Ithaca College has expanded the Return to Campus Task Force but has not yet released more details about the 2020–21 academic calendar.
La Jerne Cornish, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, and Rosanna Ferro, vice president for student affairs and campus life, provided context for the college’s reopening and updates from the Return to Campus Task Force in an email sent to the college community June 8. The Return to Campus Task Force has also added a 10th subgroup, the email stated. President Shirley M. Collado created the task force May 26 to prepare for the fall semester, which is set to begin in person Oct. 5. The task force is working to develop health and safety plans for the transition back to on-campus education.
The decision to open Oct. 5 aligns with student desires to attend in-person classes on a residential campus, the email stated. The college is working to hold in-person classes for Fall 2020 while also ensuring that the appropriate health and safety guidelines are being followed.
The college is working with the campus community to finalize the details for the 2020–21 academic calendar and will share more information soon, the email stated. The college community has expressed its concerns with the Oct. 5 reopening date and the lack of breaks during the academic year.
The email also outlined some of the factors that will influence the details of the 2020-21 academic calendar. These considerations include residential student move-out, which was delayed until June 8 because of Tompkins County Health Department guidance. After the college transitioned to remote learning March 17, students who were not on campus over spring break were unable to retrieve their belongings. Other factors are safety protocols in classrooms and potential living and working issues that may arise on a residential campus while returning to on-campus instruction.
The email stated the college needs approximately 45 days to clean residence halls before students can move in for the fall semester. Phase one of the move-out plan began June 8, and the college expects to have all students moved out of on-campus housing by the middle of July, according to the email.
The task force is developing plans to address, including adjustments to schedules, traffic in academic buildings, classroom layout, protocols for wearing personal protective equipment and using both in-person and remote instruction, issues that will all need to be addressed before the college can return to on-campus instruction, the email stated.
Other issues that the task force is planning to address include student, faculty and staff absences because of illness; the potential of students, faculty and staff being overworked because of the reduced breaks; the potential for COVID-19 infection rates to increase during the influenza season; and how to minimize travel to and from campus.
The email also announced the Return to Campus Task Force has added a 10th subgroup called Educating for Social Responsibility. This subgroup will educate the campus community on guidelines for social interaction developed by the Tompkins County Health Department, New York state agencies and federal agencies, the email stated.
Every subgroup is led by one or two faculty or staff members and is composed of students, faculty and staff. The Educating for Social Responsibility subgroup will be led by Jonathan Ablard, professor in the Department of History, and Doreen Hettich-Atkins, director of strategic planning and administration, the email stated.
A steering committee of 13 staff members leads the task force and manages the subgroups. Along with the new subgroup, the other groups include Academic and Classroom Planning; Athletics and Recreational Sports; On-Campus Dining; Campus Programming, Events and Student Engagement; Communications; Counseling, Health and Wellness Services; Facilities Management and Operations; Faculty and Staff Return to Work; and Residential Life and Housing.