Fall planning update from President Conner
Dear Skidmore Community,
I hope everyone is doing well and holding up during this challenging time. This afternoon, I announced to our student-athletes that the Liberty League has decided to cancel all league competition for the fall, due to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. I cannot express how disappointing this news is. We had continued to plan for at least some version of an athletic season this fall, under the most scrupulous health precautions. But the challenges were too much to overcome for the fall. However, our teams can continue to meet, practice and train together, and we hope this will at least offer some version of the student-athlete experience that is such an important component of the college experience.
As we continue to plan to bring most of our students to campus this fall, we recognize that this unprecedented and evolving situation will continue to present unexpected challenges to which we will respond as needed, and our primary focus will always be the health and safety of our students and our entire Skidmore community.
We are continuously monitoring the latest COVID-19 developments, and last week we announced our plan to provide quarantine housing and support to all students who are traveling to the College from any location that requires quarantine, including states on New York’s travel advisory list. As we informed students and their families, quarantine housing in a Saratoga Springs hotel will be offered beginning on Aug. 7, and students who require quarantine are encouraged to arrive no later than Aug. 9 to complete the 14-day isolation period and be tested for COVID-19 in time to begin in-person classes on Aug. 24. Students and families seeking answers to frequently asked questions about quarantine are invited to consult a list on Skidmore’s Fall Planning website.
This week we resumed campus visits for prospective students and their families. These visits are carefully modified: all participants must undergo a screening prior to arrival; groups are limited to no more than six; of course masks and social distancing are required; no tours will enter any College buildings; and tour participants are identified by special stickers. Additionally, Admissions offered the first of three virtual open houses earlier today, and two more are scheduled for Friday, Aug. 7, and Monday, Aug. 27. Participation, I am happy to report, is robust.
As I noted when we announced the plan for the fall semester, we asked our faculty to determine their preferred mode of instruction this fall, based on their own health situation as well as their sense of the best pedagogies and technologies for teaching their courses. The faculty have dedicated many hours this summer to a wide range of workshops and trainings to enable the most robust and effective teaching and learning experiences possible for the fall.
At this point, we know that 60% of the fall courses will be taught in-person or a mix of in-person and online, with 40% taught exclusively in an online mode. Most students will have at least one course that will be taught online, and students who are not able to come to campus will have a broad array of online courses to choose from. These plans are comparable to what many of our peer schools will be offering and are consistent with our guiding principles of safeguarding the health and safety of our community and offering the richest educational experience we possibly can. I will say again how much I appreciate the extensive work by our faculty to develop each of their classes in a way that maintains the high quality of instruction and faculty-student interactions at the core of the unique Skidmore education.
As we announced last week, staff furloughs end this week and regular work schedules will resume on Monday, July 27. I extend sincere thanks to all staff for their continuing work, remotely and in-person, that helped us navigate the past few months and prepare for the early start to the fall semester. This massive effort is truly a community-wide endeavor. I look forward to getting to know more of you and working with you to create the safest, most supportive environment for our students to receive the Skidmore education and experience you all make possible.
Marc C. Conner