Dear Hofstra Students and Families,
As we come to the end of the spring semester, having faced the extraordinary challenges this pandemic and its effects brought to us, I am proud of the way our faculty, students and staff have risen to this unprecedented challenge.
You have all dealt with an extraordinary period in history, in a way the Hofstra family may be proud. Even when the situation has not been ideal, you have helped one another and others, outside our community, deal with the situation we are facing with grace and empathy. One of the most difficult things about what we’ve faced is the lack of certainty, the constantly changing deadlines and guidelines, for closing and for reopening, issued by the state and federal governments.
But what we can now do is plan, with equal measures of pragmatism and optimism, for a fall semester on campus. We will work very hard this summer to ensure we have left no stone unturned in trying to bring our community back together, in person, and our planning is well underway. We are very fortunate, and in a better position than many of our peers, because of our strong partnership with Northwell Health, which provides us with unparalleled expertise in public health and prevention planning; and with local, county and state governments, all of with whom Hofstra is working on different pandemic response projects.
No matter what the next few months might bring, we know that the fall semester will be significantly different than semesters past have been. Our team is already hard at work, considering public health, social distancing, and other operational protocols. I have appointed a Task Force on Reopening, which brings together academics, facilities, information technology, enrollment, public health and legal issues. Reporting to that Task Force are several subcommittees on issues like academics, facilities, public health, and student life.
These groups are considering everything from classroom and residence hall capacity, availability and distribution of PPE, safe instruction methods, testing and tracing protocols, self-isolation availabilities, human resources, public health campaigns and education, dining protocols, event and public space management, and guest and visitor policies. The group is delving into details such as how will we establish social distancing protocols, or can we make some of our academic or enrollment procedures, with their multiple approvals, paperless? How will academic and career advisors meld best practices in advising students with social distancing protocol? How can SHACC best continue to keep students well and healthy, both in the center and through technology? How can OSLE best assist SGA, clubs, and organizations stay active and productive when coming together for meetings and events requires a new type of thinking and new protocols? How can faculty manage a classroom in person while allowing some students to access the class remotely?
The list of issues and questions, while in no way comprehensive, is the first step in reimagining what campus may look like, and it grows as our Task Force continues to explore all the ramifications of a campus re-opening.
Our optimism for a fall semester does not preclude planning for all public health scenarios. Every single action we take is and will continue to be in alignment with public health and safety protocols. And while New York State continues to create detailed and comprehensive guidelines for reopening for all sectors of the economy, we have begun the work of reimagining a campus that keeps our entire community as safe as possible. There are many models to follow and colleagues around the globe sharing best practices. Many organizations and educational associations have already published models of safe practices for campus reopening, and as Long Island will lag upstate New York, we will be able to learn from the experiences of peer institutions as well. We are carefully studying the experiences of all organizations and businesses that reopen, and learning from best practices not just here but around the world.
It will not be easy. It will require an adjustment from us all, in how we interact, in how we teach and learn, and how we take care of each other. But we have heard from you, our students and families, that you value interacting with our faculty and staff, collaborating with your peers, and experiencing the metro New York area; indeed, what makes Hofstra special is the community you create. And we will go to every length, follow every guideline and best practice, to ensure we can be together again in a few months.
We balance this with our dual priorities: the health and safety of the entire campus community, and a quality education in an environment that encourages, nurtures, and supports learning through the free and open exchange of ideas, for the betterment of humankind. Balancing all of this will require the efforts and dedication of our entire community. I have seen the Hofstra community in action for many years and am confident that we will work in our collective best interests.
We wish we were together on campus this week as you complete your exams, papers, and projects for the semester. Know that we wish you well now and as the summer begins. I look forward to seeing you in the fall.