As this historically turbulent and stressful year draws to a close, I want to commend you for your efforts during the fall semester. I know that many of you feel exhausted and drained and the combined stress of managing the demands of your academic programs while dealing with the changes and uncertainties of the pandemic has sometimes seemed overwhelming. It is my hope that you will be able to find rest, restoration, peace, and joy in the upcoming holiday season and return for the spring term with a renewed sense of purpose and enthusiasm.
We have carefully reviewed the best data and guidance available and the RU Pandemic Response Team has devoted many hours to discussion and consideration of the wisest path forward for us. In agreement with the recommendations of the Governor and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS,) we will begin the spring term with virtual learning. Our plan is that after the first week of classes, we will begin to move residential students back on campus during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday weekend of January 16-18, and resume in-person course delivery on January 19. We are also adjusting our Spring Break schedule to provide flexibility and structure for brief periodic pauses throughout the semester. The new spring class break schedule came your way in a recent email and in the Weekly Warrior.
During the fall semester, in no small part due to your participation and cooperation, our campus health protocols demonstrated themselves to be quite effective in controlling the spread of Covid-19 among our students and employees. RU’s case numbers were evidently among the lowest of Michigan colleges and universities. Thus, we will continue those protocols in the spring, along with working to provide increased testing. Available data both at RU and at other colleges and universities across the United States strongly supports the conclusion that in-person classroom learning which includes the mask, physical distancing, and hygienic procedures that we have employed does not present a significant risk for the spread of the virus.
We understand that many of our students experience great challenges and hardships with the virtual learning modality. Many of you also rely upon on-campus living to best address your personal and academic needs. Thus, we are striving to do all that we can to best meet your needs while guarding the health and safety of the entire community. Our plan does that, while fully cooperating with the MDHHS recommendation.
Of course, if circumstances change, we will adjust our plan and communication to you to respond to the changes that the environment demands of us in the days ahead. We are eager to welcome you back to campus and are again strongly committed to providing an outstanding and safe classroom environment, along with a positive and fulfilling campus life experience. The Center for Student Life will be contacting residential students soon with further information about moving in. You will also be contacted by faculty concerning your course meetings and schedules.
God bless you and give you a merry Christmas and a joyful New Year! See you in January!