Fall 2021 plans: Moving Albright into the post-pandemic world
Dear Albright faculty and staff,
In this email, we share additional details about the fall 2021 semester and the transition of our Albright College community towards a post-pandemic world.
Our shared post-pandemic goal is to continue our focus on a cross-disciplinary, personalized education in a close-knit community. For our traditional students, this means an on-campus, residential environment, augmented by advances in pedagogically sound technology. For our post-traditional students, we also focus on the close-knit and personalized education, using technology to meet the scheduling and life needs of these students. It is important to incorporate the best of what we learned from the global pandemic in meeting our shared goals.
For fall 2021, we will take significant steps towards this post-pandemic world; however, we recognize that we do not have all the answers. And the nature of the pandemic does mean that plans could change. Current plans for fall 2021 semester include:
- 15-week course semester: We will return to a regular 15-week semester with the first day of classes to be held on Monday, August 16. We are not offering fall break (though there will be two Fall Breather days), nor will students return to campus after Thanksgiving, as this remains one of the biggest pandemic risks.
- Residential housing: One of the many things that we have learned is that our students want to be on campus. Even when the majority of faculty and staff did not return to campus for fall 2020, our students did. Fewer than 8% of students chose to remain at home. We have also learned that we can keep our residential community safe. Thus, for fall 2021, we are eliminating the Pandemic Housing Petition. Students will be required to live on campus for four years, unless a petition to live off campus as a true commuter – defined as living with a parent or guardian within 30 miles of campus – is completed and approved. A structured move-in process similar to fall 2020 and spring 2021 is being developed with specific details to follow.
- Face-to-face teaching and learning: Face-to-face interactions in the classroom are a critical component of our close-knit and personalized education for traditional college students. As we begin our transition to a post-pandemic Albright, faculty have been strongly encouraged to hold as many classes as possible in-person or as a hybrid, both with meetings on campus. Departments have created schedules with fewer than 20% of courses offered online for fall 2021 semester.
- Employees return to on-campus work: Beginning in August, offices and departments are expected to work to achieve a presence on campus that aligns with our mission as a residential learning community, according to the limitations of social distancing in place at that time. The current Teleworking Policy is being reviewed and revised to reflect this mission as well as 21st century work practices. This revision will be shared with all employees in the near future.
- Strong recommendation for vaccination of all students, staff and faculty: The most important thing that each Albrightian can do to protect themselves is to get vaccinated. Based on the recommendation of the Pandemic Planning Task Force, as well as conversations with faculty, staff and cabinet members, Albright will be strongly recommending vaccination for all Albrightians – faculty, staff, and students – but not mandating it.
- Once vaccinated, all Albrightians are encouraged to self-report vaccination status to the Gable Health Center. Submit a copy of the COVID-19 vaccination card showing all doses were received – two doses for Pfizer, two doses for Moderna, or one dose for Johnson and Johnson. Faculty and staff may do this by accessing Albright.studenthealthportal.com with your Lions username and password. Select Document Upload and upload a copy of your vaccination record.
- Upon return to campus in August, students, faculty and staff will be required to either provide proof of vaccination or be tested for COVID-19. Information about re-entry and surveillance testing for fall 2021 semester will be forthcoming.
- New and more dining options: Most exciting is the renovation of Jake’s Place, which will offer expanded choices in a food court format and additional and more comfortable seating, student work spaces, and pool tables. All dining locations will be fully operational, offering an array of menu items from smoothies at Peg’s Café to theme meals in the Dining Hall.
- Student activities and athletics: Our current goal will be to expand student activities and athletic competitions to the extent allowed by the CDC, the PA Dept. of Health and (for athletics) the NCAA and the MAC athletic conference. We expect that fall sports teams will be back at competition and we will follow the PA Dept. of Health and MAC guidelines on spectators, currently defined in our Spectator Policy.
We hope that you are as excited as we are to begin our return to a post-pandemic Albright, and recommit to our longstanding mission as a personalized and close-knit learning community. We also recognize that the coronavirus pandemic has brought challenges, hardships and fears that have impacted our community over the past 13-plus months. While COVID cases have declined on campus and vaccines are now available to 100% of our community members, the beginning of the transition to post-pandemic Albright may be overwhelming or even scary to some members of our community. This pandemic has been difficult for all of us both professionally and personally. These are normal and expected feelings.
We have weathered this pandemic together, and together we will continue to support each other and to work together to keep our community healthy and safe while providing an exceptional educational experience for our students. We will continue to follow our Community Care Compact, the recommendations of the CDC and the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health, and the guidance of our own Pandemic Planning Team. The most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your fellow college community members is to choose to get vaccinated!
Thank you, fellow Albright faculty and staff, for your commitment to our students and to our college. We will continue to keep you informed as more details about the fall become available. Please feel free to reach out to us with questions or concerns.
It is a great day to be an Albright Lion!
Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Ph.D., ’82
President and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Karen A. Campbell, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Samantha J. Wesner, DNP, CRNP, WHNP-BC
Senior Vice President of Student and Campus Life and Chief Health Officer