Fall 2020 Update #3
To the Champlain College community,
I am excited to confirm the reopening of the Champlain College campus for the Fall 2020 semester. We have all experienced the uncertainty of the last several months as COVID-19 has profoundly impacted our communities, regardless of where we reside. My heartfelt thoughts are with all who have suffered and are continuing to experience the physical and emotional toll of this pandemic.
As the President of Champlain College, I am committed to providing a renewed degree of stability and normalcy in the lives of each member of our community. To the students and their families, the faculty and staff, and the residents that surround this beautiful campus, we will reopen Champlain with the safety of our community and the educational goals of our students as our highest priority.
As we work toward reopening campus in August, we are focused on:
- maintaining the health and safety of Champlain’s students, faculty, and staff, and the well-being of our Burlington, Vermont community;
- achieving learning outcomes and facilitating meaningful engagement between faculty and students;
- building community and maintaining strong connections among students on and off campus;
- remaining responsive to ever-changing conditions by following the guidance of experts and communicating openly about our decision-making; and
- ensuring responsible stewardship of tuition dollars and College resources.
Vermont Governor Phil Scott recently described his intent to have Vermont be one of the safest places to go to college in the country. Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger has a similar commitment to the health and safety of all our city’s residents. Through the discipline and commitment of its citizens, Vermont has one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in the country. Our goal is clear—we intend to make Champlain one of the safest small colleges in the country to attend, teach, or work at this fall.
We have recently made a series of fiscal and management decisions that will ensure Champlain College meets or exceeds all Federal, State, and local guidance on reopening institutions of higher education. Our reopening plans include quarantine procedures, testing, and contingency plans that incorporate all recently released guidance from the CDC and the State of Vermont. As additional guidance is developed, we will ensure it is immediately assessed and integrated into our operational plans.
The most significant update to our approach for the new academic year is the decision to limit the number of students we will bring back to campus this fall. Priority will be given to new incoming and transfer students. I know this is difficult news and I share your disappointment that we won’t have our full campus community together in person. Students will receive a message shortly with further details regarding how we are managing campus housing.
Additional key actions underscore our commitment to ensuring the safety of our entire community.
- All residence halls will be limited to primarily single and some double occupancy rooms to minimize transmission of the virus among students. Our ability to offer primarily single occupancy rooms exceeds both CDC and State guidance.
- In addition to reducing density in residence halls, we are taking the same approach in classrooms, the dining hall, and other public spaces.
- Meal times in the dining hall will be staggered, the layout updated to manage capacity, and shared tables will be equipped with plexi-glass dividers.
- All common spaces will be regularly cleaned and disinfected in accordance with CDC guidance.
- In addition to the State of Vermont required campus entry testing, we will conduct mandatory weekly testing of students. Testing will also be available for faculty and staff. Routine testing will provide timely data on how effectively we are containing the virus on our campus and within our community.
- All students, faculty and staff will be required to sign and agree to a Health Safety Pledge. The pledge will define our expectations of Champlain students in areas such as quarantine procedures, mandatory daily health surveys, testing expectations, limitations on visitors during move-in, participation in contact tracing efforts, the mandatory use of masks, physical distancing and proper hand hygiene. The goal of this commitment is to maintain the level of safety and public health that Vermont has earned over the last several months.
In order for Champlain to fulfill our mission to provide a quality educational experience in the midst of our nation’s greatest public health crisis, each individual must accept responsibility for their actions, and equally important, the actions of their peers. My expectation is that each student respects their health, as well as the health of peers, family and friends, our faculty and staff, and community members. Students who choose not to abide by the pledge will face immediate disciplinary action including potential dismissal from the campus. Those who can not accept this degree of responsibility should not attend Champlain this semester.
I am excited about the reopening of Champlain College when it seemed so implausible just a few months ago. We are making significant investments in the academic and campus experience and will be well prepared to welcome students in August. With that opportunity comes a requirement to sustain a culture of safety and respect for all that make up this community. The ability to keep our campus open depends on upholding these measures.
Students and families will receive an email very soon from our Dean of Students, Susan Waryck, that will outline more specifically our housing plans for the fall and provide details about move-in, orientation and a calendar of important upcoming dates.
Additionally, our team is offering a series of Town Halls for our community. I hope you will join us.
July 22, 7:00 PM ET
Incoming Students & Families
July 23, 7:00 PM ET
Returning Students & Families
July 23, 2:00 PM ET
Champlain College Faculty & Staff
Benjamin Ola. Akande, Ph.D.