April 30: President Quillen’s Message About Fall Semester Planning

I mentioned earlier that we are planning for a number of options for the fall, guided by values of access and equity, community and connection, continuity, flexibility, quality, intentionality and transparency, and feasibility. By thinking through, and in some cases planning for, multiple options, we can adapt to changing circumstances. We all want to come back together as a residential community as soon as possible. We don’t want to preclude that with a decision we make now.

Last week, we formed seven Design Teams to think through specific aspects of our plans for Fall 2020.

I am writing today to share more about these teams. Each Design Team includes students, staff, and faculty. Below is a short description of each team.

  • Academic Calendar Team: The academic calendar team will explore scheduling options that maximize the opportunity for face to face learning in a residential setting, recognizing that COVID may make it impossible for us to operate in a fully residential mode in 2020-21.
  • First Year Experience Team: The first-year experience team will explore how the courses (possibly following a 2x2 block in a remote setting) can be re-imagined to integrate first year students into the life of the mind and the Davidson Community. This includes courses that are necessary for first year students to thrive in later years (including writing courses), and may lead to the development of courses that share topics, lectures, resources. Student orientation, holistic advising, and other processes key to first year success and retention will also be examined.
  • The Well-Examined Life under COVID-19 Team: This team will explore the feasibility of a common learning experience that would be structured around teaching, learning, and research opportunities specific to these extraordinary times. 
  • Digital Learning Advisory Team: This team will develop topics for the summer Digital Learning Institute and provide feedback, guidance and recommendations for changes that can improve the experience of faculty and students in any remote learning environment. 
  • High Impact Experiential Learning Team: This group will research and design models for high impact experiential learning (e.g., community-based learning, internships, undergraduate research) given several potential, fall semester scenarios. Asset map current resources / existing infrastructure, recommend implementation.
  • Student Support Services Team: This group will discuss how to provide students with a central advocacy model for supportive services  (e.g., academic, health/wellbeing, technology) should Davidson be in a remote learning environment in fall 2020. This includes both best practices that individual units can/should pursue, as well as whether any new services or functions are needed (e.g., unified referral/information point).
  • Building Student Community Team: This group will develop ways to build community and connection amongst students in their co-curricular/extracurricular lives (e.g., leadership development, health & wellbeing, community engagement, new student welcome, etc) given several, potential fall semester scenarios. 

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April 22: President Quillen’s Message to Parents and Families About the Fall Semester

Thank you for the love and support you are providing your student during these extraordinary and difficult times. I also appreciate your support for Davidson as we, like you, have moved quickly to adapt to our circumstances.

After several weeks of wrestling with immediate concerns, we’re starting to look a little further ahead. I imagine you have questions, especially about the fall semester. While I cannot yet offer answers to many of these, I hope I can give you a sense of what we are doing now so that Davidson is positioned to provide the best educational experiences possible, no matter what the circumstances. 

Several weeks ago we assembled teams to tackle different challenges, one of which was planning for how we would operate in the fall under a range of conditions. We are a residential community and our hope is that we can reunite on campus soon. Because we don’t know what will happen in the coming weeks, we are modeling different scenarios, ranging from all students returning in August to shifting the start date to a fully remote semester. The team we assembled is developing and recommending steps that we can take now that will serve us well, regardless of our circumstances. They are examining study abroad, staffing, finances and other areas. 

We have sought the help of our trustees, who offer deep experience in scenario planning and creative leadership across a variety of sectors. We asked another smart and talented group, our faculty and staff, for their ideas.

We are preparing for a future we cannot predict. We do know we’re likely to face some difficult decisions in the coming weeks and months, and at times there will be no ideal choice. Our community is strong, our mission is noble, and together we will come out of this strong and even more committed to our primary purpose. There is light ahead, and it’s there even when we can’t yet see it.


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April 3: President Quillen: What To Do

The challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic shift and change daily, and we adjust and step up to meet them. That’s what you’re doing wherever you are and what we strive to do here on campus. 

One of the most recent of these difficult turns is in testing and tracking the disease with the hope, whenever possible, of isolating and quarantining to slow transmission of the coronavirus. We’re grateful to members of our community who, early on, alerted us of any possible symptoms, self-isolated and then sought testing. Each test administered through our Center for Health and Well-Being was negative.  This week, we learned that a community member who left campus on March 13 has tested positive elsewhere for COVID-19. Contact tracing in that case is being handled by the health care officials in the jurisdiction where the test was done.

Testing has facilitated contact tracing, but tests are in short supply.  Mecklenburg County and several other jurisdictions now have advised against routine testing. That is, if the results of a test would not change your treatment, then it’s possible no test will be given. Instead, physicians are often telling symptomatic patients to presume they are COVID-19 positive and recover at home. 

Our community is adapting to this change. Understanding that in many places health officials are only testing those people who have severe symptoms, we are urging all employees of the college to do the following:

  • Stay home from work and away from other people if you feel unwell. You will continue to be paid through the use of sick time.
  • If you are tested for coronavirus and the test is positive, OR if you are sick with symptoms of COVID-19 you must let the college know by contacting Kim Ball or Rene Baker  in Human Resources.
  • Kim or Rene will take the information about which members of our community you have had contact with, and will let those people know to watch in case they develop symptoms. 
  • Your name will not be used unless you give us permission to use it.
  • Any rooms/areas of campus in which you worked recently will be thoroughly cleaned.
  • If you are sick with symptoms of COVID-19, you must isolate at home until after these three things have happened:
  • You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers) AND
  • other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved) AND
  • at least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared

For our students: Student Health and Well-Being stands ready to support you wherever you are.  Please let us know how to help. If you are on campus and feel unwell, contact Student Health and Well-Being at 704-894-2300 as soon as possible. Anyone who feels unwell with symptoms that might be COVID-19 is advised to self-isolate and call your doctor.

These processes will help us to safeguard our campus community and slow the transmission of this virus as well as to support those in our community who are sick.

This is a challenging time and it will be for a while. We will get through this in part because we have this community and each other. I and the leadership team are here to help in any way we can.

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