President Clayton Rose informed students that the College may not be able to reopen the campus to “everyone” for the fall semester in an email sent on Thursday.
“We do not know if it will be possible to bring everyone back to campus for the fall semester, but I want us to carefully examine if it can be done (and if so, how) in a manner that accounts for the presence of the virus and would be safe for our community,” Rose wrote.
“That said, we should be mindful that we may conclude that it is not possible, and it may also be that events take the decision out of our hands,” he added.
Rose also announced the formation of a group of faculty, staff and students to assess “the issues that need to be addressed in order to have all our students back on campus for the fall and still be able to safely carry out the semester.”
The working group, called the “Return to Campus Group,” will be composed of 18 students, faculty and staff and will be chaired by Jennifer Scanlon, the William R. Kenan professor of the humanities in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies.
Rose said that he expects the group to formulate a report that will be submitted to him by June 15. The Board of Trustees and the Committee on Governance and Faculty Affairs will review the findings, and the report will also be made “available to the community,” Rose wrote.
In a phone interview with the Orient, Scanlon said the group’s meetings, which will be held on Zoom, will begin next week.
According to Rose, the group’s work will focus on how student life on campus could look in the fall.
“It will include an examination of how and where students are housed, protocols for dining, social distancing rules in the classroom and in laboratories, and implications for music, theater, and dance, for athletics, for the many student activities and campus events and for how we engage socially,” Rose wrote.
Rose said he does not know whether students could live socially distanced lives on campus.
“We’re going to give it our very best shot to see and be as creative as we can. And I don’t know whether we’re going to be able to or not,” he said in a phone interview with the Orient. “We may conclude that it can’t be done. I don’t know. Maybe we may conclude that it can only be done at a cost that is ridiculous. But we may conclude that there is a way, and if so then we’ll pursue it.”
Rose also added that he thinks Bowdoin and its peer institutions will likely come to similar decisions.
“It would be unlikely, in my view, that we’ll have, you know, half the schools moving in one direction and the other half moving into another,” Rose said. “My guess is that everybody will come to a similar conclusion on their own or perhaps in some consultation with conference members and so forth.”