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HWS officials believe classes can resume this fall on campus

President Joyce P. Jacobsen recently sent a letter to students, faculty, and staff at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, claiming that resuming in person and on-campus coursework is becoming increasingly attainable as New York State slowly starts to reopen, especially in the Finger Lakes. The educators from consider it as pretty great news since students will be able to study at an appropriate pace.

 “It continues to be our intention to open this fall for residential instruction. With the Finger Lakes region now in phase 1 of Governor Cuomo’s 4-phase, staged reopening for the State of New York, opening this fall is well within our capabilities, and we are looking forward to welcoming our students, faculty and staff back to campus. What is emerging from our planning is a conscientious in-person learning and living community, one that adopts the latest guidelines from health care officials and that is built for maximum flexibility should our understanding of the COVID-19 virus shift,” Jacobsen wrote.

But in the meantime, Jacobsen aims at bringing back summer faculty laboratory research as early as mid-June, with “some staff” returning in July.

The rest of the faculty, students, and staff are set to arrive in August, but this upcoming academic year is not a conventional one by limiting the ability of students traveling off-campus during designated holiday recesses.

 “We intend to follow a schedule for the fall that tightens the semester without decreasing intellectual contact between faculty and students. The goal is to limit travel to and from campus once students have returned, and to have most students back home by Thanksgiving in case there is a late-fall resurgence of COVID-19,” Jacobsen continues.

At this time, Jacobsen anticipates that the fall 2020 semester shall start on Monday, August 24th, as scheduled.

Students will attend in person instruction from that date until Tuesday, November 24th, which falls just short of the Thanksgiving break.

After the 12 week period, all remaining coursework for the fall shall continue, but at home following the holiday until the start of the spring 2021 semester, according to Jacobsen.

“Final exams will be administered using remote techniques with most students staying home until the spring semester,” Jacobsen noted.

While the Colleges is planning for in person coursework, numerous uncertainties still linger more generally about other aspects of college life.

When it comes to sports, playing in competition is contingent upon how the leagues are handling the pandemic.

It is still unclear how the pandemic may disrupt the upcoming athletic collegiate year with scheduling and competitions, but Jacobsen assures that teams on campus will participate in any games or matches that are scheduled by their respective leagues while still maintaining access to campus services.

Similarly, the campus aims to remain open during the Thanksgiving break until the end the fall semester, allowing students to stay on campus with access to wireless technology, dining and other services.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

As for the spring, she believes that the spring “would run on or very close to standard schedule” with the possibility of a week later start or even the dropping of the weeklong spring break depending on the situation several months from now.

Still, as the Colleges plan ahead, Jacobsen emphasizes that these propositions are all just part of plan – one that can change in the future due to unforeseen circumstances.

 “This plan remains just that – a plan – until we submit our full reopening document to the State of New York in mid-June. Once we have State approval, we will share full details on everything from academic and residential life to screening, testing, isolating and tracing protocols,” Jacobsen adds.

The recommendations were a part of the three taskforces that Jacobsen created to guide the Colleges’ approach to safely reopening, hopefully in person as of this fall. 

In the end, Jacobsen remains optimistic and inspired about the uncertain future that lies ahead for the Colleges a short few months from now amid these challenging times.

“Although life on campus this fall will be somewhat altered to support the health and safety of the overall population, I can assure you that the spirit of community and collaboration we all so deeply love about the Colleges will not be changed. Students should expect to return to a group of faculty and staff who have dearly missed them and who are working now to bring the curriculum to life in new and energetic ways. And we will find ways to gather safely, some planned and others spontaneous, some that will continue to enrich the intellectual journey and some for just plain fun,” Jacobsen concluded.