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Fall Semester at Agnes Scott

Dear Agnes Scott Students,

It is with a profound sense of sadness and disappointment that I write to inform you that we have made the painful decision to move to fully online courses for the fall semester. This decision was made with President Zak and the support of the Board of Trustees. While we hoped that we would be able to bring our community back together on campus, our commitment to your health and safety and that of our faculty and staff comes first. Over the past several weeks, COVID-19 cases have been increasing dramatically in many states, with Georgia reporting a record 4,295 new cases last Friday. Nationally, we have also seen a sharp rise in the percentage of young adults testing positive. These sobering trends caused us to reassess our plans. In light of this new information, our thorough and detailed planning for re-opening the campus—from masks and physical distancing to screening protocols and contact tracing, dual-mode classrooms and dining protocols—no longer seemed sufficient to protect our community. 

I can only imagine how disappointed you must be. Faculty and staff also wanted to return to campus to meet our first-year and transfer students and to welcome back our returning Scotties. If during the course of the fall, it is determined that it is safe to do so, we will start to bring students to campus—beginning with our first-years—so that they can have the experiences and embrace the traditions that their fellow Scotties treasure. For now, an all remote semester is the right thing to do.

Your overall experience as Scotties is at the forefront of our decision-making. We are committed to providing the academic quality and support that you would have received on campus and are prepared to do so. Classes in a remote format will begin on August 20 as previously announced. To help you prepare for the semester, faculty, academic affairs staff and I will be providing more information in an academic Q&A session Monday, August 3, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. (a Zoom link will be sent to students).

Here is a brief overview of what Fall 2020 will offer.

The academic program we will offer this fall is high quality and robust. Since students left campus in March, faculty and staff have been busy preparing for a learning environment that is meaningful, engaging and responsive to the conditions of the pandemic. This summer, in addition to doing research and developing course content, faculty are attending workshops and mentoring each other to address the issues and meet the challenges of this new reality. They have also been focusing on online course design, the advanced use of remote technology and online pedagogy. Topics for these workshops have included “What Students Want Faculty to Know,” “Inclusive Remote Pedagogies: Levelling Inequities in the Classroom” and “Teaching and Learning in a Time of Trauma.” Staff at our wonderful tutoring centers—including the Resource Center for Math and Science (RCMS), the Center for Writing and Speaking (CWS), the Center for Digital and Visual Literacy (CDVL) and departmental tutors—are undergoing similar training so they can help you do your best work across the disciplines. The Academic Advising and Accessible Education teams are ready to answer your questions and meet your needs in the remote learning environment, and the McCain Library staff have developed new resources for supporting student research remotely. Thanks to funding from the Goizueta Foundation, the Office of Internship and Career Development (OICD) now has three new coaches to lead career communities and to support the professional success of students through internships, jobs and graduate programs suited to their interests. The OICD team has developed an extensive array of online internships for the coming year.

We will continue to support the physical, mental health and wellbeing of all students by offering services and resources through our Wellness Center, both Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Student Health Services via telehealth appointments, and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life. The Scottie Emergency Fund (scottiecare@agnesscott.edu) will remain available for students who need supplemental assistance with essential needs, e.g., food, transportation, medication, laptops.

A myriad of opportunities will also be available for students to remain engaged in campus life, through programs offered by the Center for Student Involvement, the Gué Pardue Hudson Center for Leadership and Service and the Gay Johnson McDougall Center for Global Diversity and Inclusion. Information regarding New Student Orientation, Legacy and other first-year experiences will be sent directly to our new Scotties and their families. Athletics has been granted a waiver by the NCAA to extend the fall and winter playing season into the spring. However, student-athletes will continue to engage in a robust virtual training during the fall semester with conditioning and preparation for competition in the spring semester. Revised competition schedules will be released for soccer, volleyball and cross country. 

Tuition for the 2020-2021 academic year will remain at the announced level. Your tuition supports the unique academic experience at Agnes Scott and the faculty and staff who deliver it. This includes the work of faculty and staff as described above to provide a rich, varied and always evolving academic program and the many support services that enhance your learning experience and ensure your success. In addition to those already mentioned, many other offices will continue to assist you in registering for courses, receiving financial aid, paying your bills and much more.

We recognize that for some students, including international students and those with critical housing needs, living on campus is essential for them to have a learning environment conducive to their academic success. Therefore, students with extenuating circumstances should contact the Office of Residence Life at reslife@agnesscott.edu for additional information regarding the request, review and approval process to reside in Avery Glen, as there are a limited number of spaces available.

You likely have many questions. First, please check out our FAQs on the college’s website. Specific questions not addressed there should be emailed to fallquestions@agnesscott.edu. To ensure your questions and concerns are addressed promptly, include your preferred call-back phone number in the email. A dedicated staff member will monitor this email address and route specific concerns to the appropriate offices for a timely response. Calling or emailing individual offices may result in a delay in responding to you.

I want to thank members of the COVID-19 Task Force and the other college task forces that have been working tirelessly for months to closely monitor ongoing developments of the pandemic, assess the evolving situation and plan for possible impacts to our campus community. Our planning continues for an in-person, on-campus experience in the spring. 

As we have said many times, the health and safety of our community remains our top priority. We have made the hard decision to move to online instruction for the fall semester with an understanding that there will be serious financial implications for the college. While financially sound, Agnes Scott, like other colleges and universities, will have to significantly reduce expenses in order to balance the 2020-2021 budget. This will be a difficult task. 

None of us wanted a remote fall semester. Our values and our commitment to the student experience have made it necessary. Until we can be together again on campus—and we all wish for this to happen as soon as possible—I ask for your help in continuing to develop the close bonds of friendship and mutual respect that so distinguish our community. Online or in person, WE ARE AGNES SCOTT. Our community is strong and will become stronger still as we engage this challenge—together. 

Best wishes,

Christine S. Cozzens

Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College