Week of June 22, 2020

Update from the President

Sent: June 26, 2020

To the Dickinson Community:

We are hard at work preparing for the fall semester, and I thank those faculty, staff and students who have been meeting and working through all of the many details necessary to resume classes in August.

We know that you have many questions, and we are working to answer all of them. We will be communicating new information each week through the start of the semester, and we will not hesitate to send several messages a week if there is important information to share.

As they have been throughout the pandemic, our decisions are guided by our commitment to the health and safety of our community and our mission to provide a rigorous liberal-arts education to our students. As you know, information is changing regularly. We are monitoring that information and following the guidance of the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as consulting with national health experts. The plans I outline below may change if the course of the virus necessitates a change.

When we return to campus, we will expect everyone to make decisions in the interests of protecting our community. We will wear masks, monitor symptoms and practice good hand hygiene. We must all work together to keep everyone as safe as possible.

Staff and faculty

All staff and faculty will be required to have a COVID-19 test provided by the college prior to Aug. 17. We are doing this to gather baseline health information as we begin to resume classes. Staff and faculty will also be required to monitor their symptoms daily.

While on campus, staff and faculty must wear masks and practice social distancing. In high traffic areas that are public facing and in which physical distancing is not possible, Plexiglass barriers will be installed.

All faculty and some staff will be provided face shields. Face shields will also be made available for students as part of their course requirement or for sale through the college bookstore.

Any purchases for COVID-related items must be coordinated through the Fall Implementation Committee chaired by Neil Weissman, provost and dean of the college, and Bronte Burleigh-Jones, vice president of finance & administration.

Please consult our FAQ for other questions you may have.

Students returning to campus

We are still working through the process of move-in and Orientation, and we will need more time to provide details on dates and procedures. Two people may accompany a student moving into a residence hall. Students will be required to get a COVID-19 test when they arrive on campus, and more information on that will follow. Students will also be required to wear a mask, adhere to social distancing guidelines and monitor their symptoms daily.

Academic experience

Students returning to campus should understand that the academic experience will be different. Masks and social distancing in classrooms will be required. Faculty will be wearing masks and possibly face shields, depending on the classroom setting. Students may also be provided face shields if necessary.

We are doing our best to guarantee the personalized nature of teaching at Dickinson. But some classes will be offered remotely, and some in-person classes will also have remote components. Academic departments are currently reviewing their course offerings for fall and may make changes. The revised course offerings for fall, with information on how courses will be taught (in the classroom, distance or a mix of the two) will be posted July 9.

The academic calendar has been updated and is now available. As previously announced, classes will begin on Aug. 17 and instruction will end before Thanksgiving on Nov. 20. There will be a remote exam period following Thanksgiving, though not all classes will offer finals in that period.

Increased cleaning protocols will be in place throughout campus, including in classrooms and bathroom areas. Supplies will be available in each classroom so that students can wipe down their desks or learning areas as soon as they enter.

We will work with students with underlying health conditions or travel issues so that they can continue their academic progress at Dickinson. Students with underlying health conditions should work with Access & Disability Services (ADS) regarding the academic accommodation process. ADS will, in turn, work with the faculty members in question regarding necessary approvals. These students, as well as students who are uncomfortable returning but do not have health or travel concerns, may enroll in classes offered remotely and other classes with the approval of the faculty member. Students who do not plan to return to campus but want to take remote classes should fill out this form no later than July 10.

Here are some important dates to remember:

  • July 1-8 – The fall 2020 schedule and Banner will be unavailable for students for adding and dropping purposes.
  • July 9-16 – The updated fall class schedule will be posted, including indications of how classes will be taught (in the classroom, distance or a mix of the two). Any returning students can make schedule changes through Banner.
  • July 20-27 – First-year students will request classes at this time.
  • Nov. 22 – Residence halls will close at noon.

As I mentioned, we will continue to update you regularly as information becomes available. This is an unprecedented experience, and your support and flexibility during this time has been outstanding. We will work together to keep Dickinson strong.


Margee M. Ensign