Earlier today, in a COVID-19 update email addressed to all students, Capital University administration addressed a return to campus following Thanksgiving Break—although campus facilities will remain open, all instruction and final exams will take place remotely.
The announcement comes as Ohio sees record numbers of coronavirus cases, with 4,229 new infections reported on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
This move echoes similar actions taken by schools across the state—the Ohio State University announced their plan for remote post-Thanksgiving instruction in June.
According to Provost Jody Fournier, Capital University’s administration has been wrestling with this decision for weeks.
“We tried everything we could to continue with in-person instruction, but ultimately we had to put together the safest plan for our community,” Dr. Fournier states, citing the risk of spread presented by a complete return to campus.
In accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), students are encouraged to remain on-campus for the Thanksgiving holiday. Traveling home and attending a gathering with extended family members increases the risk of community spread.
In order to accommodate students who choose to stay on campus for the Thanksgiving holiday, traditional residence halls will not close and a break housing application will not be required.
In-person instruction will not resume following the holiday, but otherwise, Capital’s undergraduate campus will remain functioning—including residence halls, dining services, study areas, and administrative offices. Students are able to remain on campus for the remaining weeks of remote classes and exams; those who choose to leave their campus housing will receive a prorated refund for the period.
Dr. Fournier expects that, during the final weeks of the semester, “campus will look a lot like it did when we started remotely in the fall.”
Fournier also clarified that the winter break housing process will be the same as in previous years. The break housing request form will be available soon through eRezLife, and students who apply will be able to remain in their established housing for the duration.
Today’s COVID-19 update email also answered a few questions pertaining to the Spring 2021 semester. Classes will begin on Jan. 11, and residential students will return to campus the weekend before. During move-in, all students will be tested for the coronavirus.
However, a “soft quarantine” will be observed for the first two weeks after the return to campus, says Dr. Fournier. For this period, all classes will be remote, but students will be allowed to leave their residences for work, dining, etc.
Capital’s mid-term break, scheduled for Feb. 27 to March 7, will be followed by another round of testing for all students and an identical two-week quarantine period.
The decision to keep a week-long midterm break sets Capital apart from other institutions. Some schools have cancelled their break altogether, and others have shortened time off from classes to a single day.
Dr. Fournier states that, ultimately, the choice was made based upon the behavioral and mental health needs of students and staff. “We observed schools who eliminated their breaks this fall and saw that it didn’t go over so well. We felt very strongly that our community needed the time.”
Aside from these scheduled bursts of remote classes, spring semester will proceed following the same preventative procedures established this fall.