Holy Cross Transitions to Distance Learning for Spring 2020 Semester

Davey Sullivan ‘22

News Editor

On Wednesday, March 11, Rev. Philip L. Boroughs S.J., president announced that due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, the College of the Holy Cross would be making significant changes to operations, including shifting towards distance learning for all classes. Distance learning will continue for the entirety of the spring semester. Holy Cross followed the actions of many universities across the country in switching to distance learning as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus. 

As for the implementation of distance learning, the form was left to the individual departments and professors to decide. The week of classes of March 16 was cancelled as time for students to adjust to life away from campus and for syllabi to be updated and plans for the rest of the semester to be devised. As students begin to see their professors again, the community will continue to adjust to distance learning as the new normal for the semester. 

The semester is to remain the same in regards to the academic calendar, with classes pausing for Easter breaking in mid-April and then ending in time for finals on May 4, 2020. Additionally, the college updated the policy on courses that are able to be declared as Pass/No-Pass, as well as extending the deadline for withdrawing from courses without a “W” on the transcript. Students may now withdraw courses until May 4, and students may declare P/NP on up to two courses. 

Photo by Hui Li ’21
With the transition to remote learning, students and faculty are now working with online platforms like Zoom and Google Meet to finish out the semester.

With classes resuming from a distance on March 23, various modes of teaching have been put into action, using online services such as Google Meet and Zoom to hold live classes. Both of these methods for online learning allow for students to gather with their classmates and see each other in real time. The professor can lecture and solicit questions from students, and present multimedia material such as Powerpoint presentations. Additionally, some professors have chosen to use the service Panopto to post lectures for students to watch on their own time.

The Holy Cross learning management system Moodle will continue to serve as the backbone for learning, with professors being able to distribute readings and other material as well as facilitate class discussion on Moodle discussion boards.

Dean Michele Murray, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, commented directly to the Spire, saying “No one would have predicted our current circumstances and how abruptly our way of life on the Hill would change. In true Holy Cross fashion everyone did everything they could to transition to our new, and previously inconceivable, reality. Our students, faculty, and staff have responded with great generosity and creativity to meet this challenge with the best of who we are. Even as the present health crisis forces us apart, the sense of community remains strong. And this is a sign of hope for me.”

Additionally, on Tuesday, March 24, Father Boroughs wrote on the transition to the Holy Cross community, “Yesterday, […] Holy Cross classes went online. I am grateful for our hardworking and creative faculty and our Educational Technology and Media Services and ITS professionals who have worked so hard over the past two weeks to facilitate this monumental move. And I am confident that our students will meet this new challenge. That said, please be patient with each other, and with yourselves, as we all work to put this method of teaching and learning into place. There will be glitches, but hopefully we will all learn from them as we get through this transition together.”

The transition to distance learning has required many in the Holy Cross community to adapt to a new and unexpected normal. As previously stated, distance learning will continue at Holy Cross for the remainder of the semester until the end of the academic year with finals ending on May 13, 2020. 

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