This year has presented many challenges, and I appreciate your perseverance and vigilance — I am so proud of the way in which our faculty, staff and students have risen to meet these challenges!
As you know, during this pandemic, SU’s two priorities have been your safety and continued transformative education for our students. Oftentimes, the most successful entities or individuals are those who are able and willing to pivot quickly in response to a changing environment. This is one such time.
Although the active COVID-19 cases in our university community have decreased, there is an uptick nationwide, so please continue to be vigilant. Please also continue to monitor our COVID-19 Dashboard to get twice-weekly updates on our university community case count. And remember, we are only able to operate in person because of you and all your efforts to build and maintain a culture of caring.
I celebrate and thank you for all you have done!
Feb. 1, 2021 spring semester Start Date
The University Cabinet has approved changing the start date of the spring semester to Feb. 1, 2021 (with exceptions for specific programs as noted below). The Cabinet, which includes faculty, staff, and student and administrative leaders, is making this change for several reasons:
- It decreases two weeks of on-campus interaction during the height of the flu season.
- The delay also allows for two additional weeks of vaccine distribution, if indeed a vaccine is forthcoming.
- It also provides a buffer between the holiday season/New Year’s Eve and the return to campus. This longer window will allow those who might engage in gatherings during those special days to remain at home for a more-extended period after those gatherings and thus limit any potential spread.
- Finally and most importantly, this change will allow SU to test all students, faculty and staff upon their return to our campuses in January, and then to implement an even more robust surveillance testing system than we had this fall.
For The Spring 2021 Semester:
- Spring semester will continue to operate with most courses under the ShenFlex model. However, some programs will also be offering some classes designated as “face to face” (entirely in person) and others “online” (entirely virtual) so that students can choose which they prefer during registration.
- The spring calendar will maintain approximately the same number of days of instruction as previously scheduled, just with an altered start date. In most cases, inclement weather days will continue to be learning days through ShenFlex.
- We will still observe spring break, which will now be March 29 to April 2; this aligns with Passover and Good Friday and provides the break we were unable to have this fall. Many of you have shared that the lack of a break this fall has created great emotional stress and so we have ensured a break in the spring semester.
- SU campuses will continue to be closed on Apple Blossom Friday on April 30.
- Commencement will be a week later than originally planned, now taking place on May 22. We will continue to monitor the public health situation and may need to opt to offer several smaller graduations over the course of that weekend instead of one big one — but it will be an in-person graduation!
Exceptions To The Feb. 1 Start Date:
- Graduate students in the health professions, pharmacy and nursing will start classes on Jan. 19 and operate on the original spring calendar.
- We’re awaiting guidance on the start of winter and fall sports; however, it is likely that some student-athletes will return to campus earlier than Feb. 1. They will be notified by their coaches when that information is available from ODAC.
- Undergraduate nursing students on clinical rotation will start clinicals on Jan. 19; more information will follow from their dean.
- There may be other students in field placements, such as those student-teaching, who will also start those placements earlier than Feb 1. These students will be contacted by their dean or program director.
- Resident Assistants and some student leaders will return to campus earlier than Feb. 1; they will receive notification from Student Affairs.
- Although a select number of staff will return to campus on Jan. 4, most will have the option to work remotely starting on Jan. 4 and return to in-person work on Jan. 11; supervisors will communicate directly with employees about their return date.
- This calendar change will allow for the addition of some online January term courses! Information on these courses will be forthcoming from the provost and deans.