By Joseph Whitney Smith
Capital News Service
RICHMOND — Virginia Commonwealth University announced Thursday that the spring semester will start one week later and spring break will be canceled to help mitigate the risk of COVID-19.
The start date will move from Jan. 19 to Jan. 25. After the conclusion of winter break the university will implement a phased re-opening similar to the fall semester. That means classes will be a combination of in-person, hybrid and online.
Spring break was removed from the university’s academic calendar and two reading days were added on Feb. 23 and March 24. The last day of classes will now be on May 5 for the Monroe Park Campus and May 7 for the MCV Campus.
“Our public health response team, which includes medical and infectious disease
experts, recommended eliminating spring break to mitigate the risk of COVID-19,” VCU President Michael Rao said in a press release.
Rao said the university’s priority is to be able to conduct classes while maintaining the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and other members of the community.
“Flexibility remains critical in addressing evolving situations presented by COVID-19, including changes in the prevalence of infection in our community, as well as changes in requirements, guidelines and best practices,” Rao said.
Other university officials across the state are also exploring options in regard to the spring opening and semester.
Michael Stowe, spokesman at Virginia Tech, said in an email that he expects the school will announce plans about the spring semester by Monday. The spring semester starts at Virginia Tech on Jan. 19.
McGregor McCance, spokesman for the University of Virginia, said in an email that the university will announce any plans about its spring semester later this month. The spring semester is currently scheduled to begin at Virginia on Jan. 20.
Other Virginia universities have various start dates for the 2021 academic year. James Madison University is scheduled to start classes on Jan. 11. The University of Richmond will begin classes on Jan. 19. George Mason University begins the spring semester on Jan. 25.
Final examinations for VCU’s Monroe Park Campus will be held May 6-13, while the MCV Campus final examinations will be held May 10-14.
“We will update you soon on COVID-19 testing and other measures we will be taking as we conclude the fall semester and prepare for our return to campus for spring semester,” Rao said.
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