Fall semester planning
As we look forward to returning to a fully in-person, residential learning experience on campus this fall — and to more of the normal practices we enjoyed before the pandemic — I am writing today to share with you why Skidmore is confident in planning for this transition, and to reassure you that we will continue to prioritize your health and safety every step of the way.
Our decision to return to all in-person classes in the fall is based on the most up-to-date, leading health and safety guidance regarding COVID-19. In making this decision, Skidmore is in the good company of more and more of our peer institutions (small, residential liberal arts colleges), as well as large state university systems, including those of California, Maryland, and New York.
To be sure, COVID-19 continues to be a challenge, especially internationally, and we continue to wait for the vaccine effort to overtake the more contagious variants and begin to dramatically reduce positive cases. Most medical experts suggest this is now beginning to happen. It is important to note that Saratoga County has just posted its lowest positivity rate in months (1.8%), and there are many other encouraging signs. With our fall semester start date still over four months away, there is ample time for this shift to occur. We anticipate returning to campus in early September to a very different situation.
We anticipate that certain health and safety measures will persist in the fall — maybe some indoor masking, for example — but the expectation is that a more typical, fully in-person Skidmore experience will be possible in the fall. We want all our students to be able to plan in a concrete way on a regular academic schedule, regular residential life, and all the certainty that goes with it. That should be a great effect of our planning for the fall semester.
Without question, the situation for our international students is especially fraught right now. We are exploring every possible solution to either help them get to campus or to arrange for off-campus study until they can arrive here. I am encouraged that the State Department has just announced that international students on F-1 visas from a number of countries, including China and Europe, may be exempted from the current travel restrictions under a National Interest Exception. We will continue to do all we can to support our international students.
Our top priority continues to be keeping our community safe, and to providing the great Skidmore education that our students want and deserve — a fully in-person, completely engaging, transformative teaching and learning experience. We are eager to return to that by the fall semester, and we will continue to keep you informed throughout every step of the planning process.
Marc C. Conner