July 20, 2020
We are eagerly awaiting the start of the 167th academic year at Huntingdon College! Our world has certainly changed since students were last on campus in March, and we have spent intervening months preparing for our College community to return to the Home We Love So Well. August seemed like a long way away in March; but it’s now upon us, and we are looking forward to seeing you.
Because we are in a pandemic, the College is implementing a number of health and wellness protocols to promote the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and the communities with whom we interact. Today, I am writing to share with you Huntingdon’s Best Start Initiative. There are several important things to share about this document and a number of positive enhancements to Campus life to tell you about:
- Please read this entire document carefully. This will be the first of several communications to be sent to you in the coming days. Be sure to check your Huntingdon e-mail daily and respond to action items that will be required of all of us in the Huntingdon Family.
- Huntingdon is participating in the State of Alabama’s COVID-19 re-entry testing for higher education institutions. You will be receiving additional information about this along with instructions. It is critical that you promptly respond to the testing protocol.
- All students – residential and commuter students, new and returning students – will be required to complete a check-in during the week of August 3-9. As part of the check-in, all students will complete a health and wellness questionnaire, sign any outstanding financial aid paperwork and other College documents, and obtain textbooks and other information resources. Residential students checking-in will also receive room keys and move into their residence halls. The staggered dates for check-ins and move-ins will enable us to reduce the number of students returning to Campus at one time.
- Classes will be taught in-person beginning with the first day of class, August 10. A number of large venues normally not used for instructional purposes will function as classrooms in order to provide physical distancing. This includes Ligon Chapel, Drum Theater, Roland Arena, the Band Rehearsal Hall, Smith Recital Hall, and the room which formerly housed the bookstore in the Roland Student Center. There will be social distancing employed in all classrooms. Class times have been altered to provide additional meeting time slots. Monday, Wednesday and Friday classes will now be 50 minutes instead of 60. Tuesday and Thursday classes will meet for 60 minutes instead of 75.
- All students, faculty and staff will be given a Huntingdon mask upon re-entry to the College. Face masks or face coverings will be required of all students in all indoor classrooms. As weather permits and if appropriate, I encourage small classes and small groups to take advantage of our beautiful 12-acre Green to hold class discussions where social distancing can be accomplished.
- The College has increased our number of residential beds located in College-owned houses and apartments in the Neighborhood Campus to reduce the number of students living in residence halls. Residents will not be required to wear masks inside their room, cluster, suite, apartment or house.
- ARAMARK, our food service provider, has agreed to provide continuous serving throughout the day, and to extend service hours in the evening, in order to reduce density in the Dining Hall. Numerous heavy-construction picnic tables, as well as two large tents, have been purchased to encourage students to enjoy outdoor dining as weather permits. A food truck has also been purchased to provide alternatives to indoor dining. The seating capacity of the Dining Hall will be reduced, and plexiglass dividers will create separation side-to-side as well as face-to-face. Students will still be able to sit together.
- Creativity and flexibility will be needed by our student organizations to create as much of a normal student life experience as possible given health and wellness protocols. To discourage students of legal drinking age from socializing in local bars, alcohol will be allowed in College-owned houses, apartments and residence halls for students 21 or over following certain guidelines. Additionally, an evening space will be established in The Grove to provide an outdoor gathering space where students can congregate for social events and alcohol can be consumed by those of legal drinking age, on certain nights with guidelines.
- We’re all in this together. Each of us has a responsibility to protect our own health and to make good decisions which enable us to promote everyone’s health and safety. All members of the Huntingdon Family will be asked to sign the Huntingdon College Community Compact giving our consent to participate in health screenings, testing, and contact tracing; to engage in good health and hygiene; and to be intentional in wearing face masks or face coverings in public buildings, social distancing and altering our personal behaviors to protect our own health and the health and wellness of our fellow Hawks.
- Additionally, all students will be asked to sign an Assumption of Risk and Waiver of Liability related to COVID-19. We know that in-class instruction and a residential living environment puts students at a greater risk for contracting COVID-19 than an online education students receive from their personal residence. We will make an online education available to any student who requests an alternate delivery of educational content other than in-class instruction and/or who chooses not to sign the Community Compact and the Assumption of Risk and Waiver of Liability. Students who request and receive this accommodation will not be allowed to live in Campus housing or participate in athletics or any other Campus activities during the Fall Term.
As I mentioned in my message to the College community on July 16, we are focused on providing Huntingdon’s distinctive residential campus experience this Fall for students who want the full complement of in-class learning, residential living, and co-curricular engagement in Campus activities. Working together, we give each of us and the College collectively an opportunity to have the Best Start possible to this academic year.
Faithfully Your President,