April 27, 2020
Dear Augustana students and families,
It's hard to believe we have only three weeks of class remaining in our spring semester. I'm grateful to faculty, staff and students for making this the best possible experience.
There have been a number of reports of colleges and universities developing contingency plans if they cannot reopen to live classes in the fall. I wanted to let you know what we are planning at Augustana College.
It's my expectation Augustana will open to live classes on Aug. 31, 2020. I am guided by insight provided by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, when he says we should be "in good shape" to reopen schools in the fall. At the same time, we understand that schools and colleges are likely to reopen with new public health standards.
As other colleges are pulling back, we remain strong and are preparing for your return by continuing construction of the Peter J. Lindberg, M.D., Center for Health and Human Performance, as well as offering three new Division III sports, and the faculty continue to develop new programs.
Augustana is fortunate to be able to offer small classes on a spacious campus within a small metropolitan area. We have the ability to accommodate the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) best practices. In fact, we anticipate an increase in transfer students from large state schools to Augustana because of these advantages.
But we also realize that there is a possibility of a second wave of the virus that may interfere with some of our plans. Please be assured that we are planning for dozens of foreseeable scenarios (a late starting date, offering some classes both live and by distance learning, and many others).
These are our guiding principles in moving forward:
• Our top priority is our students. Nothing is more important than the safety of our students and employees, as guided by the CDC, state and local guidelines.
• It is our goal and expectation to offer live classes in the fall because we believe live classes and the residential experience are what is best for Augustana students.
• Augustana will absorb additional costs associated with reopening under CDC standards and will seek to raise additional funds to enhance financial aid for families hit hardest by the crisis.
• We will develop high-quality alternatives in the event we are not able to open on Aug. 31 to live classes, including such possibilities as a delayed starting date.
• Augustana will make a decision about live classes when as many facts as possible are known, but soon enough to give appropriate notice. We will not rush to a premature conclusion, as we are starting to see some colleges do.
Together, we all are dealing with considerable uncertainty. It is at times like this that the words of the late Gilda Radner give me perspective: "I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity."
I realize this ambiguity is hard on you, and that is why I hope it helps to know we are relying on our confidence in science, best practices, our institution and a strong belief in the mission of Augustana College.
When fall comes, we will be stronger than ever. We are Augustana Strong.
Take care, Vikings,
President Steve Bahls