Fall 2020 Academic Plan - Message from the Provost

June 9, 2020

Dear Saint Mary’s Students,

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our priority at Saint Mary’s has been the safety and well-being of the members of our community. I’m writing to update you on our planning for fall 2020. Our decisions continue to be informed by the experiences and ideas of students, faculty, and student service staff, as well as guidance from state and county health officials, College health experts, and academic and administrative leaders, along with recommendations from the American College Health Association (ACHA). 

We look forward to welcoming you back to campus this fall, but the coming year will look different than previous years. We continue to be guided by our Lasallian, Catholic, liberal arts mission to provide you with a transformative educational experience; and we are committed to protect the health of students, staff, faculty, families and other members of our community. To that end, several working groups consisting of faculty and staff across the College, have conducted surveys and held listening sessions with students, faculty, and staff, and have developed the following recommendations and protocols for teaching and learning for the fall of 2020:

 

  • Academic Calendar Change—One way we are endeavoring to protect the health of members of our community is to adjust the dates of the semester. This will remove the impact of holiday travel and avoid the start of peak flu season for the vast majority of students who are on the semester calendar. Therefore, most students will return to campus to start the fall semester on August 24, 2020 and end classes on November 24, 2020. There will be no midterm break, and the final exam period is scheduled (online) for November 30 to December 4, 2020. SEBA and KSOE graduate and professional academic calendars will remain largely unchanged with possible modifications for courses that include undergraduate students.

 

  • Modes of Instruction—Saint Mary’s will offer a three-tiered mix of in-person, hybrid, and online courses to best accommodate the needs of students and faculty. Students who prefer an in-person experience will be able to put together a class schedule consisting primarily of in-person and hybrid classes, while other students may work with their advisors to create an all-online semester. Most students will likely experience a mix of course types while living on or commuting to campus. These learning options will support physical distancing strategies and help to protect the most vulnerable faculty and students who may become ill or cannot attend in-person classes due to health considerations. 

 

  • Facilities and Health/Wellness—The College is reconfiguring residential and classroom facilities, class sizes, and scheduling to minimize health risks and promote wellness and safety. We are fortunate to have a beautiful and expansive open-air campus and warm enough weather to dedicate outdoor space to classes. All members of the Saint Mary's College community—faculty, staff, students and campus visitors—will be required to wear facial coverings in classrooms and public spaces, and physical distance will need to be maintained. Additionally, there will be updated guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing classrooms, offices, and campus facilities, as well as coordination of traffic in and out of campus spaces. Robust testing protocols will be central to our return to campus and we are working in collaboration with the Contra Costa County Public Health Department to determine strategies for COVID-19 screening for students returning to campus, as well as routine screening throughout the academic year to monitor for asymptomatic transmission. All students who report COVID-19 symptoms will undergo testing, contact tracing, and isolation protocols developed by the College in conjunction with Contra Costa County and California Public Health Department guidelines.

 

  • Student Support—ITS is also working on upgrading some of our classrooms to support video conferencing. Success Coaches and ITS will help identify and respond to students’ technology needs. Through academic programs, the First-Year Advising Cohort, student organizations, Student Services, and Student Life, students can obtain support with maintaining social connections, finding structure through time management and organization, and balancing school and family obligations. Through the Advising Office and academic advisors, students will receive guidance in adjusting to the fall course schedule in light of the three instructional modalities and physical distancing requirements.

 

  • Campus-Wide Initiative—As we work to restore our sense of community connection and purpose, a great number of courses will integrate COVID-19 themes as a topic of discussion during the fall semester. We are excited to provide this interdisciplinary deep dive into COVID-19 studies, and through this intellectual engagement with the pandemic and its effects, to draw our community together through shared inquiry. 

We are excited to return to campus and will be ready to meet this moment with renewed enthusiasm. These are extraordinary times, and we must remain vigilant and unwavering in our efforts to protect the health and safety of our community by complying with mandated policies and protocols. As the summer progresses, we will provide you with more information and updates as they develop.

 

Sincerely,

Margaret Kasimatis, PhD

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Saint Mary's College of California

1928 St. Mary’s Road

Moraga, CA 94575