Our New Normal

We’re entering our seventh week back on campus. The new normal is mask-on-mask communication and teaching, COVID testing at least weekly, and lots of outdoor time and activities. We have been five weeks with ZERO positive tests out of 9,493 tests! Overall, we’re at 4 positive test results out of 12,323 as of October 2.

Once I knew we had the option of COVID testing and getting timely results through the Broad Institute of Cambridge, I felt very comfortable that testing, along with measures we’ve taken on campus and in the classrooms, would keep our community as safe as possible.

Students seem truly grateful to be on campus and are doing all they can to keep the herd safe. I teach a senior PDS class this semester, and they have been very determined to finish their senior year on campus.

Thanks to excellent weather the past six weeks, we have been able to make extensive use of the great outdoors. Tents near Lombard and Daniels Auditorium have allowed students to study, take a boxed meal, or get together in the open air. Intramurals have started up for softball, wiffle ball and kickball. Outdoor movies are shown (weather permitting), food trucks make an occasional visit, and the list goes on.

While fall sports competition has been cancelled, our teams remain active. During the first two weeks of the semester, masked student athletes did individual strength and conditioning at social distances until we saw how testing was going. In mid-semester, athletics transitioned to workouts and practice in groups of 10 by team. Currently, the majority of our teams are transitioning into phase two of our approach which allows for larger groups and move involved practices.

There are always concerns making decisions during a state of uncertainty. That said, I always believed we had a solid plan for in-person classes and residential students this fall.