Spring Preparations

Implementing our plans for the spring 2021 semester

November 18, 2020: Read the latest communication from President Bob Iuliano about the spring semester.

The College continues to work closely with public health experts, members of our community, and under the guidance of state and federal health guidelines to develop and finalize our plans for the spring semester.

In preparing for the spring 2021 semester, the College remains committed to offering an in-person, residential experience for as many students as we can responsibly accommodate. We offer our spring plans with the full knowledge that the COVID-19 virus persists and our plans may need to be adjusted as we approach the start of the spring semester.

The spring 2021 semester will begin on February 1, 2021. The College will maintain a lower than normal residential capacity by housing students in primarily single rooms. The following cohorts will be invited back to campus:

  • Sophomores
  • Juniors
  • Seniors
  • First-year students who have extenuating personal circumstances and a desire to remain on campus can petition to be in residence

On this page:

Guiding principles

The following guiding principles, together with consultation from various campus groups, helped to shape our spring plans:

  • Our belief in a residential liberal arts experience
  • An understanding that the COVID-19 pandemic persists, and we must act responsibly for the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and greater Gettysburg community
  • The application of lessons learned from the fall semester

Key learnings from the fall semester

Following the decision to de-densify in the fall semester, the College conducted a thorough analysis of the fall and adapted our plans for the spring semester using those insights. Through this analysis, the College’s public health experts—Keeling & Associates—assessed other liberal arts colleges and their fall experiences. Additionally, the College hosted various listening sessions and worked closely with advisory groups to understand their impressions of the fall and areas that could be improved. The following are key learnings from the fall semester:

Important dates




Nov 18


Spring decision announcement

Dec 2


Town Hall for First-Years and their parents

Dec 3


Town Hall for Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors and their parents

Early December


Housing information released

Early December


New spring rubric and sanctions released

Dec 11


Deadline for First-Years to Petition to Remain on Campus

Dec 15


Town Hall for employees

Dec 15 Tues First-Year petition decisions announced

Dec 15


Deadline to declare intent to return

January 8


First-Year student spring semester financial aid awards



Move-in information released

Weeks of Jan 11 and Jan 22


Town Halls for students returning to campus

Jan 15


Spring tuition due

Feb 12


Course add/drop deadline

Tuition and finances

Financial aid awards for students in residence for the spring semester

Upperclass students who elect to study on campus should expect the same financial aid award provided to them prior to the beginning of the academic year. Students studying on campus for the spring semester can view their spring financial aid award any time via Student Center (Self-Service > Campus Finances > View Financial Aid Award) or Gettysburg Mobile. You can also grant access for others to view your financial aid by setting up "guest users" via Gettysburg Mobile.

Financial aid awards for students electing to study remotely for the spring semester

The College will issue all full-time students in the remote cohort a remote learning tuition credit of $3,000 for the spring semester, which will be applied directly to their student account. This represents approximately a 10% decrease in tuition. Part-time students will not receive any further reductions in tuition. Students who begin the semester on-campus, but later decide to pivot to remote learning, will have until the end of day on February 12 to make this decision and still receive the remote credit.

Per the Department of Education, any adjustment made to the amount a student has been charged requires a review of their need-based financial aid. Gettysburg College Grants are need-based and are tied to the cost of attendance each year.

  • Students who are currently remote and plan to continue remotely can expect their spring financial aid awards to be similar to their revised fall semester awards. Adjustments will be made once their decision to study remotely is confirmed by the College.
  • Upperclass students who were residential and have opted to now move to remote learning will receive an adjusted award taking into consideration the 10% remote learning credit.
  • All first-year students should expect a revised financial aid award by January 8.
  • First-Year students who are remote and other students who choose to study remotely by the December 15 deadline will not be billed for housing or meals. Those who choose to study remotely after the deadline may initially be billed (due to timing) but those charges will be removed. Any student who comes to campus and then decides to pivot to remote learning will be billed a pro-rated amount for housing and meals.

Our Financial Aid Office is prepared to work with families to understand their individual circumstances if things have changed.

Spring academics

On-campus students should anticipate that there will be a mix of in-person and online instruction.

Spring study options

Any student who wishes to study remotely, take a gap semester, or take a voluntary leave may do so, even if they have been invited to campus. Students who have been invited to return to campus must fill out the Spring 2021 Residency Form by December 15, in which you will be able to declare your intentions for the spring semester. If we don’t hear from you by this date, we will assume that you have elected to be part of the remote cohort.

If you are part of the first-year cohort, but feel you cannot study from home, please fill out the Spring 2021 First-Year Housing Petition Form by December 8 to be considered to remain on campus for the spring.

The following criteria will be considered when the College evaluates the first-year petitions for extenuating personal circumstances:

  • International students with permanent addresses in Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, or the Middle East.
  • Students with a permanent address of Gettysburg College.
  • Students who have significant housing insecurity or other difficult circumstances.

First-year students will hear back from the College about their petitions by December 15.

Global study

Students who are scheduled to study globally for the spring semester must make a final decision about their plans by December 15. If programs are modified or cancelled, or students decide to withdraw from global study after December 15, Gettysburg College classes will be available for students via remote and off-campus learning for the spring semester. Read more about how we are supporting our global study students.

Spring 2021 Academic Calendar




Feb 1


First day of classes

Feb 12


Last day drop/add courses

Mar 10–Mar 29


Mid-semester reports due

Apr 9


Last day to withdraw from classes with Grade of “W”

Apr 9


Last day to select the S/U grading option

Apr 14


Rising Senior Registration for 2021–2022

Apr 21


Rising Junior Registration for 2021–2022

Apr 28


Rising Sophomore Registration for 2021–2022

Apr 17


Get Acquainted Day

May 7


Last day of classes




May 9–15


Final exams (Reading days: May 8, 12)

May 15 & 16

Sat & Sun

Commencement for Class of 2020

May 17


All grades due

May 22 & 23

Sat & Sun

Commencement for Class of 2021


Due to the spring semester starting two weeks later than originally planned, the dates for the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 Commencement have been moved. The Class of 2020 will have their Commencement on May 15 and 16, 2021. The Class of 2021 will have their Commencement on May 22 and 23, 2021. More information about the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 commencements will be forthcoming.

J-Term (January Term)

The College will offer a virtual January Term experience during the weeks of January 11 – January 22, 2021. These sessions will be non-credit bearing and free to all students.

The offerings are designed to take what students have learned in the classroom and supplement it with training and skills that are vital for career success. We will share more information about the January Term and how to register in the coming weeks.

Spring testing approach

Regular and ongoing testing of students and employees for COVID-19 is one of the most important steps the College is taking to protect the health and safety of their students, faculty, staff, and greater community.

Student testing

The College will contract with a third-party vendor that will provide testing services for the entire testing process including registrations, swabbing, and notification of positive cases to the Health Center. Students will be tested twice a week in the spring semester. All students invited to return to campus for the spring, including those approved to live off-campus and commuters, will be included in the testing protocol. The College will continue to use highly-reliable PCR tests.

Students should expect to be quarantined for 5-6 days upon returning to campus while waiting to receive two negative test results.

Employee testing

Upon the start of the spring semester, employees who come to campus regularly will be tested. Thereafter, a percentage of employees who spend time with students (such as Health Center employees and faculty who are teaching in person) will be tested on a weekly basis. Any employee who is named as a close contact to a positive case on campus will also have the opportunity to be tested. Contact tracing for employees will be managed through the Human Resources department.

Spring housing

The College will continue to maintain a low residential density by primarily assigning only one student per bedroom in the residence halls. Single bedrooms will allow the college to have more flexibility in its quarantine protocols, a key learning from the fall semester. The College will primarily house students in single occupancy utilizing available residences including the Gettysburg Hotel and, potentially, other leased hotels, depending on the number of students returning and the required amount of space needed for isolation and quarantine. Please be advised that specific rules and limits on guests and gatherings in all residential buildings, residential rooms, lounges, and common spaces will apply.

Given the utilization of single bedrooms, we will not be able to use fall 2020 housing assignments as a starting point for spring housing. Residence Life will be assigning new lottery numbers to all students and running a new housing process for the spring 2021 semester. Lottery numbers for the housing selection process will be generated at random with Seniors receiving priority in the room selection process.

Students will receive more information about the housing process in early December.

Contact tracing, case management, quarantine, and isolation

For the spring semester, the College plans to use more on-campus quarantine and isolation spaces for students who test positive or who are a close contact of a positive case than we did in the fall. Moving more of the quarantine and isolation spaces on campus will allow the College to provide greater care to students and will simplify meal delivery and transportation. In the majority of close contact cases, students will be able to stay in their rooms for their quarantine period.

Additionally, to keep as much isolation and quarantine space available as possible, students will be expected to go home for their quarantine period if a student’s home is within 300 miles of Gettysburg. The Health Center staff will work directly with students and parents to assess if returning home is feasible.

We are working to add additional staff to critical areas including Health Services and Residence Life to assist with case management and contact tracing protocols.


Students should expect College policies around health and safety to be strict in the spring semester. More information about compliance and an updated rubric will be available in early December. However, we know now that students should be prepared to comply with health and safety protocols including:

Rubric and sanctions

A revised rubric and sanctions grid is being created to provide additional clarity for COVID-19 violations. Students should expect:

  • The conduct and resolution process for COVID-19 violations will occur swiftly. The processes are being enhanced with more hearing officers and a dedicated administrator who will oversee COVID-19 education and adjudication efforts.
  • Students will have minimal chances to violate COVID-19 expectations before being reassigned to the remote cohort.
  • Students who demonstrate egregious violations of the COVID-19 expectations will be reassigned to the virtual cohort immediately.

Student experience

In addition to students’ thorough understanding of the health, safety, and compliance protocols in place, students should be aware of what to expect from an on-campus experience for the spring semester.

  • On-campus students should anticipate that there will be a mix of in-person and online instruction.
  • The cold temperatures in the winter will force much programming inside. With that said, availability of indoor space is limited, as much of it has been repurposed to meet academic and dining needs. Students should expect increased virtual co-curricular experiences, albeit being on campus.
  • Dining Services will have foods prepared and packaged so that students can either dine in or take it to go. Physical distancing guidelines have reduced the number of available seating in the dining center. Alternative seating locations will be available in the Ballroom and Plank Gym.
  • The College has moved to a primarily single bedroom model, meaning that students should expect to not have a roommate. Rooms will be re-assigned based on new lottery numbers.
  • On-campus students should be aware that we will begin the spring semester with strict protocols in place that may be modified after we establish a safe environment.
  • If there is an increase of positive cases on campus, students should be prepared to move to residential remote study in their rooms for a designated period of time in an effort to contain the virus.
  • The College is evaluating the number of students who can gather socially on campus, and may reduce the size of gatherings to 10 people or less.


The Centennial Conference has not yet made a decision about competition in the spring semester. We hope to have more information about the Centennial Conference decision and its impact on our planning by mid-December.