July 1, 2020
Dear returning students,
Now that President Salovey and Provost Strobel have announced the university's plans for returning to campus, you have a good overview of what to expect as you start thinking about the fall. If you haven't already, I urge you to read their message carefully, along with the resources they include, and discuss it with your parents and guardians. As you can see, great care has gone into promoting your and the community's health and safety, enabling you to pursue your education, and providing you with options as you start thinking about whether or how to enroll in the fall. Next week you will receive instructions for communicating your plans, which I ask that you submit by July 20.
So many of you, I know, have been looking forward to being on campus, and I am so pleased to tell you that this is possible. Although some of you are managing personal, travel, or health constraints, you all are invited, but not required, to be on campus for at least part of the coming year. As you consider which option is right for you, keep in mind that some of what you have anticipated will be waiting for you on campus, and some will be modified in order to protect everyone's health and maintain equity. Much more information is available in the FAQs, so please study them before you communicate your fall-term plans by July 20. They provide more detail about what follows below, and more, but start by keeping these ideas in mind as you think about next semester.
You will be required to protect your and others’ health
If you decide to return to Yale, whether you will be living on campus or off, you will need to complete a training program and agree to abide by the commitment set out in a community compact, which will be enforced because of its importance for public health. You will also be required to have a viral test when you arrive, then regularly throughout the term, and to follow any quarantine or self-isolation protocols that apply to you. You will be expected to limit your travel outside Connecticut, and to follow sensible rules around social distancing, wearing face coverings, and hand washing.
Most classes will be conducted online, and all of them evaluated with the usual grading policy
For all students, on or off campus, seminars and sections will be held online but live, while lectures, which will also be held online, may be live or recorded. Some courses that depend on labs, studios, or collections may be offered in person but with enrollments small enough to allow for social distancing. Students enrolled in Yale College courses will be evaluated according to the college’s usual grading policies, not a universal pass/fail system. The faculty and staff are devoting themselves to providing the best possible courses online and are incorporating feedback from last semester's and this summer's online courses.
Three classes will be on campus at the same time
Seniors and juniors will be able to study on campus in both the fall and the spring if they choose. First-year students will be able to study on campus in the fall and sophomores in the spring, with the option and encouragement to be enrolled and studying remotely during their respective semesters away from campus. Students whose home environments do not support remote learning may request permission to be on campus both semesters. Sharing access to campus between the first-year and sophomore classes makes it possible for all four classes to be on campus for at least part of the year and makes social distancing possible in campus housing. First-year students and sophomores who enroll for both the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters, with at least one term taken remotely, will be eligible to take two courses in Yale Summer Session in the summer of 2021 under a special arrangement that covers tuition; additional financial support for on-campus room and board will be available that summer to eligible first-year students and sophomores who also receive financial aid.
All on-campus housing will use single bedrooms
If you will be living on campus, you will have a single bedroom to yourself. With three classes on campus at one time instead of four, the density in all campus housing will be reduced in order to make social distancing possible and give you privacy to participate in classes online. If you are a returning student and made on-campus housing arrangements last spring, they will be reconfigured to make single-bedroom housing available for everyone, with every effort made to preserve rooming groups. The usual fee to relinquish housing will be waived for all students, and if you wish to live in campus housing, you must request it by July 20 when you communicate your fall-term plans.
Residential life and dining will be adapted for social distancing
In the colleges, you can expect all your interactions to follow social distancing guidelines; large group events to be conducted remotely or postponed; and indoor gatherings to be capped in order to comply with public health guidelines. Group size limits will likely increase or decrease depending on the prevailing health situation and guidance from the state. Service hours in the dining halls will be expanded in order to ease congestion during peak demand, and you will also have options for pre-ordered and grab-and-go meals. Common spaces will accommodate fewer people.
Co-curricular and in-person activities will also be adapted for social distancing
Being on campus of course makes it possible to see or make friends in person, even with social distancing guidelines in place. And whether you will be on campus or off, many activities will be able to continue online. Keep in mind, though, that all spaces on campus will have reduced capacity, so in-person group activities will be curtailed, and activities that cannot be conducted with appropriate social distancing, such as dramatic performances, undergraduate productions, singing groups, and some other musical groups will have to be reimagined to take place online. A decision about varsity athletics has not been determined yet, but many intramural sports are expected to be canceled. And although college gyms and dance studios will be closed until public health guidelines allow them to reopen, Payne Whitney Gymnasium and other athletic facilities will be open with limits on capacity in order to preserve social distancing.
You have options
Thanks to the efforts of the faculty, the residential college heads and deans, Yale's public health advisers, the staff, and the Yale College Council, you will be able to be on campus with your classmates, but you have the flexibility to remain enrolled and learn remotely, without returning to campus. You may also request a leave of absence, for one or two terms; leaves in 2020-2021 will not count toward the usual two-term limit on leaves. And of course you can choose to come to campus, a place that holds deep meaning for so many of you and where you are all supported and welcome.
I thank you all for your patience and understanding as you have waited to learn about the university's plans. We here on campus are thinking of you and doing everything we can, despite the pandemic's disruptions, to ensure that you can get the best of Yale.
With best wishes from New Haven,
Marvin M. Chun
Dean of Yale College
Richard M. Colgate Professor of Psychology; Neuroscience; Cognitive Science