June 22, 2020

The Path Forward for Fall 2020

Dear Students,

I hope you are taking care of yourselves and, more importantly, taking the time to learn as much as you can at the start of this momentous summer. I am writing today with news of the College’s plans for opening the campus in the fall. We will have much to do as a community when the semester begins, and so I want to express my gratitude to the many staff, faculty, and students whose hard work and good thinking have allowed us to get to this point.

Foremost on our minds, of course, is your health and safety. We are following guidance from the state of Connecticut, from public health officials, from alumni experts, and from colleagues at other colleges and universities to ensure a safe and productive semester.

That means the fall will not be typical. Public health guidelines, for example, call for social distancing and for using face coverings in public spaces to protect each other from infection. All of it will be an adjustment, to be sure, but I know you will rise to the challenge, because, in the end, that’s what Camels do.

We have created a website, the Path Forward to provide answers to the questions you may have. Please review it carefully and often. We will update the site as soon as new information becomes available. As incoming first-year students, you should be in touch with your first-year class dean, Emily Morash, about any questions or concerns that you have. She will be sending you regular updates this summer with all of the information you need to prepare yourself for your first semester at Conn. Please visit the Joining the Herd website for everything you need to stay connected and on track this summer.

For now, I offer a summary of the work we have done around your arrival, teaching, housing, dining, testing, and the Camels Care Pledge that we will be introducing later this summer.

Arrival Days and Welcome Weekend
This year, we will be welcoming to campus our new students in the Class of 2024 on two days, Thursday, August 27 and Friday, August 28, and our Welcome Weekend will take place from August 28 through August 31. Each student will be assigned a specific day and time and students will be tested as they arrive on campus. Incoming international students should contact the International Student Adviser, Dean Carmela Patton (cpatton@conncoll.edu) to plan for their arrival to campus.

Earlier this month, Dean Strickler sent you a letter explaining the new flexible course format for the fall, an approach that allows instruction to be delivered in both 7.5-week or 15-week periods with a hybrid of in-person and remote options. Classes will begin Sept. 1 and in-person instruction will end Nov. 21, with the remainder of the term, including final exams, conducted remotely. Information about selecting your first-year seminars, your advising team assignments, the fall semester class schedule and first-year registration will be sent to you in July.

Classrooms and public spaces across campus are being redesigned, as well, to allow for appropriate social distancing and to accommodate, where possible, new technologies for simultaneous in-person and remote instruction.

Housing and Dining
As with classrooms, we are also rethinking our use of residential spaces to address public health concerns. Here, social distancing means not only limiting room occupancy but also providing appropriate space to isolate students who may test positive for the virus. This, too, requires careful planning. The Path Forward website contains some details about our approach to first-year housing.

As for dining, we are following the latest guidance on food preparation and service to create new options for the fall. These include: increasing the number of dining spaces on campus; reconfiguring seats in existing locations; adjusting our approaches to serving; and expanding takeout.

Monitoring and Testing
To maintain a safe and healthy environment, we have also developed a robust program of testing and contact tracing for students, faculty, and staff. This goes well beyond the state guidance to provide even more peace of mind for you and the community. Again, you can find a detailed description of our plans on the Path Forward website.

Camels Care Pledge
In the end, our collective health and safety depends on the care and respect we have for each other. The Connecticut College honor code forms the basis for that care, and so, building on that foundation, we are asking everyone to sign the Camels Care Pledge, an acknowledgment of our shared individual and community responsibility to protect each other in the coming semester. Later in the summer you will receive the Camels Care Pledge and we will ask you to sign it and take it seriously.

So far, this letter has emphasized all the work we have undertaken to welcome you safely to campus. But the point of the work is for you to have a vibrant, engaging, and productive semester of learning, filled with programs and activities and connections with faculty, with staff, and with each other. We want you, in short, to thrive as you pursue your own goals and, even more important, contribute to the flourishing of your friends and colleagues as they pursue theirs. That is the essence of our mission, and I feel confident that, with your help, we will make it happen.

Please send any questions you have about this letter or about the website to Dean Emily Morash at firstyear@conncoll.edu. We will be providing numerous virtual events later this summer to help you get ready to join the Camel community in August.

We all look forward to welcoming you to campus in August.


Katherine Bergeron