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Penn has added three days of no classes to the spring semester calendar.

Credit: Tamara Wurman

Penn students will have Feb. 12, March 30, and April 12 off during the spring semester, Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Wendell Pritchett announced Wednesday morning.

The announcement comes amid fierce student backlash over a lack of breaks during the 2020/21 academic year, which has seen fall break canceled in addition to a shortened spring break.

Professors will not be permitted to hold class — synchronous or asynchronous — or any assessments on Friday, Feb. 12; Tuesday, March 30; and Monday, April 12; Gutmann and Pritchett wrote in an email to all undergraduate students. The Penn officials wrote that the three days spread across the semester, in addition to the two days of spring break on March 10 and March 11, will preserve the five weekdays normally given off during the spring semester, and discourage travel during the pandemic.

On the additional days of break, Penn will offer “self-directed activities that advance our community” in accordance with the Year of Civic Engagement through asynchronous preceptorials and other events led by campus organizations.

“It is invaluable to take time off to recharge, maintain our wellness, and do our best work at Penn,” Gutmann and Pritchett wrote. “In that context, we have heard your concerns about creating a shorter spring break in 2021 due to the pandemic. We are grateful for all the constructive engagement that has helped us find a better way forward for the spring semester.”

The Undergraduate Assembly unanimously passed the Resolution on the Reclaiming of Breaks for the Fall and Spring on Oct. 25, calling on Penn to institute two to five single day breaks on Fridays or Mondays throughout the remainder of the fall semester and the upcoming spring semester. The proposal is intended to prevent student travel while providing students with rest, College sophomore and UA Communications Director David Jin told The Daily Pennsylvanian in October.

The resolution emerged from widespread frustration from students regarding the University’s decision to reduce spring break from five days to two days. Students pointed to Zoom fatigue and concerns of mental health without the appropriate breaks from class.

A recent survey by Penn Leads the Vote found that 78% of respondents' mental health was negatively or very negatively affected by the remote fall semester. 

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