College of Arts & Sciences Spring 2021 FAQ

Welcome to Spring 2021! We can’t wait to see you again in the classroom, virtual or otherwise.

Thanks to each of you for the resilience and care you’ve brought to our community, never more obvious than in the past months. Your professors, together with staff and administrators, have been working hard to design a robust, flexible academic experience with the highest standards for both the safety of our community and your educational experience. If you’re feeling grateful to someone in the WashU community who’s made a positive difference in your life, consider submitting your story to the Gratitude Project. While those we’re grateful for typically aren’t acting in expectation of recognition, sharing these stories can lift spirits not just for the individual but also for the whole community. Read on to learn more about how the College of Arts & Sciences is shaping up for the Spring 2021 semester.

If your questions aren't addressed here, visit the Fall 2020 FAQ page to learn more. 

New for Spring 2021

What are Wellness Days?

Wellness Days will be offered this spring instead of a traditional Spring Break. There will be no class meetings (required or optional) or deadlines for school-wide wellness days on March 2, 3, and April 12. To keep these days as restful as possible for all, there are restrictions on assignments and assessment deadlines on the days following. You can report meetings, assignments, etc. scheduled in violation of these policies

Guidance for instructors on restrictions for course activity on the spring semester Wellness Days is also available. 

What are Study Days?

Departments and programs have individually added one or two study days during the semester when classes in their departments will not meet. You can see this spreadsheet for an almost comprehensive list (this will be updated as additional information is received). You can report missing study days using the same page to report Wellness Day violations however—please note:

1) many courses are cross-listed; study days are determined based on the course’s home department (typically the department that the instructor is in; to determine, click on “details”’ in course listings. If Course Type (lower left) says “Ident” rather than “Home”, it is a cross-list, and the home course listing is one of those linked immediately to the right as “Same as”),

2) there may be exceptions to the addition of study days on a course by course basis (e.g., labs, studios, or screenings, or one day a week classes where an entire week is lost if one day is cancelled), and

3) the restrictions on deadlines, etc. described above for wellness days do not apply to study days.

Academic Experience

What can we expect for spring classes?

To ensure a robust and equitable educational experience for all students, the faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences adopted a set of instructional policies and standards to foster a holistic and engaging academic experience that were implemented in Fall 2020 and will continue throughout the Spring 2021 semester. 

Key elements:

  • Canvas: This spring, all Arts & Sciences courses will use Canvas as a place where students can find course materials, see their grades, and find course-wide communications. This will benefit students in in-person and in remote courses by keeping all of their course information in one place.
  • Engagement: Whether in person or remote, interaction between students and faculty is key to learning. All courses, regardless of format, will have opportunities for students to connect with each other and with their professor.
  • Flexibility: All faculty should be prepared to offer enough flexibility within their course policies and procedures to manage potential disruptions due to COVID-19. Any flexibility available should be explicitly communicated to students so that they understand how potential disruptions will be handled. 
  • Instructor Support: We reaffirm our commitment to faculty being available to students outside of classtime, either in person or virtually.
  • Informed students: Faculty will upload their syllabi to Syllabi Central by Jan. 25, so all students will have a thorough understanding of course expectations and structure before the semester starts.

You can read the full policies on the Instructional Planning Task Force page. 

In addition to meeting these key standards, you can anticipate more sophisticated use of online tools to foster dynamic community and engagement, including enhanced interactive components and synchronous elements. We are also building in more mechanisms for students to provide feedback on courses throughout the semester, including a central webform where students can register concerns.

What are the public health protocols for in person/hybrid courses?

All public health protocols in place for the fall semester remain in place for the spring semester. Be sure to review classroom-specific procedures. Remember to complete your symptom screening before leaving your room/coming to campus.

Is academic support (e.g., PLTL, academic mentoring/tutoring) available even if I’m participating remotely?

Yes. A full range of academic supports are available to students studying remotely. You can visit the Learning Center website for more information.

Dates, Deadlines & Policies

What dates and deadlines are in effect for Spring 2021?

The Spring 2021 calendar has deadlines much like those we started with in Fall 2020; the add/drop deadline is back to the beginning of the semester (Monday, February 8, 9 p.m.) and the change grade options (either from or to pass/fail) and withdraw deadlines remain near the end of the semester (Friday, April 23, 9 p.m.). As in the fall, we will monitor evolving circumstances and make adjustments to these deadlines should conditions warrant.

Are there any policy changes for grade options, particularly pass/fail?

For the 2020-2021 academic year, students may choose the pass/fail option for two classes per semester. The restrictions outlined in the College’s standard policy regarding what requirements pass/fail classes may count toward remain in place.

Leave of Absence

If I am considering taking a Leave of Absence (LOA) due to my particular circumstances, what should I do?

New students: Newly admitted students who have not yet matriculated are not eligible for Leave of Absence but may request a gap year deferral from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Visit the Office of Admissions website or email ADMISSIONS@WUSTL.EDU to learn more about deferring enrollment.

Continuing students: Please connect with your four-year advisor, who can help you consider the best course of action for your particular circumstances. If you ultimately decide that an LOA is best for you, you may formally request one via this webform.

If I go on Leave of Absence, can I take non-WU courses for transfer credit?

Continuing students may transfer up to 6 credits of pre-approved coursework per semester of leave. For the 2020-2021 academic year, these units may include coursework taken online or through remote platforms. Please note that transferred coursework does not fulfill distribution requirements and may count toward a major/minor only with departmental pre-approval