Fall 2020 Plan Overview

For the Common Good

Grinnell College has planned an academic year firmly grounded in the liberal arts and constantly informed by the latest medical information available on COVID-19. Over-populating a community introduces increased risk of transmission and is widely discouraged among epidemiologists, pandemicists and public health officials across the globe. Scientists agree that without testing, tracing, physical distancing and other prevention measures, it is impossible to stop COVID-19 until we reach herd immunity—probably months from now. While younger people are less at-risk of suffering from the virus, they do not have immunity and can unwittingly pass it to their families, faculty, staff and others in our community who are at greater risk. Fortunately, there are measures we can take that will allow us to guard against spread of the virus while welcoming students--in lower numbers than usual--to live on campus.

The first measure we are taking is to introduce a modified academic calendar consisting of four 7.5-week terms this year and an optional fifth term next summer. Of over 15 calendar variations we have considered with faculty, staff, students and administration over the last two months, we believe this calendar is the best aligned with a public health approach to planning. We are consulting a team of physicians and epidemiologists at the University of Iowa to develop a plan for testing throughout the year, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and social distancing strategies in academic, dining and common spaces.

Residency Plan

With limited exceptions, we will actively plan for the following groups to live and learn on-campus during these corresponding terms: 

  • Fall Term 1: Small number of students approved for continuous residence, who will remain on campus for most or all the academic year 
  • Fall Term 2: Third-year students and mid-year graduates 
  • Spring Term 1: First-year students 
  • Spring Term 2: Second- and fourth-year students 
  • Summer Term: Optional term to meet academic needs that arise 

Throughout the academic year, wherever you are, you will continue to have access to the amazing resources that are part of a Grinnell education.

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