Winter 2021 term planning — class start to be delayed

Dear members of the McMaster community,

While we work our way through the fall semester we have also been focused on how we can make sure that the winter 2021 semester delivers the best possible programs for our students while supporting their wellness and mental health.  We also want to ensure that we help support our faculty and instructors in delivering creative and innovative programs in our predominantly online environment.

A recommendation coming from the Virtual Learning Task Force and supported by the President and Vice-Presidents (PVP) means that while the university will re-open for the winter term as planned on January 4th,  classes will be delayed one week and will begin on January 11th.  Classes will be extended into the exam period which will be adjusted so there is no overlap between classes and exams and the overall winter term will end as originally scheduled.  Reading Week will take place as planned during the week of February 15th.

Due to clinical placements and other program requirements there are a few exceptions to the January 11th start of classes.

  • Faculty of Health Sciences programs — except for the Bachelor of Health Sciences, Integrated Biomedical Engineering and Health Sciences, Biomedical Discovery and Commercialization and the Honours Biology and Pharmacology Co-op programs — will begin classes the week of January 4th as originally planned.
  • Graduate student thesis defences already planned for the week of January 4th will also go ahead as scheduled

This change in the starting day for most classes will give faculty, instructors and staff the opportunity to spend their working time the week of January 4th on preparation for the winter term.  The delay also gives students time to recharge and those who went home for their Christmas break the chance to isolate for an additional week to help limit any potential COVID-19 cases.

Instructors are also asked to consider using the week of January 11th to help students connect with their classmates, hold additional office hours and to encourage students to participate in McMaster’s support programs to help them stay healthy and well.

I appreciate the thoughtful approach the Virtual Learning Task Force has taken, its keen attention to the health and well-being of our community and their commitment to making some early recommendations so they can be acted upon quickly. I look forward to receiving the Task Force’s full report and recommendations.

My ongoing thanks to everyone for the incredible efforts being taken to deliver our academic programs and to helping our students be successful.


Susan Tighe

Provost, McMaster University