University to offer in-person classes for the Fall 2021 semester

“The semester will begin Aug. 25 and conclude Dec. 18, and we will be observing Fall Break from Oct. 14-15,” the email from Chancellor Daniel Diermeier reads.


Emery Little

Statue on Vanderbilt’s main campus dressed in a mask. (Hustler Multimedia/Emery Little)

Rachael Perrotta and Jonathan Liu

The university will offer in-person residential learning during the Fall 2021 semester, per a March 25 email from Chancellor Daniel Diermeier. The fall semester will begin on Aug. 25 and conclude on Dec. 18, with a fall break from Oct. 14-15 and final exams from Dec. 9-18. Reading days on Dec. 8, 11 and 12 will serve to supplement students during the exam period.

Within the email, Diermeier referenced positive COVID-19 trends related to COVID-19 cases and vaccination rates, which has already allowed for more in-person activities in the Spring 2021 semester. 

He also said that a reversal of COVID-19 trends in the months leading up to the fall semester could change these plans. 

“As always, our decision is rooted in science,” the email reads. “Current public health data indicate trends that will allow us to return to in-person learning, however, we know we must remain vigilant in following health and safety protocols, and we are prepared to adjust our plans should the status of the pandemic change in the coming months.”

The initial announcement from Diermeier was followed up with a subsequent email with further details from Vice Provost Vanessa B. Beasley and Assistant Provost G.L. Black.

We greatly look forward to returning to the full residential learning experience that is integral to student life and to our educational mission at Vanderbilt,” the email reads. 

Per a March 8 announcement from the Office of Housing and Residential Education (OHARE), only students currently authorized to live off-campus are eligible to do so next semester. To do so, they must register and re-apply for off-campus housing between April 1-5.

Additionally, remote study will not be an option for students unless their request for an accomodation exception is approved by the student’s respective school office. 

“If you cannot engage in in-person instruction on campus and do not have an approved accommodation, you must request a Leave of Absence,” the email reads.

The email stated that limited study abroad opportunities will be available in the Fall 2021 semester, with Spring 2022 options to be announced at a later date, depending on public health and travel guidelines. Applications for these programs are now live on the Global Education Office’s (GEO) website.

The email also provided the number for a 24-hour helpline at 615-322-4357 should students or parents have any questions, and referred them to the Return to Campus website for further updates.

“Should the status of the pandemic change dramatically over the spring and summer, or should public health guidance advise against in-person instruction, an alternative option may be required,” the email reads.  

The Hustler will continue to update this story as more information about the Fall 2021 schedule becomes available.