Winter term schedule announcement met by mixed feelings

While the change helps students to self-quarantine after the holidays, many fear burnout due to lack of breaks


Emma Coleman

Under the new winter term schedule, classes will begin on Jan. 19.


The winter term undergraduate calendar has been changed so classes now begin on Jan. 19, a week later than previously scheduled.

To accommodate this change, the Washington break in February has been canceled. Spring term will begin April 26 as planned, following a one week spring break.

Haley Sigler, the director of education studies, was present at the Oct. 5 faculty meeting at which where the calendar change was approved. She said Washington break was canceled to help accommodate self-quarantine policy.

“The faculty seems to be on board that it’s a good thing to delay the start [of the term] to give everyone a couple of weeks to quarantine after break,” Sigler said. “[We’ll] try to do the same thing we did this fall in the effort to have the most successful condensed 12 week term safely.”

Students are instructed to self-quarantine for two weeks before arriving on campus in January to help minimize potential spread of COVID-19. Every student will also be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, just as they were before fall term.

But as Nadeen Kharputly, visiting assistant professor of English, explained in an email, while there are definitely perks to a longer break, there may also be some downsides.

“I love that we’re getting a long winter break,” Kharputly said. “We’ll all need it after this intense fall, but I also worry about going full speed through winter term and then transitioning to spring term after such a short break.”

Cassandra Sobieski, ‘22, is also concerned about the breaks in the new calendar. While she said she understands where the administration is coming from in terms of self-quarantining after holiday travel, she is confused about spring break.

“It just seems a little pointless to get rid of Wash[ington] break and then at the end of winter term we go home for a week and come back for spring term,” Sobieski said. “Either keep Wash[ington] break and mandate that we can’t leave or don’t have spring break.”

And since Martin Luther King Jr. Day falls on the day before classes begin, the term will go for 12 straight weeks without a break.

Michael Allen, ‘23, is not a fan of the new calendar for this very reason.

“Honestly, I think it is ridiculous to suggest that students are able to go for such a long period of time without any kind of break whatsoever in the middle,” Allen said. “And I think not having [a break] right before midterms is a bad idea.”

The schedule for the past fall term was also condensed into 12 straight weeks without a break. Many students found the new schedule to be challenging and mentally taxing.

Dates have not been finalized for virtual greek formal recruitment, which typically occurs at the start of winter term.

But the new schedule is here to stay. Now students and professors alike must decide how they will cope with the changes.

“I just hope we all pace ourselves and keep this long haul in mind when planning our classes and schedules,” Kharputly said. “Nobody needs academic burnout that is also compounded by pandemic burnout.”