Important Update | Fall Classes and On-Campus Living

The College will limit on-campus living to first-years and a small number of returning students for the first three and a half weeks of class.
Posted on August 14th, 2020 by

TO: The Gustavus Community
FROM: President Bergman
SUBJECT: Important Update | Fall Classes and On-Campus Living
DATE: August 14, 2020

Members of the Gustavus community, I write today with an important update on course delivery, on-campus living, and the academic calendar for the Fall 2020 semester. After careful deliberation by the President’s Cabinet and Board of Trustees, informed by the thoughtful work of the Faculty Emergency Planning Committee and the COVID-19 Response Leadership Team, and in consultation with local and state public health authorities, we have made the difficult decision to begin the fall semester with only first-year students, new transfer students, and a small number of returning students living on campus. All other students will complete the first three and a half weeks (September 2-September 25) of classes in an online format while living away from campus. During this period, all classes will be online with the exception of First Term Seminars and CUR-100—Transformations, Values, & Identity, which will be taught in their currently planned instructional format. We know based on our recent survey about online learning that students overwhelmingly want to be back on campus. We want you here, too. We have been and will continue to strive to have all students who desire living and learning on campus this semester when COVID conditions indicate we can do so in a safe manner.

Throughout the College’s COVID planning process, we have sought the best possible solutions that allow us to deliver our signature high-quality, in-person education and put systems in place that help ensure the safety and wellbeing of students, faculty, staff, and the broader Saint Peter community. The calculus of our decision-making has shifted constantly as we track infection rates, receive updated guidance from public health officials, and build out our operational capacity and plans at Gustavus. In light of Minnesota’s recent upswing in positive COVID-19 cases, particularly among 18-24 year olds, and out of an abundance of caution, we made the decision to limit the number of on-campus residents at the beginning of the academic year. Our faculty has been preparing for online learning over the course of the summer, and I am confident that the quality of our academic offerings will remain at our usual level of excellence.

Limiting the number of on-campus students at the beginning of the academic year allows us to monitor infection rates in Minnesota and the United States in order to provide a safe experience for members of our community. At the same time, our newest students, the Gustavus Class of 2024, will have the chance to complete orientation and begin their First Term Seminar or CUR-100 in the planned mode of instruction, almost all of which include an in-person learning component. We look forward to welcoming the rest of the student body back to campus beginning on September 25. Recognizing that the COVID situation continues to evolve, a final decision will be made and communicated by September 18.

Gusties, I know this last-minute adjustment creates issues and disappointment for nearly everyone. Students were getting ready to move their belongings into residence halls as soon as this weekend. Faculty have spent months preparing for their online, hybrid, or in-person classes. Staff are just beginning to return to on-campus work. We have a thorough plan, and I am confident that if we all do our part we will be able to live and learn together on campus. As students prepare to return to campus at the appropriate time, I ask that you self-quarantine or limit contact with others as much as possible in the two weeks before you join us on the hill.

It saddens me to write this message, as I was so looking forward to seeing all of you in a few short weeks. This is a time of vast upheaval and constant change. As we continue to battle this virus, rally for racial justice, and deal with economic uncertainty, we yearn more than ever to be close to one another. And yet, our responsibility is first and foremost to take prudent steps to help secure the safety and wellbeing of all. Our community is strong. We can do this.

Please see the information below about how this adjustment to our fall plans will affect several key areas. More details will be communicated in the coming days.

Gusties, please continue to ROAR (Respect Others, Act Responsibly). Let all of us do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. Wear a mask, practice good social distancing, wash your hands, and conduct your daily self screening. Each of us can make a difference, wherever we are, in confronting this virus. Continuing to follow these guidelines will allow us to be back together sooner rather than later.

As always, please continue to check the College’s COVID-19 website and email g-covidresponse@gustavus.edu with questions after carefully reviewing the contents of this message.

I believe that this new plan gives us the best possible opportunity to live and learn together on campus this semester. I am filled with a deep sense of pride and gratitude to be a part of the Gustavus community through these trying times. Our students, faculty, and staff have shown tremendous resilience, flexibility, and grace over the past six months. We will continue to face these challenges together.

Yours in community,

President Bergman


Course Delivery (September 2-September 25)
Classes will begin as scheduled on Wednesday, September 2. All courses, with the exception of First Term Seminars (FTS) and CUR-100 for incoming students, will take place in a 100-percent online format for the first three and a half weeks of the academic year. (September 2-September 25). Faculty members will be in contact with students soon with course information via Gustavus email addresses or Moodle, our learning management system.

Course Delivery (September 28-December 14)
A decision about course delivery for the rest of the semester will be made and communicated to students by September 18. While we hope to have a mix of in-person, hybrid, and online classes with members of our community on campus from September 28 through November 24, we will adjust course delivery plans as necessary with input from the Faculty Emergency Planning Committee, the COVID-19 Response Leadership Team, the Board of Trustees, and public health authorities. As announced to the community on July 1, the College still plans to transition to online course delivery at Thanksgiving Break (November 25) for the last seven days of classes and the final exam period. Final exams will conclude on December 14.

Students With Special Housing/Technology Needs
Although on-campus living will be restricted to first-year students, new transfer students, and other approved groups such as Gustie Greeters, Collegiate Fellows, and FTS Peer MALTS until September 25, other students may apply to live on campus from September 2-25. Those currently living on campus can choose to remain in their residence hall. Students with special circumstances such as limited access to food, technology resources for online learning, or a safe living situation, are encouraged to apply by using this link. In addition, students who wish to live away from campus but may need additional technology support should also fill out this request form as soon as possible. Gustavus Technology Services will be sending additional email communications to students in the next week to ensure that our students are in the best technological position to be successful in their online learning experience, on- or off-campus. The College will continue to ensure that no student lacks food, a safe place to live, or access to online learning.

International Students
International students will be approved to live on campus during the period between September 2-25. More information will be sent to international students by Jeff Anderson, Assistant Director of International Student and Scholar Services in the Center for International and Cultural Education.

Residence Hall Belonging Drop-Off
Originally scheduled for August 15-28, residence hall belongings drop-off will now be limited to incoming first-year students. Students who will live away from campus through September 25 should not bring their belongings to campus at this time. Residential Life will be in contact with all students regarding adjusted move-in plans and timing.

Room and Meal Plan Credits
Because the majority of students will not be able to move into on-campus residence halls until September 25, those students’ room and board costs will be adjusted to account for the three and a half weeks where students are not living on campus. Further details will follow in a separate communication.

Tuition-Free Ninth Semester Offered To Students
In recognition of the disruption that this period has caused for students and the possible impact on earning credits toward graduation or missing important experiences such as fine arts or athletics, Gustavus is offering a tuition-free ninth semester to eligible students. This tuition-free semester is available to returning or new students who are enrolled full-time at Gustavus for the 2020-2021 academic year and who will need an additional semester to complete their graduation requirements following their fourth year (eighth semester) of undergraduate studies. Details are being finalized and more information will be available soon. 

Student Employment
Students will be hearing from work supervisors in the next several weeks with details about student employment for the early Fall 2020 semester. 

Textbooks
We understand that many students have pre-ordered their textbooks through the Book Mark and/or were planning to purchase their textbooks and related materials in person at the Book Mark. Please watch your email for additional information next week from the Book Mark for specific plans about book purchase and pick-up.

Athletics and Fine Arts
Athletes whose teams are eligible to compete this fall (men’s and women’s tennis and men’s and women’s golf) will receive more information from the athletic department. Music auditions for first-year students will be held in a virtual format. Students will be hearing from music faculty with further details at a later date. Other fine arts activities that can take place online may continue.

Employee Information
Employees will receive an email from the Office of Human Resources with information about the College’s return-to-work process, required training videos, and updated policies in response to COVID-19. 

Updated Academic Calendar
First-Year Orientation:
August 30-September 1
First Day of Class: September 2 (all courses online except for FTS/CUR-100)
Labor Day: September 7 (classes will be held)
Decision About Rest of Semester: September 18
Returning Student Move-In*: September 25-27
In-Person/Hybrid/Online Class Period*: September 28-November 24
Nobel Conference: October 6-7 (offered virtually)
Thanksgiving Recess: November 25-29
Online Classes Begin*: November 30
Last Day of Class for Fall Semester: December 8
Reading Day: December 9
Final Exams: December 10, 11, and 14
Winter Break: December 15-January 3
January Interim Experience Begins*: January 4, 2021

*subject to change in response to COVID-19 conditions

 

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