Campus-based Graduate Program Fall Planning Update - March 25, 2021

Dear Graduate Students in campus-based programs,

I hope this message finds you and your families well. As you know, I became president of Simmons during the pandemic, and like you I have longed for the day when I can greet you in-person on campus. I am thrilled to share that this day is nearly here. We are encouraged by the significant increase in COVID vaccinations across the nation, and Simmons is planning for a vibrant reopening of campus in Fall 2021 that includes in-classroom learning for campus-based graduate programs.

We know that many in our community have been away from campus for more than a year, or have not yet had the opportunity to experience campus. Below is an overview of what you can expect this fall, and we will share additional details throughout the spring and summer that will help you prepare for your arrival to campus. 

As we look forward to a lively fall experience, we are mindful that COVID-19 has not yet been eradicated. The health and safety of our community members and all those who interact with us remains our top priority, and Simmons will continue to closely follow city, state and federal health guidelines.

In-Person Learning

As you work to achieve your goals as a scholar and a leader in your profession, we are excited to return to in-person teaching and learning that enables students and faculty to engage together in the classroom. We expect that social distancing guidelines will be modified, allowing us to increase classroom occupancy, and resume valued in-person learning experiences. Throughout the pandemic, our faculty have worked extraordinarily hard to ensure students have a transformative virtual academic experience. We have learned a great deal over the past year. In some instances, faculty are utilizing this experience to update course designs to most effectively utilize in-person teaching and learning time. 

Campus Enhancements  

We have utilized this past year of virtual learning to redesign and modernize our physical campus. A few highlights you will see include new flexible, light-filled classrooms, casual gathering spaces in common areas, and welcoming lounge and study spaces. We are excited about these updates, which are designed to enhance the student experience and create a physical environment that better promotes learning and collaboration. 

Health and Safety

We have been hard at work to ensure a safe return to campus, and we have implemented a variety of measures, including the installation of new HVAC in the Main College Building and inspections of ventilation systems on the academic campus; new signage; readily available PPE; and stringent cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting protocols. Public health guidelines, science and data will continue to guide our planning and final decisions regarding on-campus safety protocols.  

One question that we have received is whether Simmons will require our on-campus community to be vaccinated. Because the COVID vaccines are approved for emergency use only, we are not requiring COVID vaccinations at this time. However, the progress our country is making on vaccine distribution is vital to our ability to return to an on-campus living and learning experience this fall. Because of this, I encourage all members of our community to get a COVID vaccination once they are eligible. We are continuing to monitor public health guidance on this issue and will communicate updates as we have them. Please email questions to [email protected].

While COVID-19 has challenged all of us, I am grateful for the resiliency and dedication of our community. Simmons is made up of individuals who are committed to building a better world through our learning, scholarship, teaching, and service. After our collective experiences this past year, this mission is perhaps more important than ever before. I am excited about the fall and the future we will create as we emerge from this pandemic. As always, please continue to follow university and public health guidelines that will keep us safe during this time. 

Lynn Perry Wooten
Simmons University