Dear Members of the King’s College Community,
We have written, and continue to write, a historic chapter in the life of King’s College. Our generation has experienced nothing quite like these past nine months. We entered the Fall 2020 academic year not at all certain of a successful completion; yet we did so. Thanks to all the hard work, diligence, patience, courage, and more – we did far better than expectations. We held approximately 60 percent of our classes entirely in person, 30 percent in a hybrid modality and 10 percent fully on-line. While unable to engage in athletic competition, our coaches and student-athletes gathered and practiced their respective sports to the extent allowable by prudent health safety guidelines. Student Activities, Residence Life, the Shoval Center, and Campus Ministry offered numerous virtual co-curricular programming opportunities for our students. We also experienced so many examples of members of the King’s community support for one another with grace, patience, and empathy. I wish to both congratulate and thank each member of this college community – we played a part in this new history for which we can be proud.
The history writing continues. While we are comforted by the very exciting news that safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines are just around the corner, the next few months will be our most challenging yet. Our nation and region are reporting record numbers of COVID infections and the projections are anticipated to worsen. In response to these predictions, the college is formulating enhanced protocols for the 2021 Spring academic semester. We now know that many COVID transmissions occur by individuals who are not showing symptoms of the disease (asymptomatic) and unknowingly pass on the virus to others. For the 2021 Spring semester the college will have both a return to campus protocol and an ongoing surveillance testing program during our semester for the Covid-19 virus. While the exact details are being worked out, it will require periodic testing of the entire college community. This new program will be yet one more burden to bear, but it is an important step in keeping us all safe and doing our part to stop the spread.
We have learned through contact tracing that we become vulnerable when we let down our guard. When we are with people we know and there are no apparent signs of the infectious virus; we forget that COVID-19 spreads between people who are in close contact and engaged in animated conversation. Diligence and responsible behavior – for the safety and well-being of others – is our shared responsibility. We are reworking and tightening our college policies to address lessons learned, including the utilization of disciplinary actions for failure to comply with health safety policies.
In view of the increased challenges for planning the Spring semester and to extend our semester starting date closer to the anticipated arrival of COVID-19 vaccines, we are moving the semester starting date from January 25 to February 1, 2021. To implement this adjustment, a few other small changes to the calendar are also necessary:
- Day classes will now be held on Holy Thursday, April 1 (previously no classes were scheduled).
- Classes will be in session on Thursday, May 6 (previously no classes were scheduled) and Friday, May 7 (previously final exams were scheduled to begin).
- Final exams will be held from Monday, May 10 through Saturday, May 15.
The things we do as part of everyday life – taking a walk, grocery shopping, attending to personal needs, etc. – are becoming ever more challenging in this environment of escalating virus transmission. Even more challenging could be the extra-ordinary things we do, like how we choose to celebrate the upcoming holidays. The vaccines appear to be close, but they are not yet here. Let us double down on the things we can do: wear a mask, avoid gathering with others outside your immediate household, frequent hand washing, and social distancing.
I very much look forward to taking up our next chapter of history-making at King’s. Until then, please know of my sincere wishes that each of you has a very safe and blessed Christmas Season.
Peace and Blessings,
Fr. Jack Ryan