On October 8, Dean Turrell sent the email below to students in the School of Theology.
As a campus community, we have reached the midpoint of the Advent term. Over the last month, very few students have tested positive for COVID-19, and our quarantine capacity has never been strained; this gives us hope that the protocols we have in place have largely been followed and are working—and that we might expect to have most of the undergraduate students on campus again for a successful Easter term.
My colleagues and I have been planning for the next term and are ready to share the Easter term’s academic calendar. The schedule is still subject to change, but students and their families can begin to plan now. Classes will begin later than the usual mid-January start date, and Commencement ceremonies will take place later than the usual Mother’s Day weekend. An extended winter break will run from Dec. 4, 2020, to Feb. 1, 2021.
- Feb. 1, 2021: First day of classes
- May 5: Last day of classes
- May 6–12: Final exams
- May 16: Commencement for the Class of 2021 (Sunday)*
Reading days will be held on Feb. 17 (Ash Wednesday) and March 31 (Wednesday in Holy Week).
* These dates are subject to change. Students will be notified if changes are made to the academic calendar. We hope to hold in-person Commencement exercises; the decision will be finalized in the spring as we assess the health situation at the University, in the local community, and beyond.
The continuing health crisis will again require that the rituals and routines of campus life be modified next term.
We have held many classes outdoors this fall, and the later start date for next semester will eliminate approximately three weeks of cold-weather classes. As in August, we plan for testing in advance of the start of classes; the final dates are still under consideration.
Seminary students will be able to choose whether to study in-person or remotely for the Easter term. As in the fall, classes will be a mixture of experiences. Most courses will be taught in a hybrid/flexible format. Some courses may be fully remote, but all courses will have synchronous elements. For off-campus students, courses will be either fully remote or remote with synchronous interaction with students in the classroom. Of course, we will continue to be ready for a possible shift to fully remote learning in the spring if health conditions or local, state, and federal guidelines require it. But our Advent term experience has given us confidence that we will be able to have the majority of our students on the Mountain, as safely as possible, for the spring.
Our planning remains based on the best available public health practices and guidelines. The objective is to keep our community healthy while still delivering the exceptional education and robust campus life that are the hallmarks of the Sewanee experience.
Some plans for the Easter term are still to be determined. For example, while we hope to hold in-person Commencement exercises in the spring, our ability to do so will depend on the course of the pandemic.