The changes to the Spring 2021 semester schedule were announced in President Miller’s Nota Bene on Oct. 26. The noteworthy alteration was the removal of spring break. Miller stated that the Emergency Response Team and President’s Cabinet collaborated on the plan and the Board of Trustees was supportive of the proposal.
The semester will begin on Jan. 25 with the last day of classes being April 27. Reading Day will occur on April 28 followed by final exams from April 29 through May 4. According to this plan, Commencement will happen on May 8 and the VWU Global Campus Commencement will be May 16. The formats of these ceremonies depend on the status of COVID-19 in the spring.
Additionally, Miller stated that PORT Day, a day dedicated for students to present their internship, research, and study abroad experiences, will be held virtually over the course of a week.
Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Maynard Schaus shared insight into the decision making process. “I reached out to a faculty task group, the same group that met during the summer to make recommendations for the fall semester, as well as the deans and the registrar. We looked at what other schools were doing, and nearly every other university’s plan eliminated spring break,” Schaus said.
Schaus continued by stating that this plan was shared with the President’s Cabinet and was approved. Acknowledging the downsides with this plan from students and faculty, Schaus noted, “I understand this is somewhat of an inconvenience to faculty and students, but ultimately we need to prioritize the health and safety of the campus community.” According to Schaus, the main reason for eliminating spring break was to remove the opportunity where people could potentially bring COVID-19 back to campus after traveling.
Sophomore Brooke Morris was not surprised by this announcement. “I honestly expected it. My biggest concern is the lack of break in spring semester, a break a lot of students need for their sanity’s sake,” Morris said. “Especially for those taking a January-term course, the constant bombardment of course work with no reprieve is going to be a challenge.”
For the spring semester, professors have the option of offering their courses face-to-face, a hybrid format, or remotely. “If professors need to have their courses fully remote, it must be documented and approved by human resources, for reasons such as a health concern or protecting the health of a family member who is at risk,” Schaus said. “This is the same for students who plan to be remote and must provide documentation for approval.”
Additionally, 65% of the course sections in the spring will be offered fully face-to-face, 15% are in some form of hybrid format, and 20% will be offered remotely.
By Connor Merk