January 5, 2022

To mitigate the impact of Omicron on our community, the first two weeks of Westminster’s Spring Semester will be flexible. The primary modality for most courses is currently planned to be in person. A flexible start means faculty may, if they choose, adjust course modality during the 2-week period in a way that remains aligned with course learning goals, teaching pedagogy, and actively engages students. Modalities may include full in-person, hybrid, and fully remote/online (synchronous or asynchronous). A flexible start also means that students may choose to attend remotely for the first two weeks of the semester. Flexibility for students must include options for fully-remote participation through this flex period. All courses are expected to return to initially published modalities by January 24th. Please notify your class of your flexible start plans ASAP but no later than Thursday (tomorrow) at 5pm, via email and/or Canvas.

Why two weeks? The Omicron surge is expected to peak and then sharply decline as the month progresses. We can continue our community of care approach—mitigating the level of risk while fulfilling our educational mission by providing in-person living and learning environments.

There is no way to isolate our campus community from this surge, and we have to expect that we will have positive cases—anticipated to be asymptomatic or mild based on best current information. The best way to mitigate the impact on campus and wherever you are is to follow up your vaccination with a booster if you haven’t yet done so and to wear a high-quality face mask.

Increased safety measures for spring semester include no eating or drinking in classrooms. For longer classes, schedule in breaks. No eating will be allowed in the library.

The surge will disrupt the start of the semester, regardless of the modality of our classes. A late start might adversely impact the graduation date of some students and prevent them from starting their desired careers on time, often in areas of great need in our community. A move to fully online/virtual will be very disruptive to certain academic programs, certification requirements, and has proven to have significant mental health impact on many of our students.

Thank you for your dedication to our students and their learning. As with all things COVID, we will remain nimble and adapt as needed. The flexible start period end-date will be re-evaluated on January 14th and communicated out.

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