By SUSAN JONES
Pitt will delay the start of the spring semester until Jan. 19, 2021, skip spring break and end the semester as originally planned on May 1, according to an email from Provost Ann Cudd on Sept. 30 and the updated academic calendar on the registrar’s website.
The semester will start Jan. 19, the day after the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. Cudd’s email said details regarding the closing of residence halls at the end of fall term and reopening at the beginning of spring term will be provided in the coming weeks.
The provost confirmed last week that the University will continue to use Flex@Pitt next semester, regardless of what the operating stance is. The flex plan allows students and faculty to choose whether they want to be in the classroom, if the operating stance allows, or online.
In her email, Cudd said, “All plans for the spring term, including the status of remote or in-person classes, are subject to adjustment based on the operational risk postures of our campuses. I will continue to provide status updates.”
She said the schedule change was made in consultation with the calendar committee, the Health Care Advisory Group and the COVID-19 Medical Response Office, the Council of Deans including regional campus presidents, Staff Council and Senate Council presidents, and the Student Government Board president.
Winter break for staff and faculty remains Dec. 24 to Jan. 3. Offices will reopen on Monday, Jan. 4. If the operating posture on the Oakland campus remains at Elevated, many staff likely will continue to work from home.
Instead of spring break from March 7 to 14, there will be two student self-care days on Tuesday, Feb. 23, and Wednesday, March 24. The compressed schedule is intended to limit students going back and forth to their permanent homes and spreading the coronavirus. The same idea was applied this semester when Pitt decided to bring students back early and then send them home before Thanksgiving.
Staff and faculty, who normally get the Friday of spring break week off as a holiday, will now get a paid day off on Friday, May 7.
Many health officials worry that COVID-19 cases will spike in the winter, when people tend to spend more time indoors clustered together, with less ventilation and less personal space than in summer. Another concern is that flu season will put a strain on medical resources already stretched thin because of the coronavirus.
Carnegie Mellon University announced in early September that it was pushing back its spring semester to Feb. 1 to reduce time on campus during flu season and give international students more time to get visas processed.
In the spring, Pitt’s undergraduate classes will end April 23, with finals April 26 to May 1. Undergraduate commencement is May 2, and graduate commencement is April 29.
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-244-4042.
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