Study abroad trips canceled, courses move online for May term 2020


File photo.

by Liv Allen, Staff reporter

Students enrolled in one of Simpson College’s six international travel courses or three domestic travel courses will now be making the trek to their computer screens.

All travel and study abroad courses for May term 2020 have been canceled due to the campus-wide transition to online classes caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The faculty and administration at Simpson have worked together to navigate the transition to online learning and changes to this year’s May term. 

Senior Kenton Thoms, who was going to New Zealand, was disappointed by the cancellation but was not surprised by the decision. 

“I was pretty bummed out, but I saw it coming,” Thoms said. “I had been wanting to go on this trip since my freshman year and it was going to be the ideal way to end my college career at Simpson.”

Thoms, among other study abroad and domestic travel students, were concerned about being refunded after their trips were canceled, but Simpson staff members like Jay Wilkinson, Director of International Education, have worked diligently to refund as much of their course fees as possible. 

“Our patience in negotiating with the airlines, hotels and other providers of some courses’ travel logistics has resulted in more generous cancellation policies than originally anticipated,” Wilkinson said. “The Business Office was able to credit the accounts of students enrolled in four of the six international travel courses earlier this week with their refunds.”

Despite this, these adjustments have not come without problems. 

“Logistical arrangements for two of the courses have not yet been entirely resolved,” Wilkinson adds. “Refunds for these courses will wait in the hope that the end result will be more favorable than what the airlines and other travel providers are currently offering.”

Registrar Jody Ragan has worked to adjust the May term courses being offered due to the sudden cancellation of study abroad and domestic travel courses.

We were able to replace five of those alternate course offerings. Some of the other May term courses have been able to increase their enrollment caps due to the courses now being held online,” Ragan stated. 

However, not all students are taking advantage of these alternate course offerings. 

 “We are also seeing some students choosing not to take May term this year, now that their study abroad or study away course has been canceled,” Ragan said. 

Many students still feel overwhelmed by uncertainty about how May term courses will work online. Professor Brian Steffen is hopeful that May term will work smoothly online.

“May term courses will work the same online as the current spring courses are working,” Steffen said. “While we all go about our teaching differently, I think the transition has gone well so far. We’ve had some minor technical and connectivity issues, but we get them worked out pretty quickly.”

For questions regarding enrollment in alternate May term course offerings, contact your advisor or Ragan at the Registrar’s Office.