Office of the Provost

Informational: Spring Semester to Begin Feb. 1

Oct. 8, 2020

Dear Students, Families, Faculty and Staff,

Since the beginning of the fall semester, Brandeis' focus has been twofold: delivering an outstanding education regardless of mode of instruction, and maintaining the health and safety of our campus community. I appreciate your continued diligence in following our COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The social solidarity exhibited across our community has helped keep our campus safer as we brought more students, faculty and staff back to campus.

As we look to the spring semester, we will build on what has worked well in the fall semester. This means that there will be some necessary changes in the academic calendar. First, we will move the start date of the spring semester to Monday, Feb. 1, from its originally scheduled date of Jan. 19. We again plan to follow a mixed teaching format, allowing for in-person, hybrid and fully remote classes; on-campus undergraduate housing will again be primarily in singles; and our health and safety requirements will be similar to the fall semester's.

Second, there will be no February weeklong break, and we will have a reduced Passover break. There will be no classes on Feb. 15, March 9, March 29 and April 2. Although we know you may be understandably disappointed with the loss of weeklong February and Passover breaks, we have seen this semester how important it is from a public health perspective to limit travel.

For those who observe the holiday, we understand that Passover and, especially, the Seder are among the most widely cherished and observed events on the Jewish calendar. We also understand there may be concerns about students not being able to be with their families during Passover. We plan to mobilize our resources and leverage our talent to provide as meaningful an experience as possible, including Seders and kosher meals for Passover dining throughout that week. Further details will be shared over the coming weeks.

The remainder of the spring semester calendar is unchanged at this time, including the last day of classes and the May 23 date for Commencement. A decision about whether Commencement will be in person or virtual will be made during the spring semester, when we have more information on the course of the pandemic. As we did during the fall semester, we will be constantly assessing and responding to campus, local, state and national data, recognizing that community spread of COVID-19 could cause us to change our plans at any time.

We know you are likely to have more-specific questions about these changes. In the coming weeks, we will share more details and organize community check-ins as we finalize our plans for the spring. These details will include information about when to register for spring classes, how to sign up for on-campus housing, and what the spring billing dates will be.

I would like to express my profound gratitude to all our students, faculty and staff, who have been so vigilant in their compliance with good public health protocols. Your collective efforts to "stop the spread" have shown that masks, social distancing, good hygiene, limited public gatherings and frequent testing can be effective strategies for limiting the transmission of COVID on our campus. I know the health and safety requirements are not easy to live with, and I have deep appreciation for our community's social solidarity in rising to the historic challenges we are confronting.


Lisa M. Lynch