It’s hard to believe we are on the doorstep of a new semester at Clark University. We know preparations for the fall can seem overwhelming in any year, but COVID-19 has compounded the challenges we’re all facing. You are to be commended for your perseverance in an extraordinary time, and we hope you’re looking forward to your Clark experience.
While we truly don’t wish to add to your information-overload, we thought you might be interested to know a few things about what to expect when the semester launches, and to see some of the spaces where you’ll be spending time. Please note that in some of the photos accompanying this story students are not wearing masks. The photos were taken pre-pandemic. If they were taken today, all would be masked — as you’ll see in item No. 1 below.
1. A mask for class — and everywhere else
The Clark classroom is a special place, a community of passionate learners and gifted teachers. And we want to make sure that community stays safe and healthy. To accomplish this, everyone in our classrooms, including professors, will wear a face covering and remain socially distanced. The experience will feel different in the beginning, but the best things that go on inside the classroom — the discovery of new knowledge, the exchange of ideas, the flashes of inspiration — will never change. Of course, you’ll be expected to wear a mask wherever you are on campus, including in your residence hall (you can remove it in your room).
2. Bring your water, not your granola bar
We understand that snacking during class is convenient when you can’t get to the dining hall, but to prevent the possible transmission of COVID-19, eating inside a classroom is not allowed this semester. However, you can drink water or other beverages in class (including coffee for those who need their caffeine fix). Simply pull down your mask, take your sip, and pull your mask back up.
3. Your classroom cleaning assignment
You’ve been asked to clean up after yourself since childhood (it’s still a good rule). For the fall semester we’re making an additional request: Before you settle in for class, please wipe down your seating area. Each classroom will have a cleaning station with sanitation supplies for you to use. This may seem odd at first, but it will soon become as much a part of your routine as brushing your teeth.
4. Take your test
As part of your health and safety routine, you will be required to have a COVID-19 test in the Kneller Athletic Center every three days. This is a self-applied nasal swab. The entire process, from check-in to departure, will only take a matter of minutes. Wear a mask and bring your Clark One Card. Beginning August 15, you can schedule your testing times using the CoVerified app. Information on downloading the app will be coming.
5. Make use of common areas
The common areas inside our residence halls, outside on the Green and elsewhere on campus are places to connect and relax, and they will continue to serve this important purpose when we return for the fall semester. We encourage you to take advantage of these spaces (while appropriately masked and socially distanced, of course!). College is a communal experience, so yes, take the necessary precautions, but use every opportunity to foster connections with others.
6. Food for thought in Fall 2020
COVID-19 can’t change one thing: You gotta eat. And at Clark, you’ll eat well. How and where you’ll dine, however, has been modified in several ways:
- Traditionally, every meal time is accompanied by a cordial migration to the Higgins Dining Hall. This semester, signs will be in place to route foot traffic through the dining hall in a way that allows everyone to maintain a safe distance.
- Rather than buffet-style self-service, students will be served by Sodexo employees and meals will be placed in take-out containers.
- Seating capacity in the dining hall has been reduced, but there will be additional seating in Tilton Hall, and a tent has been set up outside the University Center to accommodate more diners.
A video has been prepared to take you through the Clark dining experience.
7. Healthy Clark Kits
When you arrive at Clark, you will receive your Healthy Clark Kit. Hang onto it, because inside you’ll find these important items:
- A mask (in case you misplace yours)
- A Healthy Clark Guide
- Hand sanitizer
- A card with instructions for properly washing your mask (it’s not hard to do, but a little coaching doesn’t hurt)
The tote bag containing all of the above is also worth keeping for future use.
8. Ways to keep moving
Staying physically active is essential to maintaining an overall sense of well-being and balance — exercising the body helps stimulate the mind and soothe the soul. Though the gym in the Kneller Athletic Center will be closed so it can be used as a testing facility, Clarkies can take advantage of recreational opportunities in other areas of the Kneller, such as the Bickman Fitness Center, which opens August 24. Other parts of the facility, such as the racquetball courts and pool, will have a phased opening in the coming weeks. Learn more here.
9. Check the sign in the lobby
Even if you are studying remotely, there may be times when you will need to drop off paperwork or connect with others in the Shaich Family Alumni and Student Engagement Center (ASEC). Many offices inside the building primarily will operate remotely, though some staff will be on site on staggered schedules. Look for the sign in the ASEC lobby, which will provide the daily status of all offices and possibly save you a trip up the stairs!
10. Multipurpose tents
During these warm-weather months, Clark expects to take as much advantage of the outdoors as we can. To that end, you’ll notice two tents when you arrive on campus: Tent No. 1, across Main Street and next to the Shaich Family Alumni and Student Engagement Center, is being used for student check-in; Tent No. 2, outside the University Center, is for dining and other activities. Be sure to visit Tent No. 1 to let Clark know when you’ve arrived, and expect to be spending time in Tent No. 2 throughout the semester.
11. Stay connected with faculty
It’s true that life in a Zoom world is less than ideal. Fortunately, our faculty understand the extraordinary and fluid circumstances the Clark learning community is facing, and they are committed to providing an academic experience that engages and inspires you, regardless of whether it’s delivered in person or online. Please don’t hesitate to communicate with your professors and advisers for guidance and support.
12. Virtual clubs are ready to roll
Our more than 130 student clubs and organizations contribute to a vibrant and welcoming Clark community. This semester, those groups will be meeting virtually most of the time, but there may be opportunities for in-person meetings based on the size of the gathering and the capacity of the room in which the event is held. Organizers should check with Mike Hardej before scheduling any in-person event. And visit here if you’re interested in learning about Clark’s clubs and orgs, and perhaps joining one (or more). Students can also download the CORQ App, search for Clark University and log in to see the list of events and organizations.
Please enjoy your remaining days of summer. We can’t wait to have you with us for Fall 2020.