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President Mary-Beth Cooper and leadership team hosts open forum on 2021 spring semester

Cait Kemp
@caitlinkemp09

Wednesday, December 16 at 6 p.m. over Zoom, President Mary-Beth Cooper, VP of Student Affairs Patrick Love, and Senior Associate VP of Academic Affairs Mary Ann Coughlin held a forum moderated by their chief of staff, Dr. Kathy Martin, to discuss the 2021 spring semester and different things to expect. The hosts explained a few initiatives they brought to discuss, and students, faculty, or anyone in the Springfield College community could ask questions through the Q&A feature on Zoom. The forum addressed things such as testing protocol, activities to look forward to on campus, and the alternative to Spring Break.

Important facts released, relating to COVID-19 testing, included the notion that as students return to campus in January, a negative test is required by all students (not just those of specific high risk states). A flu vaccine is also required to return to campus, as stated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

Students will need to be tested upon arrival on campus as well. They will receive an email soon to choose their move in day, similarly to the fall. These days will be Thursday, January 21 through Sunday, January 24. They will test the day they arrive. Commuters will test Monday, January 25 until Thursday, January 28. 

Classes begin on Monday, January 25. The first week of classes will be fully remote, and Cheney Dining Hall will be grab and go dining only during that time. The following Monday, February 1, any in-person classes will begin and Cheney will open to seating options. 

Testing will increase to weekly, rather than every other week, for all students. Testing will be offered Monday through Thursday, and students are no longer required to choose a specific time slot for their testing dates. They will have to report to the testing center any time during the day they choose. Make-up tests for those who miss theirs for any reason will occur during the first hour of each testing day. Communication on positive cases will continue as it did in the fall; the dashboard will be updated each time new information about a case is recorded.

Some policy changes include a revised student code of conduct relating to COVID-19. A first violation of the occupancy rule will be a two week suspension, rather than suspension for the semester as the rules previously stated. The quarantine period required for students who do test positive will now be 10 days rather than 14, and more quarantine housing has also been accounted for to hopefully avoid the issue of limited space that we had in the fall. 

Along with the policy changes, Cheney has also been altered to enforce social distancing. 

“We heard, especially from parents, they got pictures of Cheney, ‘Why is Cheney operating it seems in one way and the residence halls in another?’” said Love. “Coming back in the spring Cheney will look different….you’re not going to be able to sit with six, seven, eight people.”

There will be only two person tables, separated with more plexiglass, and Cheney A & B will be used for seating as well to keep tables and people spread out. 

There will be no Spring Break, but rather two “Wellness Wednesdays” that will act as a break from school in the middle of the week. These are scheduled for February 24 and March 10. Teachers have been advised to not assign any heavy work the day after these wellness days so students can have a true day off from homework or studying. 

The lack of activities and things to do on campus has been recognized, and there will be improvements to that come spring semester. There will be food trucks every Saturday night, and Fuller Hall will be available to reserve to watch movies with groups of 25 max with a full movie theater experience. There will be opportunities to have larger groups of friends to hang out in a lounge or more private area so they can have socialization outside the residence halls, and there will be Service Sundays most Sundays of the semester. These ideas were pulled from surveys that students were sent recently from Student Activities. 

“We are going to ramp up the amount of reasons to stay on campus,” said Love. “We have another really big idea that we are still working the details out on, but we think it’s going to be a great opportunity and great experience on campus.”  

The main concern is getting through the first half of the semester. With no options to really get outside, it will be a challenge to stay safe inside, but it is everyone’s hope to make it through to the end of the semester. 

“Especially as the weather improves, we want to do our best to simulate and offer you the best curricular experience we can, given this pandemic… again the end goal is for us to be here all 15 weeks,” said Cooper. 

If you have any further questions, Love said to direct them to studentaffairs@springfieldcollege.edu, and be on the lookout for emails from the Health Center, Residence Life, and other organizations on campus for more information regarding the spring semester. 

Photo Courtesy Springfield College Marketing & Communications

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