Cornerstone University Adjusts Traditional Undergraduate Academic Calendar for Fall 2020


by Audrey Wierenga (B.A. ’18)

Cornerstone University today announced an adjustment to its 2020-21 traditional undergraduate academic calendar in order to complete the fall semester earlier than originally scheduled. The move is a response to the potential for a second wave of COVID-19 in West Michigan this fall.

The primary change to the fall academic calendar is the early start date and the early finish date. Classes will begin on Monday, Aug. 24, and the semester will end on Wednesday, Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving. Classes will not resume again until January 2021. The calendar change recognizes that the pandemic has not receded as quickly as once hoped.

"Our first and most pressing priority is to be sure that we can provide the safest community possible in the midst of the ever-changing COVID-19 realities," said President Joe Stowell in a letter to students on July 6. "We are committed to providing a face-to-face educational experience as much as possible given the protocols that are dictated by health officials. The best way to ensure safety and a fully subscribed educational experience is for us to complete the semester at Thanksgiving."

With the acceleration of the start date by one week plus the elimination of breaks, the revised calendar has the same amount of class time as the original schedule. Classes will be held on Labor Day and there will be no fall break in October to ensure students still receive the normal amount of class time. Final exams will be completed the day before Thanksgiving.

First-year and transfer students will arrive on Aug. 18 or 19, with freshman orientation to be held on Aug. 20 and 21. Returning students can move in on Aug. 22 and 23. More details about moving and orientation schedules are to follow.

"Being nimble enough to stay ahead of the risk curve through these days has made all of us aware of the necessity of navigating this changing environment with wisdom and clarity," added Stowell. "We have an unflinching desire to provide the safest environment and best educational experience for students in the midst of the ongoing uncertainties of COVID-19."

Cornerstone will hold a virtual town hall for traditional undergraduate students and parents on Thursday, July 9 at noon (EST) to further discuss academic plans for the fall semester. Academics calendars for GRTS and PGS will remain as originally scheduled.

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