Interim President Marcia J. White shared the following message with the Saint Rose community today:
We have successfully concluded the spring semester, even though it looked nothing like what we had imagined. We are proud of and grateful to our students, faculty, staff, and administrators for the hard work, perseverance, and dedication required to accomplish this endeavor. I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy to those of you who have lost a loved one to the COVID-19 virus. While our day-to-day work is often focused on logistics and operations, there are those of us who have been impacted directly and personally by this virus. Our prayers are with you.
We are now focused on the fall and the best and safest way to resume on-campus living and learning when public health considerations permit. No matter what the circumstances, contingency planning will allow Saint Rose students to continue their studies this fall. It is challenging, given the fluidity of the COVID-19 pandemic, to announce a definitive plan at this time. Colleges and universities fall into Phase IV of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s New York Forward plan to reopen New York State. Phase I of that plan begins today in regions throughout the state that have met the re-opening criteria. The Capital Region, where Saint Rose is located, has not yet met all of those criteria.
As we plan for Fall 2020, we follow the science, the directives outlined by county, state, and federal guidelines, and public health best practices. We are in communication with other colleges and also the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU), which is working to shape and advance the discussion with the Governor’s Office regarding operations, administrative functions, and other considerations to safely expedite the reopening of colleges and universities such as ours.
Our Fall 2020 Recovery Planning Task Force is made up of all areas of the College, including Student Development, Health Services, Residence Life, Facilities, Academic Affairs, the President’s Office, Marketing and Communications, Athletics, Global Affairs, and Human Resources. The task force is developing specific recommendations that will constitute a recovery plan. This work represents an organized approach to achieving our goals and expediting decision-making while allowing sufficient time to implement that plan thoughtfully. The financial impact of all proposed actions is being analyzed.
The task force is focused on resuming on-campus academic and student life in the fall semester, while also crafting contingency plans for multiple scenarios. We are hopeful we can share that framework with you before the end of June, following a review by the President’s Cabinet and Board of Trustees.
While the plan will be based on what we know about the pandemic today, we must remain flexible so that we can rapidly adapt to circumstances in the fall.
Although all of us hope to see students back on campus and enrolled in traditional in-person classes in the fall term, teams of faculty, staff, and administrators are planning for multiple course delivery options so that no matter what we face, students can continue their studies at Saint Rose. Our Remote Learning Task Force is exploring ways to enhance our online delivery by investigating software needs, additional faculty training, and quality management to continue to provide students at Saint Rose with the exceptional learning experience they have come to expect.
Imagining that the number of in-person courses might be limited due to public health concerns this fall, we are analyzing how to prioritize classes that are facility-intensive and more effective when taught on campus in our labs, studios, and specialized classrooms. In the meantime, Summer 1 and 2 courses are being held online.
While at this time, we have not made a decision to change housing assignments, we are evaluating our residence hall capacity should we need to switch to a one-student-per-room housing model. Best practices for restrooms, dining, and other common areas are being assessed and evaluated.
For athletics, we will utilize the NCAA’s COVID-19 Advisory Panel recommendations and federal, state, local, and institutional health care guidelines. Decisions on what athletic events will look like, along with the measures that will be implemented, will be made in coordination with Northeast-10 membership, as well as fellow Division II regional conferences and local institutions.
Health and safety
We are studying the most current county, state, and federal guidelines for testing, tracing, and monitoring our population. Working with the Albany County Health Department, our own Health Services has already developed protocols should there be a COVID-19 case on campus, including how to assist and/or house anyone who had close contact with the person who tested positive.
We are assessing our classrooms through the lens of social-distancing standards, and consideration is being given to spacing specifications. Employee workspaces will also be assessed based on public health recommendations. All students and employees will have easy access to multiple well-placed hand sanitizer stations. Best-practice cleaning schedules with new sanitizing equipment are being reviewed. Protective equipment for employees will be included in the plan. The precautionary measures we use as a society now, such as mask-wearing and maintaining social distance in public, are practices that most likely will be continued in the fall.
No one can promise what the picture will be on August 24, when classes are scheduled to resume. We are all struggling to understand and respond to unprecedented circumstances. We will continue to closely monitor New York State and public health experts as they pivot with the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. What we can promise is that the safety and health of our students, employees, and community are our No. 1 priority. Our faith and core values, which are an essential part of the Saint Rose experience, guide us daily, as we work to shine a light on the days ahead with the hope of welcoming you all safely HOME to Saint Rose one day soon.