Dear Randolph College students,
I hope your semester is going well. I’m writing today on behalf of the COVID-19 Task Force. As I have mentioned in previous communications, the task force is actively planning and making decisions for next semester.
This research includes discussions with other colleges and universities as well as health officials about best practices for preventing and managing COVID-19 outbreaks on campus. Some of our biggest concerns include testing that is still not widely available, as well as the availability of quarantine and isolation space on campus that would meet requirements. Isolation space is used for those individuals who test positive for COVID-19. This housing is less stringent than quarantine housing because individuals who have all tested positive can remain together and share bathroom facilities. Quarantine housing remains our challenge. Individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 but who have not yet tested positive must remain in quarantine for 14 days per state health guidelines. These students would need to be in housing that provides individual living space and bathroom facilities. Because most of Randolph’s residential housing options include shared bathrooms, these spaces are very limited.
I must also add that the prevalence of the virus locally and its impact on our health system could always affect our operations. Should the virus begin increasing at a high rate, especially during flu season, it could overwhelm our health system, which could affect our operations.
We all want our students to return to in-person learning in the spring, and we are working hard to be able to make that a reality. Though we have not made a final decision yet, we do want to continue communicating part of the thought process and the realities that will exist should we return to campus. Our ability to make this successful and keep campus open the entire semester will depend heavily on the efforts of the entire community to adhere to certain behavioral expectations related to COVID-19, including rules about mask-wearing, physical distancing, and group-size restrictions, among others. There may also be changes in housing assignments as we prepare quarantine and isolation spaces. We know that every family’s situation is different, so it is our hope that with a decision to return to campus, we will also be able to provide students with the choice to remain off campus and take classes online if possible.
As part of our decision-making process, the task force would like to hear from students. We are including a link to a survey and encourage each student to fill it out. Please note that this is for planning purposes only. Your answers are not binding, but they will help us as we work to make the best decision possible for our community.
We realize everyone wants an answer about whether we will open in person as soon as possible. What we do not want to do is decide too early and then have to change it later due to the progression of the virus. We plan to make an announcement about next semester by the last day of classes at the latest.
Thank you for your patience and cooperation this fall, and I wish you the best for the coming weeks of the semester.
Please fill out the short survey by October 9.
Stay safe and healthy!