Brendan W. Clark ’21
Trinity College has announced that the campus will remain closed through the end of the spring semester in light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. President of the College Joanne Berger-Sweeney announced the decision in an email to the community Tuesday morning, noting that Trinity’s status as a “liberal arts college values face-to-face interactions” and “it is therefore with great disappointment that we have decided to continue remote learning through the end of the semester.”
No decision was announced in the email relative to the College’s Commencement proceedings in May or the College’s Reunion proceedings in June. Vice President for Communications and Marketing Angela Schaeffer told the Tripod regarding the status of those events that she was “not sure when we’ll be able to say for sure.”
Trinity had previously suspended courses through Apr. 5th and closed the College as of Mar. 16 shortly before the start of the spring recess. Trinity also suspended its study abroad programs on Mar. 12 and its Rome program on Feb. 28.
Berger-Sweeney indicated that this decision was reached in light of several factors, including the “declaration of a national emergency, evolving guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and increasing restrictions globally and locally.” Schaeffer echoed those comments, adding that Trinity has been “listening to all input and assessing this rapidly changing situation continuously, including evolving public health guidance and directives from local, state, and federal officials.”
Remote learning will continue despite the closure, with students continuing most courses online. Berger-Sweeney expressed her gratitude for “the flexibility and dedication of our faculty, who are working tirelessly to keep students intellectually engaged” together with the staff of the Information Services department.
The College also acknowledged the limitations of existing details, noting that “there will be many logistics to determine, and we are developing those plans now and will communicate them to you as soon as we can.”
Berger-Sweeney added that the College will remain open for those students who need support or are unable to return home. She added that the College will “reach out to students individually to determine those who must remain on campus and those who need support to return home.”
The communication also indicated that while Trinity “will continue caring for the needs of students who must stay on campus,” they will “require all others to return to their homes.” It was not immediately clear what class of students this refers to, as those with special dispensation to remain on campus were believed to have been approved as of Friday, Mar. 13, according to the guidance issued by Berger-Sweeney last week.
The Tripod spoke with Vice President for Student Affairs Joe DiChristina who stated that this is a “public health matter that requires constant assessment and rethinking of current strategies and practices.” DiChristina emphasized that the College is “here to support” those who cannot leave campus but is hoping to encourage “students who may have other options or who can now explore new options to consider what might be best.”
Trinity will offer partial credits for room and board to families but did not specify when this decision would be made, indicating that the College is “working out the details of this” at the present time.
In light of the developing COVID situation, Trinity is also encouraging faculty and staff to work from home when possible, adding that “we encourage all who can work remotely to do so, and to conduct meetings virtually.”
The College will also make available opportunities for students to retrieve their personal belongings, though at this time they are “working on the details” and will communicate those opportunities at a later date.
Berger-Sweeney added that “these are extraordinary times, but the strength of the Trinity community is just as extraordinary.” Schaffer told the Tripod that the decision to extend remote learning was a thoughtful process, “made by the president and cabinet in close consultation with and feedback from numerous individuals (faculty, students, staff, families) and groups, including the COVID-19 response groups, Emergency Management Team, and trustees.”