After a proposal by the University Senate and approval by Southern’s Board of Trustees on Oct. 4, Administration decided to extend Christmas break until Jan. 19 and change the usually week-long Spring break to a two-day-long Midterm break.
The decision to start classes a week later was made because of Administration’s concern that individuals might show COVID-19 symptoms after New Year celebrations, according to Academic Administration Senior Vice President Bob Young. The change means classes will begin a day after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, a day usually dedicated to community service at Southern.
“Given the 14-day incubation period of COVID-19, the decision to postpone the start of the winter term was based on wanting to give students, faculty and staff enough time after the New Year holiday to know whether or not they were exposed to COVID-19,” Young said. “… By delaying the start of the semester to Jan. 19, there would be sufficient time for anyone who was exposed to know this and make a good decision about returning or delaying their return.”
In order to make up for the lost week of classes, Spring break, which was supposed to take place from March 12 to 21, has been removed from the calendar and replaced with a Midterm break. The change in dates will give students a long weekend starting on Thursday, March 18.
Despite the changes to the 2021 Winter Semester calendar, classes will still end on May 6, and the graduation commencement ceremony will occur on May 9. Mission trips were also not affected since all operations for this school year were scheduled for the summer, according to Director of Humanitarian Engagement & Christian Service Melissa Moore.
This is the second adjustment to the 2020-2021 academic calendar, which is usually approved years in advance. Earlier this summer, Administration announced that it would be canceling this semester’s Midterm break and that classes would transition online after Thanksgiving break.
“Administration is doing what we can to help keep our campus as COVID-free as possible so that face-to-face instruction can continue,” Young said. “To do this has required some changes in how the university operates. These changes will be temporary. We all look forward to the time when things can return to normal across a number of facets of life, including university life.”