On Thursday, Sept. 17, the Office of the Provost sent an email announcing a revised academic calendar for spring 2021 at UMass Amherst, including a two-week delay in the start of the semester, the elimination of a week-long spring break and two Wellbeing Wednesdays replacing traditional long weekends.
That message is as follows:
Dear Campus Community,
Today, the Faculty Senate approved a revised academic calendar for the Spring 2021 semester. As we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, changes were implemented to the spring semester to take into consideration the safest way for us to proceed by limiting risk to the campus community. A copy of the revised calendar can be viewed at the bottom of this email.
The Spring 2021 semester will begin 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. Starting two weeks later than normal will also provide more time for outdoor opportunities and activities in warmer weather.
There will not be a Spring Break nor the two long weekends we traditionally observe in the spring – Presidents' Day (Feb. 15) and Patriots' Day (April 19). This should minimize students and other community members from leaving the local area to travel to potentially high-risk COVID regions and then return to the Amherst area.
In place of the long holiday weekends, we will observe two Wellbeing Wednesdays on Feb. 24 and April 14. On those days, there will be no classes, and instead programming and activities surrounding well-being for students and faculty will be planned. The lost instructional days on those Wednesdays will be made up on a Monday and Tuesday during the semester.
The semester will end one week later than normal. Classes will end on Tuesday, May 4, and final exams will end on Wednesday, May 12.
Undergraduate Commencement and Graduate Commencement have been rescheduled to be held Friday, May 14, and the Stockbridge School of Agriculture Commencement is set for Saturday, May 15. 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. Please note that no decisions have been made yet regarding how instruction will be delivered (in-person or remote) or how many students 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.