President Susan Henking: I made the Spring 2021 decision with colleagues, but this is a presidential decision and more complicated than fall. Help us to remember that in our agreement and disagreement, we are still a community. I will talk to you briefly about the Academy and then the College. The Academy has very few students. Day students for the Academy will be about 30 people. 30 people is a very different sized group than several hundred College students. In the fall, the Academy successfully participated in a few on campus activities. This process taught us some things and there are circumstances associated with the Academy—its size and footprint—which make it okay for us to do what you read in the letter stating that Academy day students may come to campus this spring. We will not have residential students at the Academy. On the College side, there are a couple things that differentiate us. There are more of us (including students, faculty, and staff) and our footprint is bigger. Thus, there are more people at risk and more complications to everything we would need to do. The work of the team preparing us for spring made it hard to choose. Together with our Board, and with very spectacular agreement and disagreement among the Cabinet, some student leaders, and others, we made the decision that we should not come back as a residential college and therefore we will continue as a remote institution for spring. I would like to reiterate that we learned something from the Academy this fall, which is that in being careful we might be able to do some other things on campus this spring so we did not make decisions about Commencement, for example, or alumnae weekend.
So the decision for spring is to do the following: the Academy will open as a day school with very few people in Babcock Hall and with a very limited footprint on campus, and the College will continue to be remote because health comes first and we are strong. This is not the decision that places all over the United States are making. However, if you happen to be in Winston-Salem and read the Winston-Salem Journal, you know the headlines are not where we wanted them to be even two weeks ago. If you watch national news, we all thought in March it would be over by August. On campuses all over North America that are operating in-person, students are having to be tested for COVID-19 before they can go home for the holidays. We did not think this is where we would be in November, and we did not think this is where we would be a year from March—but it is based on a range of criteria, internal and external. We have a strong community. When we disagree with each other we say it, but we also know our responsibility is to each other. It is to each other and to the care and concern we have for the health and wellbeing of us all. We are in this together.