Dear Colleagues,

As we approach the end of the Fall semester, I thank you for your ongoing efforts to provide a high impact learning experience for our students despite the challenges from the pandemic. I wanted to share some updates and remind you of a few deadlines:

  • Please submit your course grades by noon on Monday, December 21. This is crucial as failure to report grades can often have significant consequences for a student’s financial aid. Timely submission of grades will help ensure that we do not create more uncertainty for our students. 
  • Remember that Spring 2021 classes will begin on Wednesday, January 13, 2021. This is a change from the original date of January 11, 2021. The Drop/Add period will now be from January 13th to 20th, and the withdrawal deadline will be March 23, 2021. Final exams (May 5-11, 2021) and commencement (May 14, 2021) remain unchanged. 
  • As you plan your classes for the spring 2021 semester, remember the newly added three one-day “instructional breaks” (February 17, March 12, and April 8). The expectations for these instructional break days were discussed in a recent meeting of the Educational Affairs Committee, which has recommended the following: “No mandatory assignments shall be scheduled for completion during these instructional break days, either for course work or extra-curricular or co-curricular activities. It is strongly recommended that assignments and examinations not be scheduled for the day after the instructional break days.
  • Our priority remains in maximizing face-to-face and synchronous instruction whenever possible in a safe and healthy manner. Please set clear expectations for attendance and participation in classroom activities during scheduled class hours to foster engagement and help provide a structure to students’ daily schedules. It may also help you better organize your classes and reduce the degree of unpredictability in your classrooms. We—and your students—appreciate you identifying the instructional formats for your classes in Athena. 
  • Our attendance policy has not changed. You continue to have the flexibility to adapt and enforce an attendance policy that best suits your classes. While we encourage students to attend in-person sessions or to be synchronous for the online sections, the pandemic will likely require some students to quarantine or isolate for a period of time, so please be flexible in those circumstances.

Again, I greatly appreciate your tremendous efforts in teaching and dedication to our students. Please stay safe and healthy and find time to relax during the break.