Some students struggle with calendar changes caused by pandemic


Alyssa Landry, left, and Alexis Martinez prepare to leave the University of Oklahoma for Thanksgiving break. Zaria Oates/Gaylord News

Universities across Oklahoma have adjusted their fall and spring semester calendars as COVID-19 continues to surge. Now some students are feeling stressed about it.

Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma moved all classes online after Thanksgiving break until the end of the semester. The schools also lengthened winter break until late January, and canceled spring break.

Hunter Savage, a sophomore agricultural business major at OSU, had been planning a spring trip with friends.

“Getting an extra week for winter break is great,” said Savage, whose hometown of Madill is 120 miles south of Oklahoma City. 

“However, spring break is our one break that we get in the spring and college students desperately need that week. I’d love to have my spring break and I know others are already planning to take a spring break even though we will still be in school. College is hard,” he said.

OU graduate student Kevin Hahn, an Oklahoma City native, said the calendar changes were “just a mild annoyance” for him.

“I do however know students who have lost income from student jobs on campus. I feel for them in this situation.”

Hahn said the new calendar has affected his research project.

“Some members of the project have returned home following Thanksgiving, giving us fewer students on campus to work the study,” Hahn said. “We are also having trouble finding participants, since many students have left the Norman area early.”

Chukwuma Ilodibe, a management information systems major from Nigeria who is a freshman at OU, said the fall semester tested his social and academic abilities.

“My sister who graduated last year from OU … said meeting people and making friends would be fairly easy, but removing in-person meetings with campus organizations has made it difficult for me to meet new people,” Ilodibe said.

Like OU and OSU, the University of Tulsa switched to remote learning after Thanksgiving break. The school will also lengthen winter break but unlike OU is keeping its spring break moving it to mid-April and switching to online-only classes for the rest of the spring semester.

Students at OU might not be losing the entirety of their spring break.  OU president Joe Harroz said in a recent Gaylord News interview that he is considering restoring two or three days of the university’s break to provide students with a “wellness” day.

Matt Warren, vice president for risk management at the University of Tulsa, said the calendar changes and the pandemic in general have not been easy for international students.

“There have been a lot of restrictions on travel, deferring and changing visa requirements … that made it very challenging for some of to be able to get back to the United States,” Warren said.

Niyanthan Ponnusamy, an OSU graduate student from India, said international students who couldn’t find jobs last summer were finding it difficult to pay their expenses.

“If we couldn’t land a job after May … we might have to pull in funds from our family or loans because it’s very hard right now seeing the job market — that’s the big concern,”  Ponnusamy said.

OSU’s international student enrollment is down significantly this fall to about 1,294, according to Tim Huff, director of international students.

“There is a great deal of anxiety between the presidential election … and some of the rhetoric that’s coming out of the Trump administration,” Huff said.

Inten Wulandari, a senior biochemistry major at the University of Tulsa, said the pandemic has only compounded the challenges typically faced by international students.

“As hard as it is to come here all the way from another country and it’s hard to make friends, with all of these restrictions … it’s now even more difficult to adapt,” Wulandari said. “Also you aren’t able to travel. So it’s made us feel homesick, including me.”


Gaylord News is a Washington-based reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.