You are finishing one of the most extraordinary academic years in history. Attending college is an exhilarating, challenging experience in normal times; attending in 2020 has demanded flexibility, maturity, and so much more in ways we could not have imagined as the spring term began. My wish for all of you this semester is success, growth, and above all, good health.
Even though we are not together, we are a community. We will be together again, and to that end I wanted to give you a brief update on the principles that are guiding our thinking about a fall opening.
We are planning and working towards an on-campus, in-person fall opening. We want to provide you with as full an academic and residential experience as we can offer. In early June, we will make a determination about when the fall semester will begin. We are examining closely two key options: a late August/September start and an October start. There are additional possibilities, but these two starts are the most likely.
We are committed to a rigorous academic and musical on-campus experience that prizes excellence. We believe that delivering rigor and excellence is best done on campus and in person. We may be required to make some classes smaller, or to alter sections, or have hybrid options for some courses based on health standards, but the goal will still be a fall opening with on-campus, in-person courses.
The safety and welfare of our students, faculty, and staff are paramount. Our ability to provide a safe environment is the pillar upon which we will make decisions around the timing of the fall semester. We will begin on-campus operations when we can do so with the appropriate public health precautions in place. We are exploring how we can maintain physical distancing, create symptom checklists, implement temperature assessments, and provide supportive isolated housing to those who become ill and extra separation for the most vulnerable. Our strategy will include ways we can work together to minimize the spread of any illness.
We know that COVID-19 is placing a financial burden on our families. We continue to be committed to meeting the full demonstrated financial need of all families throughout the duration of their time at Oberlin. Our financial aid staff is available to speak with families who have questions regarding their options, regardless of whether they applied for institutional aid at the time of application.
I can appreciate that the changes we are all experiencing can make one feel as if nothing is certain. But I can assure you of one thing: what is certain is Oberlin. We are a storied institution that has a history of responding to challenges with resilience, creativity, and rigor. I know that you all possess these qualities, which is why I am excited about seeing you in the fall.
Carmen Twillie Ambar
President, Oberlin College