Spring Term Approaching: What Differences Will We See?

As Winter Term draws to a close, the administration continues to work on developing detailed arrangements for Spring Term. Though the numbers have not been finalized yet with the administration still clarifying familial commitments, as of February 15, Andover is expecting to house 750 Boarding students and as many as 1,050 students on campus this spring out of the total student body of 1,186 students, according to Jennifer Elliott ‘94, Assistant Head of School for Residential Life and Dean of Students.

“We will send out a housing survey to get some information from students in terms of their preferences about with whom they’d like to live, and with their preferences about a single or double. But, it would not be about locations on campus. It’s such an unusual year, and so we’re not following our typical housing process with the typical preferences. We’re really wanting to honor student choice to the degree we can and just recognizing the constraints that we’re under in doing this puzzle, again, for the third time this year,” said Elliott.

Given the significant increase in boarding students this Spring Term compared to the 518 boarders in the fall and 205 boarders in the winter, the Andover administration has opened up the possibility of three-room triples and one-room doubles. However, there are concerns about the close contact of students in one-room doubles, in terms of studying and remote-learning needs.

“We’ve been learning a lot from our peer schools where they have had one-room doubles, and we understand that it has been working. The piece for us that feels complicated is just wanting to make sure that if students need to study remotely in their rooms, for example, if they’re in quarantine, that they could do that in a way that as roommates you wouldn’t be too distracting to each other,” said Elliott.

As for classes, it is likely that a number of classes will be taught in different locations on campus than usual in order to increase capacity. Many in-person classes will be HyFlex in order to accommodate students to respect constraints and make sure everyone is safe. HyFlex classrooms will use cameras to make sure that remote students also have full access to their lessons. According to Heidi Wall, Instructor in Mathematics, she is excited at the prospect of interacting with her students in-person in the classroom again.

“This fall, it made a big difference for us to be together in the classroom, working up at the whiteboards, sharing ideas across the room, and getting to know each other better face to face. I can’t wait to see them back on campus soon!” wrote Wall in an email to The Phillipian.

The Dean of Studies office is making efforts to accommodate both in-person and remote learners by grouping students into entirely in-person and all-remote classes for multi-section courses. However, according to Elliott, it is likely there will be students who start the term on-campus but don’t end up staying on campus for a variety of reasons.

“It’s just like the entire year has been—it’s going to be about flexibility and being responsive to what the needs are as they change, which seems the only thing that’s been constant this year, is that change,” said Elliott.

Conference periods will be hosted either in-person or in a remote setting depending on the teacher’s preference and timing. According to Elliott, faculty are working on developing a new weekly schedule, which will be available to the Andover community within the next week and a half. Catherine Carter, Instructor in Classics, is looking forward to following the new academic schedule for Spring Term.

“I don’t yet know very many details about exactly what Spring Term will look like, but I have been to one meeting about the academic schedule, and there are lots of good ideas out there. I am really looking forward to having students back in Hearsey [House] and teaching in Pearson [Hall] again once we all figure out how to do it safely,” wrote Carter.

According to Abbey Siegfried, Chair of the Music Department, ensembles will reconvene as they did during the Fall Term, and Graves Hall will be open for students who sign up to practice and do chamber music and other small groups.

“There will also be 15 Senior Recitals and other performances by music groups! We will continue to release performances weekly on our YouTube channel and are looking into how we can also have some in-person distanced live performances,” wrote Siegfried.

All-School Meeting will be held remotely to both include remote learners and follow social distancing and masking guidelines. Student clubs will be able to meet in-person as long as they are following social distancing and masking guidelines on campus. Elliott stressed, however, that the meetings will be accessible to remote members of the group as well.

“It’s going to be super important as a campus that we’re thinking at every turn about how we can include our peers who are not on campus. It’s really important,” said Elliott.