From the President, re: Planning for Summer and Fall

February 11, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

As many of you know, our planning for the Summer and Fall 2021 semesters is well underway.  With guidance received earlier from the CSCU System Office, Department Chairs have submitted schedules for both of these academic terms.

As has become our summer norm, much of our  summer session offerings will be hybrid and online, with relevant courses scheduled on campus.  All on-ground courses and programs will still have to adhere to pandemic health requirements, including the use of appropriate masks and social distancing.

However, taking an optimistic approach, our plans call for a return to providing around 70 percent of our course sections on-ground in the fall.  We look forward to a robust offering of in-person programs, activities, and services, while retaining the best of what we have offered in our virtual environment. 

That being said, we must act with caution, given the unpredictable trajectory of the pandemic, and we will reevaluate our plans in May and again in August. Should conditions not prove appropriate for an on-ground opening, we will recalibrate our planning and revert to schedules and modes of course delivery similar to those in place this spring.

We also continue to evaluate options for our summer co-curricular programs.  We are hoping to offer a one-day, small-group orientation experience throughout the summer.  We expect to be very limited in any kind of overnight, residential experiences, but will monitor COVID guidelines to determine what might be possible.  More information will be forthcoming as these plans evolve.

It is too early yet to know what our staffing model will be for the summer into the fall, but the expectation is that it will be aligned with our reopening plans and modes of course delivery. For now, we anticipate a full return of staff to campus for the fall semester, but that will depend on public health guidelines at the time. We will be better informed to answer questions and consider unique circumstances as the outlook becomes clearer.

As I have stated previously, the collective response of our faculty and staff has been amazing during the preceding 11 months. And as we progress through the spring semester we will look to continue our good work to further our mission and ensure student success. There is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, and I am hopeful that the passage of time, our collaborative commitment to health and safety, and the impact of widespread vaccinations will see us in a position to resume many of our on-ground campus operations by late August.

For now,  I encourage you to do all that you can to ensure that the spring semester gets off to the best possible start, so that our students can learn, and we can teach and work, in a safe and welcoming campus environment.

Stay well. And stay Southern Strong!

Joe Bertolino