Cho Yin Rachel Lo
The full time faculty union approved an altered schedule for the upcoming spring semester Tuesday, finalizing the college’s plans to cancel spring break as a precaution against COVID-19.
The new calendar, released Friday, shows the spring semester beginning a week later than normal, on Jan. 19. Students will remain on campus through the end of the semester on April 29. In lieu of a traditional spring break, the calendar features a “free day” off of classes on March 12, in addition to typical days off for Presidents’ Day in February and Patriots’ Day in April.
The release of the calendar comes a month after college officials initially announced the cancellation of spring break on Sept. 17. The college quickly rolled back the decision and labeled it a proposal after a Faculty Assembly meeting on Sept. 23. Faculty members pointed out during the meeting that spring break could not be eliminated without their approval, as it is protected by their collective bargaining agreement with the college.
Following the meeting, Faculty Assembly reconvened its calendar committee—composed of faculty members and several administrators—to workshop the spring schedule.
Communications professor Vincent Raynauld, a member of the calendar committee, said he was pleased with the workarounds the committee found to replace a formal break.
“Professors were certainly very open to the idea of canceling spring break just for this year,” he said in a phone interview. “But a lot of professors were also making the case that it was important to them and for students’ mental health… [to have] breaks throughout the semester.”
The spring semester does not feature any Saturday classes, which Raynauld said was a result of faculty having other obligations during weekends.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michaele Whelan told The Beacon in August that the Saturday classes were instituted so the college could maintain its accreditation.
“Faculty members were not necessarily ready to teach on the weekends,” he said. “Speaking with my students, I don’t think they were enjoying having to get up at 8 a.m on Saturday morning, Sunday morning. The other issue we were facing with weekends is oftentimes there are some religious and spiritual obligations people have because of their faith.”
Raynauld said the committee’s primary focus was the health of the student body.
“The main driver for building the calendar was obviously the safety and wellness of students, because the virus is very unpredictable,” he said.