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Dec. 4, 2020 – An update on spring reading days

Posted by on Friday, December 4, 2020 in Community Messages.

Dear Vanderbilt students,

As we near the end of a semester like no other in Vanderbilt’s history, we could not be prouder of our students’ persistence, creativity and strength. In the classroom and beyond—and whether engaging remotely or in person—you have each stepped up to the challenges of this extraordinary time. Looking ahead to the spring, Vanderbilt’s commitment to our collective well-being is as strong as ever, and we are devoted to continuing to adapt to the changes brought on by this pandemic.

We recently announced the spring academic schedules for all of our degree programs, none of which will have formal spring breaks. The absence of a spring break was a difficult decision, but it is a necessary precaution to try to limit the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible. However, we know it is equally necessary to protect the ongoing wellness of our students—and to do this we must ensure that the rate and pace of our learning and discovery includes time to reflect and to care for one another.

To promote our collective well-being, we will designate four new in-class reading days this spring for undergraduate programs and the Graduate School. These periods will take place on Feb. 23-24 and April 7-8, and they will occur in addition to the regular reading days at the final exam period scheduled for the end of the semester. We are also working closely with the deans of our professional degree programs to provide appropriate opportunities in their specific spring activities for their students.

During the Feb. 23-24 and April 7-8 in-class reading days, Vanderbilt does not intend to hold any extracurricular required programming, and classes will still meet on these in-class reading days. However, these days will offer a change of pace within the semester, an opportunity to reflect and to care for one another. To this end, we have asked faculty teaching undergraduate and Graduate School classes to refrain from scheduling exams or major assignment due dates on these days or immediately following these periods. We are also asking students not to travel outside of the greater Nashville area at any time during the semester, including during any of these reading days.  

Over the past few months, many of us have gained a newfound understanding of the importance of managing stress. These habits help us not only to do our best work, but also to make the most of the Vanderbilt experience, even during challenging times. Along with the Dean of Students Office, we encourage you to make use of the many mental health resources and student organizations that support our students.

Let’s continue to work together to stay healthy and to finish the fall semester strong, as One Vanderbilt. Thank you all.

With gratitude,

Susan R. Wente 
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Vanessa Beasley  
Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of Residential Faculty

Bunmi Olatunji 
Interim Dean of Graduate School and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs