Dear Seminary Community,
It has been nearly a year since our curriculum shifted online and our way of life as a Seminary community changed so radically in response to the global public health crisis. This has been a season of struggle and heartbreak, yet also a time of resilience and faithfulness. I remain grateful for the ways that our community has responded with diligence, creativity, and grace to persevere in the midst of incredibly challenging circumstances and to take the measures necessary to keep one another safe.
We see much cause for hope on the horizon that we will gradually be able to return to the residential learning experience that we cherish. Yet we are also mindful that the pandemic is by no means nearing its conclusion. The more virulent strains of the virus are present in our region, and the vaccine rollout has been slower than anticipated. The impact of COVID-19 will be with us in some degree for some time to come. With this in mind, we continue to plan for the future with humility and flexibility.
Summer language courses this year will be fully online, as they were last summer. In the coming weeks the Office of Digital Learning will offer an open-house forum for those who are interested to learn more about the format. Limited housing will be available for those students who are not already living on campus. All campus events and conferences for the summer will also be virtual.
Fall 2021 Planning
It is our hope to return to our classrooms in the fall semester, or at least have in-person components for most classes. The renovations to Stuart Hall should be completed by September, and it would wonderful to be back in its historic rooms of learning, if we can do so safely and with appropriate health protocols in place.
Planning is currently underway for a variety of scenarios for in-person learning in the fall about which we are now in conversation with our Faculty. Our plans will depend on public health conditions and the availability of the vaccine. Our goal is that every member of the Seminary community will be vaccinated, except for those who are unable to receive the vaccine for medical reasons, though we know this may not be feasible by August if there are vaccine shortages. The degree and scale of in-person learning in the fall will depend, among other factors, on the percentage of the community that has been vaccinated. The health and wellness team remains in close contact with our local public health officials about vaccine availability, which is currently very limited, and will continue to monitor opportunities for distribution as more supply becomes available.
Fall 2021 Housing
We anticipate welcoming all students back to campus housing in Witherspoon, CRW, and Tennent-Roberts apartments, as well as the newly renovated Brown Hall, which now has private bathrooms in all suites. We expect that Alexander Hall and Hodge Hall will remain closed next fall to minimize shared living facilities. The housing application will be available for current students later this week.
We will continue to keep you informed as these plans unfold and will send another update in early April with more information. We know that everyone desires firm plans, yet this season reminds us to hold our plans with an open hand, as they are subject to many factors that are not within our control. I’m grateful to the dedicated people across campus who are working diligently to plan and prepare for a variety of scenarios, with the health and safety of our campus community foremost in mind.
Thank you for your patience and perseverance in these challenging days, which require us to keep faith with one another and with the God who promises to sustain us in every season.
M. Craig Barnes
President, Princeton Theological Seminary