Dear Oglethorpe Community:
First, let me say thank you for your resilience, for your commitment to your families and your community, and for your trust as we navigate these challenging times. Throughout our monitoring of the situation surrounding COVID-19, we have remained steadfast in our commitment to two core principles: maintaining the health and safety of our campus community, and delivering the highest quality educational experience for student success.The hallmarks of an Oglethorpe education are our highly engaging courses, our individualized student support, and our focus on cultivating the life-long skills that make Oglethorpe graduates dynamic professionals and leaders in their communities.
The Continuation of Remote Courses for Fall 2020
Since March, we have been in close consultation with students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni, the Board of Trustees, and health care professionals. It is based on these consultations, and with our current public health landscape and our core principles in mind, that I am announcing we will continue to offer 100% remote courses this Fall semester. It is our goal and intention to return to in-person course delivery beginning in Spring 2021.
Unlike larger universities, Oglethorpe is able to continue our honored tradition of providing small, discussion-based, high-engagement courses taught by experts in their field. We made the decision to embrace remote learning specifically to uphold the standards of academic excellence upon which Oglethorpe was founded. Asking faculty to teach in masks and split their attention between in-person and remote student participants would degrade the experience for each audience. We will continue to search for and consider effective hybrid teaching models; however, until that time, a fully remote model allows us all to focus on what truly matters in the classroom: impactful teaching practices and individual student success. Additionally, our renowned faculty have been and will continue to engage in professional development related to remote-learning pedagogy and best practices for utilizing a remote modality.
Low-Density Residential Housing
In keeping with our principle of health and safety, we will also offer a low-density model for campus housing. To allow for residential flexibility, all students will have the option to opt out of their on-campus housing requirement; students who wish to do so should take 1 minute to complete the On-Campus Opt-Out Form as soon as possible. The deadline to complete your opt-out request is August 10.
Students who wish to maintain their on-campus housing do not have to complete an opt-out form. Students living on campus are expected to adhere to community guidelines including the mandatory use of face coverings in all public spaces and careful observation of social distancing measures. Residents will have access to COVID-19 testing and can expect to be tested on campus prior to move-in and on a regular basis. We are following the guidelines of public health officials and developing measures for contact tracing and quarantining. Unfortunately, Greek housing will be closed for the Fall semester. Move-in for residential students will still take place on September 4 for incoming students and September 7 for returning students.
Vibrant Campus and Community Life
Campus Life and the A_LAB will be working with Student Involvement, the Student Government Association, Greek Life, etc. to produce a robust array of engaging programming that will be accessible to students remotely. Campus jobs and federal-work study positions will also take place remotely.
All students will have the opportunity to participate in virtual events including, but not limited to wellness workshops; community forums and discussions on race, culture, and democratic engagement; dynamic speakers on personal and professional development; e-sports, team trivia, and virtual gaming; and much more. When possible, virtual events will have an in-person attendance option for residents. While safety necessitates the residential experience look different than it has in past years, on-campus students can still expect opportunities to engage in socially distanced community building activities and co-curricular programming such as movies on the quad, outdoor picnics and games, and community campfires. As always, the Student Government Association allocates the entirety of activity fees to student organizations who will be working with staff to create community programming.
Counseling Services will be available remotely to enrolled students. Individual and group sessions will be offered and session limits have been eliminated to ensure students have access to the care they need.
Like most Division III conferences, the Southern Athletic Association has announced the postponement of conference athletic competitions through the Fall 2020 season. As a result, all sanctioned in-person athletic gatherings are also suspended. During the semester, teams are welcome and encouraged to connect remotely. Coaches will be in touch directly with more information and expectations on virtual meeting times and suggested workouts. We look forward to a busy season of competitions in the Spring semester.
Enhanced Specialized Initiatives for Student Success
As we seek to maintain individualized student support and advocacy, I wanted to make you aware of several special initiatives we are making available to students. The overload fee for one course will be waived, which means returning students who meet the overload requirements of our University bulletin will be allowed to enroll in up to 23 credit hours at no additional cost. Additionally, we will be offering new skill building, mentoring, and leadership Initiatives – such as interactive workshops, a speaker series, LinkedIn Learning offerings, and pop-up seminars – designed to help students cultivate meaningful relationships, grow their professional network, and expand their leadership skills. These offerings will be interdisciplinary and allow students living both on and off campus to develop applied professional skills and build their resume in meaningful and tangible ways.
We will continue to closely monitor the pandemic as the situation unfolds in Atlanta. If conditions improve and we are safely able to introduce more sanctioned activities on campus, we plan to do so. We will be hosting a series of town halls for students, parents, and alumni over the coming week to answer questions and address concerns. Frequently asked questions are available on our COVID-19 website and additional information on our upcoming town hall events will be sent shortly.
As a member of the Stormy Petrel community, I hope you feel pride that you are placing paramount importance on public health and the safety and well-being of your family, friends, and neighbors. Your commitment to your education and your unique contributions to our Oglethorpe community are invaluable. Let us come together and continue to live out our Oglethorpe motto – Nescit Cedere: we will not give up.
Stay stormy and stay well.
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