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Important Notice Regarding Changes to the 2021 Spring Calendar

Updated September 22, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

First, a note of gratitude to each and every member of the University campus community who has done right by masking up and taking heed of social distancing and personal hygiene guidelines.  While the low incidence of COVID-19 cases on campus to date has been a positive note, it is not lost on anyone that without everyone’s continued hyper-vigilance, things can turn on a dime.  As we enter the fourth week of the fall semester, I ask that you not let up in our campaign to mitigate contracting and spreading the coronavirus.  This is not merely a drill, but an all-hands-on-deck imperative.  In addition to the universal wearing of masks, however, we can and must do a better job of social distancing, especially when walking across campus and through buildings, as well as washing our hands frequently and remembering to wipe down surface contact areas with disinfectants.  To steal a phrase from Smokey, Golden’s cousin bear, remember that only you can help prevent the spread of COVID-19!

Second, I want to acknowledge and thank you for your patience, understanding, and flexibility as we make headway and continue to navigate through the semester in the midst of a global pandemic.  As an institution and community of students, faculty, and staff, we are demonstrating our resiliency in real time to adjust to the significant challenges that have come our way since the events of last spring.  For this, I am grateful to you for pulling together in the proud tradition of Western New England University.

Third, as current public health indicators do not give rise to a prognosis for a return to a pre-pandemic normal next spring, the University remains cautious about unnecessarily exposing our campus community to external populations.  Toward this end, the University’s 2021 spring calendar will be altered as follows:

  • The first day of class will be January 25 instead of January 19, enabling the 2021 winter session to be extended by one week for a total of three weeks instead of two.

  • Spring break (March 15-19) and the Monday holiday after Easter (April 5) will be eliminated, again with the desire and intention of keeping the vast majority of students on or close to campus for the duration of the semester.
  • The last day of class for undergraduates and students in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences will be April 30 instead of May 7, followed by exams/assessments the week of May 3-7.  This alteration will shorten the spring term by one week and consist of 15 instructional weeks (same as fall) and 70 instructional days (three more days than fall), and will correct a longstanding structural misalignment between the fall and spring semesters.

  • Final grades will be due to be reported in Colleague/Self-Service by 12 noon on Monday, May 10.

  • Commencement weekend will be advanced by one week, with ceremonies for undergraduate students on May 15 and for graduate students on May 16. 

The School of Law and other graduate programs will clarify certain aspects of the calendar as it applies to their particular circumstances, and revised academic calendars highlighting the changed dates will be posted to the official Academic Calendars section of the University website shortly.

The decision to modify the spring calendar was precipitated by the concern that mass migrations off-and-on campus attributable to the two originally scheduled breaks – spring break and the Monday holiday after Easter – would likely contribute to higher COVID-19 exposure and infections among members of our campus community, and was made in consultation with the academic deans and the leadership of the Faculty Senate.

Western New England University has demonstrated its ability to adapt to fluid conditions since the outbreak of COVID-19 and will need to remain nimble and agile as we continue to progress through the fall semester and prepare for the start of the spring semester.  Thank you once again for all that you have done and continue to do to keep our campus community safe and our members healthy to the greatest extent possible.

Kind regards,

Curt Hamakawa
Interim Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs