Dear Members of the TC Community,
Since the outbreak of the pandemic 11 months ago, we have prioritized the safety and well-being of all of our students, staff, and faculty, and accordingly, based our decisions on a realistic assessment of scientific and public health data. Deciding relatively early this past spring, summer, and fall to operate and deliver most class instruction remotely for those terms gave us more time to focus on what matters most. It gave our faculty and staff, so many of whom have gone many extra miles to support our students and to sustain excellence across all of our programs and research activity, more time to continue doing so. It gave us more time to develop more tools, resources and caregiving benefits for all of our employees working from home, many of whom are caring for young children or dependents. And it gave us more time to focus on keeping the small number of people living, studying, or working on campus healthy and safe.
We are now looking ahead toward preparing for the summer and fall of 2021.
Our Plans for Summer 2021
For both Summer 2021 sessions, the College will continue to offer courses primarily online, with some exceptions, and maintain remote operations for non-essential employees. This decision will allow the College and their COVID-19 Taskforce to focus its planning on resuming regular operations, modified to the extent necessary for health and safety, for the Fall 2021 term and the upcoming academic year.
For the summer, this means we will offer a relatively small number of hybrid courses, especially those that involve work in in-person settings and/or pedagogical elements that require some in-person instruction. Under current federal guidelines, these in-person courses should be sufficient to allow international students to return to campus for the summer, if they desire, to comply with current US immigration laws. The delivery of in-person content and supervision of in-person clinical work will adhere to best practices set forth by the state Department of Health and federal Centers for Disease Control, including advanced cleaning and sanitation protocols, reduced classroom density, mandatory face coverings, upgraded ventilation standards, and physical distancing. Students in hybrid courses will have the option to access courses online or in person.
For staff, all non-essential work will continue to be performed primarily online. We will continue to allow limited non-essential work activity to take place on campus in strict adherence to health and safety guidelines, which have allowed us to maintain physical distancing and low density in the workplace by resuming limited on-campus activities within the lower risk category.
Our Plans for Fall 2021
Given the acceleration of COVID-19 vaccination efforts regionally and nationally, we are cautiously optimistic about returning – with appropriate health and safety modifications in place – to substantially more in-person instruction and operations, along with the resumption of more campus activities, for the Fall 2021.
Right now, College leadership is considering key factors and variables while exploring measures that will allow our students, faculty, and workforce to flourish safely. For example, as more among us prepare to return to campus, it will be all the more important to take care of ourselves and to maintain a safe environment for everyone else. Institutionally speaking, that means we will continue to strictly observe state and federal COVID-19 guidelines both for determining in-person classroom and work space capacity and for maintaining standards for screening, facial covering, and distancing. We will continue to require everyone on campus to have completed the TC COVID-19 Health and Safety Training, which covers health and safety guidelines for those on campus, as well as information about the health and safety measures being taken on campus. And we (likely) will continue to require everyone planning to enter campus to complete the Daily Health Screening via their smartphone, PC, or other mobile device each day they plan to come to campus.
At the same time, we will continue to ensure that every member of our community – faculty, students, and staff – has the support and training, especially technological training, they need to be effective and successful. We will consider making allowances and provisions for staff to work remotely at the discretion of their supervisors. Moreover, we should seize the opportunity to apply the innovative skills acquired and valuable lessons learned over the past year toward getting the most out of our work and endeavors as we move forward.
We have on-campus residential units available for any student who would like to live safely on campus during the summer sessions, and are already accepting applications for the 2021/22 academic year. As always, we will maintain a safe living environment for our residents by continuing enhanced cleaning and sanitation of the residential buildings and common areas. Moreover, all units that we offer meet the health guidelines from New York State and the federal Centers for Disease Control.
We encourage all returning and newly enrolling students interested in living on campus to apply for housing as soon as possible through the Office of Residential Services.
As we plan to resume Fall 2021 in-person instruction and operations to the extent that safety and guidance permit, we will provide more details and guidance in the coming weeks and months. One word of caution: We cannot predict what may transpire with the pandemic, and must be prepared for several scenarios. So it is especially important that everyone visit our “Preparedness” site regularly for updates and information.
In the meantime, please take good care of yourselves. Please get your flu shot now (if you haven’t already done so). Try to schedule your COVID-19 vaccination as soon as you are eligible. And let us all continue working together and taking good care of one another. I cannot wait until we can all be together again in person.
President, Teachers College