From the President: Westminster Plans for Fall 2020

May 6, 2020

Westminster College is committed to welcoming all of our students to campus to engage in their meaningful academic programs this fall. Personal, face-to-face, academic and social experience is at the heart of the Westminster experience. Now, more than ever, students need the kind of learning environment that Westminster provides—and our communities need Westminster graduates.

We intend to resume in-person instruction on campus for Fall Semester—with appropriate adjustments—knowing that some aspects of campus life will look different in the early phases of reopening.

COVID-19 has altered expectations about what we should expect “normal” life to be. Until a vaccine is widely available, we will have to maintain various forms of social distancing, limit or avoid large gatherings, and anticipate second and third waves of infection. As Utah gradually reopens many areas of the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are implementing Utah’s Plan for Health and Economic Recovery and exploring every option to help ensure that our students experience a Westminster education while staying safe and healthy. We also acknowledge that many students travel from outside the country and the state of Utah where travel restrictions and other mitigating factors may need to be addressed. We are carefully including these considerations in our planning for Fall Semester.

Currently, the Westminster College campus is open and operating under remote instruction through the end of May Term on June 6. Students have continued living on campus through the spring semester, and some students will remain in campus housing through the summer. As is usual, most of Westminster’s undergraduate summer courses are scheduled as online courses. In-person summer instruction for both undergraduate and graduate students are limited based on public health considerations, including social distancing.

We are doing everything we can to create safe learning environments as we prepare to return to in-person instruction. Most of our classes are already small enough to allow for some social distancing, and we are reconfiguring classrooms, dining areas, offices, and residence halls to provide more space. Large gatherings—such as our postponed commencement ceremony, athletic events, and larger speaking engagements—may not occur for several months until we enter the yellow phase of Governor Herbert’s plan. A resurgence of the coronavirus over the coming year is a distinct possibility, so we are also preparing contingency plans to help ensure the health and safety of our community.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another—usually within six feet. Maintaining social distancing continues to be very important. Students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors are expected to follow CDC guidelines to ensure they are doing all they can to limit spread of the virus.

Westminster College continues to be committed to providing a dynamic learning environment that leads to genuine transformation in our students’ lives and in our global community. Please check our website for updates about fall housing, travel, commencement plans, and other information in the coming weeks. We look forward to facing these challenges together and reigniting the passion of the Westminster experience.

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