periodically leading up to the start of the semester, as schedules are subject to change.

Also, classes will be offered in three formats: face-to-face, hybrid (face-to-face and online) and online only. 

The length of classes will be extended to adhere to the contact hours requirement. 

Using the guidelines recommended by national, state, and local agencies/authorities, the university is instituting heightened cleaning protocols, including frequent cleaning and disinfecting of areas that are considered high traffic.

In May, TSU introduced a three-phased strategic plan called, “Return to TigerLand”, developed by the University COVID-19 Task Force to reopen the campus for the upcoming fall semester.

“Student safety is a top priority at TSU; we are cautious and mindful about how academic instruction will be administered during this global pandemic,” Dr. Harris said. “Although our fall semester will be different, this modified calendar gives TSU the opportunity to demonstrate its instructional innovation as we deal with these extraordinary times.”

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