Changes to Campus Departure for Winter Break 2020

Friday, November 13, 2020

Over the past few days, we have seen rapid increases in COVID-19 cases in the region, state and across the country. While cases on campus have remained relatively low, this external reality has impacted two key metrics we have been monitoring closely: the likelihood of community spread, which is increasing, and the availability of local hospital facilities, which has markedly decreased.

On Thursday, November 13, we notified our campus community that out of an abundance of caution, we had decided to send the majority of students home by Saturday, November 14, ahead of our originally scheduled departure date of Wednesday, November 25. The majority of classes will be held remotely for the remainder of the semester. This decision was made for a number of reasons:

  • The majority of faculty responded to an invitation earlier in the week to move classes online for the remainder of the semester by confirming they would be doing so.
  • The uptick in positive cases at Albion College has continued over the past few days, leading to the quarantine of significant members of essential support staff. 
  • Recent student positives led to greater numbers in close contact quarantine than in past weeks, severely impacting our capacity to manage the number of students in quarantine on campus.
  • Calhoun County Department of Public Health informed us that they are struggling to keep up with the increases in positive cases across the county and strongly encouraged us to de-densify the campus as fast as is reasonably possible for the safety of our community.

Students have been instructed to make appropriate arrangements to leave campus by Saturday, November 14 at 12:00 p.m. An exemption process has been put in place for students with exceptional circumstances, including those who have already booked non-refundable tickets and out-of-state students for whom last-minute travel would pose a significant hardship.

A small number of classes that require in-person instruction will continue on campus for the remainder of the semester. Students enrolled in these classes have been contacted separately to discuss arrangements, as have students currently in isolation or quarantine.

Governor Whitmer and the State Department of Health have strongly recommended that for two weeks before leaving campus, students should complete a self-quarantine period that they define as limiting movement to attending classes and work, getting food and attending medical appointments. Assuming that students have been following Albion’s Together Safely protocols, which meet this definition, they will have already completed this two-week self-quarantine period and so are cleared to leave campus.

Following the advice of Governor Whitmer and our local public health department, we will continue to perform symptomatic testing on any student, faculty or staff member that remains on campus and require that all students, faculty and staff monitor their symptoms daily.

As of now, we plan to return to campus in late January. We are working through protocols for the spring semester and we will continue to develop our response based on federal, state and local public health guidance.

While it is unfortunate that the outside surge is necessitating this early departure, we are grateful to have been able to spend nearly the full semester teaching and learning together on campus. We appreciate all the ways that our community has stepped up to take care of themselves and one another this semester.