Carnegie Mellon University
June 18, 2021

Fall Course Adjustment Preparations


As we reflect on the last semester and continue planning for the fall, I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for your incredible contributions and efforts throughout the past academic year. You responded to the challenges of the last year with resilience, creativity and thoughtfulness. For that, and so much more, I express my sincere gratitude to all of you who have worked incredibly hard to fulfill our teaching and research missions.

As we prepare to resume in-person activities for our entire community, I want to provide a few updates as we continue our planning efforts. I also want to point you to two recent COVID-19 updates on June 7 and June 16, announcing the easing of mitigation protocols for those who have been fully vaccinated. Additionally, on July 1 we will be entering the Transitional Posture in our pandemic response, which will support our community as we return to daily in-person experiences this summer and fall.

Academic Year 2021-22 Calendar
As a reminder, the calendar for the next academic year, including holidays and scheduled days off, is posted on the Hub’s website.

14-Week Semester Pilot for Fall 2021 and Spring 2022
The Calendar Innovation Committee was charged with identifying short-term COVID-based calendar challenges, proposing solutions to our calendar, identifying and assessing the effectiveness of our standard academic calendar year model, and proposing longer-term changes to consider as well. This resulted in the adoption of a 14-week semester for Spring 2021.

The Calendar Committee also sought input on whether this solution might be beneficial in the longer term. The second part of their charge is to explore calendar options in an effort to increase efficiency in learning, ensure a consistent rigor of study without increasing weekly course workloads, create space for educational innovation and address periodic calendar constraints.

Since the 2021-2022 academic calendar required adjustments to account for the ongoing impacts of the pandemic and the original 2021-2022 schedule had a very short winter break (created by a late end of the fall semester and early start of the spring semester), the Calendar Innovation Committee proposed going to a 14-week semester for the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters, which was announced on March 12, 2021, as a pilot program.

This one-year pilot program, which adopts 14-week semesters for the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters, will assess the positives and negatives of this model. As part of the pilot program, we will observe, monitor and collect multiple sources of data including further listening sessions with all relevant stakeholders.

Resources and Guidance with Course Adjustments
As you plan your course(s) for the Fall 2021 calendar and make appropriate adjustments, the Eberly Center will provide support for your transition to make it as smooth as possible.

The Eberly Center has compiled a set of strategies to help instructors streamline and/or repackage their course content and activities to fit the new calendar, while still enabling students to achieve key learning objectives.

Eberly will also be offering a workshop on how to approach these course adjustments; register here for available sessions on Monday, June 28 or Wednesday, August 11.

And, as usual, the Eberly Center offers one-on-one consultations for instructors. If you wish to discuss possible adjustments that would work well for your particular course context, please email

Fall 2021 Schedule of Courses
On May 17, the University Registrar’s office released the Fall 2021 schedule of courses. This schedule reflects our “near normal” approach. Of the 7,000 sections listed in the schedule of courses 92% of undergraduate and 90% of graduate courses will require in-person attendance.

Course Modality Accommodations
If you have students who are requesting permission to attend your in-person course remotely because of accommodation needs, please refer them to work with the Office of Disability Resources ( so a disability resources team member can collect and evaluate detailed medical information as well as other necessary documentation and, when appropriate, work with you and the student to determine if reasonable and effective accommodations are possible in your course.

Student Vaccination Requirements
The university announced that all enrolled students will be required to be vaccinated for COVID-19, effective this fall. Recognizing that many students may receive vaccines approved in other countries that have not yet been authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, we are working with medical experts to inform our decisions. At this time, we expect that any vaccines that receive the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Emergency Use Listing will meet our requirements.

Again, I want to express my sincerest gratitude to all of you for your dedication and diligence as we continue to plan for the next academic year. I hope you take some time for rest and rejuvenation over the summer. We will continue to communicate developments as preparations for the fall semester progress.


Jim Garrett
Provost and Chief Academic Officer