UMass outlines academic calendar for Spring 2021, spring break scrapped with start date, commencement and finals delayed

Nothing is known yet about in-person, remote or hybrid models for the semester or commencement

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Collegian File Photo

By Chris McLaughlin, Assistant News Editor

Four weeks into fall semester, the Office of the Provost at the University of Massachusetts emailed the campus community late on Thursday to publicly announce the academic calendar for the Spring 2021 semester.

Approved by the Faculty Senate, the UMass academic calendar was delayed by two weeks due to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and is now set to start on Monday, Feb. 1.

“This two-week delay will put us further along into the traditional flu season in Massachusetts, and perhaps even near the end of it,” the email read. “Starting two weeks later than normal will also provide more time for outdoor opportunities and activities in warmer weather.”

Spring break has been scrapped and two traditionally observed long weekends, Presidents’ Day on the weekend of Feb. 15 and Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts on the weekend of April 19, will be foregone next year.

The email explained this decision was made to minimize the number of students and other members of the community leaving the Pioneer Valley and potentially traveling to high-risk regions where COVID-19 may be more prevalent to prevent bringing the virus back to the Amherst area.

As a substitute for those lost long weekends, UMass will implement two “Wellbeing Wednesdays” on Feb. 24 and April 14 respectively.

“On those days, there will be no classes, and instead programming and activities surrounding well-being for students and faculty will be planned,” the email said. “The lost instructional days on those Wednesdays will be made up on a Monday and Tuesday during the semester.”

The semester will additionally end one week later than it normally would. Classes will now end on Tuesday, May 4 and final exams will end on Wednesday, May 12.

Both Undergraduate Commencement and Graduate Commencement have been rescheduled to Friday, May 14 with the Stockbridge School of Agriculture Commencement now set for Saturday, May 15.

At this time, the Office of the Provost noted that no decisions have been made about whether the ceremonies will be virtual or held in person.

“While we know this academic calendar will present challenges to some, campus leaders and the Faculty Senate feel it is of utmost importance to protect the health and safety of campus in the spring,” the email read.

The email also stressed that no decisions have been made yet for an in-person, remote or hybrid model for the spring semester, nor the number of students who will be allowed to live on campus.

“It is difficult to forecast the trajectory or impact of the pandemic going forward, but we will communicate these decisions in ample time for our students and their families to create plans,” the email concluded.

Other noteworthy details included in a chronological list of dates within the email which showed that the last day to add or drop classes with no record to be Friday, Feb. 12, registration for Fall 2021 classes will begin on Monday, April 5 and final grades will be due by midnight on Monday, May 17.

Final exams will begin on Thursday, May 6 and reading days have been scheduled for Wednesday, May 5 and Saturday, May 8.

Chris McLaughlin can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ChrisMcLJournal.