Fall 2020 Update #1

Dear Champlain Community:

I am writing today to provide several important updates on our planning for the fall 2020 semester. In April, I convened a COVID-19 Task Force with five subgroups by area; this group of leaders from across the Champlain community continues to develop the academic and operational plans for the reopening of our Burlington campus this fall. 

We know that every student and family, and each faculty and staff member, needs to understand what life at Champlain College will look like this fall in order to make an informed decision about their plans for learning, teaching, and working. While the COVID-19 pandemic evolves over the course of the summer, our planning will adapt to meet the guidance provided by the Governor’s Office, the Vermont Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. We are committed to sharing our latest decisions and thinking with the recognition that things will change, so please expect a series of communications in that spirit. You will continue to find the latest COVID-19 related communications and FAQs on our COVID-19 website.

Our guiding principles are clear:

  • Designing operations with the health and safety of our community as the top priority
  • Ensuring continuity, engagement, and quality of students’ educational experiences
  • Maintaining flexibility for students, faculty, and staff to allow uninterrupted learning, teaching, and work, whether on-campus or away from Burlington.

Meeting these principles will mean that life on campus will be different and our routines will have to change. We will have to come together around a sense of even greater responsibility for our community—including our campus, our neighbors, and our Burlington home—and work together to support the well-being of the individuals who make up Champlain College. The commitment to our mission remains unchanged and now, more than ever, we are called to be adaptable thinkers, daring change-makers, and inclusive innovators.

When you have reviewed the area updates below, please continue to share questions and feedback with me and the Task Force at feedback@champlain.edu. Your perspective will continue to inform the planning for Fall 2020 and I am grateful for your engagement. 

Sincerely, Benjamin

Academic Calendar

We have modified the Fall 2020 academic calendar to mitigate risks from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • Classes will begin on August 31
  • Monday, October 12th and Tuesday, October 13th, originally scheduled as a fall break, will instead be in-session days, and Thanksgiving break will be expanded to one full week, November 23-27. 
  • Students will not return to campus after the Thanksgiving break and all courses will move to remote instruction for the final weeks of the fall semester, concluding December 18. 

The status of the Spring 2021 semester will be evaluated throughout the fall and students will receive guidance before the conclusion of in-person instruction at Thanksgiving break.  You will find a complete, updated academic calendar here.

Academic Format: Flex-Hybrid

This fall, faculty and students will decide whether they teach or learn in a campus classroom, remotely, or by a mix of formats, until Thanksgiving, after which all classes will be conducted remotely.  To ensure sound learning can continue regardless of whether individual students or the faculty member can attend a particular learning experience in-person, all classes will be taught using a Flex-Hybrid approach. This approach allows for the integration of classroom and virtual learning, “flipped classrooms,” remote synchronous and asynchronous instruction, intentional community building, and one-on-one coaching. 

The Academic Affairs team is working with faculty now to determine the best format for each fall semester course. Champlain’s Center for Learning and Teaching, Provost’s Office, Academic Technology team, and Information Services team are supporting the work of faculty and making significant investments to deliver flexible and engaging courses for all students, regardless of location. This means that if a student chooses to participate virtually in the fall semester, they will be able to fully engage in courses offered in-person on campus. Accessibility, both on campus and virtually, is a key consideration in our planning. 

It is important to note that on-campus teaching and learning will look very different than in a typical semester. Champlain will follow all public health guidance at a minimum, and therefore, classroom layouts, classroom capacities and access to other spaces (such as hallways) will need to change accordingly. Timing of class sessions will be staggered to permit physical distancing.

In early August, incoming students will see their course schedule and returning students will receive a revised fall schedule that indicates how each course will be delivered.  Students will have the opportunity to revise their schedule with customized support from our team at that time to take advantage of additional in-person or remote classes depending on their individual preferences and needs as well as schedule availability. When the fall schedule is released we will ask students to let us know their plan for participating in their fall courses: remotely, in-person, or a combination of both.

Health & Safety

The health and safety of Champlain’s students, faculty and staff is our first priority. We are working very closely with City and State officials to define specific plans and protocols to protect the wellbeing of our community, including testing and tracing, and the College’s planned response to any positive cases of COVID-19 on our campus. 

In the coming weeks, the College will share plans that specifically address the prevention protocols that faculty, staff and students will be required to adhere to on-campus. That documentation will outline the expected use of masks and other personal hygiene measures, physical distancing, reporting of illness and contact tracing, COVID-19 testing protocols, use of automated reminder systems to check for symptoms, and training requirements. 

Housing & Residential Life

Lowering the density of on-campus housing will be a key aspect of our health and safety efforts and our team is evaluating additional local student housing to allow for greater physical distancing for each student. On-campus housing will also include dedicated quarantine and isolation spaces to respond to any exposure or cases of COVID-19 in our residential community. There will likely be changes to returning students’ current housing assignments which were made in Spring 2020 and new students will receive information about the housing assignment process later this summer.

Enhanced cleaning and sanitization protocols for residence halls, and all campus facilities, will be in place. This will include more frequent surface disinfection and deep cleaning, and ready availability of supplies.

The move-in process will be expanded to take place over several weeks in August. This will allow for greater physical distancing, opportunities for testing, and ensure the flexibility for students to quarantine upon arrival in Vermont, if required based on the current State of Vermont guidelines in place at that time. The New Student Orientation Team is planning an orientation schedule specific to incoming first-year and transfer students. In the upcoming weeks, we will communicate details regarding the activities they will participate in.

An initial plan for housing residential students, including updates to housing options, assignments, and move-in dates will be available in late July. Students who had planned to live on campus but decide to learn from home will be provided a revised deadline to cancel their housing contract without penalty.

Return to On Campus Work

A gradual, phased return to on-campus work will begin this summer through a carefully managed process that is respectful of faculty and staff considerations including their personal health and safety, that of their family, and childcare. Early next week, staff and managers will receive a survey about their experience and perspective on returning to in-person work. Your feedback is important; please take the time to complete the survey.

While faculty and staff feedback will be a key input to our planning, we do know: 

  • Remote work will continue for many employees throughout the semester and possibly the academic year. Employee feedback, paired with an assessment of roles and teams, will inform updated policies related to remote work and flexible work arrangements. Policies will be shared in the coming weeks.
  • Some physical workspaces and work schedules will change to ensure physical distancing.
  • Faculty and staff working on-campus will be required to adhere to the latest guidelines from the Vermont Department of Health and CDC, which are likely to include required training and daily health screening, in addition to campus health and safety policies.
  • Managers and staff will need to work and manage in new ways and we are committed to understanding these needs and addressing them wherever possible. 

Other important areas we are working on and will address in detail in a future communication include:

  • Campus dining
  • Unique housing and academic needs
  • Transportation and parking
  • Availability of single rooms
  • Campus guest policy
  • Testing and contact tracing
  • Status of campuses in Dublin and Montreal

You will continue to find the latest COVID-19 related communications and FAQs on our COVID-19 website.