Due to COVID-19 Bob Jones University modified its Christmas vacation schedule. And due to BJU’s modified schedule, BJA’s end-of-semester was affected. But winter-break adjustments at Bob Jones are not without precedent.
In the 1930s, BJA’s Christmas vacation lasted from mid-December to mid-January. Even then, a four-week vacation for a high school was almost unheard of. But at the time, BJA and Bob Jones College (BJC) shared not only facilities but faculty. Since few college faculty would gladly remain on campus to teach their single Academy class, it was only logical that BJA and BJC maintain a common break schedule.
The United States entered World War II in mid-December 1941. BJA had 85 students and Christmas break went on as usual. However, by Christmas 1942, life had been dramatically changed by the war. Many young people had left classrooms to join the war effort. Military personnel were given priority on all forms of public transportation. As a result, civilians could sometimes spend days in a bus or train terminal waiting for the next available seat. Personal air travel virtually ceased.
For the long 1942 Christmas break many students were forced to remain in the schools’ dormitories or stayed with friends in the Cleveland, Tennessee, area. Not an ideal situation. The next year, the break was shortened to four days. To compensate, the school year ended earlier in the spring.
This year the COVID-19 pandemic caused BJU to end its semester at Thanksgiving. But now BJA shares few faculty with BJU, and no BJA students live in the residence halls, which permitted BJA’s Christmas break to remain the same. This, however, permitted campus facilities normally occupied by BJU for Christmas events, to be available for BJA. Larger concert venues permitted social distancing of performers and audiences which would have been impossible in BJA’s usual facilities. Even UpRoar benefited by using empty BJU facilities.
When the World War II ended, BJ’s Christmas break returned to being several weeks long and many young people returned from military service to continue their education. In 1945-46, BJA enrolled 311 students, an increase of over 350% from pre-war enrollment. Some of these students were veterans in their late teens and early twenties. There were a few students older than some of their teachers!
We are praying that the end of the COVID-19 pandemic will result in significant enrollment growth—but would prefer that all students be of the appropriate age!