COVID-19 Prevention & Response Plan


July 20, 2020

Dear Reed faculty, staff, students, and parents,

I write to share detailed information and updates about our fall plans. Each time I sit down to draft this email, however, I learn of local, national, and international developments that call for attention and comment. As the summer of 2020 continues, there is a great deal to process on a daily basis, and I want to begin by acknowledging our collective and individual responses to recent events.

This week, we mourn the death of Representative John Lewis, a leader who fought tirelessly for racial justice and civil liberties, and seek to make sense of distressing reports about the use of federal force against protesters on the ground in Portland. As we at Reed reflect on John Lewis’s dedication to the civil rights movement and consider what we can do to honor his legacy, we embrace the mission of the Black Lives Matter movement: to create a world free of anti-Blackness, where every Black person has the economic, social, and political power to thrive. I am grateful to be working alongside Dean for Institutional Diversity & A.A. Knowlton Professor of Physics Mary James, who has given the Reed community much to consider regarding our role in dismantling systemic racism. Reed’s Committee on Diversity has begun meeting to plan concrete steps that will be taken in the coming weeks and months. There is major work ahead of us, but I believe that Reed is the ideal place to think critically about the changes that need to take place and to help build an anti-racist future.

While we act in response to these current events, we are also a mere six weeks away from the first day of fall semester classes, and there is further information to share about our plans. I am excited about our return to campus, but it is easy to imagine that many of you may feel uncertain about the future. The coronavirus has disrupted businesses, teaching, and learning, and it continues to pose serious threats to public health. I want you to know that I have full confidence in our community’s ability to work individually and collectively to control the spread of this virus at Reed.

The college has made a great deal of progress in the planning efforts that I announced on June 30. I want to recognize and thank the faculty and staff who have worked to implement complex programs related to instruction, residence life, and health and safety with incredible care. This spirit of care motivates our planning, and it will be essential to our safe and successful operations this fall.

Housing: Last week, students who applied for on-campus housing were notified of their housing status. Reed’s plan for opening residential housing follows guidelines developed by the CDC for congregate housing and significantly reduces housing density while setting aside beds for potential isolation in quarantine. Despite the reduction in density, I am pleased to report that it appears we will be able to meet 100 percent of requests for on-campus housing. Additionally, residence life staff have created a safe and efficient move-in process that follows public health guidelines.

Classes: The schedule of classes for fall 2020 has been updated to reflect a blend of online and in-person classes, and students have received information from the registrar’s office about the calendar of registration and advising for fall 2020. The following changes will be implemented for fall classes:

  • There will be four options for classes: in-person, in-person with remote access, online, and online with optional in-person engagement.
  • To allow for social distancing, in-person classes will be held in larger classrooms or in one of three tents on the quad and the north side of Eliot Hall. These tents will be in place all semester.
  • The scheduling template has been updated to allow for more passing time between classes and to minimize the number of classes ending and starting at the same time.
  • Later this week, continuing students will begin making adjustments to their fall schedules as needed to address issues raised by the updates to classes.
  • Last week, incoming students ranked their preferences for an in-person course. This course, in combination with a Humanities 110 section, will be used to place students into “pods” or cohort groups in the residence halls. Students will be notified of their housing assignments in the first week of August. New students will complete course registration in early August.
  • To help students with course registration this fall, faculty are available to meet one-on-one with their academic advisees. In addition, departmental open houses for returning students will take place on July 21, and departmental open houses for new students will take place on July 28.

Student Life: Just a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending time with incoming Vice President for Student Life Karnell McConnell-Black. We are all excited to welcome him on July 31. In the meantime, the team he will be leading has been busy preparing for the fall semester. The division of student life is currently hosting a series of virtual information sessions for returning students and their families; these sessions cover international student support, health and well-being, financial aid, academics and classes, and student housing. In addition, the student life team is putting the final touches on a robust Orientation program for incoming students and their families.

Promoting a Healthy Community: A critical piece of our plan includes testing, health monitoring, and contact tracing. These services are primarily being led by Reed’s Health & Counseling Center (HCC). The college has purchased 6,500 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 tests from Tempus Health. This is the most accurate test available. Reed’s testing plans, daily health check platform, and training program are in the final stages of development, and the Risk Assessment Working Group will share more details about these efforts on July 29. In the meantime, I invite you to learn more about the HCC and about how it is modifying operations for the fall to best support the health and well-being of our community. I am also thrilled to share that we have a new director of counseling. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Johanna Workman to Reed.

Social Distancing, Isolation, and Quarantining: We ask all community members who plan to be on campus or engage in person with students, faculty, or staff to practice social distancing at all times and not to expand their in-person social circles for a minimum of two weeks prior to arriving on campus. All students, faculty, and staff who plan to be on campus should monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms for a minimum of two weeks prior to arriving on campus. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. If you had close contact with a person who has COVID-19, you must quarantine and be clear of COVID-19 symptoms before returning to campus. If you suspect or know that you have COVID-19, you must isolate and only return to campus once cleared by your medical provider.

International Students: It is with great pleasure that we welcome Gwen Sandford, program director for international student services (ISS), to Reed. She and the ISS office have put together important information for international students related to Reed’s COVID-19 response.

Dining Services: On July 31, faculty, students, and staff will receive more details from Bon Appétit regarding how dining services will work in the fall. To allow socially distant gatherings around meal times, we have constructed a large tent in the quad outside of Commons that will remain open all semester. Also, Bon Appétit is implementing an app that will allow users to order food ahead of time and pick it up at Commons.

Campus Safety Signage: New campus safety signage will be going up around the campus and in classrooms during the first week in August. The campus will be closed to the general public until further notice beginning August 3, and perimeter signs will be installed to communicate this new policy.

Classroom and Meeting Rooms: To allow for social distancing, the physical layouts of classrooms and meeting rooms have been updated. In addition, modifications to scheduling will enable us to perform enhanced cleaning before and after each class or meeting. During the week of August 10, faculty and staff will receive more information about this work from conference & events planning, the registrar's office, and facilities.

We will continue to maintain Reed’s COVID-19 prevention & response plan website. You may also send questions about our fall plans to the COVID-19 Risk Assessment Group.

I wish you well and look forward to seeing many of you soon!

All my best,



Audrey Bilger
Reed College