I would like to communicate with you about some recent developments regarding our return to campus in late August. We continue to monitor federal, state, and local guidelines regarding the opening of campus and the necessary plans we must make in the fall. We also continue to work with our colleagues from around the country in sharing practices for a return to campus that creates a safer environment for students, staff, and faculty during these difficult times. As you know, the uncertainty of the times we live in can often cause stress and anxiety, complicating the choices we must make as individuals, families, and communities. I am hopeful that the information that follows will provide you a better understanding of the steps we are taking to ensure your safety this fall at CHC.
COVID-19 Planning and Prevention
We continue to meet regularly with state and local officials to plan for a number of new activities and services which will be part of our campus community experience this fall. Among them:
1. Masks - Until further notice, CHC is requiring all students, staff, and faculty, as well as all visitors to campus, to wear a face covering. Everyone is expected to provide their own mask and to wear it at all times. Exceptions to this policy would require medical documentation on record with either Health Services or Human Resources.
2. Social distancing - Similarly, CHC is requiring all students, staff, and faculty, as well as all visitors to campus, to practice social distancing wherever possible. While this is not possible at all times, we expect everyone to make conscious efforts to keep themselves distanced from others when possible.
3. Social gatherings and other CDC-recommendations - Based on guidance currently available, there will be no gatherings of 25 or more individuals. Also, additional custodial services will be provided throughout the day, particularly in public spaces, to provide additional cleaning of these higher traffic areas.
4. We are working with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office on additional guidance related to testing, contact tracing, and self-quarantining prior to arrival on campus. Additional details will be shared with our community as they are finalized.
5. No Visitors will be permitted on campus with the exception of essential workers required for the operation of the College who must comply with College regulations on face masks/coverings and social distancing.
The Academic Chairs, Coordinators, Directors, and Deans, along with the COVID-19 Task Force, have been working on the development of a low-density, hybrid model for instruction for the fall semester of 2020. This model will allow for classes and coursework to be offered online while also allowing smaller classes for faculty offering face-to-face instruction, promoting more social distancing while on-campus. Academic leadership is currently in communication with all faculty members to develop a course schedule that will list each course as face-to-face, hybrid, or online. We expect this schedule to be available by July 27th. Additionally, and with the help of the Registrar’s Office, classes are being relocated to larger spaces on campus that allow for greater social distancing between students and faculty.
Student Life, in collaboration with Academic Affairs, Student Financial Services, and Admissions, has converted the traditional Griffin Days to Griffins Go a fully on-line experience for our new Griffins:
Academic placement tests are fully on-line;
Faculty/staff virtual presentations are scheduled for our new Griffins with the active involvement of our Orientation Leaders;
Departmental Resource videos are being created for Griffins to access online 24/7;
On-going outreach to our Griffins by our Orientation Leaders are happening consistently throughout the Summer;
Fall Orientation is also being redesigned to welcome Griffins to the Hill with special attention to health safety precautions.
Residence Life has confirmed Fall housing assignments and information has been sent to resident students regarding guidelines and newly instituted “belonging drop-off” days to reduce the concentration of students and families on move-in day.
Career Development launched the College’s annual Career Development survey for the Class of 2020. Newly minted alums are encouraged to complete this survey in order to share your success, learn from your experience in order to support other Griffins, and help us stay connected with you. Once a Griffin, always a Griffin!
The health and safety of our student-athletes is our top priority. Out of an abundance of caution, the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) just recently announced its decision to cancel all fall athletic competitions. We understand this was a very difficult decision for the Conference to make given its commitment to our student-athletes and knowing the impact athletic involvement has on a student’s collegiate experience. Similar to other collegiate athletic conferences, we believe this decision is a necessary action to limit high-risk activities given the continued spread of the virus at this time. Individual team meetings have occurred, a FAQ resource sheet is being developed and a student-athlete Town Hall meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 15th. In the Fall, student-athletes will participate in conditioning, team practices, and inter-squad competitions – as well as on academics and co-curricular opportunities. Fall athletic competitions will be moved to Spring 2021. It is important to note that the Collegiate Sprint Football League (CSFL) and the East Coast Conference (ECC) have not yet announced decisions for Fall competition in sprint football and bowling. These decisions will be forthcoming.
Student, Staff, and Faculty Concerns
As mentioned previously, I am aware that it might not be possible for some individuals to return to campus at this time. Respectful of these situations, students are encouraged to discuss their concerns with the Office of Academic Advising at firstname.lastname@example.org. We believe that we will be able to accommodate most students’ needs to continue their academic programs remotely. Staff and faculty who have concerns should contact the Office of Human Resources.
I continue to be grateful and impressed by the agility and commitment of our students, faculty, and staff as we have navigated a very fluid and stress-filled situation since March. We are in daily communication with other educators, institutions, and agencies who are contributing to our plan and our efforts to continue to take the necessary steps to keep our community as safe as possible. Please know that the health and safety of all members of our College community is our most important responsibility and considered above all else as we finalize our plan. The City of Philadelphia required that a draft be submitted today of re-opening plans from each college and university. These plans will be thoroughly reviewed by City agencies. Once we receive feedback from the City on our re-opening plan we will make any necessary revisions and share it with the College community.
I continue to pray for you, your families, our country, those struggling with this pandemic and those taking positive steps to engage the social unrest in our communities. As we have done in the past, we unite as Griffins, knowing from experience that we are Better Together.
God’s peace and blessings,
Carol Jean Vale, SSJ, Ph.D.