Winter break extension for students, flex days for faculty and staff

November 24, 2020 4:30 PM

Dear Western Students, Faculty and Staff, 

What a year this has been.

The pandemic has challenged us in ways nobody could have predicted. 

Thank you to each and every one of you for your flexibility, understanding and perseverance during these extraordinary times.

The winter break is quickly approaching. A time to truly pause, recharge, and safely enjoy the holidays with the ones we love.

I’m writing to let you know that the University will close for the holidays a little earlier than originally planned. Western will close on Tuesday, December 22, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. after the last exam has been written and will reopen Monday, January 4, 2021.

With the approval of Senate, we have also decided to extend the holiday break for students. Classes will now resume on January 11, 2021.

I have heard from many of you that this has been a particularly trying year. Assignments, labs, essays and exams have left you feeling more than a little worn out. We hope this extra time off will allow you to rest and recover a little longer, coming back stronger and ready to take on the winter term.

Students in professional programs should consult their home Faculties for more information on activities that will start January 4.

This will mean a shorter final exam period from April 14 to April 30. We will work closely with each Faculty to mitigate additional stressors at the end of the term. 

We are also working with the deans to encourage instructors to be flexible in helping you finish your term strong. To adapt their teaching and learning strategies to focus on the most important elements of course work. 

To our faculty and staff – you have been working tirelessly for many months. The long hours, working weekends, and going above and beyond to help ensure the safest and highest quality learning and research environment possible has not gone unnoticed. 

Thank you for all your efforts. 

I know balancing work and home life during these uncertain times has not been easy. With this in mind, we are offering all Western employees two flex days to use between January 4 and May 31, 2021. We will also be closing campus on Friday, July 2, creating an extra-long weekend to kick off the start of summer holidays.

For some, your summer vacation was disrupted due to the pandemic. You may wish to work with your supervisor to extend your December holiday into January by using your vacation or flex days.

We hope this extra time off will give you and your families some flexibility as you continue to navigate the pandemic.

I want to end by encouraging all of you to think about your well-being now, throughout the holidays and into the winter term. 

Please, never feel alone in this.

Students, we have supports for you if you need them. I encourage you to access our workshops, counselling and peer-to-peer supports.

Faculty and staff, Western's Employee and Family Assistance Program can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  

This holiday break is important. Please, take the time to take care of yourself.

Be safe and be well,

 Alan Shepard signature

Alan Shepard
President and Vice-Chancellor