Dear Mines students, faculty and staff,
We set challenging goals for ourselves at the start of the semester: open campus safely, deliver as much in-person instruction as possible, and provide options and support for all students so that they can progress toward graduation, whether or not they could attend class in-person. We also all committed to the Oredigger Promise because making it through the semester together was very important to us.
In speaking with many of you, we sense pride in and appreciation for what we have been able to accomplish together. And rightly so. There has been a community-wide commitment to do what is needed for the semester to reach a successful conclusion.
Even so, we knew we would have to continually assess, learn from our experiences, adjust as needed throughout the semester and defer decisions that some of you would have preferred us to make earlier. One of those decisions was what happens in the post-Thanksgiving end-of-semester period.
Based on input from faculty, students and staff, and consideration of our semester goals, experiences and a range of scenarios, we have decided to keep the Mines campus open after Thanksgiving Break but transition all classes and final exams to remote delivery. Research activities will continue under current rules.
There are several reasons we have made this decision. We received a strong signal from students that being able to stay, work and study together was a high priority — even higher than having in-class instruction for the last few class meetings. We also heard concerns from our community over the potential for increased COVID-19 occurrence, and know that because of that concern, some prefer a remote option for teaching and learning after the Thanksgiving holiday. Finally, we’ve concluded that we have fewer indoor spaces on campus than we would like for students to work together in teams in safely-spaced settings.
Thus, the decision to move to an open campus model with remote learning allows us to repurpose our classrooms as safe study and work spaces for the last couple of weeks of the semester, thereby significantly expanding our capacity to support our students’ priority to be able to stay, work and study together.
This model also allows those who wish to leave and complete the semester away from campus the option to do so, and our faculty can now focus on a single mode of instruction as they prepare their classes for final exams.
Along with this, we will be asking all on-campus resident students to follow a new post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 testing plan, and will encourage all other students to increase their participation as well. More details on that will follow.
This likely raises questions about our plans for Fall Commencement. As of today, we expect to hold on-campus hybrid ceremonies on December 17 and 18, with both remote and in-person components. We still need to work more with local public health officials on this, but our hope is that the format will allow all students who wish to do so to walk across the commencement stage in front of their families — rain, snow or shine. More details, along with a required RSVP process for graduates, will be announced soon.
Finishing strong—and looking ahead
In summary, up until the Thanksgiving holiday, we plan to continue operating in our current mode. Beginning November 30, we will transition to remote delivery for the final few class meetings of the semester, ending with Review Day on December 10. Exams will occur as scheduled December 11-12 and 14-16, in a remote format. There will be no reason for students or faculty to come to campus for the last few class meetings or finals, but campus will remain open with increased study space options and continuity of all student support services.
We are currently working on the course schedule for the spring semester. Our goal is to be able to offer a higher percentage of classes with in-person experiences. While we biased in-person options to first-year and lab-based classes this semester so that our newest students could build their peer networks, there will be more emphasis on in-person options for upper-division courses next semester.
Thank you again
Thank you again for your hard work, flexibility and dedication this semester. While we’re not yet halfway through the fall, there’s already so much to be proud of and also, so much to look forward to. We’ve prepared a web page to provide you with additional details about this plan, but we’ll also stay in touch as we move forward.
Stay well and Go Orediggers!
PCJ, Rick, Dan, Kirsten, Stefanie and Peter
Paul C. Johnson, President and Professor
Richard C. Holz, Provost and Professor
Daniel P. Fox, Vice President for Student Life
Kirsten M. Volpi, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Stefanie Tompkins, Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer
Peter Han, Chief of Staff