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All classes moving to distance learning

March 18, 2020

Dear students,

My thoughts are with you, your families and all members of the Augustana community at this time. I share your concerns for the present and your hopes for the future. Most especially, I maintain great hope for each Augustana student’s future.

And so I write to share the latest information from the college, and our plans for a creative, safe and student-centered approach to handling the remainder of the semester. As I share this plan, I ask for your willingness to be flexible and open to further updates. We will make every decision with the guidance of local public health officials and in the best interest of student health.

All classes moving to distance learning through the end of this semester

We have made the difficult decision to transition all classes from our signature in-person, small-class teaching and learning to distance learning after spring break and to the end of the spring semester.

Provost Dr. Wendy Hilton-Morrow, the Office of Academic Affairs and our faculty are committed to ensuring you have the chance to complete courses and earn academic credit for this semester, while maintaining the high-quality academic experience you expect from us.

Limited services for students who must stay on campus

Students who are on campus now should return to their family home if possible, but will not be forced to do so. Those who stay should be aware that the college is transitioning many employees to a work-from-home model, and only limited food service will be available. Employees are working on creative solutions to offering key services such as career services, academic advising, counseling and similar support service via phone and web conferencing.

Students who have returned home absolutely should not return to campus now. Details about an orderly move-out with consideration for social distancing will be shared tomorrow.

Re-opening campus still possible (though distance learning will continue to the end of the semester)

We are hopeful that before the end of semester we may be able to re-open campus and offer some services and opportunities. This would mean you could choose to continue distance learning from campus, with potential access to faculty office hours, more library resources, and in-person support from CORE or the Learning Commons.

If we can re-open campus this spring, returning to campus will be an option but not a requirement. Students who choose not to return to campus will continue with distance learning remotely, with no academic penalty. I fully recognize that re-opening campus before the end of the term is unlikely, but with the fluidity of the situation, we want to retain that option.

More questions anticipated

My intention with this message is to inform you of plans for delivering the academic programs, but I realize that information can raise additional questions. Please know that more information will be forthcoming. Our goal is to provide the best information clearly and quickly. At this juncture, I encourage you to consult the website for regular updates, and watch for official campus communications from covid19info@augustana.edu.

You also can anticipate emails coming from Provost Dr. Hilton-Morrow in regard to academics, graduation and distance learning; Dean of Students Wes Brooks regarding housing; Chief Financial Officer Kirk Anderson about credits or refunds for unused room and board, and other financial information.

Looking to the future

It is a sacrifice for our students to forgo the special learning and living experience of the Augustana College campus for any amount of time. But during this time of national crisis, we all must respond.

We have not yet determined whether to postpone commencement. Rest assured that Augustana will hold a ceremony and graduation festivities, even if we need to postpone the date. By April 15 we will determine whether graduation must be postponed.

Thank you, Augustana students, for doing your part at this pivotal moment in world history. I am grateful to our faculty and staff for the transition to distance learning as we maintain a firm commitment to delivering on the learning outcomes we promise you, and which you deserve.

On a personal note, I recognize your role in this talented, caring and deeply dedicated community, and thank you for the privilege of leading this community.

President Steve Bahls