Family Forum on COVID-19 Response and Spring 2021

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On Nov. 11, a virtual family forum provided updates as well as insight into the planning processes underway for the spring 2021 semester.

Panelists included President Brian W. Casey; Provost and Dean of the Faculty Tracey E. Hucks ’87, MA’90; Task Force on Reopening co-chairs Paul J. McLoughlin II (vice president and dean of the college) and Geoff Holm (associate professor of biology); and Task Force on Remote Learning co-chairs Eddie Watkins (associate professor of biology, director, Center for Learning, Teaching, and Research), and Niranjan Davray (chief information officer).

Additional Questions

We’ve compiled answers to submitted questions on subjects that we didn’t get to cover during the webinar. In some cases, questions have been edited for brevity and clarity, and similar questions have been combined.

What is the specific date/deadline for Colgate to receive the negative covid test in January?

Students returning to campus for the Spring 2021 semester need to take their at-home test kit and return it January 11, 12, or 13.

Depending on flu season/covid numbers, is there a possibility of delaying on-campus opening and maybe starting classes virtually from home?

Colgate will continually monitor the local, national, and international public health status and must be ready to pivot on a dime if conditions would make a return to campus on the scheduled dates unsafe. Potential changes to state, or federal guidelines might also impact our plan.

What factors would cause Colgate to move to fully remote in the Spring?

A change in New York State or Federal guidelines, as well as the metrics in our Health Analytics Dashboard that would determine Colgate’s ability to support public health measures, such as the infection rate, and availability of staffing, testing supplies, personal protective and sanitization equipment and supplies, would guide a change in plans. 


Will all classes have an online component if a student decides to go home after starting the semester on campus?

Not all classes are able to have an online component, so it is important for students to be clear about the implications of going home after starting the semester. There is the Drop/Add period when they can change out courses, but students should be sure to discuss any potential change of plans with their administrative dean and academic advisor to understand how it may affect their academic progress.

Why are remote classes limited in size? Shouldn’t fully remote classes have more size flexibility?

The deep level of individual attention that professors can provide their students is thanks in large part to the small class sizes and low student-to-faculty ratio that Colgate is known for.

Given the uniqueness of the way classes were taught both remote and hybrid, what were the thoughts around not allowing a pass/fail option like was available in the spring of 2020?

The members of the Academic Affairs Board (AAB) publicly acknowledged the recent resolution passed by the Senate of the Student Government Association (SGA) in “support for the implementation of a P/X grading option for the fall semester of 2020.” Coming into the academic year 2020–2021, the AAB made a deliberate decision to return to the regular grade mode options, but took up the question again at the request of students and the SGA. Only twice in Colgate’s history (1970 and 2020) has the P/X grading option been utilized. In spring 2020, this option was approved because of the extraordinary circumstances of suddenly closing down the campus in the spring; the rapid departure of the student body; the drastic mid-semester shift in teaching modalities; the interruption of the spring academic calendar; the unexpected altered access to support systems on campus; and the unforeseen disruption caused by the national and global changes associated with COVID-19. The most recent deliberations of the AAB included an acknowledgment of the pandemic having produced considerable stress and challenges for students, staff, and faculty in fall 2020 but did not think adjusting the grading mode was the appropriate solution. After careful consideration, the AAB voted (reaffirming their earlier vote) to retain the usual grading mode for the fall of 2020, yet did so with considerable willingness to continuing partnering with the Dean of the College division in support of holistic student wellness and overall mental health.

There are fire pits and gatherings for those up the hill, what is offered to create connection and activities for the upper-level students in apartments and townhouses?

The outdoor gatherings and activities are open for all to take part. Events are publicized on the campus calendar.

Our student is eating out far more often than last year. This tells us that the food offerings are lacking. Can you comment about the surveying and feedback on food offerings?

Dining Services welcomed students back on campus for the Fall 2020 semester with enhanced and new features to the dining program — from a food truck to pop-up retail locations offering fare from favorite local restaurants. They received information about the many options in the Fall 2020 Dining Services Update and the Fall 2020 Dining Services Newsletter. As always, students are welcome to submit feedback by contacting Dining Services; if they are alerted to problems in a timely fashion, the staff can respond.