Spring 2021 changes announced via email

Bella Lee, Staff writer

On Oct. 2, President Michael T. Victor sent an email to the Mercyhurst community announcing changes to the Spring 2021 schedule.

“As I have said many times before, making this a sustainable and successful year on campus while in the midst of a pandemic depends on all of us doing our part to keep our community healthy,” said President Victor in the email. “I realize these circumstances have asked a lot of you, and I value your commitment; we’ve done an admirable job so far. But, now is not the time to let down our guard.”

Some changes include the removal of spring break and Easter break and the addition of “break days” throughout the semester.

The Spring 2021 semester will begin classes on Jan. 25 and end on May 6, with Reading Day on May 7 and finals being held from May 10 until May 13 at noon. The afternoon of May 13 and all of May 14 will be reserved for Senior Send-Off Days.

With Spring Break and Easter Break being omitted, it may feel like we are in for another long semester without breaks, but the school has worked to make sure that students, faculty and staff are given some time off. Break days are scheduled for Feb. 17, Apr. 7 and Apr. 29, with Advising Day on Mar. 16 and Reading Day on May 7 being included in the mix.

The final change announced was that the Class of 2021 will have their graduation ceremony on May 16, and the Class of 2020, who lost their initial graduation due to the pandemic, will have their ceremony on May 15.

“The changes to the spring semester calendar revolve largely around minimizing the travel-related COVID-19 risks,” said Ryan Palm, Associate Vice President for Advancement. “We knew coming into the semester that instances of COVID-19 on our campus would come from external exposure and that has proven true thus far. In several instances where a student has tested positive they had traveled out of town and brought back the virus with them to campus. The adjustments made to the calendar help control some of those travel-related risks to help keep our campus community safe.”

Creating this new calendar for next semester, however, was no easy task.

“There are many people involved with planning an academic calendar, and we solicited feedback from various constituents to see how these changes would impact their area,” said Palm. “With graduation weekend as the end goal, we were able to work backward from there to make the hourly requirements and other event days fit in the calendar.”

One of the most major changes that were made for next semester were the addition of break days.

“We certainly understand that a traditional semester is stressful enough for our students and faculty, and the unique nature of teaching and learning during a pandemic has only increased those stresses for many,” said Palm. “We believe that the class-free days will hopefully provide a brief respite, a chance to catch one’s breath, and take care of ourselves physically and emotionally during these unique times.”

Even with all the turmoil that has occurred this year, Mercyhurst continues to do everything in their power to keep students and faculty safe.