May 22, 2020
Dear Reed community,
This week we marked the official end of our term with a toast to the senior class. Thanks to so many people for making this virtual event possible and for sharing your good wishes with the seniors. For me, the tribute provided a glimmer of normalcy and a chance to recognize great accomplishments achieved under trying circumstances. It is a great joy to be able to celebrate our students’ successes.
Our COVID-19 working groups have been meeting steadily over the past week. A hallmark of their activity has been and will be outreach to faculty, staff, students, and parents to seek guidance. The Academic Planning working group has held nine focus groups with faculty and three with staff members. They have also set up several student focus groups through Handshake; three student focus groups are taking place today, and two are scheduled for Tuesday. The working groups are carefully reviewing recent state and federal guidance, including the new considerations for institutes of higher education issued on Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control.
As we plan for the fall semester, we will seek to collect further input from community members. To this end, you will receive a survey next week. Your feedback is incredibly valuable, and we appreciate the time and care you will put into your response.
The conversations we have had to date have focused on Reed’s educational program and our strong desire to learn together as a community. A critical question we are working to answer is how we will preserve what is important about the Reed education in whatever model we adopt. With this ideal in mind, our collective work aims to find creative arrangements for housing, scheduling, and classroom use that will allow us to sustain the academic program while upholding safety and complying with regulations. With regard to regulations, as many of you will know, the state of Oregon now has a process in place that will allow individual Oregon counties to reopen in phases. Many counties have been granted permission, but Oregon’s most populous county, Multnomah, where Reed resides, has not yet applied for approval to reopen, and their application timeline is unclear.
As we approach a national holiday that seeks to remember those who have sacrificed their lives for this country, I am reminded of the many selfless acts that we have all seen during this pandemic. I hope that this extended weekend gives you time to be with those you treasure and to reflect on the many individual acts of kindness, gratitude, and patience that I believe define your response to these challenging times. Your generosity gives me great hope.
All my best,