Fall 2020 Plans

We’ll soon begin the fall semester and, with it, a new chapter in the nearly 200-year history of this college and community. This semester and this chapter will be unlike any other. But our aim is to continue the long-standing tradition of providing an exceptional liberal arts education and to nurture a dynamic, resilient, and inclusive community, with safety, health, and well-being as our all-important guiding principles.

We have made significant progress in our planning for the fall and will welcome all who are able to join us safely on campus. Contingent upon evolving public health guidance and conditions within the state, we will begin classes on Monday, September 7, and students will be able to move in to residence halls in gradual phases beginning in the last week of August.

As we have throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we will take a great number of actions—some small, some very large and complex—to minimize health risks on campus and to help safeguard the well-being of all students, faculty, and staff. An incredible amount of thoughtful planning by teams across campus has been devoted to this effort, and, of course, there is much more to do and many more decisions to make as we move toward fall. We will continue to be guided by the State of Connecticut’s policies and recommendations with regard to managing the virus, as well as by recommendations from public health and infectious disease experts and organizations. Such guidance is evolving, and the state of the pandemic—while dramatically improved here in Connecticut—varies greatly by location, which means we will adapt our plans as needed to keep our community as safe as possible and to contribute to the global efforts to mitigate the pandemic.

Below are more details about our plans for the fall.

Academics

To accommodate students and faculty needs, fall courses will be offered in different formats, and for registration each class will be designated as in-person, hybrid, or remote. Remote and hybrid options will be especially important for students and faculty who cannot be on campus. Regardless of the format, our faculty members are committed to offering high-quality, meaningful and personalized interactions with students, and to teaching the courses in a manner commensurate with the high expectations of a Trinity College education.

Faculty members are working hard to strengthen the remote learning experience for students. All courses taught remotely next year will be expected to meet during the assigned time, and we will do our best to accommodate students across time zones. Faculty this summer are being trained in the best practices of remote instruction, and they are participating in hands-on course design studios led by national experts. We are enhancing technology in our classrooms (including adding more cameras, microphones, and other equipment) to improve both the in-person and remote learning experience.

Our academic year will consist of four terms. Fall term courses will run either 10 weeks or 13 weeks, depending on the needs of the course. In-person learning for the fall would conclude by November 20 (students would not return to campus after the November vacation break). Thirteen-week classes would continue remotely through December, with exams for all concluding by December 21.

There will be a 5-week, optional, remote winter term beginning in January. There will be a 10- or 13-week spring term, a mirror image to the fall semester, followed by a 5-week, optional summer term here on campus, assuming conditions allow. Students will be able to take up to 11.5 credits across all four terms.

More details are in this letter from Acting Dean of Faculty Sonia Cardenas.

Course information will be available beginning July 2, and academic advising will run from Monday, July 6, through Friday, July 10. Course registration begins for seniors on July 13; for juniors, July 15; and for sophomores, July 17. First-year students will submit their course choices beginning on July. 20. Advising week for graduate students begins July 6, with course registration beginning on July 13.

The Center for Academic Advising will host two information sessions for Academic Registration: one for returning students at 7 p.m. on July 8, and one for first-year students at 7 p.m. on July 9. Dean Cardenas will be writing to students with more detailed information about course registration.

Access to academic facilities is crucial to students’ engagement with the community, including their professors and peers, as well as research and projects.

Work is underway to reconfigure classrooms, dining halls, and activity spaces to allow for appropriate physical distancing (reducing classroom density significantly).

While we know that some activities may be limited as we work to maintain physical distancing to protect the health and safety of our community, our faculty are excited to restart student research in their labs, to create art in our studios, and to facilitate community engagement in as full and rich a manner as possible.

As reported in the budget letter on June 25, 2020, one important decision we have made this year is to not raise the comprehensive fee for students in the coming year. Tuition and room and board fees will remain flat, at 2019-20 levels, and will cover the four terms of the new academic calendar; financial aid also will apply across these terms. We know that our families need additional flexibility and support during this time.

The tuition rates will be the same whether a class is remote or in person. All of our students will continue to have access to small classes and personalized interactions with extraordinary faculty members. Our tuition covers instruction inside and outside of the classroom, including career services, health services including mental health, athletics activities, and so many other items that we consider essential for a holistic liberal arts educational experience. Those services will continue to be available for our students, and they will be available with greater flexibility over the four terms of the academic year. Most importantly, we all are committed to support our students navigate this unprecedented time in our country and our world.

The Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) has a list of frequently asked questions on topics related to international students’ return to learning for the 2020–21 academic year. The information in the FAQ is updated as information is made available by the CDC, the Department of State, USCIS, the State of Connecticut, and the college’s reopening planning teams.

FAQs for International Students

Campus Life

We will welcome as many as 1,700 students to residence halls for the start of the semester. That is the maximum number of students with whom we can provide single bedrooms—a measure we feel is appropriate and necessary to minimize health risk. Some will live in singles, others in suites with common rooms. No bedrooms on campus will be configured for more than one person.

In addition to those 1,700 students who may live in campus housing, we expect another 200 will reside nearby in off-campus housing. We anticipate this will accommodate all students who wish to return in the fall; we will know more after class registration. Meanwhile, for a variety of reasons, we know that some number of students will need to take classes remotely.

The housing lottery will open on Tuesday, July 14, for seniors and continue on ensuing days for juniors and sophomores. Housing assignments will be made the week of July 20. First-year students will be assigned to housing based on their nest and their first-year seminar assignment. First-year students will receive their housing assignment in August.

We are scheduling staggered arrivals and move-in dates for students to facilitate physical distancing at the start of the semester.

The state has travel restrictions in place for those coming from 36 “hot spot” states and regions with a high prevalence of COVID-19. Based on the states currently on the list, the restrictions would apply to about 350 Trinity students. The travel advisory requires a 14-day quarantine upon arrival for anyone staying in the state for more than 24 hours. If a quarantine isn’t possible, a traveler can present a negative COVID-19 test result that is no more than 72 hours old. We are conferring with state officials to determine if other options will be available to those students. In the meantime, to accommodate the quarantine requirement we will begin our move-in process with students from hot spot areas. Please stay informed as to whether your location is affected by Connecticut’s travel advisory.

To reduce density and allow for the safest-possible process during move-in, we will allow students from the surrounding area—those within a reasonable driving distance of campus in New England or New York or New Jersey—to drop off their belongings for move-in during the week of August 16-21. This is not required, but is an option for those students who have the ability to do so. Students who choose to drop-off their belongings will not be permitted to remain on campus. Students from the surrounding area will receive an email tomorrow (Friday, July 31) inviting them to schedule drop-off times.

General Move-In Schedule

  • August 16-21: Local student drop-off of belongings permitted (drop-offs only)
  • August 24-25: Students from states affected by travel advisory, as well as student leaders
  • August 26-28: International students
  • August 31-September 4: All other students, both new and returning

For more details about moving in, see the Fall 2020 Reopening FAQ.

Safe and healthy dining on campus is not only an important part of maintaining individual health, but also an important part of building community. Chartwells, our dining partner, is committed to the safety and well-being of our campus community, guests, and associates. Their practices will include daily wellness checks of associates and delivery drivers, increased sanitizing and disinfecting, the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE), extensive associate training, and informational signage. We are working with Chartwells to create a plan for our dining facilities that ensures compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state, and local guidelines.

For more information on dining, see our FAQ.

We will insist upon physical distancing and face coverings consistently, and we will limit the size of gatherings and events, whether indoor or outdoor.

We are thinking creatively about how to make the most of our on-campus experience together (while also engaging with those who can’t join us in person) and to allow for safe campus activities, student employment, and more.

Athletics are an integral part of the Trinity experience. The NCAA has proposed a phased return to sports that depends on the virus not resurging on college campuses. Our own conference, the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) stated on July 10, 2020:

“In keeping with public health guidance, each of our institutions has put in place physical distancing protocols, limits on travel on and off campus, and limits on the size of on-campus gatherings. Consistent with these policies, the NESCAC Presidents have decided unanimously, though with great reluctance, that NESCAC conference competition for fall sports must be canceled for fall 2020. Athletics remains an important part of the experience for our students.  Conference members will continue to work together to seek creative ways to provide meaningful athletic opportunities for our students during the upcoming academic year.  To that end, the Presidents have agreed to modify some NESCAC rules to enable coaches and students to engage in practice and training opportunities outside the traditional season, in accordance with the rules of each member institution and local health directives.”

It’s clear that the fall (and likely winter) season of athletic competition will not occur as usual. We will have significantly fewer, if any, competitions in the fall, but we are aiming for physically distanced practices for in and out-of-season sports and robust team activities to engage our student-athletes.

An incredible amount of thoughtful planning by teams across campus has been devoted to this effort, and of course there is much more to do and many more decisions to make as we move toward fall. We will continue to be guided by the State of Connecticut’s policies and recommendations with regard to managing the virus, as well as by recommendations from public health and infectious disease experts and organizations. Such guidance is evolving, and the state of the pandemic—while dramatically improved here in Connecticut—varies greatly by location, which means we will adapt our plans as needed to keep our community safe and to contribute to the global efforts to mitigate the pandemic.

In developing plans for the safe return and resocialization of sport at Trinity, we continue to follow guidance from the CDC, NCAA, American College Health Association, National Athletic Trainers’ Association, National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association, and other sport-specific governing bodies.

We will look for creative ways to engage scholar-athletes during this non-traditional fall season. We will continue to keep you informed over the summer, as plans for athletics continue to take shape.

Read the full list of updates and FAQs for 2020–21 athletics and recreation.

Health and Safety

It is our collective responsibility to care for this community—at all times, including during a pandemic. Everyone on campus will be required to follow important health and safety practices and protocols, the most fundamental of which are:

  • Face coverings/masks
  • Physical distancing (including reduced sizes of social gatherings)
  • Frequent handwashing
  • Self-monitoring for symptoms
  • Mandatory public health education

If each of us commits to those fundamentals, we can go a long way toward keeping our community safe. For all of those arriving on campus, we will provide detailed guidance about those fundamentals—when exactly those face coverings are necessary, what kind of face coverings are acceptable, what we mean by physical distancing and in what situations, how people should monitor for symptoms, and what people should do if they experience symptoms or test positive.

Similar to our peer institutions, Trinity will require students to sign a Community Responsibility Agreement—which the college is developing in partnership with our Student Government Association and Inter-Greek Council—that will reinforce the need for students to be vigilant in following public health guidance and college policies regarding COVID-19. We also will limit unnecessary travel off campus for students to limit the risk of exposure and transmission of COVID-19.

As part of the Trinity community, every employee has a responsibility to keep our campus as safe as possible by following Trinity and State of Connecticut health and safety protocols. Therefore, employees will be asked to commit to a Community Health and Safety Agreement (to be sent in early August) that outlines specific expectations and requirements.

Testing for COVID-19 will be critical to our ability to monitor the health and safety of our community. We are partnering with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard to provide very frequent testing of all students in the first few weeks of the semester and a regular cadence of screening after that. All students and employees who are on campus can expect to be tested regularly throughout the fall semester. The college will pay for the cost of this testing plan.

More details about the test are available in our FAQ; here are the basics of the plan.

  • During the initial weeks of the semester, all students will be tested twice per week, and employees will be tested weekly. If the prevalence of infections on campus remains low, we will adjust the testing cadence to once per week for students and every other week for employees.
  • Testing for asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff will be conducted on campus, at the Ferris Athletic Center Field House. Some portions of the process will be conducted under a tent outside the building.
  • Throughout the semester, any student with COVID-19 symptoms or who is at risk of contracting the virus through known contact with someone who has tested positive will be evaluated and tested immediately at a location separate from the field house.

All who come to campus, including faculty and staff, will be required to do daily symptom checks and asked not to report to campus if they are experiencing symptoms.

More information for employees returning to campus is available here.

You can help Trinity start the semester off well and keep the community safe by doing all you can before you arrive to stay healthy. All students should self-quarantine at home for 14 days before coming to campus, avoiding travel and limiting close contact with non-family members. Please do not come to campus if you test positive for the virus or are experiencing any symptoms, and please take care to wear masks and follow public health guidance during your travel to campus.

The state has travel restrictions in place for those coming from 36 “hot spot” states and regions with a high prevalence of COVID-19. Based on the states currently on the list, the restrictions would apply to about 350 Trinity students. The travel advisory requires a 14-day quarantine upon arrival for anyone staying in the state for more than 24 hours. If a quarantine isn’t possible, a traveler can present a negative COVID-19 test result that is no more than 72 hours old. We are conferring with state officials to determine if other options will be available to those students. In the meantime, to accommodate the quarantine requirement we will begin our move-in process with students from hot spot areas. Please stay informed as to whether your location is affected by Connecticut’s travel advisory.

Earlier in the spring, we established protocols for quarantine, isolation, and contact tracing to address cases of the virus or direct exposure to it. We will expand upon and enhance those plans for the fall, with a team of Trinity College health staff and others trained to conduct contact tracing.

We are enhancing cleaning and sanitizing across all spaces, and hand sanitizer will be available at entrances to buildings, classrooms, and dining halls. Disposable wipes and cleaning solutions will be available in all bathrooms, classrooms, and shared facilities, and supplies will be provided so that staff and faculty may clean and sanitize their offices and workspaces.

Classrooms, dining halls, and activity spaces are being reconfigured to allow for appropriate physical distancing (significantly reducing classroom density).

Based on the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in consultation with our emergency operations groups, we will follow guidelines provided by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers to review and confirm compliance of our HVAC systems across buildings, and will remediate or discontinue use of spaces that do not comply.

More information about the Reopening Phases

Information for employees returning on July 6 is available here.

  • In addition to essential personnel who are already working on campus, beginning on Monday, July 6, a small number of additional employees whose job functions can only or can most fully be performed on campus may return to work on campus.
  • Some science faculty with research labs will be allowed to return at this time.
  • No building on campus should see more than 25 percent occupancy. This may require that offices use alternating schedules to ensure low density of staff members at any one time.
  • Employees who are working regularly on campus will be required to complete a daily symptom check and be free of COVID-19 symptoms (and stay home if they are not).
  • Before returning to campus, it is strongly recommended that employees receive a viral test and negative test results before returning to campus. A list of COVID-19 testing sites in the City of Hartford is available here.
  • Employees on campus will need to practice physical distancing and use face coverings in all indoor spaces (except for individual offices). Trinity will provide up to two masks/face coverings per employee.
  • Our facilities provider, ABM, is following enhanced cleaning procedures for public areas, including restrooms, and high-contact surfaces such as door handles and elevator buttons. But individuals are responsible for keeping their personal spaces and equipment clean. (The college will provide supplies.)
  • Indoor athletic facilities and dining facilities will remain closed, and the library and campus post office will maintain their limited hours and services. Access to campus buildings will remain limited to Trinity ID cardholders.
  • On-campus and in-person events remain cancelled.
  • Beginning on Monday, August 3, employees whose roles require them to be on campus to prepare for student repopulation of campus will be allowed to return. This group will join essential personnel who are already working on campus and employees who returned during the pilot period in July.
  • No building on campus should see more than 50 percent occupancy. This may require that offices use alternating schedules to ensure low density of staff members at any one time.
  • Employees who are working regularly on campus will be required to complete a daily symptom check and be free of COVID-19 symptoms (and stay home if they are not).
  • Before returning to campus, it is strongly recommended that employees receive a viral test and negative test results before returning to campus. A list of COVID-19 testing sites in the City of Hartford is available here.
  • Employees on campus will need to practice physical distancing and use face coverings in all indoor spaces (except for individual offices). Trinity will provide up to two masks/face coverings per employee.
  • Our facilities provider, ABM, is following enhanced cleaning procedures for public areas, including restrooms, and high-contact surfaces such as door handles and elevator buttons. But individuals are responsible for keeping their personal spaces and equipment clean. (The college will provide supplies.)
  • Indoor athletic facilities and dining facilities will remain closed, and the library and campus post office will maintain their limited hours and services. Access to campus buildings will remain limited to Trinity ID cardholders.
  • On-campus and in-person events remain cancelled.
  • Students will be able to begin moving in on August 24. Each student will sign up for a two-hour move-in timeslot during their scheduled arrival days. Details about move-in can be found in our FAQ.
  • During this time we will welcome back more employees—staff and faculty—though the details of how many and who are yet to be determined.
  • Employees who are working regularly on campus will be required to complete a daily symptom check and be free of COVID-19 symptoms (and stay home if they are not).
  • The process for pre-arrival (prior to August 24) employee testing is being finalized and will be shared in early August.
  • Employees and students on campus will need to practice physical distancing and use face coverings in all indoor spaces (except for individual offices and residence hall rooms). Trinity will provide up to two masks/face coverings per person.
  • Our facilities provider, ABM, is following enhanced cleaning procedures for public areas, including restrooms, and high-contact surfaces such as door handles and elevator buttons. But individuals are responsible for keeping their personal spaces and equipment clean. (The college will provide supplies.)
  • On-campus and in-person events remain cancelled.

The faculty voted to approve an academic calendar for the coming year in which we anticipate in-person classes beginning on Labor Day, September 7. Labor Day will remain a holiday for administrative staff.

Calendar for 2020-21

  • Fall Term: 10 or 13 weeks, in-person/remote hybrid (in-person classes would run from September 7 until Thanksgiving if possible, with no fall break, and 13-week classes would continue remotely through December, with exams concluding by Dec. 21)
  • Optional January Term: 5 weeks, remote (January 5-February 5)
  • Spring Term: 10 or 13 weeks, in-person/remote hybrid (13-week classes would begin remotely in February; in-person classes would begin March 1 if possible, ending by May 14)
  • Summer Session 2021: 5 weeks, in-person (June 1-July 1)

Contact Information

We know you’ll have questions. Some we can answer now (please email PlansToReturn@trincoll.edu with additional questions or feedback), but many answers will be developed in the coming days as we continue to monitor the situation locally and globally and as we make decisions based on guidance from the state and other authorities and the best interests of all members of our community. We will publish a new Frequently Asked Questions on our return-to-campus website in early July and will update it and other content there frequently as we move toward the fall.

We’ll be hosting a number of informational town halls as we get closer to the start of the semester, at which we’ll invite your questions and provide you with the most up-to-date information.

Messages to the Community