The University Curriculum Committee, in coordination with the Faculty Senate, Provost Laura Behling, and the Cabinet, has approved the Spring 2021 calendar, including a modified Spring Break schedule as follows:

January 19, Classes Begin
February 18–19, Th/Fri (Week 5), 2-day campuswide break
March 29–30, M/T (Week 11), 2-day campuswide break
April 14, W (Week 13), 1-day campuswide break
May 5, Classes End
May 6–7, Reading Period
May 10–14, Exams

For students to arrive on campus, be tested, and isolate while results are returned, all classes during the first week (January 19-22) will be remote. In-person and hybrid teaching models will begin on January 25.

In making this decision, the Curriculum Committee used the following parameters to determine a revised Spring Break schedule:

  • Public Health
  • Student and Faculty Mental Health and Well-Being
  • Pedagogy

Because of the risk of a potential surge in infection stemming from travel during a traditional Spring Break, we moved to a model that redistributed Spring Break days throughout the semester. The CC looked at multiple examples from other institutions and discussed the pros and cons of each scenario at great length. We consulted with staff from Residence Life, faculty from multiple departments, and the administration. The five break days are distributed on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to mitigate curricular disruption. To discourage student travel during the two-day breaks, the breaks were purposefully scheduled to avoid overlap with holidays.

Our discussions and observations as faculty members made it obvious that scheduled breaks are crucial to our student's and faculty's mental health and well-being. We are seeing signs of fatigue in our students at a level greater than in previous semesters. The Spring 2021 break days are scheduled purposefully throughout the semester to help mitigate this.

A common theme emerged in our discussions with faculty and students: breaks should be restorative for our campus community, not simply catch-up days for homework. As we navigate the genuine concerns of Zoom fatigue and increased hours online, we ask that you consider pedagogical adjustments that may help with this, including not assigning due dates for large projects or tests directly following scheduled breaks.

With best wishes for the rest of the semester,

Maria Sampen, Chair, and the 2020–21 Curriculum Committee