Clark University has announced its intent to hold in-person classes and welcome students back to campus for the spring 2021 semester. The University will operate under the same general philosophy that has guided the fall semester: students’ physical presence on campus is optional, and coursework will be conducted through a mix of in-class, hybrid, and online teaching.
“As always, protecting the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff remains our foremost priority and guides everything we do at Clark,” President David Fithian and Provost Davis Baird wrote in a message to the Clark community on Oct. 28. “That will not change in the spring. We will continue to require that everyone in our community abide by the principles of The Clark Commitment.” Those principles include mask wearing, social distancing, frequent hand washing, and adherence to Clark’s rigorous COVID-19 testing regimen. Students will continue to be tested every three days, and employees who work on campus will be tested every seven days.
The decision to open was made with the approval of the Board of Trustees, Fithian said, and follows months of analysis of university operations, consultations with public health experts, and countless planning sessions involving teams of staff and faculty. “Reopening absolutely would not be possible without the incredible Clarkie spirit that has been on display throughout the fall semester,” he said. “We know that it has not been easy.”
Along with mandating that everyone living, learning, and working on campus complies with testing, mask wearing, and social distancing, Clark’s protocols for sanitizing and de-densifying residence halls, classrooms, and common areas also will remain intact to further mitigate risks. More information on Clark’s COVID-19 preparation and response efforts can be found at the Healthy Clark website.
Clark’s approach to academics in the spring will remain the same as in the fall, with courses offered in various modalities. To the greatest extent possible, students will be able to choose to study entirely remotely, entirely in person, or in a combination of the two formats, and faculty will have the option to choose the modalities in which they will teach their classes. Key dates include:
Fithian and Baird noted that while the University’s intent is to reopen the campus on Feb. 18 for the beginning of spring move-in, those plans may be altered by the unpredictable and virulent nature of COVID-19. Clark will closely monitor the course of the pandemic throughout the winter and continually assess the University’s ability to provide a safe setting for students, staff, and faculty to learn, live, and work.
“Our hope is that we will not be impelled to shift to an online-only mode of learning, and we would only do so if we determine that worsening conditions jeopardize the health and well-being of our campus,” they said.
“As our community enters the remaining months of 2020, a year with no precedent, we continue to be awed and inspired by the grace you’ve displayed under historically challenging circumstances. Thank you for persisting amid the many disruptions, and for your generosity of spirit as we build the necessary momentum to finish the semester on a high note.”