Residence halls will operate at close to normal capacity for fall term; Gordon has taken steps to de-densify campus residency by reducing over-capacity rooms to function only at rated capacity. It is our expectation that the majority of students will be on campus this fall. Accommodations will be made for students who cannot return to campus (for health, visa or other reasons); however, because financial aid packages are tied to on-campus room and board, they may be adjusted for students who do not plan to return to campus. Residents will receive instruction on health and safety protocols through the Health Center and Residence Life staff prior to move-in. Mask wearing and social distancing will be required in hall common areas, lobbies and lounges. Visitation hours will be modified/reduced to limit resident travel between halls. Floor and building events will be modified to promote healthy practices while maintaining a sense of floor and building community.
On a residential campus, many institutions are designating sections of residence halls as an individual student’s “household.” Students will be placed in these “households” and this will be a key component of our planning for living on campus. In apartment buildings on campus (Tavilla and Bromley), the individuals living together in a particular apartment will constitute that student’s “household.” In other residence halls, households will be defined by sections of the floors (for example, Chase 1 East or Chase 1 West). Among household members, while on their floor only, students will not need to wear a mask or practice as strict social distancing, though we ask students to remain vigilant and practice caution at all times. Students may also dine with members of their households in a non-socially distanced way, but only when seated in one of the Colleges dining halls. In all other settings, even when students are only with members of their household, they will need to remain socially distant. There will be more protocol training around this from Residence Life in the weeks ahead.
All students will be required to take a COVID-19 diagnostic test—and show a negative result—prior to their return to campus and participate in another round of on-campus testing after classes resume. See “COVID-19 Testing Protocols” for up-to-date information in light of Governor Baker’s new travel order issued on July 24. New students will have signed up in advance for a move-in block on a specific date, during which time they will move into their residence halls, spend time saying farewell to family and participate in a mini service of affirmation and assurance. Guests will then be asked to depart, and student Orientation activities will commence. Online programming may be available for guests, as will local area recommendations for activities and discounts.
All students will be required to take a COVID-19 diagnostic test—and show a negative result—prior to their return to campus and participate in another round of on-campus testing after classes resume. See “COVID-19 Testing Protocols” for up-to-date information in light of Governor Baker’s new travel order issued on July 24. Returning student move-in will happen August 17–19, with hardship early arrivals possible on August 16. Students will sign up for move-in timeslots with a limited number of students allowed to move onto each floor during a timeslot. Staggered arrivals will allow the College to control the process and the number of people in residence halls during move-in. While the goal is for all residential students to be on campus by Wednesday evening, August 19, we understand that there may be specific circumstances (such as health concerns) that may prevent some students from arriving on time. Students should communicate directly with their RD if they are unable to follow the move-in plan.
International students who are currently in the U.S. in F-1 visa status should plan to return to Gordon for an in-person (with digital live) fall semester. International students who are currently outside the U.S. and are unable to return to the U.S. at this time are able to complete their fall semester fully online. If at all possible, we are encouraging international students who plan to graduate in December 2020 to complete this fall semester on campus in order to apply for OPT off-campus work authorization after graduating, as you must be physically present in the U.S. to do so. All incoming international students (whether you plan to be on-campus or online) are invited to participate in online Orientation activities throughout the first few weeks in August. International Student Services Coordinator Ingrid Orellana will reach out with details before the end of July.
How we think about events at Gordon this fall.
As we work to keep students on campus as much as possible, the College will seek to create appropriate, socially distanced opportunities for students to interact with one another over the fall semester. As a rule, all events should be set up in such a way that attendees are not placed into close contact with one another. This means that attendees, whether inside or outside, masked or unmasked, should not be put into a position in which they would be within six feet of one another.
Per the Governor’s guidelines, most indoor events are capped at 25 persons and most outdoor events are capped at 50 persons. The Governor’s guidelines do give some discretion to institutions around occupancy of spaces for gatherings of worship or instruction. Provided social distancing guidelines are met, gatherings in enclosed spaces on our campus that fall within these purposes (classroom instruction, for example) can be larger than the general guideline of 25 persons in a single, enclosed, space. As much as possible, however, we will try to take advantage of outdoor venues and spaces of exceptional social distancing this fall. We will also encourage virtual meetings and gatherings whenever appropriate. Rest assured, Gordon is taking very seriously all the guidelines designed to stop the spread of the pandemic.
All students planning activities or events must confirm with their advisor how they are following these regulations. A faculty or staff advisor must be present at all events. If the advisor is unable to be present, the advisor may designate another faculty or staff person to be there and help monitor the event. All events must use some sort of RSVP system or a way to track numbers, whether that be through wristbands, tickets, etc. All events registered on 25 Live must include a description of the event, or it will automatically be denied by the Director of Student Activities.
The College encourages the campus community to host events, meetings and gatherings outdoors whenever possible. However, student organizations and campus departments may host events with 25 or fewer individuals indoors so long as appropriate social distancing is maintained. In addition, requests for larger indoor events, meetings and gatherings may be granted by the Senior Working Group if they qualify as worship or instruction. Requests should be emailed to William Hagen (William.Hagen@Gordon.edu) with an explanation for why the event qualifies as worship, instruction or performance.
The College has invested in tents to serve as outdoor flex spaces to benefit students. All these spaces will be available to reserve on 25Live. The Mini-Quad tent is available for reservation with a preference for Student Life use. Up until 7 p.m., the space will be available for students to use on a drop-in basis for dining, attending DigitalLive coursework and for socially distant gatherings. After 7 p.m., this tent is available for reservation for gatherings of up to 48 persons. A smaller Frost Hall Tent is designated for official College use until 5 p.m. on weekdays. After 5 p.m., this tent may be used for gatherings of up to 30 persons.
In addition, the College will have an outdoor stage and AV setup available on the quad throughout the semester. Subject to availability, and for worship only, this space can accommodate several hundred individuals with ample social distancing.
Food at events:
While sharing food at events is highly discouraged, exceptions include food catered by Bon-Appetit or already prepared, individually packaged items that have been purchased for individual consumption (e.g. individual bags of chips). If plates or utensils are needed, they must be disposable.
Chapel will be held on the quad every Monday and Wednesday at 10:25 a.m. (weather permitting), featuring live music and preaching within COVID-19 protocols. In inclement weather, Chapel will be livestreamed and students are encouraged to watch from their residence halls with their “households.” Other virtual and small gathering opportunities will be available as part of our plan to offer flexible ways to obtain and record Christian Life and Worship credit for the fall semester, and more details will be available soon. Information on service, outreach and mission opportunities will also be available early in the fall semester.
As of July 17, the Commonwealth Coast Conference (of which Gordon is a part) has suspended all official CCC sports competition for fall 2020, following two months of intensive deliberation and risk assessment by the CCC commissioner and in consultation with member school presidents and athletic directors. Fall sports will be moved to a spring 2021 conference schedule, with conference championship opportunities still available (awaiting NCAA approval). More details on how that will be structured will be determined after September 1. This follows a trend of postponements among several conferences in the region (including NESCAC, NECC, the Ivy League, MASCAC, Empire 8). However, the decision to suspend CCC play does not prevent individual CCC institutions from making institutional decisions to schedule some athletic competition; therefore, it is possible that Gordon athletes may compete with a handful of conference and non-conference opponents beginning sometime at the end of September. As individual institutions and conferences continue to make their decisions about fall competition availability, we will monitor the changing landscape and make the best decisions possible to move forward with safe and appropriate play. Fall student-athletes will still come to campus early for preseason practices as determined by their sport’s head coach. Spring student-athletes will still have non-traditional seasons as usual, but without the one date of outside competition. Winter student-athletes will begin practice on their normally scheduled start date; however, competitive contests would resume after January 1, 2021. Gordon Athletics is looking at additional ways to supplement their teams’ experience this fall, expanding in areas of leadership development, spiritual formation, and vocational discernment.
In late June, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) announced that due to the COVID-19 crisis it would suspend nearly all of its Best Semester study abroad/off-campus programs, which Gordon students have attended over the years. Likewise, Gordon has temporarily suspended its own signature program in Orvieto, Italy, for the 2020–21 academic year. During this time, Director Matt Doll will work to expand the role that the Orvieto program will serve in the years ahead. We remain dedicated to the relationships that have been established with our students, our many partner schools and the city of Orvieto—and will continue providing opportunities to study and serve with purpose and intention, in community, and above all, in Orvieto. Over the course of this academic year, Matt will also be teaching in the Department of Communication Arts, Art and Theatre Arts. Decisions about other study abroad programs for the spring semester (outside of Best Semester and Gordon in Orvieto) have not yet been made.
Students who wish to remain on campus after Thanksgiving break will need to complete the standard holiday housing application.