Goucher College's Updated Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
Dear Goucher Community,
I’m writing now to give you an update on Goucher’s response to the ever evolving COVID-19 pandemic.
If you are like me, you have most likely been overwhelmed by all the news about the COVID-19 pandemic this past week and how quickly the crisis has evolved. This unprecedented situation has forced us to reevaluate many of the assumptions we made about the spread of the coronavirus only a week ago and respond accordingly with updated guidance on an almost daily basis.
I also realize that for all our students — those who have already returned home, those studying abroad, and those still remaining on campus — this past week has been an anxious one, filled with angst and uncertainty about what might happen next. Many of you have told me how much you would be devastated by the prospect of potentially not being able to return to Goucher this spring due to the pandemic. A college is more than coursework. We are a community of colleagues, friends, teammates, and fellow students who have learned to support each other when times are tough.
As you know, last week we made the decision to ask every one of our students who could, to return home. We also made the decision to transition all face-to-face instruction to online only beginning March 23rd until the end of the month. We also asked all our non-essential staff to work remotely until further notice.
Since then, we have continued to communicate with our peer institutions and public health officials to determine the best way we can protect our students, faculty, and staff given this rapidly evolving situation. We do not have all of the answers yet but we remain committed to adapting as conditions warrant. This is uncharted territory for all of us.
Let me reiterate that we continue to have NO known cases of coronavirus on campus. As this global crisis continues to escalate, we are taking these additional steps today because we believe they are in the best interest of keeping our entire Goucher community safe.
Please take time to read this entire communication as there are multiple updates to share.
Actions, effective immediately:
Transitioning to Online Instruction for the Remainder of the Semester
As previously stated, on Monday, March 23 Goucher will transition to online-only instruction via Canvas for all undergraduate classes and graduate face-to-face interactions. Given the severity of this pandemic, we have made the decision to move all instruction online for the remainder of the semester. Students are asked not to return to campus and instead fulfill their academic requirements remotely. We will be canceling classes on Monday, March 23rd and Tuesday, March 24th to allow our faculty more time to prepare for the transition to online instruction. More information will be forthcoming as we work with faculty to implement this decision.
Residence Halls – Closing through the End of the Semester
Although most students left campus over the weekend, we do have a very small number of students — international students among them — who remain in our residence halls. We are now asking that all students make arrangements to return home as soon as possible. This includes international students. We will work with individuals as needed to make travel arrangements and send additional information about next steps for students to move out shortly. We will also be sending information out in the coming weeks regarding how students who have already returned home can retrieve or store personal belongings that remain in their room once conditions improve.
On-campus events – Canceled through May 16
We will be canceling all on-campus events from Saturday, March 14 through the end of the semester. This includes, unfortunately, our Alumnae/i Weekend and Presidential Inauguration scheduled for April 24-26, as well as all events organized by external organizations and rentals.
Off-campus programs – Canceled through the end of May
We will be ceasing all off-campus and community-based programs through the end of May. This includes SAGE Academy, Community-Based Learning, internships, and the Futuro Latino Learning Center. No decisions have been made yet that will affect summer programs.
As previously stated in my last email, we have discontinued all student, faculty, and staff travel supported by the College through the end of the semester. We are also strongly advising all of our students, regardless of where they are in the world, to exercise caution and contribute to public health by implementing physical distancing and whenever possible, remaining at home.
Athletics Events – Canceled through the end of the semester
Given our decision to send all students home and move to entirely online instruction, we are following the lead of the NCAA and canceling all athletic events and contests through the end of the semester.
Study Abroad and Intensive Courses Abroad (ICA)
We are requesting that all Goucher students currently studying abroad make arrangements immediately to return to the U.S. Students should return home and not return to campus. Our Office of Global Education will work with each student to facilitate their return home as well as certify that all students whose program has been cut short due to the pandemic have fulfilled their study abroad requirement.
Furthermore, we are canceling all study abroad and Intensive Courses Abroad (ICA) effective immediately for the summer and fall semesters. We are advising all students to reevaluate their schedules for the fall in the hopes of offering an expanded selection of ICAs and study abroad programs for spring semester and summer 2021.
We do not anticipate any scenarios that would prevent students who were previously scheduled to graduate this semester from graduating as planned. Obviously, there is a great deal that we still do not know yet, but we are committed to seeing our students graduate and will work with each student to develop alternative scenarios.
We have not made any decision as to the form that this year’s commencement ceremony will take. Expect to see further communication about this in the weeks to come.
I understand that many people will have questions about how these decisions affect them. To that end, we have created a webform that can be used to expedite answers to your questions. As this pandemic continues to evolve, we ask for your patience as we work to address each situation. We will also continue to post updates to our webpage on a regular basis.
Again, thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to keep our community safe.
Kent Devereaux, President