College to hold J-term remotely, students out of town 3 months

MIDDLEBURY— It’s going to be quieter than usual on the Middlebury College campus this winter.
College officials on Thursday announced that Middlebury’s January term will be held remotely and that students will not begin arriving for the spring 2021 semester until Feb. 24-25.
“One of the biggest challenges for the coming months is the availability of indoor spaces for classrooms, dining and other activities,” wrote President Laurie Patton, Provost Jeff Cason and Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration David Provost in a campus-wide announcement. “That is why, after careful consideration and guidance from the state of Vermont, we have decided (to change) the college calendar.”
Given the fact that in-person studies for the current semester will end on Nov. 20, the new schedule means Middlebury’s campus will remain largely empty for more than three months. By the same token, students will not be visiting shops and restaurants for that period.
The delayed semester makes it unlikely that “Senior Feb.” students will have their traditional February Graduation, but officials said they’re considering options for holding a celebration before the end of the current semester. Traditionally, “Febs” gather at the Snow Bowl and ski down a mountain slope wearing caps and gowns.
Spring 2021 classes will begin March 1 and continue straight through May 21, without a spring break, so as to minimize comings and goings from campus, officials said.
Commencement will be held May 30, a week later than usual.
As in the fall, residential students will have to complete a two-week prearrival quarantine and sign a health pledge before returning for the spring 2021 semester. The college will administer Day-0 and Day-7 tests to all incoming students, and the campus will remain in quarantine until all results are received.
The college will publish a spring 2021 Return to Campus guide in December.
Despite the lighter campus schedule, college officials said they remain “committed to wage continuity for all employees at this time.”
Staffing guidance will remain largely the same — employees who are able to work remotely will continue to do so.
Also on Thursday, Middlebury’s athletic conference, NESCAC, announced the cancelation of winter sports competitions. Middlebury had the option to schedule winter competitions on its own but has decided not to do so, and college officials were not holding out much hope that there would be spring competitions either.
Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected].

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