In light of the recent email from Dean of the College Marlene Sandstrom to students, faculty, and staff, the Record compiled a list of answers to reader-submitted questions regarding plans for the spring semester. These answers were obtained over email from Sandstrom, Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration Matt Sheehy, and Director of Dining Temesgen Araya.
Can students who want to return to campus early (due to concerns about internet connection, home lives, etc.) petition to do so?
“We have been working with students on an emergency basis throughout the fall semester as well as in the period after the fall semester ended and the spring semester begins,” Sandstrom said. “Students who are in an emergency situation (e.g. no housing) can contact their class dean to discuss the situation and determine what might be possible.”
How is the college supporting international students who don’t have access to testing services?
“Any student who faces difficulty with pre-arrival testing (either logistical or financial) can contact [Director of Student Administrative Affairs, Strategy and Planning] Aaron Gordon who will assist them,” Sandstrom said.
What is the reasoning behind potentially delaying students’ arrivals?
“We are really hoping that we will welcome students back to campus on the scheduled arrival dates (Feb. 10-14),” Sandstrom said. “We would delay a return to campus only if the public health landscape makes it clear that we could not structure the arrival process in a way that keeps our students, faculty, and staff safe.”
After the “campus quarantine” period, will students be able to interact with non-podmates indoors at any point?
“We hope to follow a similar sequence as last fall,” Sandstrom said. “First, all students will go through their initial in-room quarantine. After all students have cleared in-room quarantine, students will be able to interact with non-podmates outside, but only with podmates in indoor residential spaces. The next step will be to allow students to interact with non-podmates in indoor spaces (following all COVID protocols in regard to masking, social distancing, maximum occupancy limits).” Like the fall, Spring Street businesses will still count as part of campus for the campus quarantine period.
There does not appear to be a projected timeframe for loosening restrictions and ending the “campus quarantine” period.
What will meal delivery or pick-up look like for students during initial quarantine upon arrival?
“Upon arrival, students will be allowed to leave their rooms during the quarantine period (the duration of receiving two negative Covid tests) for the purpose of picking up their meals in the dining hall and returning to their room immediately after,” Araya said. “Students will have a served buffet, Grab N Go items, and mobile ordering as soon as they arrive on campus on Feb. 10 available to them.” Unlike during the fall quarantine period, meals will only be delivered to students who have tested positive or come into contact with someone who has tested positive.
What is the reasoning for having fewer in-person classes despite constant testing?
“We expect the number of in-person classes to be similar to what [it] was in the fall (not less), Sandstrom said. “But we do expect more students to be on-campus in the spring.” According to Sandstrom, faculty are making decisions about the modality of their courses based on several factors including: how to best include students who are both on campus and remote; how to provide the best academic experience given potential disruptions in the academic schedule; and how to be mindful of their own health situations and those of their children and other family members.
Will the libraries be open?
“The library will definitely be open in the spring,” Sandstrom said. “It won’t be available until students clear their initial in-room quarantine, but will be available after that.”
What will be done to improve the mobile ordering capacity at ’82 Grill, Lee Snack Bar, etc. given the expected increase in student population over the fall? Do you anticipate any other changes to dining hours, which dining halls are open and the carry-out policy?
According to Araya, the capacity limits of about 100 orders an hour per location will remain the same. In addition, Driscoll will now offer breakfast on the weekends “with a limited menu and schedule,” Araya said. “Fresh-n-Go and Lee Snack Bar will all be open for lunch Monday through Friday and open for dinner Saturday and Sunday… The ’82 Grill will be open for lunch Monday through Friday and seven days a week for dinner. Whitmans’ Late Night will be closed for the semester so that staff members can assist with the served vs. self-serve model in the dining halls.”
“You should anticipate longer lines for meals than this past fall,” Araya added.
Will the College again be providing tents and heating for outdoor dining, class meetings, etc.?
“We are not planning to have tents at the beginning of the semester in February due to the weather conditions,” Sheehy said. “In addition, due to the weather, the tent company requires a number of items including heating of the tents 24 hours a day seven days a week to avoid snow load and damage to tent material and structure. We are exploring adding tents when the weather warms and installation and maintenance will be easier.”
This is a developing story. The Record will continue to report on changes in the College’s plan for the spring semester. Reader questions can be submitted to tsn1.