April 28, 2021
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
As we near the end of the spring semester, we want to share with you information about our planning for the fall semester. As has been the case throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re making plans with the understanding that conditions could change in ways that require us to make adjustments. We will keep you apprised of any significant changes in the plans that are outlined here, and we will provide more details as they become available.
What we can say in general—and with much gratitude and happiness—is that we expect that by the start of the fall semester, the vast majority of our community will have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and, as a result, we anticipate a semester that’s relatively close to our pre-pandemic normal. We already have welcomed most students back to campus; by fall, we expect to resume in-person teaching and learning with a normal academic calendar and a full-capacity residential experience on campus.
We will maintain various COVID-19 public health measures, the details of which will be determined in the coming weeks and months. You can expect a continuation of mask-wearing and physical distancing at least in certain circumstances, as well as some continued modifications for college-sponsored/related travel and other measures. As always, we will follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as from local and state officials.
Students’ Return to Living and Learning on Campus
As a number of other institutions have done, Trinity will require students who are living or studying on campus to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (similar to other longstanding vaccination requirements for students). They will need to provide documentation of their vaccination prior to returning to campus for the fall semester. We are grateful to our partners at Hartford HealthCare for providing students with the opportunity to obtain the vaccine through dedicated clinics this spring. With that, and information we received in student surveys, we are confident that Trinity students will return to campus fully vaccinated.
When they do, they will move into residence halls that will feel more like they used to, with the opportunity to live with roommates and to routinely spend time together in common areas, over meals in dining halls, and in spaces all across campus. The residential experience is an important part of the Trinity education, and we look forward to providing students with the fullness of that aspect of community life.
All students—whether living on campus or off—will be required to abide by a community responsibility agreement, which will be updated for the fall with expectations for continuing to help keep our community safe and healthy.
With a vaccinated student body, we expect to be able to resume more fully some other defining aspects of a Trinity education, including activities at our downtown spaces (at the Liberal Arts Action Lab, for instance) and internships and research in the community. We expect that athletics and recreation activities will resume as well, albeit with continued health and safety protocols in place.
In the classroom, we’re following updated guidance on indoor physical distancing and preparing for in-person classes that accommodate three feet of distancing (rather than the current six feet). This will allow for greater use of our classroom spaces on campus, and we are grateful to faculty for their flexibility in course scheduling, so that we will be able to accommodate all of our scheduled classes on campus this fall.
Study away is a defining aspect of the Trinity education as well, but unfortunately it is still too early to know whether study away options will be available to students in the fall. Conditions in other countries vary widely, and guidance on international travel does, too. We are evaluating the situation carefully and aiming to make decisions on study away in early May.
We know that while most students will be back on campus in the fall, some number of students have not been able to return and may not be able to in the fall, either. This includes some international students, for whom COVID-19-related travel restrictions and/or other issues have prevented them from getting to campus. The college will work to provide solutions for those students. Beyond that limited number of special circumstances—for which remote learning may continue to be available—Trinity’s courses will be nearly all in-person and on campus for the fall.
For Faculty and Staff
As the campus enters a new phase of “normal,” with nearly all classes being offered in-person and operations back in full swing, we expect that the majority of faculty and staff would resume their work on campus as well. The pandemic required all of us to shift and do our work in new ways, many of which have proven productive and efficient—sometimes even more so than before. We know this firsthand, and we heard it from you in the recent focus groups that Human Resources conducted with staff members. We know that for many, the added flexibility that came with working remotely, including to manage challenging situations in your own lives, was both welcome and necessary.
While we assess new ways to work, we ask that you plan on returning to campus by the start of the semester. We will learn from this past year as we explore the future of work and think about ways to continue to provide flexibility where possible. We will provide further guidance for employees as we approach the fall, following public health guidance for indoor density and more. Supervisors and department heads should consult with their teams and with their division leaders to discuss specific plans.
As faculty and staff repopulate campus, we expect that the vast majority will be fully vaccinated, as well. While we will not require the vaccine as a condition of employment at this time, we strongly encourage it.
We do not plan to continue with the same level of COVID-19 surveillance testing that we have undertaken this year. We will be able to test community members as necessary, and we will be prepared to carry out our protocols for contact tracing, quarantine, and isolation as needed. We do not anticipate the need for weekly or twice-weekly testing for all who are on campus. We are forever grateful to the entire athletics department who provided exceptional service to our community in managing our campus testing center this year. Their dedication, along with the tireless efforts of our health center staff, the student life staff, and many others, have made this past year of on-campus life possible for all of us.
We know you’ll have many specific questions, and we will do our best to provide answers as we have them. We will continue to communicate via email and will update the COVID-19 website and FAQs as we get closer to the start of the semester.
Our optimism for the fall is immeasurable, as is our gratitude to all of you for your care for the Trinity community.
Joe DiChristina, Vice President for Student Success and Enrollment Management
Jason Rojas, Chief of Staff and Associate Vice President for External Relations