With regular COVID-19 testing and planned vaccinations, the University of Utah’s Spring 2021 Semester will be shaped by the global pandemic.
Spring semester marks the one-year point since the university shifted to mostly online education and more limited campus operations as the virus spread through the United States. Although the development of therapeutics to treat and vaccines to curb the virus offer hope for a return to more routine school functions in the future, the academic calendar for spring semester still will be compressed in an effort to reduce the chances for exposure. Highlights include:
- Classes will begin one week later than normal, on Tuesday, Jan. 19, after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
- A two-week, online-only educational period is scheduled from March 1-14.
- Two additional non-instruction days—Friday, March 5 and Monday, April 5—have been added to the calendar. Along with the Presidents Day holiday on Feb. 15, students and faculty will have three non-instruction days.
- Commencement and convocation exercises are scheduled for May 6 and 7.
While spring break has been canceled, university leaders note that changes to fall and spring semesters make the winter break six weeks long, giving the campus community a chance to rest and recharge.
“We understand that so many of our students, faculty and staff are stressed by the adjustments we’ve all had to make in response to COVID-19,” said Dan Reed, senior vice president for Academic Affairs. “We’re asking everyone to remain vigilant and continue to support one another.”
Reed encouraged faculty and students to work together through the semester to navigate class workloads and breaks. The university’s Academic Senate has adopted a resolution from ASUU leaders that outlines ways for instructors and students to better communicate about source expectations and deadlines.
“We are doing all we can to preserve the most important characteristics of higher education while also providing a safe campus environment where students can learn,” Reed added. “We want to be the university that gets this right.”