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Plans for Fall 2020

Jun. 23, 2020

Dear Members of the Agnes Scott College Community,

While I know that these have been challenging times for everyone, we, at Agnes Scott, like you, are looking forward to the fall with great anticipation. We are very excited to be coming back together both in person and virtually and to be welcoming the class of 2024. There are still many uncertainties; however, I want to share with you our plans and the schedule for the 2020-2021 academic year. You will see that in all of our efforts we have kept the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff in the forefront while continuing our focus on an outstanding academic and co-curricular experience.

 

It has been a busy summer on campus as several groups of faculty, staff and students have been meeting virtually to prepare for reopening our campus. I want to personally acknowledge the leadership of the COVID-19 Task Force, co-chaired by Vice President for Student Affairs Karen Goff and Vice President for Business and Finance Ken England, as well as the work of the Instructional Planning, Campus Operations, Student Retention and Persistence task forces; the Health Advisory Group; SGA’s Student Advisory Group; SARRFA (student accounts, registrar, residence life and financial aid); and the president’s cabinet. I appreciate their commitment to providing me with thoughtful and fact-based, data-driven recommendations. I am especially grateful to the faculty who have been working diligently to revise their course syllabi and modes of instruction to accommodate physically distanced classrooms and hybrid classes.

 

Health and Safety

Given that the health and safety of our community remains our top priority, the Health Advisory Group is continually reviewing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as state and local entities, to ensure that we are following all recommendations and best practices. This group, along with the Wellness Center team, has developed the following protocols for our students:

  • All students must complete COVID-19 testing no more than seven days prior to their return to campus and enter their results in the Wellness Center student portal, Medicat. 
  • Students will use a daily symptom screening app, CDC/Apple COVID-19 Screening Tool, that will provide instructions for follow up, if needed. 
  • Targeted testing will occur throughout the fall semester. 
  • Information on contact tracing will be forthcoming.
  • All individuals on campus, including students, will be required to wear masks or face coverings in public spaces and spaces used by multiple people.
  • Students, in most cases, will be required to get an annual flu shot. 

 

Academic Calendar, Courses and Classrooms 

We remain committed to providing the highest-quality education to our students and to maintaining learning environments that are safe, supportive and equitable. Course instructors are engaging in professional development to prepare for new delivery modes and to better support student learning in the context of the pandemic. This professional development concentrates on pedagogy, course design, classroom equity and best practices for creating community and ensuring student engagement in remote and physically distanced settings. We have made the following adjustments to instruction for the fall 2020 semester:

  • Every course taught in the fall semester will have a remote option for students and faculty who are unable to return to campus or attend classes face-to-face. Some courses will be completely remote; others will be offered in “dual mode,” meaning that participants will attend in person and virtually. The delivery format of each course will be communicated to students in July.
  • Faculty will allow international students to switch from “fully remote” to “dual mode” if they arrive at any point during the semester. 
  • Classrooms will be reconfigured to allow for physical distancing, including removal of furniture or markings in rooms with fixed seating.
  • Each classroom, study and event space will be marked with a maximum capacity sign.
  • All student orientation events and Legacy programming for first-year students will be in an online format. 
  • The academic calendar has been modified to minimize student travel and exposure to COVID-19.

o    August 20 – first day of classes for undergraduate and Post-Bacc Pre-Med courses

o    August 24 – first day of classes for graduate-level courses

o    October 6-7 – Fall Break

o    November 24 – last day of classes

o    November 30-December 1 – reading days

o    December 2-7 – online exam period

  • Students who depart the campus for the Thanksgiving holiday may not return until the start of the spring semester.
  • Faculty members, advisors, McCain Library, student learning centers and other academic support functions will be available both in person and virtually throughout the semester. These resources will remain available virtually during reading days and exams.
  • Guest speakers, conferences, arts and cultural activities will be hosted virtually until further notice.

 

Study Abroad & College-sponsored Student Travel

The Center for Global Learning continues to monitor the U.S. Department of State’s and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s global travel and health alerts. Accordingly,

  • All college-sponsored domestic and international travel for students, including study abroad, has been suspended for the fall semester.
  • Planning continues for study abroad in the spring 2021 semester.
  • Advising sessions and applications for study abroad in the 2021-2022 academic year will be available during the 2020 fall semester.

 

Athletics

The Department of Athletics, in consultation with the NCAA and the USA South Conference, has developed the following guidelines:

  • NCAA athletic competition will resume in the fall. Athletes will return to campus on August 7 for training and acclimation to new protocols.
  • All athletes will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival and screened daily for symptoms.
  • Athletes will also be under strict physical distancing guidelines.
  • Athletic facilities will be regularly sanitized. 
  • The competition schedule will be changed to prioritize USA South contests and reduce the need for overnight travel.
  • All fall sporting events will be spectator-free. Family and fans may view games online.
  • Face-to-face physical education courses will be discontinued, with the exception of swim and tennis. All other PE classes will be offered virtually.

 

Housing and Residence Life

The Office of Residence Life has been working with the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards to institute COVID-19-related standards that ensure the safety and wellbeing of our campus community. Under the current plan of action: 

  • Students will return to campus using a staggered move-in schedule (by appointment only). Operational modifications to ensure appropriate physical distancing and other health and safety measures will be implemented throughout the move-in process.
  • New Students will move in on August 15 and 16.
  • Returning students will move in on August 17 and 18.
  • New international students will arrive on August 16, if travel conditions permit. If new international students are not able to arrive by that date, they must contact the Center for Global Learning immediately.
  • Returning international students with later arrival dates will be accommodated on a case-by-case basis and must coordinate their arrival with the Center for Global Learning and with the Office of Residence Life.
  • Guests will be limited during the residential move-in process, and the guest policy will be modified during the semester, as part of our mitigating and safety efforts. The Office of Residential Life will communicate specific guidelines to all on-campus residents.
  • The Office of Residence Life is coordinating with the Office of Accessible Education to reasonably accommodate students with health issues and other specific needs.
  • The residence life team will ensure the availability of secured spaces on campus for residential students that may require quarantine or isolation.

 

Dining

Dining services will be adjusted to provide for safe dining in the following ways:

  • Seating in Evans Hall and other campus dining facilities will be rearranged to provide for physical distancing and to ensure appropriate occupancy limits.
  • The floors will be marked to encourage students to remain six feet apart at all times.
  • Pre-packaged condiments, salads and sandwiches will be made available to expedite service and mitigate cross-contact. 
  • Self-service food stations will be eliminated or attended by a staff member.
  • All dining staff will wear face masks and gloves and receive a wellness check prior to starting each shift.
  • High-contact surfaces will be sanitized every hour.

 

Facilities    

The facilities team will be increasing measures to clean and disinfect the campus until further notice. This will include:

  • Cleaning protocols for classrooms and public areas
  • Hand sanitizers and wipes at stations in every classroom
  • Hand-sanitizer dispensers on each floor of every building
  • Disinfecting surfaces in elevators and restrooms multiple times per day

 

I have shared a great deal of information in this email, realizing that each day’s developments may warrant modifications to all, or parts, of our plan. We will continue to keep you informed as plans evolve.

 

We are truly in the midst of “the social challenges” that our college’s mission statement calls for us to engage, and I am heartened by all of the ways our community has stepped up to meet these challenges. It makes me proud to be part of such a caring, compassionate educational community, and I look forward to welcoming you to - or back to - our beautiful campus soon.

 

Take care and stay well,


Leocadia I. Zak

President