Campus reacts to the pushback of spring semester

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The spring semester was originally set to begin Jan. 18. However the semester was pushed back a week as a result of the spread of the omicron variant.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been going on for two years now and it is difficult to recall a time where the world wasn’t covered with blue and white surgical masks.

When news first broke Jan. 5 that the start Marquette’s spring semester would be delayed a week from the initial start, differing thoughts and reactions arose on campus. The semester was originally set to begin classes Jan. 18.

Cara Fries, a first-year student in the College of Communication, was relieved to receive the email from the university.

“I was excited about the news, it just meant more time to be with my family and time to spend with friends I didn’t have the time to see,” Fries said.

But the delay of the semester is not without reason. With a surge in COVID-19 omicron variant cases around the country and Milwaukee averaging 1,500 new cases this week, Marquette is taking precautions to prevent the spread.

Fries said she was informed on COVID-19 cases in the area, and thought it was only a matter of time until the university made the announcement.

“I honestly was expecting [the delay]. I checked the numbers and I knew it was getting pretty bad, and I know Marquette is cautious,” Fries said.

As of Jan. 12 the current seven-day average of daily cases nationwide was recorded at 787,766 cases which has increased 33% compared to the previous week.

Dana Sharqawi, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said she was not surprised by the news either and understands that a delay was the correct decision, but thought there were more efficient approaches.

“When I first got that email it became more real, the likelihood that we would have to go online could be possible. It makes sense that it [spring semester] did get pushed back, but I wish it was put online just so it doesn’t cut into our summer break,” Sharqawi said.

Soon after the pushback was announced, the corresponding schedule for breaks and vacations were announced as well. Spring and Easter breaks will remain on the same schedule, and the semester will conclude May 10 with finals commencing for a week after.

Commencement will remain on the same dates, taking place May 21-22.

“I have a lot of friends who are seniors and this is something they have been waiting for. Imagine all that hard work over the years and you are not able to have a regular graduation. I hope for their sake they get a real graduation experience,” Sharqawi said.

Sharqawi harked back on her time as a student and said the thought of how odd her college experience has been since being burdened with COVID-19.

“I was looking back at it and I’ve had five semesters here at Marquette and only two of them have been in person. Which is something crazy to think about,” Sharqawi said.

Other members of the Marquette community are thankful to hear about the delay of the semester, which means more time for staying at home and preparing for another semester of classes and COVID-19.

Noelle Douglass, graduate student in strategic communications and a teacher’s assistant, is relieved to hear about the push and will relish an extra week of vacation.

“As a student and as a teacher prep, I was excited because more time is always appreciated. Especially with how crazy things have been with people getting sick, I think it was a good idea that the university gave people more time,” Douglass said.

Those returning to campus will be required to upload proof of boosters online. Douglass said the delay of the semester will give students more time to get their boosters and return to campus without any worries.

However, this delay does throw a curveball in many students’ arrivals to campus. Students from across the nation and world will have to reschedule their flights in accordance with campus opening back up again Jan. 22.

Since Christmas Eve, airlines have cancelled thousands of flights due COVID-19 concerns and weather. JetBlue has cut more than 1,000 flights in January due concerns and infections among staff.

This article was written by Connor Baldwin. He can be reached at connor.baldwin@marquette.edu