By Dana Cadey
Principia College will transition to “remote learning” for the foreseeable rest of the semester, as announced by Interim President John Williams tonight at a town hall meeting in Cox Auditorium.
“We are asking all of you [who are able] … to not return from Spring Break,” Williams said to the packed auditorium of students, professors, and faculty.
Williams emphasized to the audience that classes are not ending, explaining that the administration “will continue to deliver the education” for students off-campus. He also said that the administration will work quickly to accommodate faculty to this drastic change in teaching style.
Dean of Academics Meggan Madden talked more about the remote learning process. She encouraged students to ask their professors about academic resources, such as textbooks, that they should bring home with them. She explained that class schedules will not change, so students at home will be expected to stay on top of schoolwork regardless of time zone inconveniences.
“You might need to adjust your sleep schedule,” Dean Madden said.
Students were reassured by Dean of Students Maya Dietz that any student who cannot return home, for any reason, can stay on the Principia campus for the rest of the semester. The plan in place at the moment is to have those students remain in their current houses. These students can continue to work, eat in the dining hall, and attend classes in person.
“Anyone who needs to stay, you’ll have a place,” Dean Dietz said.
Dietz said that the college has very little capacity to deal with an outbreak, which is one of the motivating factors for the administration to send students home. Higher education institutions across the country have also transitioned to online classes and remote learning as the threat of the virus continues to rise.
Many students and faculty asked questions about logistics, including if room-and-board and meal plan costs will be reimbursed for those students going home. Most of the answers to the questions asked were something similar to: “We are not sure about that yet.”
“There’s a lot of ambiguity,” Dietz said. “This is going to [need] constant communication.”
An assessment will be done in mid-April to determine if the situation has changed to the point where students are safe to return to campus. The administration is also working now to determine plans for seniors – including capstone projects and the graduation ceremony – should students need to stay home the entire semester.
Williams, Madden, and Dietz kept metaphysics a central theme of the meeting, opening and closing with scriptural selections and ideas that related to health, power, and safety.
“The idea of an infectious disease is a direct attack on our ability to love,” Williams said. “Our faith is grounded in love.”