One year ago today, March 12, 2020, we cancelled classes to give faculty a chance to prepare for remote learning and provide students an extra day to pack their things. Little did we know that we were embarking on a journey requiring extraordinary patience, perseverance and resilience.
Today, with one year behind us, we look ahead. We are preparing now for the 2021-22 academic year, and our plan is to return to a normal campus environment.
We know from experience circumstances can change, but assuming vaccinations progress as expected and state guidelines allow, we will resume regular campus operations and policies by August 1. This will include the removal of restrictions on campus gatherings, residential life and dining as well as requirements such as mask-wearing. In the months leading up to August, staff and faculty will return to standard on-campus work and operations, so that when the academic year begins, our community will be fully together.
Over the course of the last year, we’ve been at our best when we have shown bold leadership. Hope was one of the first small institutions to go remote last March, and last summer, we made an early commitment to resume in-person learning in the fall — even reimagining the academic schedule to make it happen.
As we look to the next academic year, let’s embrace this recalibration for the fall as another bold step forward. Resuming normal operations isn’t about “going back to the old way of doing things.” It’s about moving ahead, building upon all the innovation, creativity and expertise we generated during the pandemic.
Let’s also use this light at the end of the tunnel as a chance to renew our commitments today. We are surely closer to the end of the pandemic than the beginning. Yet currently, the virus remains a real threat to our community.
Therefore, while we will do our best to incrementally provide a more normal experience this semester, most current restrictions will remain in place through the end of this term, as well as May/June terms. Our mitigation strategy of masking up, distancing, wastewater surveillance testing, and quarantine/isolation is working to maintain a strong and healthy learning environment. Thank you for your efforts!
We are stronger than we were a year ago. And we look to the future with HOPE — a confident and joyful expectation that something good is going to happen!