Dear Georgetown University Main Campus Faculty and Staff,
I write to follow up on President DeGioia’s message regarding Georgetown’s plan for the Spring 2021 semester. We all share the goal of returning to the traditional Georgetown educational design – close, interpersonal, in-person education supported by our faculty and staff. We all want this pandemic’s effect on our education mission to end. Unfortunately, this is not completely within our control.
This letter gives more detail on the Main Campus Spring 2021 academic activities.
We will begin with a slightly delayed start, beginning January 25, 2021, with a new combined Easter and Spring Break from March 29 through April 4, 2021, and using the new academic calendar.
Expanded Access to Campus Facilities
As noted in President DeGioia’s letter, we plan to allow members of the senior class not currently living in DC to return to campus, and we plan to offer rooms in our residence halls for these students. We plan to bring graduate students to campus for a selection of hybrid courses and by-reservation access to the library. All seniors and graduate students will be given access to study spaces on campus, limited by a reservation system to enforce physical distancing, provided public health conditions allow.
Mode of Instruction
Most undergraduate level classes will be offered in virtual mode, while some senior level classes and graduate level classes may be in hybrid mode. It is important to note that this plan is dependent on the course of the pandemic and may be altered under changed circumstances. We will regularly announce updates in the coming months, monitoring the public health circumstances, which would affect the Spring semester.
We will continue the same tuition reductions in place for Fall 2020 (10% for undergraduates and 5% for graduate students) with the exception of Class of 2021 undergraduate students who choose to have physical access to on-campus facilities, subject to density and other public health requirements. We will provide more information to members of the class of 2021 who decide not to have physical access to campus facilities.
For Sophomores and Juniors
We have listened carefully to student feedback, and have shared this information with faculty designing Spring courses with this input in mind. We are developing an exciting selection of courses, building upon the foundation of online coursework offered in the Fall. We know it is disappointing that public health conditions do not allow for all students to return to campus this Spring. We encourage you to continue to engage students through your coursework and to encourage them to take advantage of the many opportunities to create and be part of the Georgetown community that our Student Affairs offices and student organizations offer. Please also encourage students to take advantage of department offerings and gatherings hosted by Georgetown’s many departments, programs and Centers anxious to include students in their activities.
For First-Year Students
If public health conditions allow, the University is planning to invite current first-year students, who will be rising sophomores in Summer 2021, for a summer residential academic experience, making available credit-bearing courses typically taken in the sophomore year of study. As public health conditions become more clear, we will be in touch with further details.
Undergraduate Students Approved for Residence Exception
Undergraduate students who were granted approval in the Fall through the Housing Stability Application process will be able to live on campus along with students who had been invited to return to campus because of academic requirements, and a limited number of Resident Assistants to support this residential community. Students in the BSN program will be contacted by their program leadership regarding their return to campus in the Spring for clinical placements.
While many graduate-level courses will be taught virtually, some will be offered in hybrid mode. Graduate students may elect to participate in their courses remotely. We are working, as public health conditions allow, to provide graduate students increased access to campus facilities, including the Library and additional study spaces, on a reservation basis.
Public Health Conditions and Student Responsibilities
All faculty, staff and students coming to campus or residing on campus must meet all testing protocols, quarantine and public health requirements set forth and accessible through our website. This may include quarantining prior to coming to campus. You can find additional information on health and safety requirements on the COVID-19 Resource Center website and in the frequently asked questions which are updated regularly.
The University recognizes that this change may have a special impact on international students who may now have new travel plans. For students studying remotely, please continue to plan ways to make it possible for students in distant time zones to continue to engage directly with you and their classmates. International students who are concerned about their visas should contact the Office of Global Services (OGS) with questions about their specific situations. In general, according to current guidance, continuing international students with existing visas can study online from any location (in the U.S. or abroad) and maintain their active visa status. Please contact the Office of Global Services with any questions. New international graduate students should contact the Office of Global Services to discuss their options.
For the past four months, we have been renovating classrooms to enhance teaching and learning technology. Specifically, we have completed classroom upgrades, preparing for students to return to campus and for the possibility of hybrid and other flexible modes of instruction. You will notice new technology in many rooms. If you are teaching in hybrid mode this semester we strongly encourage you to reach out to our CETS team at firstname.lastname@example.org or via their Zoom help desk (Meeting ID 995-332-8350) between 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday and Saturday 8 a.m.-6 p.m. to schedule a one-to-one session in your assigned classroom to become familiar with the technology and teaching conditions.
For MSB classes, please contact the MSB help desk through the Zoom link (https://georgetown.zoom.us/j/2026874721) or ‘chat bot’ (https://sites.google.com/georgetown.edu/msbtech/home) or by email (email@example.com) or by phone (202-687-4721). The MSB Help Desk is available Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in advance of the first day of class to complete a technology check in your classroom. In addition to technology upgrades, we have updated the ventilation systems in classroom buildings and ensured HVAC systems and filters are in proper working order.
The Library has established physical distancing guidelines and procedures, including a new space reservation system, to best serve faculty and students. With these new procedures in place, we will be able to accommodate returning seniors, graduate students and faculty, though of course not all at one time. The Library will communicate soon with faculty, staff and students with further details.
We have heard from our students and understand that study spaces are very important. We are planning to make available a number of new study spaces for Spring that include physical distancing, accessed through a new space reservation system similar to the Library’s space reservation system. We will be in touch as the semester approaches with further details.
I would like to thank the faculty, staff and students who are engaged in pilot courses at the current time, which have informed our thinking and decision-making for the Spring term. We have listened very carefully to your comments and taken the feedback on classroom technology, the need for study spaces, preferences for virtual and hybrid instruction, and public health conditions very seriously.
Due to the continuing impact of the pandemic on global travel, we have decided to continue the moratorium until further notice on University-related international travel for all students, faculty, and staff. There will be very limited exemptions that must be approved by the appropriate campus EVP or the COO (for staff). This decision was made after careful consideration and in the interest of the health and safety of our community.
We are working to provide students with access to WeWork facilities globally. We are assessing the needs of our community members regarding this resource and will develop a pathway for those whose current environment is challenging. WeWork provides office space for individuals in 800 locations in 32 US cities and in 88 cities around the world. We hope this resource will be helpful in supporting our virtual learning environment.
Thank you for your hard work to date. In order to lower the density of individuals on campus, many academic staff members will continue to telework. Certain staff members currently eligible for telework may be expected to return to campus based upon their roles, the academic and research needs of our community, and the needs of students and researchers who will now be on campus in the Spring term. More information will follow from supervisors related to teleworking and timing of a return to campus.
You can find additional information on the COVID-19 Resource Center website and in the frequently asked questions, which are updated regularly. If you have additional questions, please call the University’s COVID-19 Helpline at 202-784-3510 (available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday to Friday) or email firstname.lastname@example.org to be connected to the appropriate University representative to answer your question.
We thank you for your commitment to your academic endeavors and to the University. We must continue to prioritize public health needs in our decision-making and to work to protect the health and safety of our community. While we may have faced certain disappointments this year because of the public health pandemic, we are also presented with many new opportunities to engage with each other. We look forward to welcoming everyone back to the University in the Spring in the many enriching and diverse ways we define our community— virtually and in person.
Robert M. Groves