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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

UF’s March Spring Break canceled, Winter Break extended by a week

Photo of Newell Drive with Century Tower and Marston Science Library visible in the view

UF’s initially planned 2021 Spring Break has been canceled.

The Spring semester will now run from Jan. 11 to April 21, with no break aside from Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 18. The change was made during a UF Faculty Senate meeting Thursday afternoon, where the 160-member group voted to extend Winter Break by a week and eliminate the March Spring Break entirely. 

The amended calendar shifts the start of the Spring semester from Jan. 5 to Jan. 11. To compensate for that, six additional instructional days would be added from March 8-13.

Of the senators present at the meeting, about 79% voted for the motion while about 21% voted against.

The purpose of the change is to give additional time at the beginning of the year to let the COVID-19 pandemic potentially subside, said UF’s associate provost for undergraduate affairs Angela Lindner. It also allows students time to get a COVID-19 vaccine, if one is available by then.

Eliminating the original week of Spring break will prevent a potential surge in cases from students who originally planned to travel during that time, Lindner said.

"The overarching concern is that public health issue of sending students out and to other communities and protecting all of us in those communities,” Lindner told The Alligator.

This is not the first change to UF’s 2020-21 calendar. The Fall semester was delayed to Aug. 31 in UF’s reopening plan, leading to five lost instructional days. To limit the loss of learning, UF’s Faculty Senate voted to delay the Homecoming holiday from Oct. 3 to Dec. 24.

The calendar was initially presented as an information item, which would allow for discussion among Senate members before a final vote during the group’s Oct. 15 meeting. However, Wayne Archer, a Warrington College of Business professor, asked to vote on the proposal today.

“There’s a great need, as you’ve already indicated, to deal with scheduling and spring activities and courses,” Archer said during the meeting. “A late change in the calendar a month from now would make these efforts very, very difficult.

The idea originated from the UF administration, who had been given initial approval by the Board of Trustees and the State Board of Governors to move ahead internally with the change, Lindner said.

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Sylvain Doré, the chair of the Faculty Senate and a member of the UF Board of Trustees, said the proposal was in line with UF health experts’ prevention recommendations.

“This is not an optimal year and we have to plan for essentially the best scenario for our students, faculty, staff and graduate students,” Doré said.“I understand that it’s going to be demanding mentally and physically for everyone.”

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