Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
We hope this message finds you happy and healthy and enjoying this holiday season. Here at Saint Joe’s, we are busy planning for the return to campus in the new year. We wanted to send you all a preview of some of the modifications we will be making as this latest wave of the COVID-19 continues to build across the country and in Maine.
We remain committed to beginning spring semester classes as previously announced, on Tuesday, January 19th. This later start was announced earlier in the fall, along with other changes to the academic calendar, including the elimination of the traditional spring break recess in March. Despite many of these changes, we continue to prepare to conclude the semester on time, and plan for Commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2021 on May 8th.
Our return to campus living is a different matter. We will be adapting our return to campus to respond to the increased COVID risks in three critical ways:
The College will be staggering the campus return for resident students starting January 18th and then through the last few weeks of January. The order in which students have been designated to move-in will be based on the unique campus needs of each class. We will release our staggered move-in schedule via an email communication on January 8th. Classes will begin for all students on January 19th, whether on campus or via our remote HyFlex platforms.
When students return to campus in January, all students must present a negative test result before being permitted to enter the campus. While negative tests are already required for most inter-state travel by the State of Maine, the present and anticipated levels of community transmission of COVID-19 within Maine are also alarming. As such, both resident and commuter students will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours before their campus arrival.
We are also aware that a negative test result only represents a result at a singular moment in time, and that consistent community health requires a predictable testing schedule. Students have noted that having reliable testing appointments throughout the semester allows them to better plan their lives. We expect to test all students twice in the first week after they arrive on campus, and on a consistent and regular basis throughout the spring semester. We will also expand the testing of faculty and staff working on campus on a regular surveillance schedule.
This email represents a preview of important information for our students, faculty, and staff. Again, a follow-up communication with more specific information will be sent to the community on January 8th.
As we stressed at the start of the fall semester, and stress even more strongly in this much more intense period of COVID infection, our return to campus will demand flexibility and trust to keep the College a vibrant place to live and learn. You should expect us to adapt to circumstances in real-time, as we listen closely to what this virus tells us.
Most importantly, we must all trust each other to practice the most effective behaviors that protect our community:
- always wear masks,
- always maintain social distancing,
- never gather in groups,
- and always wash our hands frequently.
This is simply what we must do to stay safe and healthy. This is what we must do to learn effectively, remain a community together, and reach graduation and summer break.
Thank you all, and have a wonderful winter break!
The Saint Joseph’s College Pandemic Response Team