Update on Fall COVID-19 Response and Spring Planning Efforts
October 12, 2020
Dear Members of the Georgetown Community:
As we approach the second half of our Fall semester, I wish to express my most sincere appreciation for all your efforts throughout these first weeks of the academic year. This moment is not easy and I am profoundly grateful for all your contributions; for the many ways you’ve demonstrated resilience, compassion, dedication; and for the extraordinary care and support you’ve provided to one another during this deeply challenging time.
Today, I wish to share with you an update about how we are continuing to manage this moment for our community, and how we are engaging questions and planning regarding the Spring semester. Our intention is to share our initial plan for the Spring with you by November 16. Evolving public health conditions may require us to modify our approach for the safety of our community after this date, as occurred this summer in our preparations for the Fall semester.
In these first six weeks of our Fall semester, we are implementing a series of pilot programs. These programs are enabling us to test whether we will be able to return more students to campus and how we might implement a hybrid mode of instruction, introducing in-person elements to virtual instruction wherever possible. These pilots are providing valuable information about our public health framework.
Among the pilots we have introduced are: the return of a small number of residential students; the return of research faculty to laboratories; the resumption of some small in-person, outdoor religious services; and planning for limited hybrid course activities for students at the Graduate School and Law Center. Each one of these pilots upholds the aspects of our layered public health approach—mask wearing, physical distancing, hand washing, limited gathering sizes, and frequent cleaning.
We are closely monitoring our capacity to meet the public health needs of our community, as the conditions of the pandemic continue to evolve. This involves reviewing a number of internal and external factors. The internal factors we are monitoring include the key elements of our capacity to manage the spread of the virus—our testing capacity and test turnaround times, our capacity for contact tracing, providing care, isolation, quarantine, and adherence by our community to our public health measures. The external factors include areas such as: how many states are seeing increases in cases, how many new infections are recorded each day, and how readily available are resources for testing. We are also closely monitoring the experiences of our peer institutions, with the understanding that each school’s approach reflects their individual context.
Over the course of these first six weeks of the semester, I have prepared a series of weekly presentations, covering many aspects of our response to COVID-19 and the Fall semester. In my most recent presentation, I offer a set of reflections on the factors informing our decisions regarding the Spring and what information we will be examining closely as we prepare for the coming semester. I invite you to view this presentation on our website.
I wish to thank you all again—students, faculty, and staff—for your extraordinary work on behalf of our Georgetown community throughout this deeply challenging time. I wish each of you the very best, as we reach the midpoint of our Fall semester, and I look forward to sharing more with you about our planning and intentions for the Spring semester in the weeks ahead.
John J. DeGioia