Fall 2020 Marist Reopening Update
Dear Marist students,
I hope this letter finds you and your families well. I’m writing to update you on our plans for reopening our campus and the calendar for the upcoming fall semester. While things will be different than usual, I'm confident it will be a great semester, and we are working hard to ensure that your Marist educational experience will continue to be rewarding.
As we have said many times, the well-being of all members of the Marist community is our highest priority. Because of the ongoing pandemic, we won’t be able to operate as we normally do, and many activities we’ve traditionally enjoyed will have to change. We’ll be implementing health measures such as social distancing and density reduction, new protocols for how academic coursework is delivered, restrictions on large gatherings, the use of face masks in certain situations, enhanced cleaning protocols, virus testing, and others. Our plans draw heavily from guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), state and local governments, as well as advice from our own medical and health experts.
While these restrictions might seem burdensome, they are no different from policies that have been put in place at organizations all across the country, and they should be considered the “new normal” until a coronavirus vaccine can be found. Each of us has a duty to abide by the new requirements, and we will be strictly enforcing them. It’s a question of mutual respect. If we all take our shared responsibility seriously, we can protect the health and safety of our classmates and colleagues at Marist.
The 2020 fall semester will begin with in-person courses on Monday, August 24 (please note, this is one week earlier than originally scheduled). The semester’s in-person courses will end on November 24, two days before Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving, the semester will continue only online and will end on Friday, December 11. Students are expected to depart for home immediately following their last in-person class and no later than November 24. (Those planning to enroll for the spring semester may leave all of their belongings in their rooms, while those planning to study abroad in the spring or graduate mid-year will have several weeks to move out.) Classes will resume online on November 30 and will continue until December 4, followed by a week of final exams from December 7-11. To facilitate this accelerated schedule, we plan to hold classes on Labor Day, and some classes will meet on Saturdays during the fall. We are also eliminating the October mid-semester break.
There is a clear health rationale for these changes. Many epidemiologists are predicting a surge in COVID-19 cases in early December, which also coincides with the annual flu season. By ending the on-campus portion of the fall semester at Thanksgiving, we will eliminate the health risks of students traveling all across the country and then returning to campus. Holding classes on Saturdays and canceling the fall break discourages travel, again minimizing the risk of exposure to the virus. Please note that if any student feels uncomfortable coming back to campus due to health concerns or other reasons, we will accommodate them with online options.
We are firm in this plan to reopen, but we must abide by all the federal, state, and county guidelines that govern our operations. Because this is a fluid situation, if any changes become necessary, we will communicate them to you as soon as possible.
Over the next few weeks, you will receive additional details about what to expect for the fall semester. Vice President for Student Affairs Deb DiCaprio will provide you with information about student and residential life, Vice President for Academic Affairs Thom Wermuth will outline academic protocols, and Executive Vice President Geoff Brackett will send details on overall campus health guidelines and requirements. Marist will also be offering webinars for students and their families about these measures.
To recap, here is a summary of the revised fall calendar, which can also be found online:
- Mid-August: Start of extended move-in process (details to follow)
- August 24: In-person classes begin
- September 7 (Labor Day): Classes held
- October 16-18: Mid-semester break canceled
- November 24: In-person classes end; students are expected to depart for home immediately following their last class and no later than November 24
- November 25-29: Thanksgiving Break
- November 30: Courses move online
- December 4: Classes end
- December 7-11: Final exams online and conclusion of fall semester
Please note that bills for the fall semester will be sent out on July 1. Because of the unprecedented financial challenges facing many students and their families due to COVID-19, Marist decided to institute a zero tuition increase for the 2020-21 academic year; it will result in some belt-tightening for the College, but we felt it was the right thing to do during this difficult time. As of now, we’re planning to begin the spring 2021 semester on Tuesday, January 19, but again, this date is subject to change based on the health circumstances we may be confronting at that time.
If there’s one thing I’ve heard from students and families, it’s that they are excited to get back to campus, continue their education, and reconnect with friends. We are confident that our reopening strategy will protect the health and safety of the entire Marist community. To the extent policies and procedures evolve, we will keep you informed every step of the way as the fall semester approaches. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Dennis J. Murray