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Gallaudet Way Forward: Spring 2021 | Faculty and Staff

November 11, 2020

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Dear staff and faculty:

During Spring 2021, Gallaudet University will offer virtual learning for most of its students and remote work for many of its employees. We will increase the number of students on campus, and possibly offer a few hybrid courses for students residing on campus.

This information in this email message applies to Gallaudet staff and faculty only. The Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center communicates updates about its reopening plans on the 15th of every month. Plans for the spring semester will be announced by Monday, November 16.

As we face the reality that COVID-19 is an ongoing, long-term public health threat, we are working tirelessly to create safe spaces for our students and staff. We remain in Phase One of our three-phase reopening plan. As we scale to a larger number of students and staff, we will be better prepared to migrate to Phase 2 when it is safe to do so.

Most significantly:

  • Pending approval from the District of Columbia, up to 200 students may return to campus in Spring 2021, an increase from the current 85.
  • All staff, faculty, and students on campus must follow requirements for frequent COVID-19 testing, as well as any other rules and regulations established by the District of Columbia and the University.
  • There will be no winter or spring athletics program.
  • All students will receive a 15 percent tuition reduction, as they did this fall.
  • Professional Development Week will be held remotely on January 11-15. The spring semester will begin on January 19 and end on May 4. Final examinations will be from May 5 to May 7. Spring break for students will be March 15 to 19.
  • Commencement will be on May 14, and will be held virtually, as it was in May 2020.

INCREASING THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS ON CAMPUS

We know that Deaf students thrive in visually-oriented settings, and that our students need and value face-to-face learning and an ASL-vibrant environment. Throughout the summer and fall, Gallaudet has worked tirelessly to create a safe environment for learning — one that will benefit us now and post-pandemic. We have instituted clear safety protocols for everyone who comes to campus, including wearing masks, hand-washing, social distancing, app-based health screenings, mandatory flu shots, and frequent COVID-19 testing. We have designed safer classroom and residential spaces and common areas. We have made our administrative and service units more safe for everyone — employees, students, and the public. We are cautiously optimistic that our work will bear fruit as we continue to adapt to the reality that the pandemic will continue into 2021.

We are pleased to report that there have been no positive cases of COVID-19 among students living on campus this fall. This is testimony to our rigorous health and safety protocols, and to our students’ commitment to these protocols.

Accordingly, we are ready to expand the number of students living on campus, with stringent health and safety measures in place. Pending District of Columbia approval, we hope that up to 200 students may return to campus this spring. Returning students may include those whose personal circumstances make on-campus living their most viable option, who have an internship that requires their physical presence, who are conducting research, and who are participating in selected pods created to foster the in-person experience.

The Office of Residence Life and Housing will coordinate all housing requests as they did for the fall semester. Students will receive information next week about how to request on-campus housing. If any students contact you, please refer them to Residence Life and Housing.

TESTING REQUIREMENTS

Staff, faculty, and students on campus will be required to undergo frequent COVID-19 testing throughout the semester, and must follow all protocols that are already in place, including wearing masks, hand-washing and social distancing. Information about COVID-19 testing requirements will be shared prior to the beginning of the spring semester.

ATHLETICS

Gallaudet University’s winter and spring sports teams will not participate in intercollegiate athletics in order to ensure the continued health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and the community. Coaches will be in touch with all student-athletes shortly, and the Athletics Department will make a formal announcement as well.

CONCLUDING NOTES

Our students are receiving a similar email message with more student-specific information. We will communicate with you regularly to keep you updated.

We express our deep appreciation and gratitude for the work you are doing on behalf of Gallaudet, and ask that you continue to support our students as you have done this fall.

#BisonStrong

Sincerely,

Jeffrey W. Lewis
Interim Provost

Dominic N. Lacy
Chief Operating Officer

11 November 2020

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