Look ahead at spring semester: a new off-day schedule

By Samantha Boyle, Managing Editor for Reporting

After a longer than average winter break, students are finally returning back to campus to finish one of the UI’s most unusual years. However, because of COVID-19, students will not be getting a spring break this year,  instead getting a few non-instruction days throughout the semester — all during the middle of the week.

The UI Senate decided the schedule modification in their meeting on Oct. 19, officially changing the start of the semester to Jan. 25 instead of Jan. 19. The three non-instruction days added to the calendar are Wednesday, Feb. 17; Wednesday, March 24; and Tuesday, April 13.

Commencement is still scheduled as its original date, May 15.

When approving this plan, modelers at Illinois’ SHIELD team endorsed these changes considering the risk of infection could increase with people taking vacations during break.

“We know that travel is a risk to members of our community,” Rebecca Smith, epidemiologist and co-leader of the SHIELD Target team said during the Senate meeting in October.

Several other Big Ten schools have decided to cancel their spring breaks as well and delaying the start of the semester would allow students, staff and faculty on campus to get their two negative tests before continuing on-campus activities.

“We recognize that the schedule isn’t everyone’s first choice, but I believe we are doing as much as possible to balance these competing interests,” Kevin Pitts, Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate education said at the October meeting.

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