Cudd: Spring break eliminated, start of spring semester pushed back

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Kaycee Orwig | Visual Editor

The Cathedral of Learning watches over an empty Pitt campus.

By Rebecca Johnson, News Editor

The start of spring semester was pushed back a week from January 11 to January 19 and spring break was eliminated as part of a compressed schedule to increase safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, Provost Ann Cudd said in a Wednesday morning email. 

Cudd also said while spring break was eliminated, Pitt was adding two additional “student self-care days” and that the spring semester would end as originally scheduled on May 1. Cudd added that the University would continue using the [email protected] model in the spring. 

“We currently intend to offer spring term classes through the [email protected] model to provide instructors and students with flexible choices in how they wish to teach and learn,” Cudd said. “[email protected] will allow students to continue classes throughout the term regardless of the course of the pandemic.”

[email protected] allows students to experience classes “in person, remotely, synchronously or asynchronously,” and does not require faculty to teach in person. While Pitt is currently in the Elevated Risk posture of Pitt’s three-tiered reopening system, faculty members can apply to teach their classes in person if there is a “definable benefit” to in-person instruction and if an instructor’s dean or regional campus president approves teaching plans.

This move comes after a steady increase in COVID-19 cases at the University. Pitt added 19 new COVID-19 cases, composed of 18 students and one employee, between Friday and Monday, continuing a recent trend of case reports in the double digits. 

The University has had 283 students and 31 employees test positive since June 26, with 250 students and 30 employees recovered thus far. The last seven days have all seen single-digit increases in student cases, according to data reported by Pitt.

Cudd added that this decision was reached with input from Student Government Board President Eric Macadangdang, Senate Council President Chris Bonneau, staff association president, the calendar committee, the Health Care Advisory Group, the COVID-19 Medical Response Office and the Council of Deans including regional campus presidents

Macadangdang said it was his idea to adopt a second “student self-care” day in the spring semester to address many students’ concerns over an online learning environment. 

“The concern I know a lot of students have shared is that an online semester is an extremely fatiguing process that’s been extremely taxing on our energy to be on laptop all day cooped up in our bedrooms,” Macadangdang said. “That’s one concern I shared is trying to include another self care day — one in Feb. and one in March — which initially wasn’t proposed. I’m glad they were receptive to the idea.” 

Macadangdang added that while he hears students’ frustrations with not having a spring break, this is the best move to keep students’ safe. 

“I’m sure there’s frustrations and concerns with no spring break, but compressing the spring semester and including the self care day is in our best interest,” Macadangdang said. 

Bonneau also said he thinks this decision is practical and will help contain coronavirus cases on campus. Other universities including nearby Carnegie Mellon University and the Ohio State University have also cancelled spring break.

“I think this is a wise decision, and one that is being made by many schools,” Bonneau said. “Having students leave in the middle of the semester for spring break and then come back is almost certainly going to be very risky and would likely lead to a surge of cases both on campus and in our community.”

Cudd said the status of remote or in-person classes, the closing of residence halls at the end of the fall semester and reopening details for the spring would be shared at a later date.  

“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,” Cudd said. “I will continue to provide status updates.”

New Spring Semester Dates: 

  • The first day of spring term classes: Tuesday, January 19
  • The spring term add/drop deadline: Friday, February 5
  • The extended add/drop period is removed
  • Student self-care day: Tuesday, February 23
  • Spring recess from Sunday, March 7, to Sunday, March 14: Eliminated
  • The University’s observance of the spring holiday on Friday, March 12: Rescheduled to Friday, May 7
  • Student self-care day: Wednesday, March 24 
  • Monitored withdrawal deadline: Friday, March 26
  • Spring term ends: Saturday, May 1

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