Letter from the Provost: October 28, 2020

Dear U of A Community:

I hope you have adjusted well to this fall semester and its many challenges. We know that this hasn’t been easy, and we appreciate your resilience, agility and hard work as we aim to maintain the high level of instruction that is a hallmark of our institution.

Spring Calendar

As we prepare for the spring semester, we want to provide some updates regarding what to expect in the spring. Our spring semester will start on January 11, as currently scheduled in the university’s academic calendar. And rather than having a traditional weeklong spring break, we will instead split those five days into smaller breaks intermittently throughout the semester in an effort to limit travel and reduce the chance of the virus being spread by members of the campus community who travel and return from other locations. This decision was made with input from students and faculty who agreed this was the preferred approach.

Those smaller breaks will occur on the following days:

  • Feb. 22-23
  • March 25-26 (March 26 will be the all-university holiday, per usual.)
  • April 2

See the academic calendar for other key spring semester dates.

Additional In-Person Classes

We remain committed to supporting our students by offering a variety of in-person, remote and hybrid courses to select from this coming spring semester. However, we do plan to offer more in-person classes and options for our students after learning more about COVID-19 and testing the effectiveness of our safety protocols in the classroom.

We encourage students who prefer a specific type of instruction to work with their academic advisor to evaluate scheduling adjustments and register for existing course options that meet their needs. Students should also enroll for courses with the expectation that they will engage in that mode of instruction for the duration of the course.

Class Attendance

Knowing that students may have to quarantine, self-isolate or miss class due to COVID-19-based risk factors and concerns, all courses will still be recorded. However, in order to maximize engagement of students in the classroom, faculty may require in-person attendance for students enrolled in in-person courses, barring any health exemptions a student may have.

We understand that students may have COVID-19 related circumstances that are not addressed through Center for Educational Access (CEA) accommodations that will impact their ability to engage in face-to-face courses. In recognition of this, the university has developed the COVID-19 Academic Flexibility Request process for students to note the specifics of their circumstances. Upon receiving the request form, we will review and determine the appropriate academic flexibility for the student’s Spring 2021 semester courses. Not all courses are suitable for remote instruction, and the request cannot be guaranteed. COVID-19 Academic Flexibility Requests will be reviewed on a continuing basis, but students who wish to be considered for academic flexibility for the Spring 2021 semester are encouraged to submit their materials by December 4, 2020.

For questions regarding the Center for Educational Access and their accommodation process, please visit the CEA website or contact the office at 575-3104. For questions regarding the COVID-19 Academic Flexibility Request process, please visit U of A Cares or contact the office at 575-5004.

Additionally, to help students with their scheduling, we have asked our faculty members to determine the modes of instruction for their spring courses by Nov. 1. In early January, we will reassess the public health situation in our region and may make changes to the course schedule as needed. We appreciate your patience and agility as the situation surrounding COVID-19 evolves and progresses.


Charles F. Robinson
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs

Professor of History

P.S. Please don’t forget our self-reporting requirement for all faculty, staff and students if you have tested positive for COVID-19 off-campus.