Hollins University has announced the initial measures the school plans to put into effect regarding campus life when classes resume this fall.
Students will be expected to be in residence for the 2021-22 academic year, courses will be taught in person, and vaccination for COVID-19 will be required for all campus community members.
“As we wind down the current academic year, we are already looking ahead with anticipation to next fall,” said Hollins President Mary Dana Hinton. “In many respects, we foresee the beginning of a return to normal while maintaining our focus on the health and well-being of our community.”
Hinton noted that Hollins is continuing to explore how it will adapt for the 2021-22 academic year its Culture of Care, which has guided the university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020. “We anticipate there will still be CDC and VDH requirements related to physical distancing, especially in our indoor spaces, and masks may continue to be required in certain situations or environments. Our overall goal, however, is to return as much as possible to the regular campus schedule and interactive community we knew at Hollins prior to the pandemic.”
Reinstating the residential requirement for undergraduate students, which was suspended during 2020-21, “will promote regular, in-person contact with others in the Hollins community and allow us to provide the best educational setting possible,” said Hinton. “Possible exceptions to this requirement will be considered based on complexities and barriers related to international travel and for certain specific medical conditions.”
At the same time, Hinton explained, “we know that in-person instruction and interaction between professors and classmates provides the richest educational benefits for our students. As such, and in keeping with pre-pandemic practice, courses will be taught in person, with many incorporating some of the technological enhancements learned over the current academic year.” She said that Hollins recognizes the benefits of online instruction “when it can be delivered with pedagogical excellence. As such, we are considering supporting a limited number of requests for courses that could be delivered virtually. These courses must meet stringent criteria that will ensure the academic excellence that is core to the Hollins educational experience.”
Hinton emphasized that the vaccination of students, faculty, and staff is critical to the university’s ability to continue meeting its highest priority since the pandemic began – maintaining the health and well-being of all members of the campus community. “With the increasing availability of safe and effective vaccines, many at Hollins are already or will soon be vaccinated. Within this context, and in support of being in residence with an active university community, all students and employees will be required to provide proof of full vaccination in order to return to campus in the fall.” She added that exemptions for medical/disability-related or religious reasons may be requested.
Hinton said that Hollins is looking ahead to resuming competition for its athletic teams this fall in accordance with NCAA, ODAC, and public health guidance. The university is also planning to move toward a more regular slate of activities, performances, and events that will meet public health guidance and be supportive of a healthy environment on campus.
“These hopeful steps forward would not be possible without the ongoing commitment and hard work of students, faculty, and staff since March of last year,” said Hinton. “This has been a difficult journey that has required numerous sacrifices. Time and again, our community has risen to the occasion and overcome the challenges we have faced with courage and with heart. That foundation helped sustain us through this unprecedented year.”