2020-2021 Academic Year: COVID-19 Response

The past year brought many changes to our lives and ways of doing business. The University of Nebraska and the Raikes School are no exception. While our classroom set up and events have looked different, we have been fortunate to have students living in the Kauffman Center attending in person classes for the entire 2020-2021 academic year. We heard from a few alumni curious about the set-up of the Kauffman Center and the student experience.

Great Hall ClassroomClasses

All Raikes School classes have continued to be offered in person, with the exception of Design Studio. The Kauffman Center Great Hall was reorganized to include six-foot tables, one table for each student to maintain necessary physical distancing. Temporary cameras and microphones were added to accommodate virtual student participation. Any student who needed to quarantine, felt ill, or was uncomfortable attending in person classes was able to attend class and actively participate via Zoom. Design Studio lectures were all held via Zoom as the Great Hall’s 42-person capacity could not accommodate the nearly 100 students in Design Studio. Design Studio teams were allowed to make their own plans for team time – some continued with in person team times, some moved virtual, and others operated in a hybrid model.

Academic Calendar

The fall semester started on Monday, August 17, one week earlier than originally planned. The first week was entirely virtual and in person classes began the week of Monday, August 24. The fall and spring semesters operated with 15 straight weeks of classes and no breaks – no fall break, no spring break. Most courses have adapted content, ensuring students are learning important concepts while also being flexible to allow adjustments when necessary. The fall semester ended with finals November 21-25. Most students were on winter break from November 26 to January 25, when the spring semester began. Over break the University offered two entirely virtual 3-week mini-sessions, one November 20-December 18 and one January 3-22. Students could complete general education requirements or technical electives (for CS majors), in the mini-sessions. No Raikes School classes were offered. The spring mini-session was particularly successful and may be something the University continues in future academic years. The spring 2021 semester will end with finals May 3-7 and an in person, outdoor graduation for 2021 graduates on May 8.


2020 Scavenger Hunt

The University established a comprehensive event approval process ensuring all activities met both university standards and city and state directed health mandates and kept our community as safe as possible. We were fortunate to host a few outdoor events early in the fall semester to help freshmen get to know each other and older students in the school – the challenge course, sand volleyball, a campus scavenger hunt (pictured), and yard games in the Kauffman Center green space. We continued monthly, virtual all school meetings, and the Student Advisory Board and Kauffman Residence Association hosted a few virtual game nights. We also hosted an entirely virtual interview experience when selecting cohort 2021 in January and February. This spring we are planning an in person senior celebration for Cohort 2017 (2021 graduates) at the Wick Center with an outdoor appetizer reception in the garden and program in the Wick’s Great Hall. The Design Studio Showcase will remain virtual.

Looking Ahead to 2021-2022

Much is still unknown about what the next academic year will bring. However, Chancellor Green has announced a commitment to return to mostly normal operations for classes, events, and facility operations. Read more about the Chancellor’s announcement here. We will continue to keep the health and safety of our community as our top priority when planning activities for the summer and next academic year.