Week of September 21, 2020

Dickinson update from President Ensign

Sent: September 23, 2020

To the Dickinson community:
We are pleased that the remote fall semester is going well, and many students and faculty have expressed gratitude that they have been free to learn and teach without the disruption of suddenly moving students off campus or having a significant number of individuals quarantined.

We currently have about 160 students who successfully petitioned to live on campus this semester, and we have had no positive COVID tests among students so far. We have been testing students who have exhibited symptoms throughout the semester.

We are carefully watching and communicating with other campuses who have brought some or all of their students back. As you know, several of our peers have had challenges and had to send students home. Others appear to be doing better. My senior team members and I are in contact with these institutions and are studying lessons learned.

Even though we started the current semester just a few weeks ago, we continue to plan vigorously for spring, when we hope to have students back on campus.

There are many positive signs for spring. Tests are becoming more available, waiting times for results are decreasing, and our health district now has a dedicated contact tracing field manager. New methods of testing for COVID-19 continue to be developed and the college has been exploring options for repeat on-campus testing. We are reviewing and updating our reopening plan and we expect to make an announcement regarding the spring semester in November, guided—as we have been—by data, evidence and science. The health and safety of our community remains our priority. We will provide updates as our planning progresses.

As a reminder, all students as well as employees working on campus—including those coming to campus only intermittently—are asked to complete the symptoms tracker each day. Even those working 100% remotely should get in the habit of checking in daily to better prepare for returning to campus. Completion takes about a minute, and simple directions for using the tool can be found here. Daily reporting helps us manage the risk of exposure within our community.

As we plan for the spring, we anticipate that some students will not wish to return in-person, and we intend to allow those students to continue to learn remotely. In addition, some of you have asked when athletics will resume on campus. The Centennial Conference is meeting regularly and will be deciding later this fall.

I hope you are safe and healthy. Thank you for your flexibility and resilience during this difficult time. Dickinson is dedicated to educating engaged leaders who will work for the common good. While our delivery may have changed temporarily, our mission has not. One of the most powerful ways to get engaged is by taking the time to vote. Please make sure you are registered and have a plan to vote in our upcoming elections.

Stay Dickinson strong.


Margee M. Ensign