UNC Delays Start of Spring Semester

Old Well, UNC-Chapel Hill


From Staff Reports

UNC plans to begin its spring semester on Jan. 19 — a two-week delay from the original academic calendar — because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The delay will provide “the maximum time between winter break and the start of classes,” said Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Provost Robert Blouin in an email letter to the campus community. “This allows the largest implementation window for planning for the semester.”

The university has not yet announced whether classes during the spring semester will be taught remotely or in-person, or with some kind of hybrid. UNC had begun the current fall semester with a combination, with many students on campus and in the community, but quickly had to change gears after just a week, following a number of outbreaks of COVID-19.

Because of the later start for the upcoming semester, the spring 2021 commencement will be pushed back one week, to Sunday, May 16. Also, there will not be a traditional spring break during the semester in an effort to limit any potential spread of the virus caused by travel during an extended break.

In addition, Guskiewicz and Blouin wrote, “we have heard from many of you that we need to provide more breaks during the semester,” so the university calendar will include five “wellness days.”

“These wellness days are intended as breaks from the semester — not for studying — so faculty will be instructed to avoid scheduling exams, quizzes and other major assignments on days following these breaks,” the administrators said.

Guskiewicz and Blouin acknowledged in the email that “many critical decisions remain” in addition to the modes of teaching.

“This includes how we may use campus-wide COVID-19 surveillance testing combined with expanded contact tracing … details about campus housing and plans for isolation and quarantine space, deadlines for spring registration and expectations and guidelines for on-campus and off-campus activities. We will share these additional details soon.”

In concluding the letter, Guskiewicz and Blouin said, “we recognize that this fall semester did not meet the expectations for many people in our community, and we have asked a lot from our students, faculty and staff as we shifted to remote learning twice in 2020.

“Since March, we have been making operational decisions and plans for our campus based on the best information and recommendations available about the coronavirus, and as our understanding of the virus changes, we must adapt our plans for the health and safety of our community. This will remain true for the spring semester.”

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