Over the past week, the University has made several announcements regarding campus changes for the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters.  

Spring semester

The start date of the spring 2021 semester has been moved to Feb. 1, according to an Oct. 8 email Provost Lisa M. Lynch sent to the Brandeis community. Spring semester will follow the same academic format as the current fall semester, allowing for in-person, hybrid and online classes. 

To account for time lost due to the semester being pushed back, there will be no February break, and Passover break will be shortened and spread over the following dates: Feb. 15, March 9, March 29 and April 2. 

As of press time, the rest of the spring 2021 calendar remains unchanged, but the University plans to continue evaluating and updating students with regards to future plans, Lynch explained. “I know the health and safety requirements are not easy to live with, and I have deep appreciation for our community’s social solidarity in rising to the historic challenges we are confronting,” she added. 

Flu shot clinic

Students can sign up for a free flu shot up until Oct. 16 by logging onto their Campus Passport Portal. Time slots to receive the shot, which is administered by CVS Pharmacy, will be available weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. Locations to get the vaccine are the same as where the COVID-19 test is administered on campus: the Shapiro Admissions Center and the Heller School for Social Policy and Management building, according to the website

To register for a shot, students need their health insurance card, prescription insurance card and information regarding their primary care physician, the website explains. 

In an email sent to the student body on Oct. 8, the University explained that undergraduate and graduate students under the age of 30 are now required to be vaccinated against the flu under Massachusetts law. Starting Nov. 1, “all students who will be on campus are required to document their flu shot status in the portal as a part of our COVID-19 health and safety measures on campus,” the email said.

Ready bag 

Students should prepare a “ready bag” should they test positive for COVID-19 and need to go into isolation, an Oct. 9 email from the University reminded the student body. The bag should contain clothing for 10 days, sheets, pillows, towels and toiletries. An extensive list of recommended items to pack can be found on the Plans for Fall 2020 website


Starting Oct. 12, students are now required to present a yellow or green Campus Passport to enter Sherman Dining hall, according to an Oct. 9 email the University sent to students. The University plans to eventually implement the passport requirement at other campus dining venues.

Amendment to the medical underload policy

In an Oct. 7 email to the student body, University Registrar Mark Hewitt announced a change to the University policy regarding medical underloads for the 2021-2022 academic year. 

Typically, if a student or their family member has a health condition that impedes their coursework, the student can petition for a medical underload. If the student’s request is granted, rather than having to complete the required 12 credit minimum during a semester, the student only is required to complete eight credits, according to the University website.   

For this academic year, “Brandeis University recognizes that students with certain medical conditions may find learning challenging in the current COVID-19 environment,” the website explained. Similar to previous years, students who qualify for a medical underload will be allowed to take a minimum of eight credits. Their tuition will not be refunded; however, students will now have the option of taking two courses during summer 2021 at no additional cost. 

In order to qualify for the medical underload, students must provide medical documentation and must pass a “review of the documentation by the University Health Services and/or the Brandeis Counseling Center, and review by the Executive Council of the Committee on Academic Standing,” the website explained. Students are also encouraged to work with their academic advisors to ensure they are meeting graduation requirements, seeing as only a limited selection of courses are offered over the summer.