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Plans for Spring Semester 2021

To Members of the Clark Community,

We write today to share the news that Clark University intends to welcome students back to campus and resume in-person classes for the Spring 2021 semester under the same general operating philosophy that we have followed for the current Fall semester: physical presence on campus is optional, and coursework will be conducted through a mix of in-class and online teaching.

As always, protecting the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff remains our foremost priority and guides everything we do at Clark. That will not change in the spring. We will continue to require that everyone in our community abide by the principles of The Clark Commitment, which requires mask wearing, social distancing, frequent hand washing, and adherence to Clark’s rigorous COVID-19 testing regimen. Students will continue to be tested every three days, and employees who work on campus will be tested every seven days.

The decision to open was made with the approval of the Board of Trustees, and follows months of analysis of university operations, consultations with public health experts, and countless planning sessions involving teams of staff and faculty. It absolutely would not be possible without the incredible Clarkie spirit that has been on display throughout the fall semester. We know that it has not been easy. But, your admirable feats of collaboration and commitment to Clark and to each other — particularly in following the demanding requirements of the Clark Commitment — have made all the difference. With thanks and gratitude to you all, our overall positive COVID-19 testing rate remains relatively low.

Our thorough preparations for the fall term – and the exceptional response from our University community – have provided Clark a roadmap that gives us confidence we can safely operate in the same manner this spring.

Our community’s willingness to take the necessary steps to preserve our collective health remains our most effective safeguard against the virus. Clark’s scrupulous protocols for sanitizing and de-densifying residence halls, classrooms, and common areas also will remain intact to further mitigate risks. More information on Clark’s COVID-19 preparation and response efforts can be found at the Healthy Clark website.

Clark’s approach to academics in the spring will remain the same as in the fall, with courses offered in various modalities. We are committed to finding ways for all students to continue their academic progress at Clark and we will work to accommodate students’ varied needs and ensure that they are able to make the necessary progress toward their degrees.

In summary:

  • To the greatest extent possible, students will be able to choose to study entirely remotely, entirely in person, or in a combination of the two formats.
  • Faculty will have the option to choose the modalities in which they will teach their classes.
  • There will be no formal spring break since off-campus travel elevates the risk of COVID-19 transmission. That said, we are encouraging our faculty to structure their courses with periodic breaks that will offer opportunities for rest and regeneration.
  • Advising for the spring semester begins on November 2. Course offerings will be posted on noon that day. Please visit the Office of the Registrar for the full spring academic calendar and information about registering for courses.
  • The winter Intersession (January 4-February 12) will offer a modest number of online course offerings. Registration for these will be held concurrently with spring semester registration.

While our intent is to reopen the campus on February 18 for the beginning of spring move-in, the unpredictable and virulent nature of COVID-19 might force us to change plans. We will be closely monitoring the pandemic’s course throughout the winter and will continually assess our ability to provide a safe setting for students, staff, and faculty to learn, live, and work at Clark. Our hope is that we will not be impelled to shift to an online-only mode of learning, and we would only do so if we determine that worsening conditions jeopardize the health and well-being of our campus.

As our community enters the remaining months of 2020, a year with no precedent, we continue to be awed and inspired by the grace you’ve displayed under historically challenging circumstances. Thank you for persisting amid the many disruptions, and for your generosity of spirit as we build the necessary momentum to finish the semester on a high note.


David Fithian

Davis Baird