July 28, 2020
Dear Gonzaga Students and Families,
We at GU have been thinking of you through this difficult time and have been striving to create a strong plan for Fall Semester 2020: a plan which recognizes that we are in the midst of an international emergency without modern parallel, and a plan nimble enough to accommodate changing circumstances and varied needs – while remaining absolutely committed to your safety and providing you with an exceptional educational experience. Colleagues throughout the institution have been working for months on plans that lower the density of classrooms, labs and dining facilities; equip teaching environments for remote and modified course delivery; develop protocols for viral testing and contact tracing; and create approaches to campus housing that lower density and mitigate risk.
The fact that we are operating in the context of a virulent pandemic cannot be denied or ignored. As the pandemic continues to spread and positive cases continue to increase, additional restrictions have recently been re-introduced that govern social gatherings, dining, recreation and fitness centers. These restrictions – all of which are being introduced to assist in mitigating community transmission of COVID-19 – serve to underscore the simple fact that certain activities on and off campus will be limited, likely for some months to come. These restrictions will affect the student experience.
Given the above, we acknowledge that these are challenging and quite difficult circumstances within which to operate. We acknowledge that different individuals – students, parents, faculty, staff, and community members – are in very different places with regards to their needs, sensitivities, and desires in the face of this pandemic. While it has always been the goal to re-open campus and resume in-person education, we have been doing this work in an extraordinarily dynamic context. Therefore, our plans with respect to our academic programs acknowledges the need for flexibility and options where possible.
Note to our Graduate and Law Students: Given your unique context and program, you will hear from the Dean and/or Program Director of your area in the coming days about any changes or modifications to fall plans.
- In light of the public health threat posed by COVID-19, we have encouraged our faculty to determine the mode of course delivery that best supports the subject matter to be taught while respecting the right of the faculty member to work in a manner that supports their own health, and that of their family. For this reason, students should expect that many courses will be taught dynamically and remotely, via technology. Some courses will be offered face-to-face, and others partly in-person, and partly via remote technology (in other words, in a “hybrid” format).
- We have asked our faculty to prepare to offer their courses in an interactive remote-delivery mode where possible, even if they have also chosen a face-to-face/in person or hybrid teaching approach. We have done so in order to maximize options and flexibility to students who are unable to return to campus, become exposed/ill and need to quarantine or self-isolate, or do not feel safe being in the classroom/campus environment. As a result, and in response to numerous queries we have received, it will be possible for most students who wish to do so, to pursue their studies via remote technology for Fall semester.
- We do plan to offer courses involving intensive lab, studio, clinical or similar work, on campus and face-to-face/in-person, where we can safely do so and provided we remain authorized to do so (see points 4-7 of Our Approach to Reopening for Fall 2020).
On-campus Living Requirement Suspended; Housing & Dining Available
In view of the current circumstances we are suspending the first- and second-year on-campus residency requirement for Academic Year 2020-2021. We know, however, that there are students for whom on-campus housing is and remains the best or most appropriate option. In addition to those in specific “experiential” courses, these include students with needs for robust technology support, students with documented disabilities, students who otherwise would be in unsafe or insecure housing situations, and international students (among others). Students seeking the opportunity to remain in on-campus housing will be asked to affirm that through an online form that will be available August 3rd.
Request for Action
In light of the above information, we know that each student, and each family, will have their own unique context to consider. We want to encourage you to make the best decisions for yourself and your family, and know we will work hard to support you in those decisions. Some students will choose to continue – or to begin – their Gonzaga experience virtually; we respect that decision and will work hard to accommodate you. Some students may need the access to technology our campus provides, or for various other reasons require campus housing and support. We seek to support you as well.
On Monday, August 3rd, you will receive a link to a form which will ask you to communicate your responses to a set of questions regarding your plans for Fall 2020 semester. This survey will ask you to provide us with information about whether you wish to participate in coursework on-campus or via remote technology, as well as information pertaining to campus housing.
Invitation to Townhall Webinars
The ultimate solution to this pandemic requires widespread availability of effective vaccines and anti-viral therapies. Until these become available, however, we will all be living and working in less-than-ideal circumstances. We at Gonzaga are committed to your success and to supporting you in the continuation of your educational journey, and as we have from the beginning, will continue to adapt as circumstances demand. We want to provide you with options that will best support you and your needs during this international crisis. More information will be coming to you next week, but I also want to hear your issues and concerns, and to know your questions. I therefore am offering the following set of “townhall webinars” for students and families:
- Thursday, July 30th 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. (Pacific)
- Friday, July 31st 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. (Pacific)
Those who would like to participate in either of these “town hall webinars” can do so using the following links:
For those who cannot attend the Town Halls live, recordings of each will be provided as soon as possible afterward. Check www.gonzaga.edu/zagon for updates.
We Are Here For You
In light of this unprecedented circumstance, we know that each student, and each family, will have their own unique context and needs to consider. We want to encourage you to make the best decisions for yourself and your family, and know we will work hard to support you in those decisions. Some students will choose to continue – or to begin – their Gonzaga experience virtually; we respect that decision and will work hard to accommodate you. Some students may need the access to technology our campus provides, or for various other reasons require campus housing and support. To us, each and every one of you are part of the Gonzaga Family, and we seek to do our best to support you during this time.
Our collective way forward will take all of us doing our best for ourselves, and for the communities we belong to. I have articulated the conditions we are working within, and more about the plan moving forward, on the associated document, “Our Approach to Reopening for Fall 2020.” Please take time to read it thoroughly, and know that colleagues at Gonzaga are ready to work with you on next steps. We will continue to update our ZagOn 2020 website with the latest updates and information and you can reach us or leave us a message on our dedicated line at (509) 313-7070. New students can always contact Admission at (509) 313-7040.
Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.