Fall Planning Update
I write to you today to share the glad news that we are actively planning for a return to in-person education in the fall of 2021. We look forward to welcoming all students back to campus and to a return to our living and learning in community.
These plans are due in no small measure to the largely positive trajectory on campus of late, including moves to shift from Yellow to Blue activity level status; convene a post-pandemic workplace group; hire New Student Orientation, Community Assistant and other student employees for the fall; and plans to begin spring sports competition in outdoor venues. These positive steps reflect growing confidence among our public health advisors for a safe, gradual return to more in-person activities. Although classes will remain mostly virtual for Spring Term 2, administration and pandemic planning teams will work with faculty and staff to plan for a primarily in-person fall semester.
Our decisions during the pandemic have focused on community health conditions and projections. We do not anticipate a scenario in which we would reverse our fall plans; however, we will continue to monitor the potential for a national surge following spring break and the relaxing of many states’ mandates. Even with such concerns in mind, the plan to reopen in the fall reflects emerging optimism that the promising news about vaccinations and additional knowledge about virus spread will permit a safe return of all Grinnell students to campus.
Re-entry into a community shaped by a year of pandemic living and experiences will be more than a simple return. We understand these plans will raise many questions, some of which will take more time to fully address as we work through re-adjustments to communal living and learning. We will closely track public health conditions across the country, in our region, and locally in adopting practices for on-campus living and learning that continue to support community health and re-entry into community in the fall.
The commitment to public health and academic continuity by students, faculty, and staff throughout the pandemic has been crucial through the many challenges and sacrifices that the pandemic has brought, and has presented many lessons about persistence, collaboration, and connection that will sustain us this fall and beyond. Thank you, to each of you, for what you have sustained and made possible this long year — and for all that you will shape and enliven as we re-enter our communal experience at Grinnell.
Onwards, with optimism and resolve.
Anne F. Harris