From the President, re: Returning to Campus

March 12, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, beginning next week, Governor Lamont will start to ease a number of COVID-19 restrictions in Connecticut, particularly those related to capacity levels and travel restrictions.

Just as the state moves forward toward a “new normal,” so Southern and our sister CSU institutions will start to return to regular on-ground operations, in the context of health and safety protocols that must still be followed.

We will continue to pursue mainly virtual teaching and working through the end of the semester, with limited on-ground activities. The new capacity limits for outdoor ceremonies, however, will allow us to host on-campus, in-person Commencement ceremonies for our 2021 graduates. Five joint undergraduate/graduate ceremonies will be held per School/College on Jess Dow Field May 18-19, with a limit of two family members or friends per student.

As of June 1, we will start to gradually reopen campus, with a view to commencing full operations on ground as of August 1. Further information will be released shortly about the opening status of Buley Library and other key campus buildings. As has become the norm, most Summer Session offerings will be virtual, but we are planning to offer one-day New Student Orientation programs on campus throughout the summer.

Unless the outlook changes, we anticipate that the fall semester will have a familiar, pre-COVID look, with faculty and staff resuming in-person teaching and working. More than 70 percent of classes are currently scheduled to be offered either fully on-ground or in a hybrid format, with the remainder fully online. This represents a growth of more than 10 percent in our number of online offerings, compared with fall 2019.

Maintaining the safety of our campus community remains our number one priority, and during the coming months we will evaluate the latest scenarios and follow our health protocols until we are advised by the state Department of Public Health that is safe to remove them. Therefore, social distancing and mask-wearing will continue to be a vital part of our daily routine, into the foreseeable future.

As I have mentioned previously, there are many members of our extended community who have struggled during this pandemic, whether due to COVID itself, or the economic and social repercussions of the pandemic.

I urge you again to pursue the ethic of care that is key to our commitment as a social justice university, and reach out to students, friends, and colleagues who may need our support and understanding as we transition back to campus.


Joe Bertolino