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University News

Spring Semester to Begin February 8

Extending winter break and forgoing spring break to reduce risk of COVID-19 spread

Posted in: Homepage News, University

The University announced this week that the spring 2021 semester will begin February 8, three weeks later than originally planned, and there will be no spring break. The term will end the week of May 24.

Starting the spring semester after what is expected to be the height of the winter pandemic surge will permit more time to make additional safety improvements to facilities, and forgoing spring break will reduce the risk of spreading of the virus through spring break travel. The plan also shifts the term closer to the time when vaccination opportunities may become available.

“I know that all of us look forward to the time, hopefully for the fall 2021 term, when the University will be able to return to our normal modes of operation,” wrote President Susan A. Cole in an email to the University community. “Unfortunately, we are not there yet. The spring term will still be governed by the demands of life in the midst of the pandemic, but we have learned a great deal about how to manage the challenges we have been given.

“With thoughtful planning, commitment, and creativity, we will be able to offer a successful spring term, one in which we can garner the positive energy of advancing toward the light, with each step taking us further away from the darkness of winter.”

Both remote instruction and on-campus instruction will be offered in the spring. All courses will be delivered as indicated in NEST.

Additionally, the University is encouraging students to live on campus for the spring semester because it’s a safe place to study and live. Students who live on campus will have highest priority for seats in courses that provide on-campus instruction, will enjoy excellent connectivity for online coursework as well as good study spaces, access to computer centers, the library, and other campus resources, a focused place to pursue studies without distractions, and access to safe activities and health services if needed.

Students who reside on campus next spring will be required to remain on campus (“stay in our bubble”) and to leave only for essential reasons in order to reduce the risk of the spread by importing the virus from off campus. Students in the residence halls will be required to present evidence of a negative COVID-19 test, taken no more than three days before returning in the spring.

“The safety protocols for the fall semester worked well for both instruction and work on campus, and that experience has provided valuable insight into how we can continue to improve on our planning,” wrote Cole. “The major elements of the plan for the spring term will incorporate all the current health and safety protocols, and will continue a balance of on-campus and remote work and study.”

For the latest updates, and to read the full text of President Cole’s announcements about the spring semester, visit the Communications section of the Red Hawk Restart website.