May 26, 2020

A Message about the Fall Semester

Dear Faculty and Staff,

I am writing to share with you a message that Jefferson Singer, John McKnight and I sent to current students last Friday to keep them informed about the work we are undertaking to prepare for the fall semester.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Victor Arcelus
Dean of Students

Dear Students,

Congratulations on completing your spring semester, and many thanks for your flexibility, perseverance and commitment over these past two months. It has been challenging for all of us but there is no one we’d rather be navigating these waters with than you. 

We write today to give you more information about the steps we are taking to prepare for your return next year. In early May, you heard from President Bergeron about our goal to enable a successful and healthy semester in fall 2020. Our three working groups—on academic, campus life, and business continuity—have been meeting several times each week to discuss how to handle every detail of your on-campus experience in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are seeking advice from local public health officials, peers in other Connecticut colleges and universities and colleagues across higher education. In addition, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s office recently released a detailed report with important guidelines and requirements for repopulating all colleges and universities in Connecticut. All of these resources and considerations are informing our plans as is our commitment to equity and inclusion. Every college and university in Connecticut is required to submit a report this summer that details how we are meeting the state’s expectations.

Here is a partial list of the questions we are discussing:

  • What online courses will be offered this summer? 

  • What kind of changes to the fall academic calendar will be necessary?

  • What modes of teaching—remote, in-person, or hybrid—will best serve your needs?

  • How will we ensure equity in the educational experience for students? 

  • What protocols are needed to bring students, faculty and staff safely back to campus? 

  • What changes are needed in housing, dining and the co-curricular experience?

  • What arrangements will we have for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing?

  • How much personal protective equipment (PPE) will be necessary?

  • How will we manage social distancing expectations? 

  • How will we redesign spaces where students interact with staff?

  • How will academic teaching spaces be rearranged to make them safe for classes?

  • How will cleaning and disinfecting protocols be redesigned?

  • What new guidelines are necessary around campus visitors and events? 

  • How will we continue to offer rich opportunities for social engagement and connection?

As you can see, the issues are wide-ranging and complex. Our faculty, staff and student representatives have been offering wonderful insights and the entire College community is working diligently to answer these and other questions. If you, too, have ideas, we encourage you to share them by contacting the students on the working groups or using the online forms below.

Working Group on Academic Continuity
Benjamin Meyer ’22, 
Jacob Nozaki ’22
Use this form to contact the Academic Continuity working group

Working Group on Continuity of Campus Life 
Lucie Englehardt ’23
Daniel Varela ’22
Use this form to contact the Campus Life Continuity working group

Working Group on Business Continuity 
Samirah Jaigirdar ’22
Madeline Vanech ’23
Use this form to contact the Business Continuity working group  

One area of particular concern for you, of course, is housing. A number of you have asked when housing selection for next year might take place. We understand that knowing where you will live in the fall is an important part of your own planning. If you read the governor’s report, however, you will see that there are many areas for us to address before we can begin housing assignments. We hope to begin that process in early July. We also received questions about when and how you may pick up personal belongings you stored on campus in March. Now that Connecticut is beginning to reopen, the Office of Residential Education and Living will be in touch with students about the process for returning to campus to retrieve belongings.    

We hope this update has been helpful. You can expect to hear more over the course of the summer from Daniel Varela ’22, next year’s SGA president, who serves on the Continuity of Campus Life working group. Again, if you have perspectives to share, please reach out to the students above or fill out the appropriate forms so that your thoughts are considered.   

We are eager to see you back on campus!

Victor Arcelus
Dean of Students

John McKnight
Dean of Institutional Equity and Inclusion

Jefferson Singer
Dean of the College