Picture of me before my COVID-19 test on campus—pleasantly surprised by how easy the process was!
August 7, 2020
Dear Reed students, faculty, staff, and parents,
It was such a pleasure to be on campus this week and to get a chance to say hello to faculty and staff colleagues and some students, too. Even while observing physical distancing and wearing face coverings, the ability to connect in person feels precious, after the amount of time so many of us have spent communicating primarily by phone and on screens. The Reed model of liberal arts education is frequently dubbed “high touch,” a recognition that in-person connections provide the foundation for student learning and success. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our ability to be fully in person, we have been working hard over the past months to bring students back to campus and to offer opportunities for in-person instruction and interactions because we believe that this is a defining feature of Reed’s reputation for excellence.
Of course, 2020 has been a year in which we have had to make peace with not having everything the way we would ideally want it to be. That said, the more we have learned about how to prevent the spread of the virus, the more we have come to understand that face coverings, physical distancing, good air circulation, and hand washing help to keep ourselves and others safe. On campus, we have altered spaces and invested in resources to create a safe environment. We have secured COVID-19 tests, and just this week we were able to test 378 faculty and staff on campus. Many thanks to those who assisted in administering the tests. I took mine on Wednesday, and I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the process was. We are also exploring additional testing options as they become available.
Earlier this week, I received a letter signed by a group of faculty and staff asking the college to move to a remote-learning model and not bring students back to campus. After carefully considering the concerns raised, we have decided to continue with the plan to offer a hybrid model. Our COVID-19 Risk Assessment Group continues to evaluate recommendations we receive from state and local authorities, and we are prepared to adapt should circumstances require a change in direction.
I have been in frequent conversations with friends at other colleges and universities, some that are planning to be in person, others that have moved online. It gives me pride to reflect on the caring, committed, and fierce faculty and staff at Reed. You are Reed’s most important resource. The hard work and ingenuity you have brought to the table as we chart our course forward for the fall semester has allowed us to create a plan that will help us fulfill the college’s mission with safety as a priority. Given that so much depends on the individual responsibility of each member of our community, the dedication I have seen here at Reed gives me great optimism for the future.
The first day of classes is just over three weeks away, and I look forward to seeing even more of you as our preparation for classes and students ramps up. This is always an exciting time of year for me, and although the pandemic makes it very different this year, I still feel the same sense of happy anticipation that comes with a new academic year—new faces, new challenges, and new opportunities for learning and growth.
I am glad we are in this together.
All my best,
Edit August 7, 2020, at 2:00 p.m. — Due to a mix up in the editing process, an earlier version of this communication stated, "In talking with friends at other colleges and universities, some that are planning to be in person, others that have moved online, something has become abundantly clear to me: few schools benefit from caring, committed, and fierce faculty and staff." The sentences unintentionally disparaged educators and staff at other schools. The sentences were updated above to convey the intention accurately.