Bethel University Announces COVID-19 Adjustments for Fall Academic Calendar

Erin Kinzel

Bethel University announces changes to the fall semester academic calendar for traditional students in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. A month ago, the university announced that face-to-face classes would resume in the fall on campus.

For traditional students only, the semester will begin two days early (on Aug. 18) and will run, with no breaks, until Thanksgiving break. Classes will be held on Labor Day, there will be no fall break, the final exam schedule will be modified and the university will have modified class breaks for Spiritual Emphasis Week services.

Bethel’s Vice President for Academic Services Barb Bellefeuille, Ed.D., says the university had two main goals in mapping out changes for the fall semester. The first goal was the safety of students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community. The second was maintaining academic quality and integrity. She says the adjustments will allow Bethel to maintain the same amount of in-class seat time and also allow final exams to take place in person, on campus.

“We know these changes will cause our students and faculty to have to rethink their normal semester patterns, but we are grateful for their partnership in reorganizing to make it work,” says Bellefeuille. “I think we are all looking forward to the return of face-to-face classes and want that to happen in a way that is safe for everyone.”

New calendar overview:

Aug. 15-17: Returning student move-in (sign up in advance; instructions will be emailed to students)

Aug. 18: Classes begin

Sept. 7: Labor Day, classes will be held

Oct. 8-9: Classes will be held (no Fall Break)

Nov. 20: Last day of classes

Nov. 21: Final exams begin, with condensed schedule

Nov. 25: All final exams done by 1 p.m., semester ends

In addition to the altered academic schedule, campus leaders are making other preparations and modifications. This includes installing live-stream technology in many classrooms so that, in the case of quarantine, students can keep pace in real time. Several housing locations are being prepared for quarantine lodging, if needed. Focused mental health counseling (either in-person or via telehealth) is planned to be offered to help ease student anxiety. Additionally, the university is considering modifications to chapel schedules and meal delivery, among other things, like symptom screenings and self-assessments for students, faculty and staff, COVID-19 testing and increased sanitizing of campus spaces.  

Leaders from across the university, including Dean of the School of Nursing Dr. Deb Gillum, Bethel Trustee Dr. Hope Jordan and Bethel’s Emergency Management Team, are working closely together to ensure a safe and organized reopening of campus. Bethel is already in the final phase of returning employees to work on campus, which includes a number of COVID-19 protection measures such as providing masks, installing hand sanitizer and Plexiglass barriers in high-density conversation spaces, employee screening procedures, and workplace disinfection, all based on CDC guidelines. 

For more information about Bethel’s plans for fall, Welcome Week for new students, move-in dates for returning students, as well as information about Bethel’s response to COVID-19 and how the university is supporting current students and families during this time, visit

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