Dear Knox Community:
I write to share with you information on our plans for the remainder of the academic year. As you know, we launched our fall term on September 14 and made the transition to in-person and hybrid instruction on September 21. This was made possible by enormous care and discipline by our entire Knox community—students, faculty and staff—to sustain our educational mission at Knox under highly unusual circumstances. We applaud these efforts to embrace the new ways of working and living together on campus while staying connected with the members of our community learning and working remotely.
Because of the community response, we remain optimistic that we can complete the current academic term in ways that safeguard health while supporting rich in-person and hybrid educational opportunities. At the same time, we have all been hearing strong words of caution from leading public health experts regarding the future course of the pandemic as we approach the colder months and the typical flu season that accompanies our move indoors. To help to safeguard our community, and especially our most vulnerable members, we believe it is essential that we adapt our academic schedule in response to this guidance. Below we describe the various measures we will take to navigate this complex health landscape with ensuring the delivery of the Knox educational program.
Winter and spring terms will unfold largely according to our traditional academic calendar. winter term courses will begin on January 4, 2021, and Commencement is still slated for June 6, 2021. However, within those bookends, we will make changes to the dates students arrive back on campus after the long winter break.
We will begin all winter term classes in a remote environment for the first half of the term, and students will not begin returning to campus until the week of February 8, 2021. We will pause instruction during a one-week midterm break (February 8-12) to allow students to transition back to campus and undergo initial COVID testing. This transition will unfold much like the fall term, with one week of remote instruction starting February 15 as students complete their testing and quarantine protocols. We will move fully back to in-person and hybrid instruction beginning February 22 and complete winter term as we are the fall term. Room and board charges will be adjusted accordingly.
Student-athletes will arrive according to their team schedules. Additional details will be forthcoming on those schedules. In addition, the Midwest Conference is scheduled to make a decision on winter sports competition no later than mid-November, so please stay tuned.
Students will still have the option of learning remotely for the entirety of winter and/or spring terms if they so choose. Please note that students must remain enrolled continuously in order to take advantage of the "Fifth Year for Free" Guarantee. Additionally, students will be able to petition to remain on campus for winter break and the beginning of winter term if returning home presents significant challenges. More information regarding this process will be forthcoming.
One of the most significant changes to our academic schedule is that spring break will be quite short and intentionally so. Having completed the work of transitioning students back to campus once, we wish to avoid typical spring break travel and instead move directly into a fully in-person spring term in order to safeguard our campus against any potential outbreaks. Spring term instruction will mostly follow our conventional schedule. We know that this modified schedule will ask more of every member of the community, so we will make some adjustments to the schedule to provide students, faculty, and staff breathing space during the term. We believe this approach offers the best prospects for students to pursue their educational goals, for seniors to complete their work and graduate on time, and for the academic program to be disrupted as little as possible.
Many of the changes and adaptations to our new teaching and learning environment will carry over from the fall. All winter term courses will begin in a remote delivery mode and then transition to a combination of in-person and hybrid components. Classroom, studio, lab, and other academic space use will follow the physical distancing and cleaning protocols currently in use on campus. Winter and spring courses, however, will benefit from the full range of technology improvements, classroom modifications, and experimentation, adaptation, and innovation at the core of faculty work since last spring. Faculty have begun the work of making minor modifications to winter and spring course schedules in response to these new guidelines and Winter term pre-enrollment will begin in late October.
In order to facilitate safe and efficient COVID testing, students returning to campus for the second part of winter term will be assigned an arrival date between February 8-11. Students may arrive between 9:00 a.m.–Noon or 2:00p.m.–7:00 p.m. on their assigned date. Campus Life will communicate students’ assigned arrival dates via email in early November.
As in fall term, all students will receive a COVID test immediately upon their arrival on campus, and then again approximately seven days later. Students will initially quarantine in their room until they have a negative test result. Once a student receives a negative test result, they will participate in modified quarantine until February 22, at which point in-person classes and activities will resume.
Given current public health guidance, we anticipate that current campus health and wellness policies regarding masks, physical distancing, and other public health measures will continue into the winter and spring terms. We will continue to monitor the Knox community’s wellness, watching state and local infection rates, and make adjustments to policies as appropriate. Our hope is that improvements in infection rates, therapies, and the possibility of a vaccine will allow us to relax these policies in the terms to come.
In closing, I would like to recognize the many achievements of faculty, staff, students, and their families in bringing us to this point in the academic year. Back in July, as I presented our plans for the fall, I knew we would succeed by rising together to face the challenge of this extraordinary moment. We still have much to accomplish this term, but surveying our return to campus and the start of fall classes, I see the results of these efforts, our collective sense of responsibility for the well-being of others, and our shared commitment to Knox’s educational mission. This experience fills me with confidence in our capacity to meet the challenges ahead.
TERESA L. AMOTT
Effective immediately, students living in on-campus housing are permitted to have overnight guests/visitors (one at a time), as long as those guests/visitors are students currently taking classes on campus. (This is a change to the policy that previously indicated that guests/visitors needed to leave by midnight.)
Overnight guests/visitors are limited to students taking on campus classes because those people are participating in our campus testing protocol and symptom monitoring program.
Non-Knox family members/significant others are permitted to visit with prior approval from Campus Life, but may not spend the night.
If you have any questions, please let me or Campus Life know.
Anne Ehrlich, Ed.D.
Vice President for Student Development
Monday, September 21 marks the end of our campus-wide initial and modified quarantine period. We know this was an extraordinarily challenging start to the school year, and deeply appreciate everyone’s cooperation in the interest of community health. Your commitment to the Knox Together Pledge has saved lives.
As we move into the next phase of our lives as a Knox community we have carefully considered how best to help safeguard everyone on campus. Here is what you need to know about living and learning on campus moving forward. (We realize this is long, so suggest you save it for future reference. It will also be posted on the Knox Together website.)
Masks are required everywhere except:
Classrooms (including classes held in tents/outdoors)
Masks and 6 feet of physical distancing are required during all classes, both indoors and outdoors. In other words, if you’re in class, even outside, you must wear a mask and you must keep 6 feet between yourself and others to help protect your classmates and your professor..
Tent use other than formal class time
Tents can be reserved for classes and co-curricular activities. If a tent is not in use, you can feel free to use it for group work or just to hang out. If you are outside, not in a class, and at least 6 feet away from others, you do not need to wear a mask.
Seymour Library Hours
Monday through Friday: Noon until 10 p.m.
Sunday: 1 - 7 p.m.
Amott Science Commons Hours
Monday through Thursday:10 a.m. until 10 p.m.
Friday: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Sunday: 1 - 7 p.m.
The indoor fitness center will open to students taking on-campus classes, faculty, and staff at limited capacity to comply with physical distancing requirements:
Monday through Friday
7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.; 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; 3:00 p.m. to 8 :00 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday
11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Entry to the Fitness Center will be through the main glass entrance on the Fitness Level. A check-in, screening, and temperature check will be required. Masking and physical distancing are required at all times. Additional protocols are posted throughout the facility.
Memorial Gym, Fieldhouse, and Pool
These spaces will remain closed until further notice.
Outdoor Athletic Facilities
The outdoor soccer, basketball, track, and tennis facilities are available for use by students taking on-campus classes, faculty, and staff.
Gizmo Full-Service Hours
Open Daily: 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Gizmo Grab n Go Hours
Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Hard Knox Cafe Hours
Monday through Saturday
Breakfast: 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.; Lunch: 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; Dinner: 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Brunch: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; Dinner: 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Monday – Friday 8:30a.m. to 11:00p.m.
Saturday – Sunday 12:00p.m. to 10:00p.m.
Please note the grab and go meals will not be available from the Outpost until further notice. Grocery items, ice cream, snacks, beverages, and personal care items are available.
The mailroom will begin the transition back to its usual location next week. Please continue to collect your mail and packages in Taylor Lounge until Thursday, September 24.
Monday - Friday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Access to on-campus housing is limited to residents of those buildings and one guest/visitor per resident at a time.
Questions regarding campus facilities can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anne Ehrlich, Ed.D.
Vice President for Student Development
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
Please find updated guidelines for planning meetings and events in our current environment.
Many thanks to the group of students, faculty and staff that spent a significant amount of time thoughtfully developing these guidelines.
A note to student organizations: Campus Life is currently updating the event registration form. They will let you know when it is ready early next week.
Also, please remember that, until September 21, students are in quarantine and cannot participate in in-person events unless an exception has been made by a senior staff member.
As always, stay well.
Anne, on behalf of the Health and Wellness Advisory Committee
Anne Ehrlich, Ed.D.
Vice President for Student Development
Dear Campus Community,
As you know, we are committed to a thorough COVID-19 testing protocol in order to ensure early identification, notification, and isolation of students who test positive. We have received initial test results for 330 students so far, with two students who were asymptomatic but who tested positive for COVID-19 immediately upon arrival to campus. Those students are being isolated and their close contacts quarantined per our protocols. This early identification is essential to limit the spread of illness as we return to campus.
Aggregate test results will continue to be updated on the Knox Together webpage.
We appreciate the many precautions that you are taking to keep yourselves and others healthy. Thanks for your commitment to good health practices.
Anne Ehrlich, Ed.D.
Vice President for Student Development
There will be a significant time change for our usual Opening Convocation on September 14. This event will be virtual, but it will occur at 7:00 PM, not the usual 11:00 AM.
Therefore, all class meetings on Monday, September 14 will follow the regular class meeting schedule. We will not use the shortened convocation class schedule this year.
Michael A. Schneider
Provost and Dean of the College
If you are a student or family member who missed our recent Q&A session, you can view an archived broadcast. As always, if you have questions that weren't covered in these sessions, please email email@example.com.
At the beginning of every academic year, I send a message with a link to the Knox College Student Handbook, which includes information about important campus resources and policies.
The policies within the Student Handbook are based on Knox’s values—integrity, respect, and a commitment to community. As we begin a year like no other, we look to these values to help guide us through uncertainty. They will serve as the foundation for our individual behavior and for our interactions with others.
This year’s Handbook includes a set of health and wellness policies outlined in the Knox Together Pledge. Taking these policies seriously is imperative to keeping ourselves and each other as safe as possible. The choices you make will impact not only your own health and safety, but also the health and safety of your friends, of your professors, of the custodians that clean your suites and classrooms. Please remember this.
Because it is so important that we take minimizing the spread of COVID-19 seriously, the consequences for violating our community’s health and wellness policies are serious. Students who willfully disregard community standards regarding masks, physical distancing, gatherings, and other critical public health efforts will lose the privilege of living on campus and taking on-campus classes. Student organizations will lose College recognition and funding opportunities. Details about potential sanctions can be found here. All members of the campus community are empowered to remind each other about and request adherence to our COVID-19 health and wellness policies, and may report alleged violations here.
As you have likely heard, several colleges and universities across the country were forced to cancel in-person classes and move to remote-only delivery within just days or weeks of starting their terms. This happened because of surges of COVID-19 cases that were traced back to crowded gatherings where attendees did not wear masks and did not physically distance. I am sure the decision to abandon a residential term and send students home was a heartbreaking decision for all involved, and truly one that we want to avoid at all costs here at Knox. But we must all do our part to ensure a successful year.
As we look forward to the start of the 2020-21 year, I encourage you to spend some time reviewing the Handbook’s contents. Information in the Handbook may be updated throughout the year. You are responsible for monitoring updates and familiarizing yourself with our resources and policies. Questions regarding the Student Handbook and its contents should be directed to the Dean of Students. I am happy to provide whatever information I can and to speak with you to learn your thoughts.
Dean of Students
Dear Knox parents and families,
Yesterday, I walked across the quiet campus and imagined your return, masked, physically distanced, but starting a school year together, at Knox. I can’t wait for that day to come. I am writing today to share with you additional important announcements for students enrolled at Knox this fall.
Due to a growing demand for testing across the country, the lab with which we have contracted recently informed us that the turnaround time for COVID-19 test results has extended from two days to, on average, four days. Testing delays are happening across the country, so we anticipate that time may continue to extend as demand increases over time.
You can transmit the disease to others even if you are exhibiting no symptoms, so for the health of our community it is important that you quarantine in your room until you have received a negative test result. While we hope it will take less time, you should anticipate that your initial quarantine could last for at least four days. Initial quarantine means that you are required to remain in your assigned room, except to use the restroom and pick up meals three times a day from a designated outdoor location. You must wear a mask and maintain at least six feet of physical distance whenever you are outside of your own room (both indoors and outdoors).
We will begin in-person classes and group activities once all students have received their first test results and we know that the risk of community transmission has been lowered. To ensure we have test results for all students, classes and activities will be held remotely through September 20. In-person classes and activities will begin on Monday, September 21. This does not change your scheduled arrival date, nor does it change the term’s academic calendar. You will participate remotely from your on- or off-campus residence until September 21.
If you receive a negative test result prior to September 21, you will participate in modified quarantine until September 21. Modified quarantine means that you can hang out in your own suite/house’s common area as long as you wear a mask and maintain at least six feet of physical distance. You can also get fresh air, walk around campus, engage in recreational activities, and visit with friends outdoors. Until September 21 we ask that you both wear a mask and maintain six feet of physical distance even when gathering outside.
Here are answers to some questions we expect you might have:
How does this impact the previously announced 14-day quarantine for those arriving from abroad?
Students arriving from abroad do not need to quarantine for 14 days, but instead will follow the same quarantine plan as those arriving from within the US. If a student shows any COVID-related symptoms, their quarantine period may be extended.
Does this quarantine plan apply to students who have lived on campus all summer?
Students who lived on campus this summer will have a COVID-19 test, but do not need to quarantine in their rooms while awaiting test results. However, they must participate in modified quarantine until September 21.
When can I access on-campus storage?
Campus Life is working on a plan for students to access storage shortly after their arrival to campus. They will share more details in the next few days.
What if my roommate and I have different arrival dates, so our initial quarantines end on different days?
If Roommate A’s initial quarantine ends before Roommate B’s, Roommate A may move into the modified quarantine phase, moving about campus while adhering to mask and physical distance policies. However, no in-person classes or student activities will be allowed until all students have received their first test results.
What kind of meals will be available during quarantine?
During both initial and modified quarantine, students will pick up their meals three times a day from a designated outdoor location. Vegan and meat-based options will be available.
How will I get my mail/packages/textbooks during quarantine?
We are working on the details of how this will happen, but will make sure you can access essential textbooks and mail during the quarantine period.
Can I work in my on-campus job during quarantine?
You can work in your on-campus job during initial quarantine if you can do so remotely. You can work during modified quarantine if you can do so remotely or outdoors while masked and maintaining physical distance. Exceptions may be made for students who lived on campus during the summer.
Can I go off campus during quarantine?
Not during initial quarantine. You can travel within Knox County during modified quarantine, as long as you wear a mask and practice appropriate physical distancing.
We know this is asking a lot of you, and encourage you and your family to regard this as a short-term sacrifice—a collective community effort that will give us the very best chance at continuing in-person instruction for the duration of the term. We will be hosting a virtual Q&A session about the quarantine process and any other questions you may have on Wednesday, August 26 at 7:00 p.m. (CDT). Please see email for login information.
Please remember that adherence to the quarantine protocol is a core expectation of the Knox Together Pledge. I hope you will take a moment to review and sign the Pledge if you have not already done so. You will need to be logged in to your Google account with your Knox email address and password to access the Pledge.
We recognize that some of you may decide not to return to campus in the fall and will be learning from an off-campus location. You recently had the opportunity to meet with your faculty advisor to finalize your plans for fall, choosing courses that will be provided on campus and/or remotely. Based on those decisions, we now need to know your plans so that we make appropriate preparations and any necessary adjustments to your charges and financial aid. We remain committed to making Knox as affordable as possible for every student and will review financial aid awards on an individual basis if family financial circumstances have changed significantly due to COVID-19. Please confirm your plans for fall term by Monday, August 24. (Even if you’ve talked with someone at Knox about your plans already, we ask that you complete this form).
As students prepare to resume classes in person as well as online, our goal is to preserve what is special about living and learning together and to find new ways to continue the close collaboration between faculty and students that is a hallmark of a Knox education even in this unprecedented time. We want to make sure that all students have the chance to fully experience a human-powered Knox education.
We understand there are aspects of your Knox experience right now—athletics, student leadership opportunities, and theatre, dance, and musical performances, among others—that may be affected by the current pandemic. So, as you consider your plans for the fall, we want to let you know about our new “Fifth Year for Free Guarantee.” If you are enrolled at Knox full-time for the entire 2020-21 academic year, you can return to campus for up to one additional year of study, tuition-free—and take part in more of the opportunities you’ve been looking forward to. If you’re interested in pursuing this option, you’ll need to work with your academic advisor to determine appropriate course selections. Student-athletes should also consult with the athletics department about eligibility requirements.
The health and wellness of our campus community continues to be our top priority. Faculty and staff are working hard to prepare to deliver the quality education you both want and deserve. They do so while acknowledging that there are many aspects of our environment that we cannot control, so we need to be flexible, nimble, and resourceful while reacting to changes in the behavior of the virus. Our goal is what it has always been: to provide a transformative educational experience that is truly and uniquely Knox. I so look forward to your return!
Teresa L. Amott
The Student and Employee Wellness Advisory Group has updated its policies concerning campus visitors during the fall 2020 term. Only essential visitors—including vendors, contractors, and essential partners; Admission visitors (including Athletics); and family members and/or significant others of students living on campus—will be allowed on campus at this time. All essential visitors must check in upon arrival and follow Knox's health and wellness protocols, including wearing a mask, maintain physical distance from others, and washing their hands frequently. Read the full policy on campus visitors.
Today, Knox introduced the Knox Together Pledge, outlining our individual responsibilities to each other as we prepare to come together on campus this fall. All students, faculty, and staff should review the Pledge and acknowledge they have read its contents by August 24.
If you are a student or family member who missed our recent Q&A sessions with Knox administrators, you can view an archived broadcast. As always, if you have questions that weren't covered in these sessions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Knox Community,
By now we are all keenly aware that this fall term will look very different from any other time in our history. Still, we are grateful that we will be able to come together in a way that preserves educational opportunities while maintaining the health of the Knox community to the greatest extent possible.
The most significant adjustment for all of us will be in the daily public health regimens that we must commit to following. It will be the biggest change, and yet it will also be our biggest opportunity to care for ourselves and one another. We write today to share more details about the policies and protocols we have put in place in support of the health of our community. We have developed these in the context of federal, state, and local guidance, and following extensive consultation with medical experts, county health officials, and peer institutions. We ask you to remember that as guidelines and conditions change, so must our own internal plans, and we appreciate your adaptability and understanding as we continue to respond to this global pandemic.
Masks and other personal protective equipment
We know that wearing face coverings, in combination with physical distancing and frequent handwashing, is an effective way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. All members of our campus community, including visitors, must wear masks at all times except: (1) in their individual residence hall rooms, (2) in their private offices, or (3) when out of doors and able to maintain at least six feet of physical distance. Students who are unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a documented health issue should contact Disability Support Services for guidance. Employees who are unable to wear a mask due to a documented health issue should complete a Face Covering Accommodation Form (PDF).
We will provide each student and employee two reusable Knox masks, one plastic face shield, and one small reusable bottle of hand sanitizer.
All students will undergo a series of two tests for COVID-19—the first upon their initial arrival to campus, and the second approximately eight days later. This includes students living off campus who will be taking courses on campus. Faculty and staff will also be tested prior to the beginning of the term. These are nasal swab PCR molecular tests that will be conducted by trained clinical personnel and processed at specialized laboratories at no cost to the student or employee.
Additionally, any student who is experiencing one or more of the symptoms of COVID-19 or has been determined to have had close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual will be tested again in our health services clinic. Employees who are experiencing symptoms are asked to contact their health care provider or reach out to Human Resources for assistance.
Quarantine upon arrival
All students will quarantine in their rooms upon arrival to campus. During this time, students must stay in their own rooms except to use the restroom and to pick up meals from a designated outdoor location.
Per current CDC guidance, students arriving in the U.S. from abroad will quarantine for 14 days. Students arriving from within the U.S. will quarantine for approximately 48 hours (until their COVID test results come back negative). After that, students will be permitted to move about campus, following all physical distancing and safety protocols in place at the time.
We are closely monitoring federal, state and local guidance, and will put in place extended quarantine for students arriving from certain locations within the U.S. if necessary. This will not change students’ assigned arrival date.
Isolation, contact tracing, and quarantine throughout the term
Students who test positive for COVID-19 will be temporarily relocated to isolation housing that has been set aside for this purpose. Health Services staff are undergoing contact tracing certification, and will be prepared to evaluate anyone who has had close contact with a member of our community who tests positive. Individuals who have had close contact with someone who has tested positive will need to quarantine for a period of time. Students needing to quarantine will be temporarily relocated to separate quarantine housing.
Students in isolation or quarantine will have a designated staff member to support them, will receive meals in their residence, take their classes online, and have their health and well-being actively monitored by a member of our professional Health Services staff. Employees will be asked to isolate or quarantine at home.
Being aware of how we are feeling each day is an important part of caring for ourselves and others. We have partnered with HealthCheck360 to implement an online symptom monitoring program. Prior to leaving their residence hall rooms or homes each day, all students, faculty, and staff will be asked to self-report their temperature and any potential COVID-19 symptoms. If anything you report is concerning, you will automatically be prompted to remain at home and wait for Health Services (for students) or Human Resources (for employees) to reach out to you.
We will be hosting online demonstrations and opportunities to ask questions about our symptom monitoring program on the following days/times:
Login info will be sent closer to the event dates. These demos will be recorded for those who can’t attend.
In the meantime, faculty and staff concerned about potential COVID-19 symptoms or potential exposure to a COVID-positive individual should contact their healthcare provider and notify Human Resources. Students currently on campus should contact Health Services.
Life in and out of the classroom will look different in the fall, but we are committed to finding ways to come together. Many classes will be hybrid, with elements of both in-person and remote learning. Classroom spaces will be configured so that students are spaced apart by at least six feet. Similarly, we look forward to working with Union Board, Student Senate, and many other important student organizations to develop small group, outdoor, and virtual programs. A group of students, faculty, and staff will be working to update event and meeting guidelines for current times. You can expect to hear more about that in a few weeks.
All students, faculty, and staff are highly encouraged to get the flu vaccine for the 2020-21 flu season. This should be done prior to arriving on campus if possible. Health Services will also be offering free flu vaccines to all members of the campus community during the fall term.
Travel and visitors
We are fortunate to have a low presence of COVID-19 in the local area at this time. For this reason, students taking on-campus classes are asked to limit their travel to within Knox County. Essential travel outside of the area should be planned in advance in consultation with Health Services staff. Similarly, visitors to campus are being significantly limited for the time being. For students living on campus, only family members/significant others are permitted in the residence halls, and we ask that those visits be pre-approved by Campus Life. Visitors will be asked to check in upon arrival to campus, at which time they will complete a brief symptom and temperature check.
The Knox Together Pledge
A successful fall opening and a healthy campus will depend on the shared commitment of our entire community. As a sign of that commitment, all community members will be asked to sign the Knox Together Pledge—a document developed by a group of students, faculty, and staff that outlines how we will each say yes to this new way of living and learning together. You will receive more information about the Knox Together Pledge next week.
Thank you for taking on this shared responsibility, and for taking seriously the policies and protocols outlined here. Please continue to refer to the Knox Together website for updated information and direct questions to email@example.com.
Anne Ehrlich, Vice President for Student Development
Abby Putnam, Director of Health Services
Co-chairs, Student and Employee Wellness Advisory Group
The Department of Athletics has announced revised move-in dates for fall student-athletes following the suspension of Midwest Conference competition earlier this week. Members of the mens' soccer and cross-country teams are asked to arrive on August 25. Women's soccer and volleyball players should arrive on September 1. Members of the football team should arrive on September 3.
Knox will host a virtual Q&A for returning students and their families on Thursday, July 30, at 7 p.m. Central Daylight Time. Check your inbox for information about how to participate, and submit any questions you have to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are unable to attend, an archive of the webcast will be posted online after the event.
Dear Knox Community:
With the first students arriving back on campus in just a few weeks, I know that you have a lot of questions about our plans to protect the Knox community against COVID-19.
Today, Knox has launched a new website, Knox Together, to provide a single location for detailed and updated information on our public health and wellness practices; changes to residence halls and dining facilities; our approach to delivering the educational program this fall; and what we are asking students, faculty, and staff to do to protect themselves and the people around them.
As we have all learned in the last five months, it is almost impossible to predict the course of the pandemic. We are focusing our efforts on resuming in-person instruction in September. However, our fall term advisory groups, made up of faculty, staff, and students, have developed a range of alternate plans that are ready to implement should more aggressive safeguards be needed. Please continue to monitor Knox Together and check your inbox daily for the latest updates.
In the meantime, I want to express my appreciation again for the tireless efforts of our faculty and staff, the generosity of our alumni and friends, and especially for the patience of our students and their families as we have worked to create a responsible and effective environment for teaching and learning.
While this will be a fall term unlike any other at Knox, I am confident it will be just as transformative a learning experience as you’ve come to expect—for our students and for the College.
Thank you and take care,
Teresa L. Amott
President, Knox College
P.S. If you have additional questions that aren't addressed on the website, email email@example.com and we'll do our best to provide the answers.
Dear Knox Community,
We write to share with you additional information on our plans to bring students back to Knox in the fall. While the news accounts show rising COVID-19 infections in many states, our local situation here in Knox County and throughout Illinois does meet the conditions set forth by public health agencies for starting the school year together on campus in a responsible manner. Those conditions require that we learn some very new ways of being Knox: new ways of teaching and learning, new schedules for arrival on campus, new protocols to help address health risks, and new rules for how we live together, participate in intercollegiate athletics and student activities, and take on the shared responsibility of protecting every member of our community. We especially recognize that some of us are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and embrace the opportunity to help safeguard them.
Teaching & Learning
Preparations for the return to in-person instruction in the fall are well underway. All students who wish to return to campus for in-person learning may do so, though students may also continue their Knox education remotely. Our fall academic calendar will remain the same, but we will see changes and adaptation to the challenges of our new environment. In pursuit of our health priorities, classroom use will be constrained. Courses that rely heavily on classroom, lab, and studio spaces will need to be reinvisioned so that physical distancing and cleaning protocols can be observed. These and other courses will likely operate in hybrid modes, with a combination of in-person and remote components to serve students both on campus and those working from home. Physical distancing will require that classes meet in smaller subgroups, interactions with faculty and peers occur both in virtual and in-person settings, and daily and weekly schedules be flexible to support engagement of all students. Our updated fall course schedule will be shared by the end of July. New students will meet with their academic advisors and we will reopen the course registration process for continuing students in early August.
To assist us with our course planning, and recognizing that some of you may choose to remain at home and learn remotely, we need to hear from all students, both new and returning, about your current thoughts about your plans for fall no later than Wednesday July 22. Please communicate with us via the form that was sent to your email on July 15. What you share on this form is not a commitment in any way, as we realize your plans may change.
Shared Responsibility for Public Health
Knox’s culture of shared responsibility and care for our community will be more important than ever this fall. We have an obligation to protect one another to the very best of our ability, and we must take that responsibility seriously. For that reason, the Student and Employee Wellness Advisory Group is working with constituents to translate public health guidance into a “social contract” that we will all sign to affirm our commitment to keeping our community safe. Adhering to public health guidance and the college’s heightened safety standards is the most important individual action we can take to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Policies expected to be outlined in the contract include, but are not limited to, the following:
Additional measures to mitigate health risks will include:
Testing: Our current plans call for all students to undergo a series of two tests for COVID-19 upon their initial return to campus, which together will minimize false negative results. Testing will continue throughout the term as symptoms and contact tracing require. Employees will be provided with information regarding how to obtain a test locally and will also have the option of being tested on campus. We have contracted with both Tempus Laboratories and OSF St. Mary Medical Center to facilitate testing, which will be conducted at no cost to the student or employee. These are PCR molecular tests that will be conducted by trained clinical personnel and processed at specialized laboratories.
Quarantine, isolation, and contact tracing: Even with the best public health practices, we know we cannot completely stop the spread of COVID-19, so we must plan for the eventuality that the virus will appear on campus. We are prepared for this to happen. In the event that a member of our campus community tests positive for COVID-19, we have arranged for Knox Health Services staff to be certified to carry out tracing for close contacts both on and off campus. Affected students will follow quarantine and isolation protocols within campus residences that have been reserved for this purpose. Students in quarantine or isolation will have a designated staff member to support them, will receive meals in their residence, take their classes online, and have their health and wellbeing actively monitored by a member of our professional Health Services staff. Affected faculty and staff will follow quarantine and isolation protocols at home.
Cleaning and Sanitation Protocols: Enhanced cleaning and sanitizing practices are already in place at Knox and will be expanded as students, faculty, and staff return to campus. Common spaces in academic, administrative and residential buildings will continue to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected at least once per day. Additionally, classroom use will be scheduled in such a way that will avoid student overlaps in hallways and entryways, and outdoor or other alternative learning spaces will be used where possible. Campus offices will be supplied with proper supplies and instruction on how to keep shared office spaces clean and disinfected. Additional attention has been focused on dining services and enhanced measures have been developed by the Bon Appetit Coronavirus Response Team.
Returning to Campus
To provide the safest process possible, move-in dates have been adjusted for some student populations. These dates will allow physically distanced move-ins, testing upon arrival, and quarantine if necessary.
Fall athletes will be assigned an arrival date of Tuesday, August 11, Wednesday, August 12, Tuesday, August 18 or Monday, August 24, based on your sport. Fall athletes should expect communication from the athletic department by the end of this week.
International students and other students coming from abroad
New international students and other new students coming from abroad should plan to arrive on campus on Tuesday, August 25. This date allows for a 14-day on-campus quarantine prior to international student orientation should public health guidance require it. Returning international students and other returning students coming from abroad should plan to arrive on campus on Saturday, August 29.
Students participating in SPARK or TRIO Bridge
Students participating in the SPARK program should plan on arriving on Tuesday, September 1. Students participating in the TRIO Bridge program should arrive on Saturday, September 5.
Remaining first-year students
All remaining first-year and transfer students will be assigned an arrival date of either Wednesday, September 9 or Thursday, September 10. Your date will be communicated to you, along with your housing assignment, by the end of July.
Student leaders such as resident assistants, orientation leaders, peer mentors and others will arrive on campus in time to begin their work that is critical to a successful start to the fall term. Student leaders should expect to hear directly from their supervisors by the end of this week.
Remaining returning students
Returning students will be assigned an arrival date of Friday, September 11, Saturday, September 12, or Sunday, September 13. Your date will be communicated to you via your Knox email by the end of July.
More details regarding move-in protocols will also be shared at the end of July.
Living on Campus
As a residential college, we want all students who wish to live on campus to be able to do so. Current public health guidance for higher education does not require students to be assigned to single rooms. Nonetheless, we recognize that some students may prefer single accommodations. We will accommodate as many students in single rooms as possible. This means that housing assignments may need to be adjusted slightly. Campus Life is working diligently to manage this important process, and will be communicating new student room assignments and any necessary changes to returning student assignments by the end of July.
The Midwest Conference and the NCAA have developed strict protocols for fall sports, including frequent testing and mask wearing for all participants who are not actively on the field of play, and will update those protocols as new information becomes available. The schools in the Conference have committed to observing these protocols. In addition, the Conference will play divisionally, minimizing the number of overnight trips except in championships. We are fully prepared to cancel competitions if circumstances warrant but are hoping to have robust opportunities for student athletes to train for their personal bests, compete for and win conference championships, and enjoy the student athlete team experience. Fall student athletes will be hearing more about their season in the coming days and weeks.
None of us can predict the future, but over the past few months, a number of standardized public health metrics have been developed that we will utilize to determine when a change in course is necessary. We will be monitoring the Knox community’s wellness day by day, watching state and local infection rates, symptoms, signs of mental health distress and other metrics. Each of the four Reopening Advisory Groups is working on backup plans that can be activated to help support the wellness of our community. Fortunately, we do have greater insights now than we did last March, and we believe that any needed adjustments will be smoother and less disruptive.
A website with current information on Knox’s plans is under development and will be published later this week. At that time I will send a message with the web address. In addition, if you have questions, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond to you as soon as possible.
Closing / Final Thoughts
In my welcoming remarks at admission events, I tell prospective students and their families that a Knox education is designed to prepare our graduates for a life of leadership and purpose in a time of enormous changes produced by technology, climate change, globalization, demographic shifts, and cultural conflict. Up until now, I never mentioned a pandemic, but I truly believe that our mission is even more important today. We are committed to giving our students powerful experiences, hands-on opportunities to practice what they learn, and we provide mentors, guides and companions along the way. That’s why we call it a human powered education. And together, we will rise to the challenge posed by this pandemic and graduate generations of students even better prepared to make a better world.
TERESA L. AMOTT