New spring schedule means Feb. 1 start, substantially shorter spring breaks

October 9, 2020

Provost Lisa Lynch announced changes to the spring 2021 semester schedule in a memo to students, staff and faculty on Thursday Oct. 8. The university’s plan revolves around delaying the start of classes until Feb. 1, a substantial reduction of spring break and ending the semester at the usual date, May 14, as well as a continuation of current policies to prevent the on campus spread of the Coronavirus.

Prior to Thursday afternoon, the university’s academic calendar listed the reopening of residence halls as Jan. 17, and the first day of class as Jan. 19. In the memo Lynch announced that the first day of class will be moved to February, a change which the academic calendar was updated to reflect on Thursday afternoon. Lynch did not give any news on when residence halls would reopen, while the academic calendar says that the residence hall opening date is “to be determined.”

Despite the altered start date, the semester will be ending at the same time, according to Lynch, something which is possible because the university is significantly reducing the length of spring breaks. The weeklong break from Feb. 15 to Feb. 19 has been entirely eliminated other than a day off for President’s Day on Feb. 15. Meanwhile, Passover break, which was scheduled to be from March 9 to April 2 has instead become single days off, on March 29 and April 2, for Passover and Good Friday respectively, but with classes held in the intervening days.

Lynch wrote that while students will doubtless be “understandably disappointed,” the university believes that these measures are necessary because of the importance of limiting travel to preserve public health.

Lynch acknowledged that Jewish students would likely be concerned about not being able to be with their families for Passover, writing that “for those who observe the holiday, we understand that Passover and, especially, the Seder are among the most widely cherished and observed events on the Jewish calendar.”

She adds that Brandeis “[plans] to mobilize [its] resources and leverage [its] talent to provide as meaningful an experience as possible, including Seders and kosher meals for Passover dining throughout that week,” noting that more details would be forthcoming in the next few weeks.

As for what that semester will look like, Lynch said that the university will continue in its hybrid model that mixes in person and remotes classes for students on and off campus students. On campus housing will remain largely unchanged, with most students living in single housing. As for daily life, Lynch said that Brandeis’ “health and safety requirements will be similar to the fall semester’s.”

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