Dear Danforth Campus students, faculty and staff,
Since we began our planning for the spring semester, we have known we would have to remain flexible and open not only to the rapidly changing situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to feedback from you, the members of our community. When we shared our plan for spring last month, we knew that one of the most challenging points would be related to changes to the spring break schedule, specifically that we would not have a traditional break due to concerns about an increased risk of transmission of COVID-19 because of travel-related activities. Working within some significant constraints, we considered numerous potential scenarios and settled on a calendar that allowed for at least some rest and personal time, but, as we heard clearly from you in recent weeks, we have since realized the need to reevaluate our approach.
We have revisited the calendar to take another look at how we can create a schedule that allows us to complete the minimum number of instruction days required during the semester to meet accreditation standards and federal requirements for awarding financial aid, and also accommodate the length of the winter break and the dates we have committed to hold for Commencement. After careful consideration, we have decided to make the following changes to the academic calendar for the spring semester.
Semester to start one day earlier
We will start the spring semester one day earlier than previously communicated, on Monday, January 25, for Arts & Sciences, McKelvey School of Engineering, Olin Business School, Sam Fox School and University College. (The spring semester will still begin on January 19 for the Brown School and Law School.)
Three wellness days
The earlier start will allow us to create one additional wellness day during the spring semester, in addition to the two that were originally planned. The updated calendar includes two consecutive wellness days on Tuesday, March 2 and Wednesday, March 3, and an additional wellness day on Monday, April 12.
We will work closely with faculty to ensure that no class meetings are scheduled on wellness days, and that no assessments or major assignments are due on the days immediately following these days. We want to make sure we preserve these days, which are intended to be time for a break from academic work, including studying for tests or completing significant coursework. We will communicate directly with faculty with additional guidance.
We hope this change is helpful to you. We realize that this has been, and continues to be, a very challenging time for all of you. It is extremely important that we do all we can to support our community, and particularly to focus on your mental health and well-being in the months ahead. We are hopeful that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that we will be able to return more fully to normal campus life at some point during the spring semester. Until then, please know that we are here to support you and we are always open to your feedback as we are finding our way forward together.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs