To Students, Faculty, and Staff
From President Crawford and Members of the President's Cabinet
Over the past week, in consultation with Faculty Senate and Staff Senate leadership, public health officials, the governor’s office, and our board of trustees, and with input received from students and parents, we have come to the difficult decision that we cannot resume in-person classes in the fall as planned.
Since we wrote to you last week notifying you of this possibility, our 14-day case rate per 100,000 people in Pierce County has increased from 113.9 to 140.7 against a goal of fewer than 25, while the average cases per day for the past 14 days has increased from 73.4 to 90.6 against a goal of fewer than 16. Given this trend and yesterday’s announcement by Gov. Inslee, it is not possible or prudent for us to bring large numbers of people together on campus in the fall.
This is not what we had hoped for but we believe is the best—and truly only—path forward to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of our campus community; contain the spread of COVID-19 in Pierce County; and ensure that students can complete the semester without further disruption to their studies.
We are a residential campus invested in the belief that a 24/7 living and learning environment is most conducive to supporting curious and engaged lifelong learners committed to the discovery and sharing of knowledge that will make our world a better place. Although we cannot be together in person at this time, we will not let this crisis deter us from fulfilling our mission. Over the summer we have been reconfiguring our classes and operations and preparing for the possibility of remote instruction to ensure that students can continue their education and not just survive but thrive during these uncertain times.
On campus or off, all Loggers are part of a strong community committed to our students’ success. This is not a time to put our lives, careers, or ambitions on hold. We look forward to being in community with you—albeit virtually—over the coming months, and believe in our collective ability to make the most of this truly unprecedented experience.
Below we have outlined some key information about how the fall semester will unfold, and we will have additional information to share in the coming days to support our students, faculty, and staff members and promote their success in this challenging environment. Please see the end of this message for a series of Zoom meetings occurring over the next few days to respond to your questions and concerns as we prepare for fall.
We have worked closely with our campus leaders and board of trustees to support our students and families to the best of our ability and continue to deliver a high-quality academic experience, even as our revenues have declined and we have incurred additional expenses during the pandemic.
We will make the following adjustments, which reduce the costs of the fall semester and provide additional opportunities for our students.
We will provide limited campus housing with priority given to students who experience housing or food insecurity; are unable to effectively participate in remote learning from their homes, even with accommodations; or have a compelling academic or cocurricular reason to be on campus, such as students who need access to specialized facilities or equipment on campus. Meal plans will continue to be an option for students who live off campus.
A Fall 2020 Student Housing and Campus Use survey will be sent via campus email to all students this week to learn where students plan to live during the fall semester, if they wish to apply to live on campus, and if they have special needs to access campus for academic or co-curricular reasons. It is essential that we have this information to accurately calculate each student’s cost of attendance, waive room and board for those not living on campus, and make decisions on requests to live on campus or access campus resources. Please look for the survey in your inbox later today and plan to complete it no later than Aug. 3. Decisions regarding approval to live on campus will be made by Aug. 7.
Those students who are permitted to return to campus will find a restricted environment and many mitigations in place to protect their health. These include adherence to a community pledge to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, consent to virus testing protocols, a requirement to wear masks in settings outside of one’s residence, a limit of 1-4 people assigned to each bathroom, and strict limits on the guest policy and size of gatherings. Student Affairs and Residence Life staff will promptly provide information to students and their families about the safety protocols that will be in place.
The academic calendar announced in mid-June will remain in place: Fall break will be canceled and courses will be held during those two days in order to extend Thanksgiving break to a full week. Classes will begin Aug. 31 and final exams will end Dec. 18.
We will keep the modified daily course schedule released last month that allows 15 minutes between each class. We hope this makes transitions between classes more seamless for students and faculty members, and provides some relief from time in front of computer screens. The course schedule will be finalized and communicated to students by early next week.
Academic support services will be available for students to support their academic success. These services include Collins Memorial Library; the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching; the Center for Speech and Effective Advocacy; Academic Advising; the Registrar’s Office; Student Accessibility and Accommodations; the Office of Diversity and Inclusion; Experiential Learning and Civic Scholarship; and International Programs.
Our goal is to significantly reduce the density of people on campus at any given time. More information about access to campus facilities—for those who live both on and off campus—will be forthcoming in the next few days.
We are fully committed to providing a full and rewarding experience this fall that will provide opportunities for cocurricular engagement and create the strong sense of belonging and community that students at Puget Sound have come to expect. For incoming students, Orientation, Convocation and Matriculation will be delivered remotely. We are developing other programming throughout the semester to help new students form deep connections to their campus community, and engage in the academic life of the university. ASUPS Senate, clubs and organizations will meet virtually as they did in the spring, and support offices such as Intercultural Engagement and the University Chaplaincy will offer remote services for those not on campus and limited in-person services for those who are on campus. There will also be a range of career services and events offered remotely throughout the fall.
We know how important the athletic program is to our student athletes, campus community and Logger fans everywhere. In addition to the information shared last week from the Northwest Conference, athletic coaches will be in contact with student-athletes regarding the return to competition status specific to their sport. If state and local conditions permit, competition in the sports of men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s tennis, and men’s and women’s golf may be able to take place in the fall, and we hope at some point during the semester to enable student-athletes in other sports to train on campus within public health guidelines. Additional information will be available shortly.
The health and wellbeing of the campus community is our highest priority. A daily COVID-19 online health screening for the campus community will be required throughout the fall semester, and we will have more details to share in the next few days about testing protocols for members of the campus community, including free mass testing on our campus on Aug. 29 and Sept. 1 open to all faculty and staff members, and students living on or near campus.
On and off-campus students seeking medical attention will continue to receive services from Counseling, Health and Wellness Services (CHWS). The university also is establishing a satellite clinic on campus that will allow students with respiratory or COVID-like symptoms to be seen in a location separate from CHWS’s offices in Wheelock Student Center.
For students living out-of-state whose state law does not allow them to receive services from out-of-state providers, our clinicians will assist them in identifying care providers in their home states. “The Shrink Space,” a site where students can locate off-campus therapists that specializes in student mental health, was made available to students in the spring and will be available to students in the fall.
In addition, TAO (Therapy Assistance Online) will continue to be available to students. Direct support services such as the Food Pantry, the Lending Library and the Clothing Closet will remain open and accessible.
We learned a great deal from our quick pivot to remote instruction in the spring, and have worked diligently throughout the summer to support the possibility of being fully remote in the fall. Technology Services will offer additional workshops in early August to assist faculty with course delivery, and departments and programs will meet with their appointed educational technologist as a department to further explore options and share pedagogical strategies.
To ensure that students are ready for an entirely remote semester, technology training workshops also will be offered to new and returning students. Technology Services will also be available to provide loaner laptops and help students, faculty and staff members with troubleshooting technology issues. CARES Act emergency student assistance continues to be available to students who have critical needs related to the transition to remote instruction, including technology support. To be eligible, students must participate in Title IV Federal Aid programs. Information and applications for CARES Act funding can be found here.
The majority of faculty and staff members will continue to work remotely through the fall, and on-site campus services will be offered in a modified and limited manner, including services provided by Dining Services, the Logger Store, and more. The “Return to Work on Campus” guide will be regularly updated to help our faculty and staff members work effectively on or off campus during this time, and we will adapt our leave and telework policies to reflect the current work environment.
The following meetings have been scheduled to share information and respond to questions. Log-in information will be available for the campus community at pugetsound.edu/covid19internal or provided to you via email.
Hosted by President Crawford
Thursday, July 30, 1 – 2 p.m.
All Staff Members
Hosted by President Crawford with Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Sherry Mondou
Friday, July 31, 10 – 11 a.m.
All Faculty Members
Hosted by President Crawford and Provost Laura Behling
Friday, July 31, 1:30 - 2:30 p.m.
Hosted by President Crawford with Provost Behling and Vice President for Student Affairs Uchenna Baker
Monday, Aug. 3, 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Hosted by President Crawford with Provost Behling and Vice President for Student Affairs Uchenna Baker
Monday, Aug. 3, 5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Puget Sound Parents
Hosted by President Crawford with Members of the President’s Cabinet
Wednesday, Aug. 5, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Faculty will also be invited to participate in small group meetings with the provost and deans; the schedule will be sent to faculty separately.
We realize this is a lot of information to digest, and are committed to continuing to communicate and be in dialog with you as we prepare for a successful fall semester. A new fall website with guidance for the semester has been created to support you at https://www.pugetsound.edu/fall2020.
As we enter uncharted territory together, we are confident that Loggers will meet the challenges of this changed and changing world, and keep rising to the heights. It’s who we are, and it’s what we do.