As the beginning of the academic year approaches, I write to update you on where we are in our plans to return to in-person instruction at Transylvania University this fall.
When we announced our Healthy at Transy plan earlier this summer we identified our guiding principles, the foremost of which is to base our decisions on protecting the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors. We have carefully considered what our reopening will look like, listened to our constituents as we plan to resume instruction and remained adaptive in our planning and decision making.
It is with these considerations in mind that we are announcing updates to our plans that prioritize individual empowerment and community responsibility for our students, faculty and staff, giving each as much choice and flexibility as possible. As discussed with many of you in our online town halls last week, we want members of our community to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.
The heart of what Transylvania offers is a highly personalized, interactive experience for students and faculty alike. We know that experience will look much different this fall. We also know that in order to sustain the quality and accessibility of our academic programs during this global pandemic, we must empower our students and faculty to make important choices on how to receive and deliver instruction.
To that end, all Transylvania faculty will be empowered to determine their delivery preference for each course they are teaching. The only requirement is that courses in Modules 1, 2 and 3 be constructed to include remote learning as a viable option. This means that many courses will be designed as online only, and some may include elements of in-person instruction, but all courses will allow students to attend remotely if they choose. We expect an announcement of class modalities for each course by Friday.
Students will be empowered to choose between returning to a residential campus environment or transitioning to a remote learning environment. For those who return to campus, there is an expectation that all individuals will be responsible for protecting themselves, others and the collective community by abiding by the Healthy at Transy protocols and the Transy Together social contract. This includes testing upon campus arrival, daily symptom screenings, wearing facial coverings, physical distancing when required and following state-mandated guidelines.
The work done by staff to support students and the university since transitioning to remote instruction this past March has been remarkable. With a tentative return to campus for staff working remotely set for Aug. 17, employees and their supervisors will determine schedules, accommodations and adjustments to work environments needed to support each department.
Today, we have made multiple updates to the university’s Healthy at Transy plan, including information on the Transylvania app’s daily health pass screening — which will be required daily for anyone coming to campus — COVID-19 testing requirements for students and details on what campus life will look like. I encourage each of you to review this updated Healthy at Transy plan to familiarize yourself with all of the information we have available to date.
Ensuring we can return to campus this fall and protecting the health and safety of those who do so is our collective responsibility. Should we fail to do so, individually or collectively, or should the health situation or federal, state or local guidance change significantly, we may be forced to close our residence halls and facilities yet again and transition to fully remote instruction.
The Transylvania family has shown remarkable nimbleness and adaptability in the four months since we first transitioned to virtual courses. As an institution, we are committed to delivering the fullest experience possible to our students, while protecting the health and safety of our entire community. We must all work together to ensure we can do so.