Bucknell University will start its spring semester as planned on Monday, Feb. 1, a two-week delay from its traditional calendar. The new date, scheduled last fall, is intended to reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19 following winter break.
The semester will be the second for in-person instruction on Bucknell's campus since the start of the pandemic. The University completed an on-campus fall semester in November, following a schedule designed to eliminate the traditional fall break and send students home for winter break before Thanksgiving.
Due to the later start of classes for the upcoming semester, spring break has been eliminated, and the semester will end on Friday, May 21. Commencement is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, May 23, although the date is subject to change pending the health and safety limitations presented by pandemic conditions.
At present, around 240 students have chosen remote instruction, as compared to about 350 in the fall, with nearly 3,500 students expected to study in person.
Testing to Continue
All students who plan to live on campus or take in-person classes in the spring will be required to produce two negative COVID-19 PCR test results before returning to campus, as they were in the fall. Move-in for spring semester will take place on Jan. 29, 30 and 31. Only one family member or guest will be permitted to accompany students during move-in, and face coverings must be worn at all times.
Students will also be required to take weekly COVID-19 tests through February. University officials will closely monitor pandemic conditions and adapt testing protocols for students, faculty and staff on an ongoing basis. Bucknell's testing program has administered more than 50,000 COVID-19 tests since the summer.
"Because of your dedication to community health and safety last semester, we were able to keep campus open," wrote Dean of Students Amy Badal in an email to students about the spring 2021 reopening plan. "I ask each of you to renew your commitment to staying well this semester so that we can build on our success and continue in-person instruction in the months ahead. It will be especially important to follow stringent virus mitigation practices as outlined in the Community Responsibility Agreement."
Bucknell's Community Responsibility Agreement requires students to support the health and safety of all members of the campus community and engage in behavioral public safety measures intended to mitigate the spread of the virus — specifically physical distancing, wearing face coverings, respiratory etiquette, proper hand hygiene, and reporting of symptoms and isolation when necessary. All students are required to sign the agreement. Failure to comply will be subject to conduct review, according to Badal.
She urged students to do whatever they can to protect their health — and by extension the health of the community — in the two weeks before they return to campus.
"While the pandemic has tested all of us, we are succeeding as a community by taking good care of ourselves and each other," she wrote.
Bucknell has begun varsity athletics competition in men's and women's basketball and wrestling and will continue to participate in varsity athletics through the semester. On Jan. 8, the Patriot League announced a significantly modified scheduling framework for additional sports traditionally played in the fall, winter and spring to compete during the spring 2021 semester. As that announcement states, "League play will be contingent on the League and its member institutions being able to conduct competitions in ways that protect the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches, staff members and their communities."
Bucknell Athletics has developed an extensive COVID-19 action plan, based on principles from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the NCAA's independent COVID-19 Advisory Panel, the NCAA Sport Science Institute and the National Athletic Trainers Association. Additional information can be found on the BucknellBison.com COVID-19 resource page.