Update on Adjustments to the Fall and Spring Term Plans
October 22, 2020
Dear Campus Community,
It has been more than seven months since we were first impacted by the pandemic. During this time, the college has taken extraordinary measures to focus on the health and safety of our campus community while ensuring continuity of academic instruction and business operations. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for following our health and safety protocols. Because of you, we have not had outbreaks on campus that other colleges and universities have seen and I know that is a testament to each of you understanding that we are in this together.
Recent data show, and public health officials confirm, that cases of COVID-19 are rising across the country just as we are about to approach the winter months. This is deeply concerning and requires continued vigilance on our part. At a minimum, please continue abiding by established protocols – wear a mask, maintain social distance, wash your hands and avoid large gatherings.
Today, in light of these developments and in order to be proactive in preparing for the long winter months ahead, I am announcing a number of measures in order to maintain the health and safety of the campus community.
Thanksgiving Break and the Remainder of the Semester
Recognizing the high risk for spread of the virus over the Thanksgiving holiday, we know that is possible that students who travel over Thanksgiving could be subject to mandated quarantine, depending on where they travel and growing infection rates in our community. Thus, we are encouraging students to remain home after Thanksgiving break through the end of the fall semester, if they are able to do so.
To ensure students can successfully complete the fall term, we are asking faculty to make course adjustments that would allow students to finish hybrid and in-person classes remotely with a few exceptions such as clinical placements and practica, which will continue to follow the guidance of the placement site. Additionally, and with rare exception as required by accreditation requirements, we are asking faculty not to plan for on-campus proctoring of final exams. Instructors will be contacting students about these adjustments to courses so students should wait for guidance from their instructors about what changes will be made for individual courses as instructors are also just getting this news and will need time to make plans. The health and safety of our campus community continue to be our highest priority as we make these necessary requests and adjustments.
We understand that not every student can choose not to return to campus after Thanksgiving, therefore, residence halls will remain open. For those students who must remain on campus, Residential Life and Housing will be developing mitigation protocol for those returning to campus after the Thanksgiving holiday. Residential Life and Housing will be following up with all residential students in a separate communication. Please note that this is strictly voluntary as refunds will not be issued.
Faculty and staff should continue with remote teaching and working in accordance with our established protocols.
The college will accommodate requests for hosting select events that adhere to current state of Rhode Island safety guidelines. Events must meet all guidelines issued by the college and the Rhode Island Department of Health. Please forward any event requests for consideration to College Events and Conference Services at firstname.lastname@example.org and include a state of RI required COVID-19 Control Plan and COVID-19 Event Template.
Winter Break and Winter Term
During the Winter Term, the majority of courses will be offered remotely and again, faculty and staff with current teleworking agreements will continue with remote working. At the conclusion of the fall semester, the college will provide residential housing for those students who, for extraordinary reasons, are unable to return home.
While we had hoped to be able to offer more in-person and hybrid options, as we have for fall, such options will be limited and all courses taught in person need to have safety protocols approved in advance and will be limited to certain buildings, classrooms and times in order to ensure we maintain rigorous cleaning protocols. Practica, clinical placements, and student teaching will continue based on site placement expectations and opportunities.
The Provost will be working with faculty to review the academic calendar to identify and recommend any necessary adjustments that must be made, including, but not limited to adjustments to spring break, registration, etc. Additional detail regarding changes, if any, to the academic calendar will be shared as soon as possible.
The college will also continue with a low-residency housing program during the spring semester for students living on campus.
COVID-19 Response Coordination
I want to thank Ducha Hang and Kimberly Dumpson for their leadership in guiding the development and initial implementation of the fall plan while maintaining their leadership roles in the divisions of Student Success and College Advancement and External Relations. Together with Carolynn Masters, our new Dean of the School of Nursing, they have worked alongside the COVID-19 Response Team to stay on top of the issues arising with our plan’s implementation.
In order to manage our COVID-19 response more fully, Clark Greene will assume the additional task of coordinating the day-to-day aspects of our COVID-19 response plan. Now, more than ever, we must continue our efforts to ensure the continued health and safety of our campus community. I want to thank Clark for taking on this important role and have every confidence in his ability to build upon the great work that has already begun.
I want to thank Christie Rishworth, who has worked tirelessly as head of Student Health Services and as the primary liaison to the Rhode Island Department of Health. Christie has been outstanding in helping us establish and implement the necessary policies and procedures underpinning our testing plan. Let me also thank the School of Social Work and its students who are assisting with the vital task of contact tracing. This work is essential to our plan and we appreciate their support.
The college’s COVID-19 response has also been effective because of those who participated on committees and teams over these past several months to prepare the college for fall reopening. Faculty and staff across campus have worked together, asking tough questions and challenging one another, to get the job done.
The teams in Public Safety, Residential Life and Housing, Housekeeping, Facilities, Adams Library, Donovan Dining Center, Student Health Services, Human Resources and other front-facing offices across campus have worked nonstop through the last several months. Please join me in thanking each of them for their commitment to the college and for all of the work that they have done to keep us safe and maintain our operations.
As I have said before, these are unprecedented times and I appreciate your flexibility. We will provide additional updates as we move forward.
We are committed to taking bold action to maintain the health and safety of the campus community. I am deeply grateful for all that you have done, are doing and will do to support the college and each other during these challenging times.
Together We Are #AnchorStrong!
Yours in education,
Frank D. Sánchez