Students, staff weigh in on late start to spring semester

Desiree Oliveros, Staff Writer

ECC delayed the start of the Spring 2022 semester to Jan. 24 due to the rising rates of the Omicron COVID variant. (Lina Fasihi)

With the spring 2022 semester initially planned to start during the significant outbreak of the Omicron variant, Elgin Community College pushed back the start of the semester from Tuesday, Jan. 18 to Monday, Jan. 24.

As a result, the semester was pushed back to start a week later, with no extension of its end date. Students and teachers were able to take an extra-long break to relax and prepare. However, cutting a week off has imposed issues. Whether it’s cutting out certain class material, a heavier weekly workload, homework over spring break, etc. 

After several weeks into the semester, many students and faculty realized just how much an extra week helped but also hurt them.


It appears a general consensus amongst many students was that the week-long break was beneficial in allotting extra time to prepare for the spring semester. 

I got to relax and just enjoy my time to its fullest,” said Anthony Tipton, an ECC duel-credit student. “Any nervousness I had about the semester I could work out in that time.”

Taking time off from school seemed to allow many students to regroup. With the many obstacles the pandemic has thrown in students’ way, the break allowed them to work on their emotional well-being without the pressures of school.

“The late start allowed me extra time to mentally and emotionally prepare for the upcoming semester,” Jenny Nguyen said. “I knew that I tend to handle stress poorly, so the additional week meant I would be able to plan out my approach and relax as much as possible.”

Considering the new law in Illinois that went into effect at the beginning of 2022 allowing students to take up to five mental health days each year, it is clear that a break from the stressors of school can be crucial to one’s mental well-being.

On the flip side, there were some issues that students quickly noticed within the first few weeks of the semester.

“​​The beginning of the semester became extremely overwhelming as all of my professors condensed our semester schedule in order to accommodate the late start,” Nguyen said. “I ended up doing two weeks’ worth of work for a majority of my classes and had quizzes and exams the first week in. I felt like I didn’t have time to adjust to going back to school in person. It was like I was thrown in the deep end almost immediately.”

Several students shared that they felt the transition into the spring semester was far more difficult than expected. Many shared that they felt surprised after finding out other students were sharing similar struggles. 

Some students were also told they no longer had a homework free Spring Break at the end of March to unwind. They have to make up for the week taken at the beginning of the semester. Some believed that while the extra week before the spring semester was nice, they would much rather have Spring Break to unwind, but no longer can.

ECC student Jackie Funes additionally said that the late start, “…made me lazier and kind of initiated my procrastination.”

Many students found that getting back into the groove of the spring semester felt much harder than normal. While transitioning back to in-person classes is taken into account, the late start also held its effect on students’ motivation and productivity.

Even with every student’s unique circumstance, the semester’s late start held quite an impact on the student population as a whole.


Students were not the only ones affected by the late start. A few professors at ECC shared their insight.

I appreciate that ECC delayed our start until after the peak of the Omicron COVID variant,” said Sara Baker, professor of English. “I appreciate ECC’s concerns for the health and safety of students and staff.”

With the initial start date being Jan. 18, where Omicron variant surged and was believed to be far more transmissible than COVID, many students and faculty were thankful that ECC took significant safety and health concerns into consideration.

The delay did mean instructors had to adjusting their class plans.

“I had just made all the copies of my course calendars the day we found out about the delay, but that didn’t mean too much more work,” Baker said. “I did take some time to shift the assignments and class plans so that we could cover the same amount of material in a shorter time period.”

In some ways, the extra week helped with planning for some instructors.

“The late start was extremely useful for me,” said Soma Chattopadhyay, professor of engineering. “I am teaching five courses this semester. Engineering Thermodynamics was never offered in fall or spring semester before this semester. One extra week helped me to get very well prepared to teach five courses and it put me on a strong path to deal with everything. I had to shift everything by one week and also accommodate everything within sixteen weeks. Plus, test dates had to be moved. However, the late start was very beneficial and useful for me. I have never taught five courses before. I could hit the ground running since I got one extra week for preparation.”