Latest fall planning update from President-elect Marc C. Conner
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
Last week we shared an update on the fall planning with all faculty and staff on Wednesday, and a separate update with all parents and students on Thursday. We also went live with our ongoing Fall Planning website, which provides multiple resources, links and information, including these updates and messages.
Since then, the New York governor’s office has published its own “Higher Education Guidelines” as part of the “Reopening New York” planning process, which give us helpful direction in what the state will require of and recommend to institutions of higher education for the fall. The Reopening Safety Action Plan for Skidmore for the current phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan has been shared with all Skidmore employees, and we are conducting training this week in preparation for the start of only phase 2 reopening on June 29. That plan and other documents are available on the Fall Planning website, which is updated on a regular basis.
Regarding athletic competition, the Liberty League has met to review possible options for athletic programming and competition in the fall. Final determinations will be forthcoming.
Simultaneously, our administrative action teams that represent all areas of campus have been working at a very high pace, gathering information and developing plans, including the following:
- The initial survey to faculty, asking about their preferences for virtual or in-person instruction, or both, in the fall, went out last week, and we are processing those results. At a very general level, it appears that approximately 70% of faculty plan on some version of in-person teaching in the fall.
- The proposed academic calendar, which was described last week with classes starting the week of Aug. 24 and ending on Friday Nov. 20, and exams and final projects being completed remotely after Thanksgiving, is currently under review by the Committee on Educational Policies and Planning (CEPP).
- We are conferring with consultants in key areas including testing, screening and contact tracing, health and safety guidelines and infrastructure capacity for residential life and other campus spaces, and air filtration systems in campus buildings.
- We are carefully reviewing possible student residential spaces, including options with local hotels, apartments and other off-campus or near-campus solutions, and the best options for isolation and quarantine space.
- Ongoing faculty support for teaching, technology and instructional design continues through a wide range of programs. The full list is available on the Summer 2020 Professional Development Calendar.
Our commitment to clear and consistent communication and collaboration at every stage of the process continues. More updates will be forthcoming in the days ahead, and on Thursday, July 2, we will issue our final plan for returning to campus in the fall, subject, of course, to the health and safety guidelines of the state and other professional agencies.
The week of July 6-10 we will hold virtual community forums for faculty, staff, students, parents and families, with an opportunity for questions and answers and a discussion with campus leaders in the various areas of this work, including academic affairs, student affairs, finances and operations, and admissions and financial aid. There are many difficult questions associated with every step of these decisions, and we will continue to answer and respond to as many as we can.
Let me close by saying once again that our commitment is to bring as many of our students to campus as we can in accordance with health and safety guidance provided by county, state and federal agencies and best practices, and to continue to provide our students with one of the best liberal arts education experiences in the country. As the guidance continues to develop, and as we learn more each day about how best to live and work in the presence of this virus, we are confident that together, the Skidmore community can respond with an effective and fulfilling educational experience for our students this coming academic year. Once again, I appreciate all your efforts and your patience as we work through this challenging time.
Marc C. Conner