It is hard to believe how much has changed in the world over the last ten days. Many of us left campus just a short time ago excited about various spring break activities and trips. Since then, things have changed, then changed again, and again. It is challenging and difficult to keep up with our developing sense of how COVID-19 will impact us – at Wittenberg, in Ohio, in the United States. There will be more changes.
I recognize that all of us are facing considerable disruption and stress right now. Uncertainty adds to that stress. With that in mind and after extensive conversations and additional review of the latest state and federal recommendations, I have decided that we will deliver our academic program through remote instruction for the remainder of the spring semester with remote classes ending May 6 and remote final exams May 8-13 as scheduled.
This decision was not made lightly, and I know it brings disappointment for many, especially our seniors. I am heartbroken for them. We have not made a final determination about Commencement, but I do expect we will reschedule. We will honor and celebrate with the Class of 2020, but today I am not able to say when or how.
This is a public health crisis of extreme proportions, and the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff must be a focus of our collective attention. We also need to do our part as global citizens during this unprecedented time if we are to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect all those in our local community and beyond.
I am grateful to our faculty, who are working to make sure learning continues, albeit in a different form. I appreciate their dedication to our students and the ways in which their ingenuity and creativity are being applied to the challenges. Through their work, and the work of those supporting them, we will make sure our students achieve academic progress this semester. Our staff has also been remarkable and flexible, and will continue to work remotely until further notice. Thanks to you all.
Students, your faculty members will continue to reach out to you with course information and related planning needs. Please be patient as we pivot to new ways of teaching and learning.
In the next 24 hours, Residence Life will communicate with students about campus housing for the duration of the spring semester. The email will address how students who have already left campus should go about retrieving their belongings and dates for moving out. The email will also address changes in approvals and housing needs for students currently on campus. While there can be exceptions, the expectation is that students will leave campus. For those who cannot and are approved to stay, we will provide necessary, but limited, services.
I know there are questions about possible refunds or credits. Decisions about those must be made in consultation with the Board of Directors and those conversations are underway. I will share information as soon as I am able.
This is a lot to digest, and I know that you may have questions, so please reach out to our Residence Life staff at firstname.lastname@example.org once you receive the follow-up email from that office. Information is also posted on our COVID-19 Health Advisory website, which I encourage you to continue to check often.
I appreciate all the ways in which the Wittenberg community is coming together (even if virtually) in the disruptive and traumatic recent days and weeks. I am proud of us. Please take care of yourself and each other; follow the guidance to stay safe and healthy. Keep checking your email for updates and critical information.
Michael L. Frandsen, Ph.D.