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The spring 2021 semester will start on Jan. 20, one week later than originally scheduled, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Credit: Son Nguyen

Penn will push back the start of the spring semester by one week to Jan. 20 and shorten spring break to a two-day break on March 10 and 11. 

Penn President Amy Gutmann, Provost Wendell Pritchett, and Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli sent an email to the Penn community on Thursday afternoon announcing these preliminary changes to the spring semester. They also wrote that a comprehensive spring semester plan will be communicated to the community by mid-November. There was no definitive word on whether students would be welcomed back for on-campus living.

Penn administrators wrote that the decision to shorten spring break was made in an effort to "discourage travel during the pandemic."

If Penn is able to welcome students back to campus in the spring, move-in will begin on Jan. 10 ahead of the first day of classes on Jan. 20. Advance Registration for spring semester classes has also been pushed back, and will take place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 7. 

"This change [to Advance Registration] will enable our students and faculty to have as much information as possible, before the last day of classes, when making decisions about spring term courses," administrators wrote.

Penn also announced it will release a student survey in mid-October to hear about students' experiences during the fall semester to gather information on how to "enhance and optimize student experiences."

In order to bring students back to campus in the spring, the University would need the capacity to perform regular testing on a wide scale. Penn and Penn Medicine are currently working jointly to build that testing capacity, according to the email.

"As we continue to work on plans for the spring, please know how much we appreciate your extraordinary commitment to our educational mission," the email read.