Update from Hood College

June 14, 2020

Dear Neighbors,


We wanted to share the latest news about our plans for the fall semester. This email was shared with faculty, staff, students and families on Friday.


If you have any questions, please refer them to covidquestions@hood.edu.


-COVID Emergency Response Team

Dear Faculty and Staff,

Since the day in March that we made the difficult decision to transition to remote learning, I have heard continually from our students how much they wish to return to campus, and I am sure you would like to be back as well. I assure you that we are working hard to make that happen. I have been filled with pride and drawn strength from the way that everyone in our community has responded to the pandemic crisis, doing their very best to support our students and provide a healthy and safe campus environment. The cooperation and flexibility exhibited by everyone illustrates that regardless of what we face in the fall, Hood will remain a strong and vibrant learning community.


Nearly 100 people, including students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni and community experts, have been busy developing those fall plans, guided by two core principles:

1. Decrease health and safety risks for our community members to the greatest extent possible
2. Fulfill our mission by providing an optimal educational experience for all students


We will provide a more complete plan in early July; however, I did want to share with you some important decisions we have made thus far so that you can begin planning accordingly.


A New Way of Learning and Being Together in Community

First, we have decided to change the fall academic calendar by beginning the fall semester one week early, eliminating fall break and ending the semester before Thanksgiving, thus extending winter break. This change to the calendar will minimize the amount of off-campus travel during the semester and maximize our ability to complete the semester prior to a possible second wave in COVID-19 cases at the end of the calendar year.


Important dates:

  • June-July – Workforce transitions to on-campus work
  • Monday, Aug. 3 – Full workforce on campus
  • Monday, Aug. 10-16 – Staggered move-in for residential students
  • Monday, Aug. 17 – First day of classes for undergraduate and graduate students
  • Monday, Sept. 7 (Labor Day) – Classes in session, offices open*
  • Saturday, Oct. 10-Wednesday, Oct. 14 – Fall break canceled; all classes in session
  • Friday, Nov. 20 – Last day of undergraduate classes
  • Saturday, Nov. 21 – First day of finals (no Reading Day; final exam schedule under development)
  • Tuesday, Nov. 24/Wednesday, Nov. 25 – finals end; last day of graduate classes; residence halls close
  • Thursday, Nov. 26 – Thanksgiving; winter break begins

* With the loss of Labor Day as a holiday, you will have an additional floating holiday to take at your discretion.


Second, in our commitment to provide an accessible and engaging learning experience that responds to the needs of each student and adheres to all health protocols by maintaining social distancing, we are taking the following measures:


Fall courses will be designed to be offered in a bimodal format, so that both faculty and students have the flexibility to participate in person or online as needed. The emphasis will be on in person and synchronous class sections but allows for continuance of courses regardless of what disruptions the fall may bring. Also, if necessary, some courses may be offered fully online.


All spaces on campus – classrooms, shared and public spaces, Coblentz Dining Hall, residence hall rooms and more – are being reconfigured to comply with CDC guidelines on social distancing. It is important to note that this flexibility will also be applied to accommodate special situations for all members of our community. As one example, residency requirements will be relaxed in order to accommodate students for whom living on campus may not be prudent.


Additional activities currently underway include:

  • Enhanced cleaning protocol per CDC guidelines
  • Protocols to minimize concentrated campus pedestrian traffic
  • Optimizing health services to establish a self-assessment/contact tracing plan and protocol for responses to positive cases; conducting an outbreak scenario to ensure preparedness; and implementing COVID-19 guidelines for all members of our community
  • Installation of increased technology in classrooms to allow for bimodal delivery of class instruction
  • Reimagining all aspects of the student life experience – athletics, student organization activities, campus-wide events, extra-curricular opportunities and student-services – to provide a robust and engaging student experience, recognizing much will have to change in order to reduce health risks
  • Continuing to provide counseling services for students both on-site and through tele-counseling


A more detailed plan will be shared in early July, including the process for move-in, safety protocols, changes in current policies and procedures, and additional guidance for each of you to prepare for this unprecedented situation. For now, I do hope this information helps you to begin planning for the fall semester.


Currently, we are continuing to operate under the Sunrise Plan and most employees are continuing to work from home. While all buildings on campus are still closed, admission is beginning to offer tours and visits with prospective families, with limited numbers and safety protocols in place. Staff members in accounting services and financial aid, as well as some other offices, are also beginning to slowly transition to campus.


We are living in a new era where we are adopting new behaviors and social norms. While we will be the same Hood community, with high-quality education and strong values, it is important for me to say that things will be different when we return to campus. You will be reminded about hand washing, face covering and social distancing and some of your usual activities may be restricted. If you feel sick, you will be expected to stay home.


As members of the Hood community, we must all do our part to protect and care for each other and our students. And even though we will be wearing masks, the Hood Hello will be more important than ever to keep our community spirit. We all recognize that there will be moments of anxiety, uncertainty and frustration. I ask each of you for your patience, understanding and kindness as we work through these challenges together.


In the coming weeks, there will be a lot of communication (yes, more long emails!), all of which will be archived on hood.edu/covid19; and I am sure there will be a lot of questions. We want and need your input. Please continue to use covidquestions@hood.edu as the way to share your feedback.


When I think about the many decisions and tasks that need to be completed in order to be ready for the fall, it is daunting. As has already been the case, we will be asking for your help in ways that are not your usual responsibility. But I am confident that if we come together as a community, we will be ready.


Since early March, I have received a number of emails from many of you. I appreciate the outreach and support. We are stronger together. I so look forward to welcoming you all back to campus! Until my next update, please stay safe.


Sincerely,

Andrea E. Chapdelaine, Ph.D.
President