Spring semester delayed by two weeks, spring break canceled

Presentation by Barnhart recommends inviting three undergraduate classes to campus in the spring

Spring 2021 registration week will be from Feb. 8–12 while the first day of classes will be Feb. 16, according to the academic calendar on the registrar’s website. Classes authorized to have in-person components will be remote until March 1. In addition, the usual week-long spring break has been replaced by three- and four-day weekends.

MIT still plans to invite first years, sophomores, and juniors to campus in the spring, according to a presentation by Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart PhD ’88 at an Oct. 23 meeting. About 3,000 undergraduates and up to about 1,800 graduate students would live on campus in the spring under this plan.

The decision to delay the Spring start date by two weeks and to hold classes remotely for the first two weeks of the semester was made “based on consultation with public health experts,” Chair of Faculty and the Academic Policy and Regulations Team (APART) Rick Danheiser and Registrar Brian Canavan wrote in an email to the MIT community. 

Danheiser and Canavan added that spring break was removed “to avoid the usual travel away from MIT.” Six break days, consisting of two four-day weekends and two three-day weekends, have been designated instead. The calendar will have “the same number of break days as in fall semesters.”

Barnhart’s presentation writes that spring campus operations will likely resemble those of Fall 2020, including quarantine week and regular testing. The presentation writes that during Fall 2020, there have been “very few examples of possible transmission on campus among positive cases.”

MIT expects to hold about 160 classes with in-person components in the spring, compared to 120 classes with in-person components this fall, according to the presentation.

Independent Activities Period (IAP) will be held remotely Jan. 4–29.

Final exams will take place May 24–27, following a three-day “reading period.” Commencement will be June 4. The calendar also includes Campus Preview Weekend, set to take place from April 15–18.

Compared to the “normal” spring calendar of 65 teaching days, Spring 2021 will have 62 teaching days and end on May 20, Danheiser and Canavan wrote.

MIT declared a “significant disruption” of academic activities for the 2020–2021 school year in June, and Emergency Academic Regulations for the Fall 2020 were announced Aug. 10. Danheiser and Canavan wrote that further Emergency Academic Regulations, including the IAP and spring grading policies, will be announced “later this fall.”