I want to take this opportunity, as a follow-up to a message earlier sent to you from President Washington, to express my gratitude to the entire Mason community for collectively helping to assure a successful fall semester. The success of the fall semester has required everyone to make adjustments that allowed us to adapt to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. I am deeply appreciative.
As we have passed the mid-point of the fall semester, it is critical that we each re-focus our shared commitment to public health.
Registration soon will begin for the spring semester. Although many classes again will be held in a virtual format, many classes also will be held on campus or in hybrid form at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, consistent with our Safe Return to Campus Plan.
I also write to inform you that after careful consideration, George Mason University has decided to revise the Spring 2021 Academic Calendar and eliminate the traditional week of spring break. This decision was made after extensive consultation, and in concurrence with a recommendation by our university’s Faculty Senate.
The Spring 2021 semester now will begin on Monday, January 25, 2021, one week later than originally planned. Spring 2021 classes will end as originally scheduled on Friday, April 30, with the Final Exam period to follow. The modification of the spring 2021 academic calendar will only impact the traditional 15-week semester. The Office of the Registrar will update the spring 2021 calendar to include start/end dates, exam dates, and date of degree conferral.
This decision was made to address the dual public health concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic and the expected emergence of seasonal influenza early in the winter, as well as the public health risks associated with travel. For these reasons, many universities in Virginia and across the nation, have also made the decision not to include a spring break during the upcoming spring semester.
I also want to remind you of two other important calendar items for this semester:
- November 3 – The University will be closed to observe Election Day, which is a state holiday this year. Students registered to vote on campus can vote in Merten Hall. All students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to vote.
- November 30 – Following Thanksgiving break, all classes and associated instructional activities—including final exams—will be conducted virtually beginning Monday, November 30. Mason’s campus will remain open after the Thanksgiving holiday. Residence halls and dining will continue to be open and operating, as will all other campus facilities. In addition, student services will be available and research will continue. Some students may need access to instructional spaces on campus to complete final projects for research and/or coursework. Students planning a defense of their thesis or dissertation following Thanksgiving should coordinate with their thesis or dissertation advisor.
Let us all continue our focus and shared commitment to the health of our community by wearing our masks, social distancing, frequent hand washing and the use of sanitizer and other public health advice. We do this for each other and for MASON to be TOGETHER AS ONE.
I wish you a successful and enriching Mason experience.
Stay healthy and remain well. All the best.
Mark R. Ginsberg, Ph.D.
Provost and Executive Vice President