Proposed Spring calendar pushes back start date to Feb. 1, eliminates Spring break

Signage+on+the+door+of+a+UVM+residence+hall+reminds+community+members+of+the+school%27s+COVID-19+rules%2C+including+social+distancing+and+the+buildings%27+new+no-guest+policy.

Kyle Elms/The Vermont Cynic

Signage on the door of a UVM residence hall reminds community members of the school’s COVID-19 rules, including social distancing and the buildings’ new no-guest policy.

Students may not have spring break and classes could start as late as Feb. 1, according to a proposed Spring calendar approved by the academic branch of UVM’s coronavirus task force.

UVMStrong’s Faculty and Academic Affairs working group unanimously endorsed a proposed resolution for the Spring 2021 Academic Calendar Sept. 9, although the resolution’s vetting process is not over. 

The Faculty Senate, a group of elected faculty that makes decisions regarding academic affairs, will vote on the resolution Monday, Sept. 21. 

The changes to the Spring calendar would include: 

  • Start classes on Monday, Feb. 1
  • Have classes on President’s Day, Feb. 15
  • Have no Spring recess
  • Continue to have no classes on Vermont Town Meeting Day
  • Have a reading/respite day of no classes Wednesday, March 24 and Thursday, April 15
  • Have the last day of classes Tuesday, May 11
  • Have a modified exam week from Thursday, May 13-Tuesday, May 18 (excluding Saturday and Sunday)

The student body will also lose one week of instruction despite paying the same tuition. 

If the calendar is approved, students will receive the bare minimum amount of yearly instruction required by the U.S. Department of Education according to the 2018-2019 Federal Student Aid Handbook, cited in the resolution. 

The resolution does not address the modality of Spring courses and whether or not students will be able to opt for a remote option again. 

The Resolution was written by Thomas Chittenden, Faculty Senate President and member of the Faculty and Academic Affairs Working Group for UVMStrong. 

UVMStrong was created in April to develop plans for the Fall semester and prepare for a potential transition to entirely-online learning, according to an April 16 email from UVM President Suresh Garimella.

A longer winter break and no spring break were implemented to comply with Governor Phil Scott’s college guidelines, according to Chittenden. 

Vermont’s College Restart Plan instructs Universities to modify their calendars so students don’t leave Vermont and return to campus. 

The Plan, which was released in early July, recommends that colleges end in-person learning at Thanksgiving, delay the start of Spring semester and eliminate Spring break.