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U.Va. to begin spring semester Feb. 1, replace Spring Break with shorter breaks throughout semester

Plans for Final Exercises will be announced by March 15

Classes were initially scheduled to begin Jan. 20 and conclude May 4.
Classes were initially scheduled to begin Jan. 20 and conclude May 4.

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The University announced Thursday its plans to begin the spring semester Feb. 1 for undergraduate students and conclude May 6. In order to limit travel to and from Charlottesville, the traditional weeklong Spring Break will be canceled and replaced with shorter breaks throughout the semester. 

Classes were initially slated to begin Jan. 20 and conclude May 4. The January term will run as scheduled from Jan. 4 to Jan. 15, though all undergraduate J-Term classes will be conducted online. 

“The plans we are announcing today reflect the need to remain cautious in the face of a historic pandemic,” University Provost Liz Magill and Chief Operating Officer J.J. Davis said in a message to the University community.

The instructional format of the spring semester will “largely mirror” the current semester, the University stated in its weekly Return to Grounds update. All courses — with the exception of a few labs and practicums — will include an online component. COVID-19 guidelines limiting the size of social gatherings, mandating mask-wearing and requiring physical distancing will remain in effect. 

“Students who wish to study on Grounds will be welcome and [the University] will offer as many in-person experiences as it safely can,” Magill and Davis wrote.

The University intends to announce plans for Final Exercises for the Class of 2020 and 2021 by March 15. Currently, Finals Weekend for the Class of 2020 is scheduled for May 21-23, while the Class of 2020’s celebration was rescheduled for May 28-30 after it was postponed due the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Prior to returning home at the Nov. 24 conclusion of the fall semester, on-Grounds residents will be tested for COVID-19. Off-Grounds students will be provided with the same Let’s Get Checked kits used for pre-arrival testing over the summer.

As of Wednesday, there are 74 active cases of COVID-19 in the University community, 54 of which are students. The University has seen a precipitous decline in the daily average number of new cases in the University community — last week, the University reported a daily average of seven new cases of COVID-19. 

The University has also ramped up asymptomatic prevalence testing with the introduction of random saliva testing throughout the University community. The University began testing all on-Grounds residents every nine days Oct. 12.

“Thanks to you, we have seen case counts fall in our community and our region recently – but other regions of the country are experiencing surges,” Magill and Davis added. “We are monitoring the progression of the virus closely and will make changes if necessary."