Planning for Fall 2021
April 26, 2021
Tags Public Statements
Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,
As we approach the end of the spring semester, we can take great pride in the way our community has responded to the challenges of the past year. While the pandemic is far from over, we are looking forward to a resumption this fall of full in-person learning and most if not all of the co-curricular and extracurricular activities that make the Hamilton residential experience so vibrant.
A substantial majority of our community is already or will soon be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined the vaccines to be safe and effective, and federal, state, and local authorities all urge widespread vaccination as the fastest and safest way to achieve herd immunity and a return to a relatively normal life. Although no vaccine is entirely without risk, we believe the risks of COVID-19 are greater, particularly in a congregate setting such as ours. Accordingly, all students, except those eligible for religious or medical exceptions, will be required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to arriving on campus this fall or working on campus this summer. We think this is the best way to protect the health and safety of our community and to allow us to resume a full range of activities. We understand that some students, particularly international students, may have difficulty getting vaccinated or encounter visa and travel issues. We will work individually with students in those situations.
At this point, we are strongly encouraging but not requiring all employees to get vaccinated, and we will continue to monitor guidance from federal and state authorities on this subject.
Instruction and Academic Calendar
We will return to a normal academic calendar in the fall, with classes beginning Thursday, Aug. 26. We are also planning an in-person program for Opportunity students this summer, and a full Orientation program for first-year and transfer students the week before classes resume. With few exceptions, we expect that fall classes will be fully in person. Like most of our peers, we are not planning to offer a remote learning option.
We think it likely we will be able to hold a full range of campus activities this fall, including in-person concerts, lectures, performances, and events. We also expect a full athletics schedule, though that decision will be made by the NESCAC presidents at a future date. COVID-19 protocols will depend on whatever guidance is issued by New York State and public health authorities, but we expect a considerable relaxation of our current masking, distancing, and testing policies.
While we are optimistic about conditions this fall, we will be prepared to shift course if necessary. This past year has demonstrated the strength and resilience of our community, and I am confident that together we will surmount whatever challenges lie ahead.