UNC Pembroke Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings announced today that the university will delay the start of its Spring 2021 semester by two weeks for most students.
Undergraduate and some graduate classes will now begin on February 1 instead of January 19. Students enrolled in some of the university’s programs will continue with the previously announced calendar, and those specific calendars will be released no later than Friday afternoon, according to university officials.
The university provost’s office is currently working with deans and academic leadership to make any necessary accommodations on the spring calendars.
The decision to delay will not impact delivery method for scheduled courses. Those already slated as online, hybrid or face-to-face will remain so. Currently, nearly 45% of the total graduate and undergraduate courses will be delivered in an online format for the spring semester with the remaining courses delivered as either traditional face-to-face or hybrid.
The revised calendar also maintains the university’s commitment to offering students and faculty wellness and reading days in lieu of the cancelled spring break. No classes will be held and no assignments will be due on those days, but campus will remain open and services will be available to students.
In his email to campus, Chancellor Cummings acknowledges the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and states the university is making data-driven decisions for the health and safety of the campus community.
“I am aware this may present unforeseen changes to your individual plans and schedules. However, in detailed and data-driven discussions over the past days with my Cabinet and UNCP campus health and safety officials, President Hans and his leadership team, the director of the local health department, and the Academic Affairs leadership team, I am confident this is the safest option before us to achieve the goal of our students’ success during this pandemic. These additional weeks will allow local and state public health officials additional time to progress with vaccination plans and to provide an opportunity to slow the surge in cases our state is experiencing following the holiday season.”
Once schedules are finalized on Friday, all of the university’s spring planning guides will be updated. For more information on the university’s operational plans for the spring semester, please visit uncp.edu/covid.
CHANCELLOR CUMMINGS' MESSAGE TO CAMPUS
As we prepare for the spring 2021 semester, it remains our goal at UNC Pembroke to provide our students with an on-campus educational experience. We are convinced that for many, face-to-face classes offer the best opportunity for student academic success during this time and into the future.
Last fall, I indicated our intent to begin classroom instruction for the Spring 2021 semester on January 19. This decision was made in coordination with other UNC System chancellors and President Hans. The majority of schools in the UNC System chose this time frame given the available information at that time. Over the past few weeks, UNC Pembroke leadership, in conjunction with the UNC System Office and the State Department of Health and Human Services, has been continuously monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic locally, as well as across our state and nation to explore the possibilities that would make our originally planned schedule a reality in the safest way possible.
Working with the latest information available as the COVID-19 pandemic exists today and what we can expect in the weeks ahead from local, state and national public health authorities, and in consultation with UNC System Office leadership, I have made the decision to adjust our Spring 2021 schedule for undergraduate courses and some graduate courses. As noted on several occasions last spring and this fall, we will adjust our plans and make the most informed decisions with the ultimate goal of safety and wellness for our students, staff and faculty.
Classroom instruction for undergraduate courses will now begin on Monday, February 1. Graduate students and graduate faculty, please pay close attention to your email and scheduling announcements in the coming days for additional instructions because graduate class schedules may deviate from undergraduate class schedules. All students doing internships and students who are graduate research assistants and/or teaching assistants should contact their program directors or academic advisors for guidance regarding their specific programs once calendar details are released.
UNCP Provost, Dr. Zoe Locklear, and Associate Provost, Dr. Scott Billingsley, are currently working with the academic deans and Faculty Senate Chair, Dr. Joe West, to clarify the schedule and make any necessary accommodations. The calendars for both graduate and undergraduate courses will be updated and available no later than Friday, January 8, 2021, at 5 p.m., but I wanted you to know as soon as the decision to change the start date had been made.
This will not impact course delivery method. All courses already designated as online, hybrid and face-to-face will remain so. Earlier in the fall, the provost and deans were able to positively respond to most, if not all, requests by department chairs and faculty to teach their courses online.
Importantly, the revised calendar will maintain our previous commitment to designated wellness and reading days throughout the semester. On these days, classes will not meet, nor will any assignments be due, but campus and all resources will remain open and available. Students, please take advantage of these opportunities to rest and recollect yourselves emotionally, mentally and physically.
I am aware this may present unforeseen changes to your individual plans and schedules. However, in detailed and data-driven discussions over the past days with my Cabinet and UNCP campus health and safety officials, President Hans and his leadership team, the director of the local health department, and the Academic Affairs leadership team, I am confident this is the safest option before us to achieve the goal of our students’ success during this pandemic. These additional weeks will allow local and state public health officials additional time to progress with vaccination plans and to provide an opportunity to slow the surge in cases our state is experiencing following the holiday season.
Once the calendar is confirmed, the following guides will be updated to represent all changes for Spring 2021:
- HEALTHY BRAVES, SAFE CAMPUS: NAVIGATING COVID-19
- STUDENTS: HEALTHY BRAVES, SAFE CAMPUS: RETURNING SAFELY TO CAMPUS
- FACULTY & STAFF: HEALTHY BRAVES, SAFE CAMPUS: RETURNING SAFELY TO CAMPUS
In the weeks ahead, we will continue to work closely with the support of our local public health officials and the UNC System Office to chart our course forward. If you have any questions, you can send them to askUNCP@uncp.edu. As we are doing today, we will hold Town Hall conversations to keep you up to date and informed. Our COVID-19 dashboard has been modified according to campus input and will begin its new format as previously scheduled this Monday, January 11.
During times like these, we all must remain resilient and adaptable. Your university is committed to keeping you healthy and safe as we develop innovative solutions to maintain an exceptional education and workplace environment. We will always remain committed to student success. Perhaps because of this challenge we are facing, we are even more convinced of the power, purpose and path in life education provides. Our goal remains Changing Lives Through Education.
Thank you for your continued patience and understanding.
Robin Gary Cummings, MD