Thursday, July 2, 2020
A Message to the Bard Community about the Upcoming Academic Year
A COVID-19 UpdateTo the Bard community,
As promised, today I am sending you Bard College's reopening plan for the upcoming academic year. It is our intent to reopen the campus for in-person classes as originally scheduled for the fall 2020 semester. We will do so with the utmost consideration for the safety and well-being of our students and employees. Our plan has been formulated in close coordination with state and local authorities and public health officials, and with our partners at Nuvance Health.
The key to a healthy and productive reopening will be the commitment by everyone in the Bard community to understanding and following protocols. We all must take responsibility not only for ourselves, but for the health and safety of neighbors, friends, and strangers. Undoubtedly we will be faced with the unexpected. But Bard is uniquely situated to improvise and respond thoughtfully to the moment. Our commitment to teaching and learning informs our approach to the challenges we are facing in and out of the classroom.
The College and its community must work together to uphold standards of behavior and public health best practices that support wellness and align with federal and state guidelines. Bard has the advantages of a 1,000 acre campus, a rural location, and small class sizes. It can create and implement a sound reopening plan. The College is encouraging creativity and innovative practices in providing an outstanding and rigorous academic program that is accessible to students regardless of location and health status. We seek to create a community of learning, the cultivation of the arts and civic engagement here in Annandale in the context of a national and international public health crisis.
Reopening the campus will require a high standard of public trust. The College will strive to develop and deliver, collaboratively, imaginative alternatives while continuing to offer exceptional educational and cultural experiences.
The College’s COVID-19 Response Team, with input from faculty, staff, students, and alumni/ae, has developed a detailed, carefully considered plan for reopening, which I include below. As the public health situation evolves and the state provides new guidance, we will adjust accordingly and will keep you updated.
Bard is a unique and adaptable community, and I am confident that together we will make it through this challenging and unpredictable time. We have finalized plans for our August commencement on the weekend of August 21, 22, 23. Details will be sent out tomorrow.
The entire staff and faculty of Bard look forward to welcoming students back to Annandale in August.
The key to a healthy and productive reopening will be the commitment of everyone in the Bard community to understand and follow these protocols and to take responsibility not only for themselves, but for the health and safety of others. Bard is uniquely situated to respond to the moment. The delivery of a quality education in unlikely places around the world informs our approach to the challenges we are facing in and out of the classroom.
Arrival and Academic Calendar
We are staggering arrival dates and moving much of the arrival documentation online to allow for appropriate social distancing during move-in. The College is preparing to welcome first-year students between August 4-7 and returning students and new transfers between August 18-25. New students will be allowed two people to accompany them when they arrive to move in and we ask that returning students bring just one person to help them move in. Social distancing protocols will be in place and everyone must wear a face covering.
The Office of Residence Life will send out more details about arrival next week, including a reservations form for students to determine an arrival time that considers each student’s travel schedule and unique situation. New York State may also require some students to quarantine upon arrival, depending on where they are traveling from, and the College is prepared to help students uphold that requirement by providing quarantine facilities and support as needed. As of June 30, New York State has issued quarantine requirements for travelers from: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. The College will be in touch with students traveling from states with a quarantine designation to plan for the specific requirements. Questions related to individual needs related to quarantine should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students will be required to have a coronavirus test taken within five days before traveling to Bard. If it is positive, you must stay home until you have tested negative. If testing is not available in your area or you otherwise have difficulty accessing a test, please be in touch with Bard Health Services and they will advise you on safely returning to campus. All students can also be expected to be tested soon after arrival on campus. More information about testing protocols for students will be shared in the next update.
Bard will maximize the opportunity for in-person learning and leverage alternative classroom spaces including outdoor venues for increased physical distancing. The total number of contact hours and weeks of instruction remain the same.
The calendar for the Bard College 2020-2021 academic year:
- Early August: staggered student arrivals, including online orientation and check-in (dates and details above)
- August 10: Language and Thinking begins for all first-year students
- August 31: The fall semester begins, with students and faculty unable to return to campus participating remotely
- October 23-25: Family & Alumni/ae Weekend. The College is planning for a variety of contingencies to align with whatever the public health guidance is at that time.
- November 20: Fall 2020 classes will meet without any scheduled interruption or Fall Break through this day. At that time the College, if necessary in light of the relevant public health considerations, will provide paths for instruction remotely until the final day of classes, which will be December 18th in accordance with the original academic calendar. Students wishing to travel for Thanksgiving will be advised that, depending on public health restrictions at that time in Dutchess County and their travel destinations, they may not be able to return to campus. Any student not permitted to return after Thanksgiving owing to COVID-19 restrictions will have a path to remote completion for the semester. Any student unable to travel is welcome to stay on campus at Thanksgiving and remain on their meal plans for the duration of the semester, through December 21st. Tuition adjustments will not be made should coursework be moved online following the holiday.
- The semester will formally end on December 21st. Housing will remain open for students who cannot return home after the semester. Provisions will be made for food and other support services.
Protecting Health and Safety on Campus
The College has a formal agreement with Nuvance Health, one of the largest health care providers in the region, and with them is planning the design and implementation of public health and hygiene measures, including detailed protocols for testing and screening, daily monitoring of symptoms, contact tracing, quarantine practices, and social distancing across the Bard campus. Our Health Services Team is following guidance from the American College Health Association and is in close contact with local and regional health officials. The College will release more information as these measures are finalized.
Social Distancing and Face Covering
New York State has defined standards for social distancing and personal protective equipment use. In accordance with these standards, the College will require the wearing of face coverings in all classrooms, public shared spaces on campus, or in areas where social distancing cannot be observed, including in residence halls and teaching spaces. The class schedule is being extended and alternative teaching spaces have been identified to allow for longer periods between classes and to minimize traffic. Face coverings must be placed over the nose and mouth and will be required indoors in all classrooms and in all campus buildings any time it is not possible to be at least 6 feet away from another person. Outdoors, face coverings must be worn on pathways and in any open area where you are passing another person less than 6 feet apart. Under New York State guidelines, students who share a dorm room are considered a household and can be mask-free in their rooms, but must wear face coverings in all communal spaces.
Face coverings and disinfecting supplies are being provided to all students and employees who need them, to support social distancing and aid in keeping personal areas sanitized. The College has purchased and stored extra supplies of PPE and disinfecting materials.
The College is prohibiting all non-essential employee travel, encouraging alternate methods of contact including remote meetings, and limiting in-person appointments.
Staggered dining times and takeaway options will be available for students as well as decentralized dining in two additional locations. Students will be able to use their dining card at a small grocery store on campus.
The College opened a food pantry last semester that can supplement the offerings made through the dining commons.
Testing, Screening, and Monitoring
The College is developing, in consultation with Nuvance Health, testing and screening protocols and systems for on- and off-campus populations. Students will be able to get tested at Bard Health Service and with our local testing partners.
Protocols already in place include self-administered health screenings by all employees working on campus. In accordance with NYS guidelines, all employees are required to conduct a daily health screening prior to coming to campus, wear face coverings, practice social distancing, and follow all recommended public health guidelines. If concerns arise during the self-administered health screenings, they will be directed to self-isolate until it is determined that it is safe for them to return. In the case of a positive test result, contact tracing protocols will be initiated. If needed, employees will quarantine and isolate in their own homes.
The College has created a COVID-19 Contact Team responsible for the daily monitoring of and follow up to community cases. This includes oversight of trained on-campus contact tracers for presumptive or confirmed cases. The team will, among other things, track the daily health screenings for all on-campus employees required by NYS, identify and trace possible exposures, provide administrative support to Health Services, and remain in close contact with the Dutchess County Health Department.
Students with positive test results will be moved to dedicated quarantine housing and students with close contact will be asked to self-isolate. While keeping a student’s identity and health information secure, the College will, in coordination with the Department of Health, conduct contact tracing and monitoring of student health. As we did this past March, Health Service providers will conduct daily check-ins with students in isolation or quarantine via Telehealth or in person for mild or moderate illness, ensuring they have the medications and supplies they need. Meals will be delivered and isolation housing will include beverages and snacks. Bard Counseling Service will be available via Telehealth for mental health care and a student wellness team will provide additional support. Academic support will be provided by academic advisers and the deans in the Center for Student Life & Advising.
Students will be required to take online COVID-19 training and to sign a pledge which acknowledges the new commitments we all need to take prior to their arrival to campus. Staff and faculty are required to go through a similar training and are also submitting health pledges acknowledging the need for all of us to do our part to keep each other safe. The Dean of Students Office, in coordination with the peer review board and student judiciary board, is working on orientation, training, education, bystander intervention techniques, and restorative practices to help enforce these community standards.
The Bard Health Service website will update current COVID-19 information throughout the semester. Additional information can be found on the College’s COVID-19 Response website.
Environmental Services conducted cleaning and sanitization of all campus facilities over the past three months. They have now implemented cleaning and disinfecting protocols in all public buildings, academic and administrative spaces, and residence hall common spaces (kitchens, hallways, lounges, bathrooms) in accordance with CDC guidelines, using EPA-approved disinfectants, and following health and safety protocols and OSHA guidelines. All employees who are returning to work on campus will be trained and supplied with EPA-approved cleaning/disinfecting supplies to use in their personal and shared spaces. Over 100 new sanitizing stations have been installed near doorways throughout campus, and all existing sanitizing stations were re-filled with greater than 60% alcohol product.
Bard’s HVAC department replaces air filters and cleans coils in campus filtration systems on a regular rotating schedule throughout the year. All filters have been cleaned and/or replaced within the past six months, and will continue to be cleaned and/or replaced as scheduled. All units designed for HEPA filters received new HEPA filters. The plumbing department has flushed water systems in all buildings, checked HVAC systems and replaced filters, made sure safety systems were fully operational, and all systems are in good working order.
To optimize the health and well-being of our students and employees, Bard is establishing “restricted facilities”—classrooms, residence halls, laboratories, dining areas, sports facilities—that are only open to Bard students and employees. Our restricted facilities will:
- Prohibit unauthorized/non-essential visitors. We will webcast as many student artistic events as possible.
- Limit non-instructional gatherings and congregations in communal spaces.
- Limit the number of students in the classroom and provide for social distancing.
- Designate entry and exit points for buildings.
- Adhere to sanitization and social distancing requirements, including adequate hygiene and PPE supplies, and reduce common seating areas.
- Limit occupancy of classrooms and other public spaces on campus to 50%.
- Enforce social distancing through placement of signs and barriers.
We understand that many students have experienced a great deal of change and disruption during these past seven months. Bard Counseling Services, in collaboration with Health Services, Student Government, Residence Life, and Wellness, plan to offer a range of workshops, programs, training, and support groups that use a trauma-informed approach and are guided by racial and social justice principles. Our programming will be geared to support the mental well-being of all students as they begin or return to Bard.
Bard College remains cognizant and concerned about the disparate impact of this pandemic on people of color and individuals from financially challenged backgrounds, and the additional stress and anxiety during these difficult times. The Office of the Dean for Inclusive Excellence, the Financial Aid Office, the Office of Equity and Inclusion, and other campus resources are available to offer assistance in coping with the additional stressors generated by COVID-19.
Accessible Academics and Advising
Faculty have been invited to participate in a special summer advising program for entering first-year and transfer students who are preparing to join us for the first time in Annandale. Students have completed an advising survey already: assignments are in the process of being made. Throughout the month of July, advisors will meet in group as well as individual advising sessions to orient incoming students to the curriculum and life at Bard. Summer registration is scheduled to take place between July 30-Aug 3. For registration information contact email@example.com.
Summer Webinars for Rising Seniors
- Monday, 7/6, 6-7pm (EST )- theory-based projects and projects in the humanities, with Professors Jay Ellott (philosophy) and Dominique Townsend (Religion). Zoom link.
- Tuesday, 7/7 230-330pm (EST) - projects in the social sciences and that involve case studies,with Professors Rob Culp (history) and Michelle Murray (Political Studies). Zoom link.
- Wednesday 7/8, 2-3pm (EST) - art installations and performance-based projects, with Professors Ben Coonley (film) and Maria Simpson (dance). Zoom link.
- Thursday, 7/16, 3:30-430pm (EST) - projects in languages and literature (including written arts), with Professors Cole Heinowitz (literature), Marisa Libbon (literature), and Dinaw Mengestu (Written Arts), Eric Trudel (French). Zoom link.
- Friday, 7/24, 230-330pm (EST) - projects in the sciences, mathematics, and computing, with Professors Emily McLaughlin (chemistry), John Cullinan (mathematics) and Keith O'Hara (computer science). Zoom link.
New Common Courses for 2020-21
- Epidemics, Society, and Culture: What do epidemics tell us about microbes, markets, and ourselves? This course will cover the history, science, and art of protecting the health of populations and the social, political, philosophical, and cultural implications of public health catastrophes.
- The Making of Citizens: Local, National, Global: This course aims to interrogate and analyze the concept of citizenship. Drawing on different disciplinary approaches, faculty will encourage students to think about how citizenship emerges, exists, and differs at the local, national, and global levels, and what forms of participation are necessary to sustain meaningful citizenship for themselves and others.
- Resilience, Survival, Extinction: How do individuals, species, languages, and cultures survive, show resilience, and become extinct? This course introduces students to methods of biological analysis and cultural interpretation that explore the many ways we understand resilience, survival, and extinction.
- Designing the Futures Around Us: This course invites students to approach design as a tool for reflecting on the existing worlds in which we find ourselves and as a means to rethink them and invent new ones. In the spirit of critique and experimentation, students will engage in visual projects, design practices, and study the history of the ways the spaces around us have been constructed and understood.
- Alternate Worlds: In his essay “On Fairy-Stories,” J. R. R. Tolkien responds to accusations that fantasy constitutes an irresponsible “escapist” flight from reality. In this course, we will be considering the relation between imagination and reality by considering counterfactual histories, fantastical literary works, and utopias or dystopias.
Questions about academic advising can be directed to Dean of Studies David Shein at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions about accessibility can be directed to the College’s new Director of Disability Resources and Accessibility Erika van der Velden ‘04 at email@example.com.
Campus Life and Civic Engagement
While many traditional events will have to be reimagined for the fall, the Student Services team is working hard to plan a robust and thoughtful calendar of events to engage all students. We will have both in-person and online events, targeted at keeping the community together, helping people make connections, engaging in thoughtful leadership and conversation, and staying civically engaged. Protocols on how events can happen are being finalized right now in accordance with state and CDC guidelines, and all club and organization leaders will be given ample notice so that they can start planning events. New online platforms for connection, particularly around music and the performing arts, are being tested this summer and will be available to students this fall. Students can anticipate smaller events across campus with a lot of outdoor engagement.
You will be receiving more details as we approach arrival dates. There are a number of decisions that must be based upon forthcoming guidance and changing events. This poses challenges to all of us, but we’re confident that, working together, we can have a safe, successful, and fulfilling semester.
Bard College COVID-19 Response Team
Coleen Alexander Murphy, Vice President for Administration
Kimberly Alexander, Director, Human Resources
Jonathan Becker, Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Barbara Jean Briskey, Director, Health Services
Erin Cannan, Vice President Student Affairs/Dean for Civic Engagement
Deirdre d'Albertis, Dean of the College
Malia Du Mont, Chief of Staff, President's Office/Vice President for Strategy and Policy
John Gomez, Director, Safety and Security
Brooke Jude, Associate Professor of Biology
Emily Mclaughlin, Associate Dean of the College
Jennifer Murray, Dean of International Studies
Bethany Nohlgren, Dean of Students
Kahan Sablo, Dean for Inclusive Excellence
Éric Trudel, Chair, Faculty Senate
For more information, call 845-758-6822.