Fall Semester & COVID-19:
Information for the Community

The fall semester is underway at Sarah Lawrence!

The College is employing a phased approach to opening campus, with building hours, services, and programming shifting and expanding as we advance through each phase. These three phases will each last at least 14 days, and there may be interim guidance offered during any given period should trends emerge that require immediate correction.

Phase I

The beginning of the semester, when students and families from around the world arrive, presents the greatest risk for COVID-19 on campus. In recognition of this, all instruction—both classes and conferences—during Phase I will be online, dining will be to-go only through the GetApp and “Grab-and-Go” options with outdoor seating available, and some buildings will have reduced hours. Students, both residential and commuter, will socialize with those they live with, creating a "pod," but no in-person gatherings that blend distinct pods will be scheduled. Off-campus travel is strongly discouraged, but students who live together may socialize together outdoors on campus.

Phase II

Phase II: After all move-in day COVID-19 test results are processed and contact tracing is complete, we will have a baseline level of infection for our community. If there is no growth in viral spread over a 7-day average from this baseline, the College may progress to Phase II, which includes both remote and in-person instruction, outdoor and limited indoor seating for general dining, and the opening and expanded hours of additional student spaces throughout campus. College-sponsored events/gatherings of up to 25 people and informal gatherings of up to 10 individuals (always with social distancing and face masks) will be possible, with outdoor space utilized in good weather. Off-campus travel will remain strongly discouraged. The College also intends for the Campbell Sports Center to open during Phase II at no more than 33% capacity, per New York State guidelines, with students able to schedule a specific time to work out.

Phase III (Starting October 12)

Phase III: This is the College’s final phase of reopening campus life and reflects the dedication of the Sarah Lawrence community to supporting and prioritizing each other’s health and safety. Students may socialize within their residence hall, always wearing a face mask and social distancing. College-sponsored events/gatherings of up to 50 people (with social distancing) will be possible during Phase III, with outdoor space utilized whenever possible, and in-person dining operations and campus building hours will be expanded.

Upcoming Mandatory Student Testing

The College will administer COVID-19 PCR tests to residential students on October 21 and 28, and to commuter students on November 4. Participation is mandatory. Students are asked to refer to the testing schedule below, and head to the Siegel Center (aka The Pub) at the time designated based on their last name.

Testing Schedule

Residential Students (Last Names A-L): Wednesday, October 21

LAST NAME STARTS WITH THE LETTER:

ARRIVAL TIME AT THE PUB

A

9 a.m.

B

9:15 a.m.

C

10 a.m.

D

10:45 a.m.

E, F

11:30 a.m.

G

12 noon

H, I, J

1 p.m.

K

2 p.m.

L

2:30 p.m.

Please bring your SLC identification to present at the testing site. Social distancing will be maintained during testing process, and a mask/face covering is required for entry. Only students being tested are allowed in testing site.

Residential Students (Last Names M-Z): Wednesday, October 28

LAST NAME STARTS WITH THE LETTER:

ARRIVAL TIME AT THE PUB

M

9 a.m.

N, O

10 a.m.

P, Q

10:30 a.m.

R

11:15 a.m.

S

11:45 a.m.

T, U

1 p.m.

V, W

1:45 p.m.

Y, Z

2:30 p.m.

Please bring your SLC identification to present at the testing site. Social distancing will be maintained during testing process, and a mask/face covering is required for entry. Only students being tested are allowed in testing site.

Commuter Students: Wednesday, November 4

LAST NAME STARTS WITH THE LETTER:

ARRIVAL TIME AT THE PUB

A, B, C

9 a.m.

D, E, F, G, H

10:15 a.m.

I, J, K, L, M

11:15 a.m.

N, O, P, Q, R

1 p.m.

S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z

1:45 p.m.

Please bring your SLC identification to present at the testing site. Social distancing will be maintained during testing process, and a mask/face covering is required for entry. Only students being tested are allowed in testing site. Commuter parking is available in Kober on testing day.

Commuter students who are unable to attend the testing date/time will be responsible to obtain a negative test result at a local COVID-19 testing site and upload the result on the Patient Portal. Rescheduling cannot be accommodated.

More Information...

This site contains in-depth information for students and their families, staff, and faculty. Please refer to the pages below for the latest information.

In addition, our COVID-19 Dashboard provides a real-time look at testing and results on campus and in the Mid-Hudson Region of New York State, where the College is located.

 

Background: Fall Semester Plans & Communications

Fall Semester Summary

Instruction

  • First day of classes: Monday, September 7. 
  • To deliver the most equitable experience to all students regardless of location, classes (seminars and lectures) will convene online when meeting as a full class, with this primary exception:
    • First-Year Studies courses, and other first-year programming, will strive to meet in person when/if possible; such in-person interactions will also have an online option for students not on campus.
  • Some small groups (e.g., breakout sessions from seminars and lectures, independent studies, and group and individual conferences) may meet in person, observing physical distancing, with online options also available.
  • Graduate classes will convene both in-person and online; further information will follow from each individual program.
  • All instruction will be fully online after Thanksgiving break.
    • Any student who leaves campus for Thanksgiving will be required to remain off campus for the rest of the semester.

Faculty have thoughtfully planned our curriculum to ensure that our experience this fall will be much different than the last weeks of the spring semester, which allowed limited time for such planning in the midst of an emerging crisis. In addition, class schedules for the fall have been expanded to contain new blocks, including Saturdays, and greater flexibility to work across time zones, and our Information Technology department is actively expanding technological resources and support to aid in online instruction.

Housing

After careful consideration, and a determination to significantly reduce our housing density on campus, housing for the fall semester is as follows:

  • The following students will be provided with a single-occupancy room in an assigned residence hall, should they wish to live on campus:
    • First-year and incoming transfer students
    • Resident Advisors
    • Students with a demonstrated hardship (e.g., those who have home situations that make online learning nearly impossible or international students who were unable to return to their home countries)
  • Students who choose to live off-campus in proximity to the College will have access to campus in accordance with strict safety protocols. Students may wish to consider off-campus housing as an option that will provide continuity across the entire academic year.
  • Students who elect to conduct their semester online fully away from campus will not be disadvantaged in terms of curricular opportunities. No student will be required to live on or near campus, nor will they be required to come to campus for any purpose.

Campus Life

  • There will be no athletic competitions in the fall semester. Support will be provided for student athletes to continue to train within safety guidelines. We hope conditions will allow for the resumption of competition in the spring semester.
  • Dining halls on campus will adhere to physical distancing protocols.
  • Cleaning protocols in public and shared spaces, common areas of residence halls, and faculty and staff offices will be enhanced, and cleaning supplies will be provided to students for their rooms.
  • We followed New York State recommendations that any student who will be on campus in the fall must have a negative PCR test within 14 days prior to arrival on campus; students will be retested on campus within two weeks of arrival.
  • All students, faculty, and staff on campus will be expected to take the steps necessary to protect themselves and others. As such, group gatherings will be limited; physical distancing will be practiced throughout campus; and masks or face coverings will be required in shared spaces.

Communications Archive

October 20: Spring Semester Planning & Fall Semester Updates

Dear Sarah Lawrence Students and Families,

I am writing to share updates with you about our planning for spring 2021 and to provide you with several important pieces of information and reminders as we enter the final half of the fall semester.

First though, I want to express my gratitude for the way our dedicated students, faculty, and staff continue to prioritize our shared responsibility for our community’s health this semester—we have taken to heart that we must collectively work together for each other’s health and safety, whether on campus, in the New York area, or at home far from Westlands and Mead Way. I also continue to be heartened by the creativity that I witness in our in-person and online instruction, and to be impressed with the resiliency and perseverance of our community.

I am pleased to report that we continue to experience extremely low rates of COVID-19 among our residential and commuter students as well as on-campus faculty and staff. New York and much of the northeast also continue to demonstrate that flare ups can be addressed. However, this good news must be paired with the caution that the state of the virus has not improved dramatically across the country, the reality that colder months and indoor gatherings are anticipated to lead to increased community spread, and the unlikelihood that therapeutics or a vaccine will be widely available in the immediate future. In short: we must maintain our vigilance and shared resolve as we move forward.

Spring 2021 Update
Our measured and thoughtful fall semester plan has taught us much about how to approach our campus residential capacity for the spring. After careful consideration, and with the twin priorities of safeguarding the health and wellness of our community and our fundamental commitment to provide an excellent and equitable education, we have determined that we can moderately increase the number of students in residence on campus while also accommodating the continuing need for social distancing and other safety precautions that have been the foundation of our community’s health and success.

I am writing to confirm that we will offer on-campus housing in spring 2021 to our seniors.  We will also offer on-campus housing to all students currently residing on campus.  Additionally, any students who met the criteria for housing in the fall and are not already on campus may also choose to live on campus in the spring semester (first year and new transfer students, international students, students with a demonstrated hardship that makes completing the semester away from campus impossible).

Contingent on space availability, we may open a housing lottery to our sophomores and juniors, and we will notify students of this possibility as early as we can. I want to acknowledge the disappointment that many of our current sophomores and juniors may feel with this plan, and confirm that they will be prioritized for housing in the next academic year should COVID-19 prevent the College from housing all students.

As is the case this semester, no student will be required to live on campus and every student can complete the entire academic year off campus if they desire to do so. Students may also continue to commute to campus and use the College’s facilities in the spring. In the midst of great uncertainty about the pandemic we must continue to operate with a significantly reduced population of students on campus and will continue to provide a mix of in-person and online instruction and strict adherence to our stated safety protocols.

Spring 2021 Academic Calendar
To follow public health guidance and maximize our collective time on campus during the warmer weather part of the semester, allow for advancements in COVID-19 testing and treatments, and provide time for faculty and staff to prepare their courses and the campus, the academic calendar will be adjusted for the spring semester. Classes will begin on Monday, February 1.  We will again adopt a phased-approach to the beginning of the semester as we gather a community from around the globe and all instruction (classes, conferences, and other meetings) for the first two weeks of the spring semester (starting February 1) will be completely online. 

This approach to the beginning of the semester will allow students who may be affected by New York State’s mandatory 14-day quarantine policy to participate in classes while completing their quarantine off campus and for the College to establish a baseline level of health for the community during a staggered move-in. Additional details regarding the beginning of the semester will be shared in the coming weeks.

Since it appears that the likely travel associated with a week-long spring break will be inadvisable for our collective health and safety, we will instead schedule two on-campus “mini-breaks/study days” during the semester rather than the traditional spring break.

Thank you for your survey feedback and submissions to our FAQ, which have helped shape our decisions. I know that you will have many additional questions about how spring 2021 will work. We wanted to share this high-level information as soon as possible. Specific details about how housing will be assigned, move-in processes and dates, testing protocols, course registration, and on-campus academic experiences will be shared in early November, as will an extensive FAQ about the plan for the spring semester. We will also schedule online question and answer sessions for students and families in the coming weeks.

End of Fall Semester and Move Out
Dean Trujillo will be sending more information this week for current residential students about end-of-semester preparations, including move-out protocols, requesting meal-plan rebates for students who choose to leave at Thanksgiving, and the process of packing and storing belongings now that we have confirmed that students currently on campus will be allowed to return to campus in the spring semester.

I want to remind students who are presently in residence or commuting to campus that the final three weeks of the semester, following the Thanksgiving break, will revert to fully online instruction, to allow students to return home. As we move into colder weather, we are entering into a period described by many public health officials as being at great risk for widespread community transmission of COVID-19 and there is significant concern over the possibility of Thanksgiving gatherings serving as super-spreader events. Knowing what we know now and taking these concerns seriously means that we must mandate that any student currently living on campus who chooses to leave campus over Thanksgiving break (even to attend a local gathering/event) must plan not to return and to remain off campus for the remainder of the semester. 

To be clear, while the College is not requiring that all students leave by Thanksgiving break, our intent is to mitigate virus spread by restricting movement to and from campus, to encourage a gradual and measured departure from campus across the final weeks of the semester, and to provide essential housing through the end of the semester for those students who cannot complete the semester away from campus, who do not wish to travel, or who are unable to go home.

I want to thank you for your continued patience and understanding as our planning unfolds. These are hard decisions for all of us, but we remain committed to taking account of the best scientific and public health information available and acting accordingly. While this year has been unlike any other academic year at Sarah Lawrence, you have demonstrated over and over how deeply the members of this community care for one another and our collective ability to adapt to the most challenging of circumstances, and for that I am deeply grateful.

Yours,

Cristle Collins Judd
President
president@sarahlawrence.edu 

October 12: Phase III Information

The following email was sent to residential and commuter students and their families on October 12.

Greetings students,

As we commence the sixth week of classes, our community, thus far, has been successful in limiting the incidence of COVID-19 cases on campus. Our progress is a direct reflection of your commitment to each other – thank you for your effort, compromise, and vigilance so that, together, we may continue to work, interact and connect.

Today, Monday, October 12, the College will move forward and begin Phase III of our reopening plan. While the tenets of what has gotten us this far—wearing a face mask, social distancing, washing hands, and avoiding large gatherings and crowds—will remain, a summary of the notable changes that will begin today is below.

Changes to campus and student activities during Phase III:

COVID-19 Testing
The College’s COVID-19 PCR testing program will continue with the next round of residential and commuter student testing scheduled to occur in October. A schedule will be shared in the coming days, as soon as dates and times are finalized.

Community Pods
In addition to Living Pods, for which membership is determined by a student’s roommates/housemates, students now have the option to form a complementary Community Pod that consists of up to four additional students who they do not live with. Students in a Community Pod have the ability to eat and socialize together and, at college-sponsored events, can sit together (with masks on) without social distancing. Community pods are voluntary partnerships between students in which all members adhere to mutually determined guidelines. Put simply, the goal is to expand social engagement while also limiting and being cognizant of the number of “close contacts” individuals in the community have.

To clarify, when with a Living pod or Community Pod, students may eat together in a group of up to five without social distancing and attend college sponsored events together wearing masks, but are not required to social distance (again, in a group of up to five).

The College’s face mask policy remains unchanged: face masks must be worn at all times unless a student is in their apartment/suite/house and either alone or only with those they live with (their Living Pod). When outside of your living space, even if you are with only your Living Pod, masks are required.

Hours and Operations for Campbell Sports Center
Monday-Friday: 9am - 5:30pm; Outdoor area, Kober parking lot 7pm - 10pm
Saturday and Sunday: Outdoor area, Kober parking lot 3pm - 7pm

  • Areas of the fitness center will expand for additional exercise space by reservation. Reduced density and social distancing protocols will remain in place and a face mask will be required, per New York State law, even while exercising
  • The pool and locker rooms will open for students by reservation beginning the week of October 19

Expanded Dining Services
While eating and socializing outside is always preferred, Living Pods and Community Pods may eat indoors in designated areas or outdoors, with no more than 5 individuals eating together.

AVI Fresh has added options to the GetApp and increased the number of daily specials.

Bates Dining:
Monday-Friday: 11:30am - 7:30pm (closes for cleaning between 2 pm and 3 pm)
Saturday and Sunday: 9am - 2pm

BWCC Café:
Everyday: 7:30am - 9:00pm

BWCC Main Dining:
Monday-Friday: 8:00am - 10pm
Saturday and Sunday: 12pm - 10pm

Events
College sponsored events will continue to be held both in person and online (some may be both), with outdoor space utilized whenever possible for on-campus activities. The maximum capacity for events will increase to 50 people – events of this size, when planned, will be held in locations that allow for distancing between pods. Masks will continue to be worn at all times.

Informal gatherings (those that are not part of a College-sponsored event) will continue to be limited to 10 people.

Building hours
For a full list of building hours during Phase III, please visit the College’s fall plan and information site here.

Things that won’t change
The tools we have to collectively mitigate the spread of this virus—wearing a face mask, social distancing with 6 feet of separation, and frequent handwashing—will remain with us until there is an effective vaccine. In addition, students will continue to only have access to their own rooms/apartments/houses and commuter students will not have access to residential buildings except for instances when they are meeting with a faculty member or attending an academic event.

As we see infection rates rise in parts of New York City as well as in some of our neighboring counties, the importance of our collective vigilance continues to be of the utmost importance. While none of the zip codes with high infection rates are in Westchester County, COVID-19 does not stop at a county’s boundary nor at the edge of campus. Please continue to be considerate of your actions and pay close attention to wearing a mask, social distancing, and avoiding large gatherings.

I’d also like to remind everyone that the College’s academic calendar has shifted to accommodate pandemic precautions and we will not observe October Study Days this semester.

Thank you all once again for your excellent efforts and investment in keeping our community health and safe.

Best,

Danny Trujillo
Dean of Studies & Student Life

September 26: COVID Case on Campus and Protocol Reminders

The following email was sent to residential students and their families on September 26.

Dear Residential Students,

I am writing to inform you that a confirmed case of COVID-19 has been identified on campus. I am taking this opportunity to remind our community of the protocols and resources in place to support students who test positive and to protect the health of our full community.

Notification of Positive Cases
Going forward, if a residential student, a commuter student who spends time on campus, or a faculty or staff member who works on campus tests positive for COVID-19, notification to the campus community will take place via contact tracing. That is, those on campus will only be notified of a positive test result if they were in close contact (less than six feet apart for greater than 10 minutes) with the affected individual and need to quarantine. As a reminder, our COVID-19 Dashboard tracks our ongoing testing efforts, and reports test results weekly and information on students in isolation daily.

Quarantine, Isolation & Contact Tracing Protocols
Residential students who test positive for COVID-19 will be relocated to a room on campus that has been identified for isolation, and the student’s family will be notified. Residential students who identify as a close contact with a confirmed case will be relocated to a room on campus that has been identified for quarantine.

Residential students in isolation or quarantine will have their health monitored by the SLC Health & Wellness Center. In addition, at the start of the semester the College hired two live-in Community Prevention & Response Coordinators to manage the logistics of quarantine and isolation and to ensure the 24/7 care of students in isolation or quarantine. Services provided to these students include mental health support, delivery of food, medicine, and necessary supplies, and coordination of academic accommodations. Students in isolation or quarantine on campus will only be allowed to return to campus activities when medically cleared by the Health & Wellness Center, in accordance with CDC and New York State Department of Health guidelines.

When a student is diagnosed with COVID-19, contact tracing to identify persons with a potential exposure will be coordinated through the Westchester County Department of Health and supported by the Health & Wellness Center.

Upcoming Mandatory Testing for Students
As a reminder, the College is administering a second round of mandatory COVID-19 PCR tests to residential and commuter students. The next round of tests, for residential students whose last name begins with M through Z, is on Wednesday, September 30. Mandatory testing for commuter students will take place on October 7. See the full testing schedule for times and location.

The above reflects our testing schedule as of now. If this surveillance testing reveals increased rates of cases on campus, our protocol will be adjusted accordingly going forward.

Finally, a reminder to continue to be vigilant with virus mitigation efforts, including wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance, and practicing good hand hygiene. I thank you for your ongoing commitment to caring for one another.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me via reply email or during the Dean of Studies office’s daily virtual office hours.

Sincerely,

Danny Trujillo
Dean of Studies & Student Life
dtrujillo@sarahlawrence.edu 

September 18: SLC Phase II Testing and Information

The following email was sent to residential and commuter students and their families on September 18.

Greetings students,

I hope your classes are off to a good start. As you know, there are currently no cases of COVID-19 within our residential or commuter student body. This is a direct reflection of your hard work and dedication to one another – thank you, and keep up the good work!

Building on our current status, I’m writing to share the good news that Sarah Lawrence will move forward to Phase II of our reopening plan on Monday, September 21. This letter outlines some of the important changes and updates that will affect our community once we enter Phase II. I realize this is a long message, but please read through this content, as it contains important information and next steps for students who will be on campus.

COVID-19 testing and flu vaccinations
All residential and commuter students will receive another COVID-19 PCR test - the full testing schedule is here. The College will cover the cost and hold testing clinics for residential students on September 23 (last names: A-L) and 30th (last names: M-Z) and for all commuter students on October 7. Participation is mandatory – students may miss part of a class or work shift in order to attend their scheduled testing window. Flu vaccinations will also be available as part of this round of testing and offered to students following their nasal swab.

On-campus faculty and staff will also be able to receive another test as part of this endeavor.

While testing is important, I’d like to remind everyone that our behavior dictates our community’s test results, not the other way around. Testing is backward-looking and only reflects a snapshot of a moment in time. Collectively, we foster a safe and healthy environment by continuing to act in a manner that prioritizes everyone’s health and safety.

Daily symptom tracker requirement
All SLC community members who plan to be on campus must complete the COVID-19 daily symptom tracker and receive a ‘green’ (i.e. negative) pass each morning in order to come to campus. Community members should take a screenshot of their result and be prepared to show their ‘green’ pass before 1) entering buildings, 2) entering dining venues, 3) joining in-person classes, and 4) participating in College-sponsored events.

Any SLC Community member who has not completed the COVID-19 Daily Symptom Tracker and has not received a ‘green’ pass, will not be permitted on campus.

Changes to campus and student activities during Phase II

  • Though most classes will remain online, on-campus instruction can begin (you may have noticed some of the tents around campus for outdoor academic space). Every class will be different, so please speak with your faculty members about any on-campus meetings that may occur.
    • Students will also be able to reserve class-specific campus facilities, like a music practice room or film room.
  • The Campbell Sports Center will open. Students may reserve a time to use the facilities (a face mask will be required, per New York State law, even while exercising) – more information from the Athletics Department will be shared regarding the available facilities and reservation process.
  • While eating and socializing outside is always preferred, Living Pods and Commuter Pods (those who you live with) may now eat indoors in designated areas, with no more than 5 individuals eating together
  • In-person food ordering and counter service at the Barbara Walters Campus Center and Bates will be available so students will no longer be required to order ahead but this is encouraged in order to provide faster service to you. To-go options will remain available, as well.
  • College-sponsored on-campus events will begin, with a maximum capacity of 25 for all in-person participants. Virtual events will also continue, and some events may be both in-person and online.
  • Building hours will expand – more information is available here.

Things that won’t change
Wearing a face mask, social distancing with 6 feet of separation at all times, and frequent handwashing are the only tools we have to fight this virus and will remain with us until there is an effective vaccine. In addition, students will continue to only have access to their own rooms/apartments/houses and commuter students will not have access to residential buildings except for instances when they are meeting with a faculty member or attending an academic event.

While indoor spaces will be available in Phase II, please keep in mind that socializing outside is always preferred, as the air dilutes possible virus particles. Informal gatherings (those not part of an official event) of up to 10 individuals will still be permitted – anything larger will be asked to disperse.

Our positive progress is thanks to – and remains dependent upon -- our continued commitment to our collective health and safety. The College will continue to monitor the state of COVID-19 in New York and in our community, and all policies and activities are subject to change should circumstances shift.

Again, thank you for your continued commitment to one another as we work together toward a successful semester.

Regards,

Danny Trujillo
Dean of Studies
dtrujillo@sarahlawrence.edu 

July 14: DHS Rescinds Policy Update on International Students

Dear Sarah Lawrence international students,

I'm writing with good news! As you may have already heard, today the Department of Homeland Security rescinded its most recent policy update that sought to limit online learning for international students. As of now, the policy will revert to the emergency updates put into place in March, and we will continue to pay close attention to any changes that may arise in the coming weeks. 

As always, if you have any questions, please reach out to me.

Best,

Shirley Be
Assistant Dean of Studies/Director of International Admission and Advising

July 8: Update on New DHS Policies and Information Regarding Fall Planning

Dear SLC Community,

In less than two months we will begin classes. There are many logistics to work out as we consider nearly every aspect of how we prepare and begin the semester and as we finalize important details, we will bring them to your attention with email digests highlighting updated information, of which this is the first. Included in this digest is new information about courses and housing, responses to questions and concerns, and information about ways we will be seeking input from students, faculty, and staff relating to fall planning. However, I must begin by addressing new and pressing concerns facing our international students.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued new temporary rules that prohibit international students from staying in the United States if they are enrolled in an American college or university that implements online-only instruction. These punitive new rules single out our international students in ways that are antithetical to Sarah Lawrence’s mission and values.

Sarah Lawrence extends beyond campus boundaries. The perspective offered by our international students and global population are fundamental to the College, and these new DHS policies target specific members of our community, compounding an already frightening and uncertain time. The College is working with its peers and advocacy groups—including the Council of Independent Colleges of New York and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities—to make clear the deleterious effects of these new rules and to urge Congress to rescind them. Robust opposition and lawsuits have already been filed seeking both a temporary and permanent injunction.

Even as we work to have these policies rescinded, our present understanding is that most of our international students may be less directly impacted because the College is pursuing a hybrid form of education this fall.

While most of our classes will convene online, there will be opportunities for international students to participate in individual or small group in-person, on-campus instruction. At this moment, based on the current wording of the policies (for which little guidance has been offered):

  • First year international students who reside on or commute to campus and participate in First Year Studies classes and/or other conference work in person appear to satisfy these policies.

  • We believe we will be able to work with sophomore, junior, senior, and graduate international students who live on campus or commute to campus to participate in available in-person instruction in satisfaction of these policies.

  • Our understanding is that international students who choose to stay in their home country and participate in online learning will be able to do so without interruption. We do not know yet the implications of such online study from abroad for F-1, I-20, and OPT status.

  • The regulations appear to preclude international students domiciled in the US from studying exclusively online. For example, an international student who intends to live in Los Angeles this fall and take classes only online would not meet the acceptable threshold this policy implicates and would be subject to deportation. This provision is particularly egregious as it takes no account of the fact, amidst the global pandemic, that the most prudent or practical option for a student may be to remain where they currently are living. 

As this list makes clear, this policy holds international students to a different standard than American students, lacks any clear educational rationale or benefit, and treats international students differentially based on nothing other than their location. Much is uncertain at this time; we will continue to press for answers for our students and to vigorously advocate for policies that do not discriminate against members of our community on any basis, including their country of origin.

We have scheduled a Q&A session for international students on Friday, July 10, at 10 a.m. ET. Please be on the lookout for a follow-up email invitation. In addition, the College will extend the July 8 housing form deadline for international students to July 11 to allow for greater clarity regarding potential changes to plans for international students in light of these new regulations. As a reminder, international students are one of the groups that have been prioritized for on-campus housing this fall.

Additional Updates for Students

Fall program offerings
In recent Q&A sessions as well as through questions and comments by many students, we heard that more information regarding program-specific plans for the fall semester would be helpful. Program directors and faculty have put together thoughtful descriptions of their plans for the fall. See this FAQ for links to discipline-specific information.

Opportunities for input
As the College continues to plan and finalize logistics for the fall, we will be reaching out to faculty, students, and staff for input on a number of topics such as online course registration. Q&A sessions will be scheduled in the coming weeks with the first year, sophomore, junior, and senior classes to create additional opportunities for dialogue, connection, and space for listening regarding ongoing planning; please be on the lookout for follow-up invitations.

Resources for off-campus housing
We are continuing to build resources for those seeking to live near campus. An FAQ has been added with new information regarding off-campus housing options, specifically nearby hotels.

Between these regular communications, please check our website for updates, which are now flagged as “new.” I look forward to our meetings in the coming weeks as we work together to prepare for the fall 2020 semester.

Yours,

Cristle
president@sarahlawrence.edu

June 30: President Judd's Full Letter to Students and Families

Dear Members of the Sarah Lawrence Community,

I am writing today to outline plans for the fall semester, which I know you have been eagerly awaiting. I thank you for your patience and confidence as we worked to plan the best and safest fall semester possible. Guided by the twin priorities of safeguarding the health and wellness of our community and our fundamental commitment to provide an excellent and equitable education, we will return to campus this fall with a significantly reduced population of students, faculty, and staff, a mix of in-person and online instruction, and strict adherence to a set of safety protocols.

Fall 2020 Plan Summary
The primary action that makes being on campus possible—and best protects our community from COVID-19—is a de-densification of our campus population. As a result, our fall semester will look and feel unlike any semester before it. Not all students will be able to live in residence halls. Not all faculty and staff will be on campus. Gatherings will be limited, and safety protocols numerous. Many painful decisions have been made, and many sacrifices lie ahead. But so too lies ahead an opportunity to come together again in the best way possible in this moment.

Instruction:

  • Fall semester classes will begin as scheduled on Monday, September 7. Details regarding registration and move-in will be forthcoming.
  • To deliver the most equitable experience to all students regardless of location, classes (seminars and lectures) will convene online when meeting as a full class, with this primary exception:
    • First-Year Studies courses, and other first-year programming, will strive to meet in person when/if possible; such in-person interactions will also have an online option for students not on campus.
  • Some small groups (e.g., breakout sessions from seminars and lectures, independent studies, and group and individual conferences) may meet in person, observing physical distancing, with online options also available.
  • Graduate classes will convene both in-person and online; further information will follow from each individual program.
  • All instruction will be fully online after Thanksgiving break.
    • Any student who leaves campus for Thanksgiving will be required to remain off campus for the rest of the semester.

Faculty have spent the last few months thoughtfully planning our curriculum to ensure that our experience this fall will be much different than the last weeks of the spring semester, which allowed limited time for such planning in the midst of an emerging crisis. In addition, class schedules for the fall have been expanded to contain new blocks, including Saturdays, and greater flexibility to work across time zones, and our Information Technology department is actively expanding technological resources and support to aid in online instruction.

The 2020-21 course catalogue is now online, with courses continually added, and I encourage you to check it out.

Housing:
We made some false starts this summer with our housing process and lottery, for which I apologize. As our plans for the fall semester evolved, it became clear that the availability of housing and our process for this year had to change.

After careful consideration, and a determination to significantly reduce our housing density on campus, housing for the fall semester will be as follows:

  • The following students will be provided with a single-occupancy room in an assigned residence hall, should they wish to live on campus:
    • First-year and incoming transfer students
    • Resident Advisors
    • Students with a demonstrated hardship (e.g., those who have home situations that make online learning nearly impossible or international students who were unable to return to their home countries)
  • Sophomores, juniors, and seniors may enter a lottery for fall housing should any rooms remain.
  • Students who choose to live off-campus in proximity to the College will have access to campus in accordance with strict safety protocols. Students may wish to consider off-campus housing as an option that will provide continuity across the entire academic year.
  • Students who elect to conduct their semester online fully away from campus will not be disadvantaged in terms of curricular opportunities. No student will be required to live on or near campus, nor will they be required to come to campus for any purpose.
Campus Life:
  • There will be no athletic competitions in the fall semester. Support will be provided for student athletes to continue to train within safety guidelines. We hope conditions will allow for the resumption of competition in the spring semester.
  • Dining halls on campus will adhere to physical distancing protocols, and our dining partner AVI is currently developing a thorough plan.
  • Cleaning protocols in public and shared spaces, common areas of residence halls, and faculty and staff offices will be enhanced, and cleaning supplies will be provided to students for their rooms.
  • We will follow current New York State recommendations that any student who will be on campus in the fall must have a negative PCR test within 14 days prior to arrival on campus; students will be retested on campus within two weeks of arrival.
  • All students, faculty, and staff on campus will be expected to take the steps necessary to protect themselves and others. As such, group gatherings will be limited; physical distancing will be practiced throughout campus; and masks or face coverings will be required in shared spaces.

The plans above apply only to the fall semester. We don’t know what the spring semester will look like yet, but are hopeful increased on-campus residential density will be possible. The class of 2021—our seniors—will be prioritized for housing in the spring semester if we are not able to house everyone who desires campus housing.

How Did We Make Our Plan?
Sarah Lawrence’s plan reflects a careful consideration of our location, our physical campus, and our educational mission. Our aim throughout the planning process has been to present, in a time of great uncertainty, as much information as possible. As we head into a fall semester unlike any other—not just at Sarah Lawrence, but at all colleges and universities—our focus has been on ensuring a continuity in the core elements of our education. At a time when large groups and dense gatherings are ill-advised, our pedagogical focus on one-on-one and small group work with faculty is the aspect of our education most readily continued. This is what we are working to ensure will be available to all students, whether they live on campus, are off campus and commuting to campus for some activities, or are physically distant but actively engaged.

A number of factors went into our decision-making for the fall, and I extend my sincere thanks to the numerous members of the administration, faculty, and staff who have spent countless hours devoted to this process.

Key factors in our decision-making were:

  • First and foremost, protecting the health and safety of the Sarah Lawrence community.
  • Adherence to New York State’s guidance and protocols.
  • A commitment to making the fall semester an equitable experience for all.
    • We must be ever mindful of the students, faculty, and staff who may be unable to physically be on campus due to a number of pandemic-related factors. The reality is that in our present situation, even if campus could safely support it, not every member of our community would be able to be with us in person.
  • College facilities, designed to foster intimate living and learning, simply cannot expand in the ways necessary to successfully practice physical distancing (for instance, a roundtable classroom for 15 would hold only 4-7 people when observing physical distancing, and an auditorium space such as Reisinger does not lend itself well to a seminar class).
  • An ability to test, trace, quarantine, and isolate to prevent or respond to an outbreak of COVID-19.

Given the unpredictable path of COVID-19, many uncertainties remain, and we will continue to respond accordingly. While today New York State is seeing its lowest numbers of COVID-related hospitalizations since March, those numbers are increasing in other parts of the country and world. Since I started drafting this letter, Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced mandatory quarantine for those traveling to New York from several states; if requirements like this are in place at the start of the fall semester, we will make appropriate arrangements for students coming to campus who will need to quarantine.

While there is much information to digest in this letter, additional details are available on our fall planning website. I know you will have many questions, some of which may not yet be answered, so this information comes with a promise to continue to communicate clearly and frequently as logistics around these plans come together. To that end, online Question & Answer Sessions have been set up for students and families, faculty, and staff over the coming week. Faculty and staff will receive invitations under separate cover. Students and families are invited to the following sessions:

First-Year and Incoming Transfer Students & Families
Wednesday, July 1
6-7 p.m. ET

Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors & Families
Wednesday, July 1
8-9 p.m. ET

Graduate Students
Thursday, July 2
7-8 p.m. ET

Again, I thank you for your continued patience as our planning unfolds. I look forward to welcoming you in just over two months to the start of the 2020-21 academic year. While it will be unlike any that we have experienced, I am confident that together we will chart a course to continue the important work of this College. Our mission, in its simplest form, is toprepare students to thrive in a complex and rapidly evolving world. Never has a statement been more true, and never has the need for a Sarah Lawrence education been more urgent.

Yours,

Cristle Collins Judd
President
president@sarahlawrence.edu