Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
Colleges and universities across the country are grappling, as we are, with difficult decisions about how best to manage the spread of COVID-19. These decisions may vary depending on the size and nature of an institution, its geographic location, even the timing of its semester calendar.
At Lafayette, we value greatly the communal nature of the education that takes place in and out of the classroom. In all our decision making, we continue to hold out as our north star the hope of preserving as much of that community experience as possible, particularly for seniors spending their final semester at Lafayette.
As I said in my note last Friday, our highest priorities are the health and safety of the community and the successful continuation of our students’ academic experience. We have sought to balance these priorities in arriving at the following decisions:
We recognize that this two-week period of remote teaching and learning will be challenging for everyone, but hope that a planned period of social distancing now will enable us to move forward with the remainder of the spring term.
We ask students traveling for any period over spring break not to return to campus until April 5. When leaving campus, students should take needed course materials as well as any other essentials – passports, medications, etc. – they may want in the event that this period of absence is extended. Dining and other campus services will continue on modified schedules for those who remain. Students, as well as faculty and staff who are leaving campus, regardless of where they plan to travel, should also fill out the Spring Break Travel Survey if they have not yet done so.
Faculty members will work directly with students in setting expectations for each course during the remote teaching period, and additional resources for remote learning will be provided to students in the coming days. We will work with faculty to address any questions or issues that may arise in terms of student access to needed technology or other resources.
Faculty and Staff
To support faculty in developing alternative pedagogical strategies, the Center for the Integration for Teaching, Learning & Scholarship (CITLS) and Learning & Research Technologies (LRT) have created an online resource with recommended teaching practices to implement in the event of a disruption to classroom instruction. We also will be sending information to faculty about training sessions and support that will be offered over the spring break week to prepare for this transition.
For our staff, we are emphasizing social distancing on campus, and therefore will be working to support remote work wherever possible during this period. Division heads in conjunction with the Office of Human Resources will provide guidance to department leaders and managers, working to ensure that essential staff are on campus when necessary and the resources to work remotely are available where possible. We will continue to work with individual team members on appropriate arrangements for those who may have health concerns, need to support family who are sick, or may experience interruptions in child or family care.
Recognizing that you may have specific questions about this period of transition, we encourage you to reach out to the appropriate offices for support.
We will offer in the next week further guidance on policies related to travel, events, remote work, sick time, and tracking absenteeism. We will also continue to make frequent updates to our COVID-19 website and send emails to the community as needed.
Finally, I urge every member of our community to take the steps outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to keep yourself, your loved ones, and your community safe. Your personal adherence to these practices, particularly while traveling, may have a critical impact on our ability to resume normal operations. You can follow updates on our COVID-19 website.
I know that the uncertainty of this rapidly evolving situation is very challenging for all of us, and I am grateful for your flexibility as we work together to support the best possible experience for our students and our community.
President Alison Byerly