April 6, 2020

Dear Trinity Students and Families,

Let me start by expressing my sincere hope that you and your families are safe and well.

I know these past several weeks have been extremely difficult for you. Disruptions to daily life in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have come at a pace and a scale that were previously unimaginable. The changes mid-semester to your Trinity experience have undoubtedly been challenging, and I know they land on top of whatever else you’re managing in your own lives and with your families. These changes at Trinity are especially hard on students whose study-away experiences were cut short, whose athletic and extracurricular pursuits went unfulfilled, and whose senior spring semester together on campus—and all the traditions that come with it—ended so abruptly and amid such anxiety.

Please know that we understand and share in your grief over these losses, and I promise you that we will do all we can to care for the community and nurture connectedness among us during this time. That includes providing a variety of resources and support for you, as well as finding ways to celebrate you and bring us together virtually.

The patience and support that you, our students and families, have shown through all of this has been remarkable, and I want to thank you. I know that not everything has gone smoothly or perfectly, but I can assure you that the college’s faculty and staff have been working diligently to ensure that we can continue to serve all of you to the best of our abilities.

With the transition to remote learning now having been made, we are turning to several other issues that need to be addressed. One is to return to you some of the room and board fees you’ve paid, given that the vast majority of you are learning from home during this period. In a few days, students and parents will receive an email with details about your reimbursement and options for how you’d like to receive it. The process to determine individual reimbursements is complex, given the variety of circumstances among students (on campus versus studying away, financial aid awards or not, campus versus off-campus housing, and the like), but we approached the process with a good faith effort to return some of what you’d been asked to pay given that we’re simply not able to deliver on some of what was expected.

We also understand that the financial burdens associated with the changes in the semester fall differently among our community. We have sought to accommodate need by providing financial support for travel expenses for many students to get home and to provide additional technology needed to continue learning remotely. Likewise, every student eligible for a housing and meal plan reimbursement (that is, any student who has vacated Trinity housing—on campus or at a Trinity study away site) will receive at least a $1200 credit to their student account.

The email you’ll receive later this week will have all the details, as well as contact information should you have further questions. Beyond that, we want to increase our communication with you. I hope you saw that we are holding a series of virtual town halls beginning this week, and that you’ll be able to participate. It’s one way to keep in touch and keep you informed. We welcome any thoughts you have for other ways to stay connected.

We know you have other questions, especially about what’s ahead for summer and fall. The most honest answer I can give you is that we don’t yet know what we will do but that we are looking at a range of options based on what happens with the pandemic. What I can tell you is that we want to provide you with the best and fullest experience possible while attending to the health and safety of the entire community.

Again, thank you for your partnership, patience, and support. Trinity has endured for nearly 200 years, through world wars, a Depression, and all manner of challenges large and small. The Trinity spirit is indomitable, and we will get through this challenge together.


Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience