The University of New Mexico’s 2020 fall semester schedule has been released after a lengthy revision process due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fall break has been eliminated in favor of two separate, one-day breaks in October and November. All in-person classes will cease after the Thanksgiving break and be carried out in an online-only format until Dec. 4.
The start date of the fall semester has remained the same — Aug. 17 — and Labor Day will still be a day off for all UNM students, but the two new break days are on Oct. 7 and Nov. 3, respectively.
While the October date likely holds no significance for most UNM students, Nov. 3 is Election Day in the United States.
Many political organizations have argued for Election Day to be a federal holiday, and in recent years various corporate entities have elected to give their employees time off to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
According to an email sent to all students from the campus communications email account, UNM officials devised the new schedule “after consultation with faculty, faculty governance, students, public health professionals, academic advising staff and others both at UNM and beyond.”
All final exams will happen online from Dec. 7-12.
“This eliminates two possible travel-return periods and reduces the number of students on campus if we experience a late November or December seasonal wave of respiratory virus infections,” the email read.
Branch campuses and professional disciplines may have different variations of this schedule due to their unique needs and challenges.
In the announcement, UNM reminded students of the dangers that COVID-19 represents and advised every individual to remain vigilant and follow safety guidelines.
ASUNM president Mia Amin said of the revised schedule, “I think that it can be tricky to provide a sense of normalcy while also ensuring the safety of individuals during a pandemic.”
“However, I think that our University leaders have done a good job at finding a balance between the two by not ruling out the possibility of having in-person classes, while also prioritizing the health of our students,” Amin said.
UNM spokesperson Cinnamon Blair said the University hopes to continue forward with the updated semester format but recognizes the execution could prove difficult in light of a possible resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
“Of course, public health needs could always require adjustments to this plan,” Blair said. “Preparation for such flexibility is necessary in light of the current pandemic.”
Spencer Butler is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SpencerButler48