Fall update!! Our Way Forward

Happy Friday, Daily Deacdom. Today a message went out to students, faculty, staff, and parents/families to announce some of what we know for the fall semester. Read the full message here.

The three biggest takeaways for me:

  1. We intend to operate on campus this fall, though we will end the on-campus portion of the semester before Thanksgiving. [YAY! I know being on campus is something students and parents/families want.]
  2. We are still actively working on the details of exactly how we will operate. Those details will be released by June 30.
  3. This semester will be necessarily different. We will all have to adjust to new approaches. But I believe we can rise to this occasion.

Also want to put a couple of things in context.

I know that parents and families want/need to know what day is Move-In for new students, Move-In for returning students, and what does Orientation for P’24s and ’24s look like. I do not have that information. We know you need to know those things to make travel plans, and I beg your patience right now.

As I have said many times, the complexity of COVID has been like the mythical Hydra (you cut off one head and two spring back in its place). Please know our planning teams are working on those details, but there is a lot to grapple with and that takes time.

Similarly, I know there are other questions (housing selection, health/safety requirements/protocols, what will classes look like, etc.). Our teams have been working non-stop to consider all those angles, and that takes time. My commitment to you is that as soon as that information is available for release, I will put all the particulars here.

There will be a robust set of public health expectations for our campus. We will communicate the health, safety and hygiene expectations necessary to create a successful semester before students arrive on campus. Today’s message said this: “we will provide education and seek your support on such practices as:

  • Wearing face coverings to limit infection and disease spread;
  • Maintaining social distancing to minimize infection and disease spread;
  • Vigilance in personal hygiene (hand hygiene, avoid touching your face and eyes, and cough/sneeze etiquette); 
  • Participating actively in self-reported daily symptom screening and of staying at home when you are sick or may have been exposed to COVID-19; and
  • Following guidelines on travel, indoor gatherings and isolation requirements.

While we don’t have the final details in terms of behavioral expectations for members of our campus community, parents and families can help right now by talking to your students about the importance of adhering to whatever public health measures are ultimately announced. Each member of our campus community will have to make individual choices that support the collective best interest.

We also know we will need to be nimble and adaptive when needed. As the message said, we are preparing our course design to include face-to-face, blended and online classes. Teaching will use technology where necessary and where it enables students to engage more fully in the academic experience, depending on disciplinary and pedagogical best practices and public health guidelines.  So you can help us by encouraging your Deac to be flexible.

Final notes:

Details on all the particulars will be available by June 30.

While our Call Center (336.758.7500) will be open next Mon-Thurs from 10 am-2 pm Eastern, I want to reiterate that all of us working the Call Center do not have information beyond what was shared in this afternoon’s email 🙂

We know this will be a different semester than ever before. But just the idea of being together again is an incredible feeling. Let’s all ride that high into the weekend!

 

— by Betsy Chapman, Ph.D. (’92, MA ’94)

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