Message from Dean Bridget Long and Executive Dean for Administration Jack Jennings to faculty and staff regarding HGSE's plans for returning to campus
March 22, 2021
Dear HGSE Faculty and Staff,
As announced this morning, the University has set the goal of having staff, faculty, and researchers return to campus on August 2. However, there will not be a “one-size-fits-all” approach in these plans, and the exact steps taken will differ by and within School. We are writing to provide additional HGSE-specific information as we look ahead to our return to Appian Way and other HGSE-affiliated spaces.
First, we must emphasize that the target date of August 2 is dependent on public health conditions and efforts to reduce the risk of COVID, including vaccination and safety protocols. Although there is optimism and hope that we can return to campus in late summer, this continues to be an evolving situation, and we will need time and data to determine when and how the current quarantine and distancing protocols can be relaxed.
Second, please note that this message is targeted to staff and faculty, not students. Students should not expect to return to campus on August 2. While it is our intention to welcome the newest cohort of HGSE students to campus as soon as we can do so safely this fall, ultimately, our ability to protect the health of our community will determine when and how quickly we are able to ramp up activities on campus—from instruction and coursework to student organizations and co-curricular events to the more informal interactions that take place in our common spaces. Please note that we also have a large number of part-time students who will continue their studies remotely next year, so we will maintain a vibrant online community even as public health concerns abate.
Third, it is likely that any return to campus will be gradual, and the exact plans for each person will need to balance personal circumstances, mission needs, and safety protocols. Importantly, guidance from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the University is likely to include requirements for social distancing, personal protective measures, vaccination standards, and testing protocols. All these factors will dictate when, how, and who will be able to return to campus. For example, social distancing requirements could dictate the maximum number of people in a classroom, collaboration spaces, and offices, and the implications will differ depending on the specific configuration of the space in question.
HGSE has been actively engaged in scenario planning and will continue to do so as we monitor public health conditions and await additional guidance. We sincerely wish we could be more definitive with a return date, but it is simply too early to predict. Please know that we appreciate your patience and flexibility as we continue to work through the details. As we look to the future, there are also active discussions to update the University’s workforce and human resource policies for staff to keep “in step” with the opportunities associated with flexible work (flexwork) arrangements. As many of you know, HGSE has been on the forefront of flexwork arrangements within the University. Over the coming months, we will identify additional flexwork models to pilot with staff and evaluate beginning this Fall.
We are so proud of this community and marvel at what we have accomplished during the past year despite all the challenges. It has not been easy and much has been demanded of you, both at work and at home. Thank you for all you do.
Bridget Terry Long, Dean and Saris Professor of Education and Economics
Jack Jennings, Executive Dean for Administration