Skidmore to start remote learning March 23 due to COVID-19
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
As you know from news reports, the World Health Organization, based on the speed and scale of transmission, is now describing the global outbreak of COVID-19 as a pandemic. In the last few days, governments and major organizations have taken extraordinary steps to limit the spread of this virus. There is no question that the number of cases of COVID-19 will increase exponentially over the coming weeks. In our previous communication with the Skidmore community, I stated that the health and safety of all members of our community are our highest priorities. To these values we now must add our responsibility to the broader Saratoga Springs community and, indeed, to our nation, to do everything in our power to slow the course of this illness.
With these concerns in the forefront of my mind, I write to announce that Skidmore has made the decision to move to remote learning after the extended spring break, effective Monday, March 23, and continuing throughout the remainder of the spring semester. While there are no known cases of COVID-19 at Skidmore, given the continued and rapid spread of the disease to communities within the United States and around the world, and the need to mitigate the spread of the virus to our campus community, we are taking these extraordinary steps.
We understand that this is a significant change that will feel like a loss to many. Please know that College leadership did not make this decision lightly. The move to remote learning is necessary to ensure the health and safety of our entire community. As a small residential college, if an outbreak were to occur at Skidmore, it would be particularly challenging for our institution to provide care for many people infected at one time.
In the last few days, I have heard from many students and parents asking that we not cancel in-person classes and that we allow all students to return to campus. Seniors, especially, are very concerned about the loss of the final weeks of their last semester at Skidmore. I feel tremendous empathy with our students and know that our decision will disrupt their lives significantly. But, extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. So, I ask all members of the Skidmore community to consider the big picture and embrace the steps necessary for our community to do our part in bringing the current crisis to a point where we can resume normal operations.
The College remains open and campus administration operations will continue as usual. Faculty and staff will remain on their regular work schedules. While there are no known cases on our campus, specialized cleaning crews will be seen on campus wearing protective gear because of the material they are using for deep cleaning.
Remote study academic information
Beginning Monday, March 23, classes will resume remotely using alternate modes of instruction. Students will be able to complete the courses they have already begun and can expect to receive more information from their instructors by Friday, March 20. We ask students to be patient while the details are finalized.
Our staff in Learning Experience Design and Digital Scholarship (LEDS), Information Technology, the Scribner Library, and the Office of the Dean of the Faculty are providing resources and assistance to faculty so they are prepared to deliver their courses using digital technologies.
Although courses will need to be adjusted for the online environment, we are committed to ensuring that students can complete their coursework for the semester and that seniors will complete their degrees as planned. Campus offices such as the Registrar’s Office, Academic Advising, the Opportunity Program, Student Academic Services, and the Career Development Center will remain open and available to help students remotely throughout the semester.
For international students anxious about the potential impact of remote learning on their visa status, the federal government has provided institutions with flexibility to respond to COVID-19, including offering online classes, without adversely impacting international students’ F-1 visa status.
All students must move out of campus housing. Students will be allowed to access campus residences to retrieve belongings beginning on Monday, March 16, and must be moved out by Saturday, March 21. Additional details will be shared with students directly.
We recognize that some members of our community claim Skidmore College as their legal residence, and others are unable to return to their home for other reasons, such as countries with travel restrictions. Additionally, regarding access and equity, we understand that some students may not have the required technology resources away from campus. For these reasons, room and board will be available to a limited number of students to remain on campus during the spring 2020 semester.
The deadline to submit a request for consideration is 11:59 p.m. EST on Saturday, March 14. Late requests cannot be accepted. The College will respond to student requests within two business days and will work with students on a one-on-one basis.
Commencement and future campus events
We are aware there are concerns about Commencement and other future campus events. It is too soon to know if and how Commencement and other events will be affected by COVID-19. We are monitoring the situation and will notify students and families as soon as we are able to make a final decision.
The Office of Off-Campus Study & Exchanges continues to work closely with Skidmore’s off-campus study program providers and the Emergency Management Team at Skidmore to make decisions about our students who are currently studying abroad. More information is available online.
Faculty and staff
The College remains operational and will continue to provide services during this time, though in some cases, how we deliver these services will be modified. As with all community members, our primary focus is keeping our faculty and staff healthy. We have posted faculty- and staff-specific FAQs that provide answers to common questions we all will be facing during this challenging time.
Skidmore is committed to maintaining an environment of respect and support for all members of our community. We understand that this situation may be troubling to many in our community. If you are feeling anxious or worried because of the news about COVID-19, we encourage you to use College resources. Students may contact the Counseling Center. Employees may make use of the Employee Assistance Program.
For additional information, please check the continually updated Frequently Asked Questions section on the COVID-19 webpage. We encourage students to check their email frequently for updates and instructions.
This is an unprecedented situation for Skidmore College and we are working to support and assist all members of our community. Wherever we are, this is a moment for us to join in a spirit of cooperation, compassion, understanding and flexibility. I am confident that our community, as always, will rally and employ the creative thought that makes Skidmore so special. We are all in this situation together, and it will take our collective efforts to deal with it effectively.
Philip A. Glotzbach