As we planned for the academic year which is nearly at an end, we have had three primary goals:
- creating and maintaining a healthy and safe learning environment;
- offering as much of the campus experience as was possible to both our on-campus and commuter students while adhering to best community health practices; and
- being in a position to celebrate the Class of 2021 with an in-person commencement, even if modified.
The members of the PRT have kept these three goals in the forefront of their work this year.
We have reached a point where it is becoming apparent that we will not be able to achieve all three of these outcomes. The impact of COVID-19 on the community is very different this spring from our experience in the fall. Rapidly increasing case counts, very high and rapid conversion rates to positive among close contacts, and much greater symptomatic presentation have emerged as the dominant elements over the past three weeks. The additional COVID related safety protocols we have implemented recently have not had enough of a moderating impact.
The PRT has recommended, and I have accepted their recommendation, that we narrow our focus to the goal of being in a position to celebrate the Class of 2021 with a modified in-person commencement.
To attempt to achieve this goal, we will begin the closure of residence spaces over the next three days with the result that by the beginning of next week, most first, second, and third year students, along with commuters will be in a position to complete their classwork and their final exams in a fully remote mode. Seniors in residence halls can remain on campus should they choose and will also complete classes and exams remotely.
This will also result in discontinuing most formal campus activities, including athletics. We are proud of our Monks, grateful that they have made a chance to represent the College this year, and very aware of what this decision means for them.
Please note that as students leave campus, we will again be offering exit testing in the interest of keeping your families and communities safe.
Additional and more detailed guidance on the entire move-out process will be available through a series of communications you will receive over the next day.
Student employment through the end of the semester will be limited to essential departments with student employees, tutors in ACE, and student workers who are seniors.
This decision has not been arrived at easily or without significant, careful consideration of the various options available to us. Once again our expectations and our lives have been disrupted.
It is a long-standing tradition that graduating classes present a class gift to their alma mater as part of the Commencement rituals. This year I encourage us all to understand the sacrifices we are being asked to make at the end of the semester as our collective gift to the Class of 2021.
Thank you all for all you have done and will continue to do to ensure the health and well-being of the Saint Joseph’s College community.