DANVILLE, Ky. — In response to the challenges presented by COVID-19, Centre College will adopt a “block” style approach to courses for the fall 2020 semester.
The unique approach divides the normal academic term of 13 weeks and four courses into two blocks of two courses, each six weeks plus two days long.
According to Centre President John Roush, no matter the status of the global pandemic by August, the College will continue offering classes on a full-time basis in the fall, all while recognizing that this will require a good deal of flexibility.
“The clear intention of Centre College is to be open for the entire 2020-2021 academic year,” said Roush. “It is understood that we will do so in ways, following broader guidelines and recommendations, that protects our students, faculty and staff, as well as the larger Danville and Boyle County community.”
Among the benefit of the “CentreBlocks” schedule is that it will allow the College to be nimble should there be a need to shift gears, in either direction, in terms of in-person or remote teaching.
“This is a way to be even more intentional in building close ties among faculty and students,” said Ellen Goldey, Centre’s vice president for academic affairs and Dean of the College. “It will also help reduce anxiety, allow flexibility in uncertain times and maintain the high quality of our programs.”
Classes for the first block will begin on Aug. 26, five days earlier than previously planned, and end Oct. 13. This will be followed by a week-long break before the second block, which starts Oct. 21 and concludes with the last final exam on Dec. 11.
The 90-minute courses will meet five days a week, though most science classes with labs will hold lectures Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with labs on Tuesday and Thursday.
Faculty members have expressed their support for the CentreBlocks approach, according to Goldey, with some describing it as an exciting opportunity to reimagine how they will design and teach their courses.
Associate Dean Alex McAllister helped develop the schedule and said that since professors will be teaching fewer students in each block, they will be able to meet with their students more often, developing stronger bonds in the process.
“From a student perspective, taking only two courses at a time means less mental shifting among subjects, which should reduce stress and help both first-year and current students more easily transition into a new academic year,” McAllister added.
In terms of timing, Centre expects to make the decision about in-person or remote classes for the first fall block course by mid-summer, since COVID-19 makes planning difficult and uncertain at this time.
Goldey said that for now, the three-week CentreTerm in January and the spring term, currently scheduled to begin Feb. 3, will be offered in their standard formats.
“But we will reconsider this early in the fall,” she added, “if we decide a block schedule for spring 2021 would be beneficial.”