Updated: Jan 22
"Virtual class" became the two words no college student wanted to hear when the COVID-19 pandemic forced administrators to cancel in-person classes in March.
University of Tennessee at Martin students began their spring semester online Thursday, Jan. 14. After one week of online classes, administrators hope they can bring students back to campus.
"Right now, we're concerned about cases all over the world, but I'm concerned about cases in Northwest Tennessee, where our students live, where they're commuting from," UT Martin Chancellor Dr. Keith Carver said.
University leaders said they're considering many things, including local and campus cases, CDC recommendations, local hospital capacity and mental health.
Students, faculty and staff finished the fall semester without a break with hopes of avoiding travel. However, Carver found out it put too much stress on the campus.
Nicole Street, a nursing major from Dickson, TN, said not having a fall break was hard.
"You already feel like you hit the ground running for fall semester. A lot of things were hitting at the same time," she said.
Carver said allowing a break was a priority, and starting classes online Jan. 14 meant that could happen.
"The break, not having class for a little while, people needed it. They needed that mental health break."