Dear Seminary Community,
At the end of this unusual academic year, the health of our community is a testament to the diligent care you have taken to maintain good health practices and protect one another. I continue to give thanks for the resilience of our community to meet the considerable challenges of this season with grace, adaptability, and love of neighbor.
As we look to the future, we are optimistic that we will be able to reopen our campus and return to in-person learning in the fall. While the numbers of COVID-19 cases remain elevated in our region, the quickening pace of the vaccine rollout gives us cause for hope that we will be able to safely return to some measure of in-person operations in the fall. As always, we hold our plans with humility and flexibility, ready to adapt to updated public health guidance to promote the safety of our community.
Fall 2021 Courses
It is our intention to return to our classrooms in the fall semester, and we are planning for every course to have at least some degree of regular in-person components, subject to appropriate health protocols and occupancy limits within classrooms, with smaller courses fully in-person if conditions permit. Accordingly, we expect that every student will be in residence on campus or in the Princeton area in the fall in order to complete their coursework. Students who anticipate challenges or have questions about fall plans should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
COVID-19 vaccination will be required for all students beginning in the fall semester, with exemptions permitted for documented medical or religious grounds. Students can submit their vaccination record to the health team through this secure form. Students who intend to apply for an exemption should email email@example.com. Anyone who has questions or concerns about receiving the vaccine can direct confidential communication to Jan Ammon and Anne Stewart on the health team through firstname.lastname@example.org for further conversation.
We strongly encourage all employees to be vaccinated as soon as they are able, both to protect themselves and as an act of care for the community. Vaccination is a safe, effective way to protect yourself from contracting the virus, and it is something that each of us can contribute towards ending this pandemic. All employees are eligible to use work time to receive their vaccinations without taking PTO.
As of this week, all people ages 16+ who live, work, or study in New Jersey are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. If you have not already done so, we encourage you to sign up for an appointment via the New Jersey state scheduling system. We also encourage you to educate yourself about the vaccine through many reputable sources available, including from the state of New Jersey and the CDC.
Thank you to those who have already submitted their vaccination records to the health team. Many students, faculty, and staff have already been vaccinated, which is an important step in protecting ourselves and one another. The degree to which we are able to reopen campus services in the fall will depend in large measure on the percentage of our community that has been vaccinated.
We are all eager to return to our beloved library and to gain access to the physical collections that support learning and research. The building will begin a phased reopening this summer. Beginning June 14, building access will be available first for PhD students and faculty members, in order to facilitate their summer research. The building will be open for all students in time for the start of the fall semester. Curbside pickup, digital access to the collections, and remote reference services will continue to be available to all patrons throughout the summer. In addition, the study spaces in the front of the library building, including the Theron Room and the Brick Café, will remain open to all students.
Planning is underway for expanded community life in the fall, including worship in Miller Chapel and limited lunch service in a new dining initiative in partnership with the Farminary. We expect that there will still be health measures in place across campus, and we will be sharing updated guidelines in advance of the fall semester. We anticipate that we will be able to offer more opportunities for the points of connection that are so vital to our community.
We will provide additional updates over the summer with further details about fall planning as they become available. The past year has taught us all to be prepared for unexpected twists and turns, and we will continue to adapt our plans as public health conditions dictate. I pray that this year has also taught us to rely on the God to whom we can confidently entrust our future.
M. Craig Barnes
President, Princeton Theological Seminary