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Family Weekend to return with outdoor events

October 22, 2021

This weekend, the College will host the first in-person Family Weekend since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, albeit with modified policies to mitigate potential spread of the virus. Visiting family members must provide proof of vaccination upon their arrival to campus, and, where possible, events have been moved outside.

“What we’re really looking to do is see how we could take a lot of that programming and find alternate venues that could better match where we were [in terms of COVID-19] with looking at how to carry this forward and still be able to get a lot of the experience of Family Weekend,” Director of Events and Summer Programs Tony Sprague said.

Events moved outdoors include student music and dance performances, Career Exploration and Development (CXD) events and the President’s Summer Research Symposium.

“[The Summer Research Symposium] is going to be on the paths between the Art Museum and the VAC,” Senior Lecturer in Chemistry and organizer of the Summer Research Symposium Michael Danahy said. “They’re going to extend to these two other paths that make a small triangle.”

The College was concerned about the symposium happening indoors as this year there are more posters than ever, meaning that there could be more attendees than normal.

“There’s [usually] a lot of people there, and I was always wondering [if it was going to move outside], and I kept getting word from the administration that, ‘no, we’re going to have it [indoors],’ so I kept planning it that way,” Danahy said. “But about two weeks ago I think they made the right decision to get it out of Morrell because it’s usually people upon people.”

While being outdoors will decrease the chance of COVID-19 transmissions, it also raises new concerns about rain, wind and space—if it rains on Friday, the event will be canceled.

However, Danahy was confident that all students will be able to present their poster or other audiovisual presentation as originally planned.

“From a standpoint of stuff that people would have, it’s all the same easels to present the poster. There’s some students that have requested audiovisual needs like TV and power and tables, and those are all still going to be outside,” Danahy said.

In addition to traditional events moved outdoors, Family Weekend will also feature new programming designed specifically for this year’s circumstances. There will be food trucks and other outdoor activities on Saturday afternoon in an effort to provide alternatives for indoor areas of campus that remain off-limits.

“[The Saturday afternoon programming] is a time that folks can enjoy the outdoors on campus,” Sprague said. “And that’s something that’s not usually part of the Family Weekend program, but we added it this year to acknowledge the fact that dining halls and such are not open … to families for this particular year. So [we wanted] to have another way that there’s more of a social time for everybody to be able to still have some interactions and enjoy themselves but acknowledge that doing it outside is probably the best opportunity for that this year.”

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