Message from President Downs: Fall 2020 Semester

President Downs Graphic

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

This spring has truly been a time of unprecedented challenges, with the need to continuously adapt to an evolving situation. As we near the end of this online semester, I am struck by how resilient you all are. Everyone students, faculty and staff worked hard to face these uncertainties and kept moving forward. For this, I want to offer my deepest thanks.

I also want to offer a move toward stability, and announce that, this fall, we intend to resume on-campus classes at Northern. Our leadership team has been consulting with state and area medical and emergency personnel in order to create the most accurate, up-to-date plan for moving forward. Though we know a lot can change between now and August with the COVID-19 virus, as of today, we plan to return to campus for the fall 2020 semester.

At the heart of this decision is community, because Northern is truly a great community. We pride ourselves on being a place that feels like home where students feel supported to pursue their passions; encouraged to unleash their potential as scholars and citizens; and prepared to develop the skills needed to succeed in their careers and in life. On-campus collaboration and commiseration are such an important part of the college experience, which has become even more evident due to our turbulent spring semester.

But despite that, please know that no experience is worth risking the health and well-being of our students, or any member of our campus community. We will continue to monitor this situation, consulting with medical experts and developing contingency plans as needed. If the COVID-19 situation changes so that returning to campus is no longer a safe option, we may need to shift our plans back to remote learning as needed. One such contingency calls for hybrid courses (simultaneous online and on-campus) if a local outbreak of COVID-19 occurs. In this particular contingency, we anticipate some students would elect to return home, while others remain on campus.

I also want to point out that a return to campus does not necessarily mean a return to normal. We will be forging a new normal, based on best practices, CDC guidelines and recommendations from medical personnel for shared living, learning and work spaces. We are still in the process of evaluating our policies when it comes to areas such as cleaning and food service, as well as when to resume large events and activities on campus. We’ll share more details on plans as we finalize them.

Faculty and staff, if you have any ideas, concerns or questions regarding workplace safety, please visit with your direct supervisor. We will need to work together on establishing a safe environment for all of campus.

For now let me say again how proud I am of how you all have adapted to this changing situation. It’s what makes me confident that, when we return to campus, we will have no problem adapting to a new normal. We will continue to adapt, grow and move our campus community forward together.

Stay well, and go Wolves!

-President Downs