Spring 2021 Semester Planning Update

Dear Simmons Community,

We hope you and your families are well. As we plan for the 2021 spring semester, we are keeping our guiding principles of wellbeing and safety at the forefront of every decision. We are also keeping a close eye on local and state public health guidance, which as you know, continues to change rapidly. For example, Boston has now been named among 63 Massachusetts high-risk COVID cities and towns, according to data released by the Dept. of Public Health. Several colleges and universities are starting to see a rise in COVID cases, and some are beginning to send their students home due to non-compliance with COVID safety protocols.
 
In an effort to keep you as up to date as we possibly can, this email shares what we know for certain, and what decisions are still being considered. For the spring semester, all courses, both undergraduate and graduate, will be offered online. We are taking this proactive step to prepare for the worst case and to ensure the least disruption to our students and faculty should the pandemic continue to get worse.

With that said, we are closely monitoring conditions, including the rate of community transmission, hospitalizations and test availability. If those conditions prove favorable as we enter the spring term, we would offer some optional face-to-face opportunities for students in select programs. We will have more details as to what that might look like in the weeks to come. 

Separately, we are considering whether or not we will be able to accommodate additional students to live on the residential campus. A number of factors come into play when we think about increasing our residence population, including: safe spacing of students, ventilation systems, dining services capacity and increased testing capabilities. While we are not yet ready to make a decision about the residential campus, rest assured that we are working hard every day to make the most responsible and safe decision possible. 

Our top priority continues to be the physical and mental well-being of students, faculty and staff, and all those who interact with our community, while also creating a safe and engaging learning environment. We hope to welcome you back to campus soon. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Russell Pinizzotto, Interim Provost; Lead, Academic Task Force Subcommittee 
Laura Brink Pisinski, Vice President of University Real Estate and Facilities Management; Lead, COVID-19 Task Force Steering Committee