Updated May 20, 2020
Ringling College Students,
We have been busy making careful plans for welcoming you back to campus this fall and I write to share important updates on the planning that has been occurring.
First, we are considering a delay to the opening of the semester. As we enter our 89th year at Ringling College of Art and Design, we will be doing all we can to bring you back to campus for face-to-face instruction. That said, given the changing landscape of COVID-19 across the globe, we may be forced to change plans. We will stay in regular communication with you throughout the summer to keep you updated.
COVID-19 has created unimaginable challenges for the world, for all institutions of higher education, and for Ringling College. We are working across the College to ensure that we continue to deliver the caliber of instruction, services, and co-curricular activities that set Ringling College apart and make it the vibrant community we all cherish.
We will follow up soon with the date of opening and continue our communications with you throughout the summer with additional information about orientation and move-in day.
What Will Fall Be Like?
We have created a Recovery Coordination Team supported by six area-specific task groups to determine the steps necessary to bring students, faculty, and staff back to campus in as reasonably safe a manner as possible under our guiding principle of mitigating the risks to the Ringling College community. Those subgroups are: Academic Delivery, led by Peter McAllister, vice president for academic affairs; Student Experience, led by Tammy Walsh, vice president of student life and dean of students; Enrollment Management/Community Outreach, also led by Tammy Walsh; Risk Management/Safety, led by Don Strom, director of public safety; Finance/HR, led by Tracy Wagner, vice president for finance and administration; and Communications, led by Raelyn Lincoln, special assistant to the president. Issues like adapting spaces to ensure physical distancing, requiring that all faculty, staff, and students wear face masks and possibly other personal protective equipment, establishing protocols for use of multi-stalled restrooms, and closing of common areas are just a few of the areas being considered by the various task forces.
We strongly believe that a Ringling College of Art and Design education is best experienced through face-to-face interaction between students and faculty. Our goal is to restore Ringling's on-campus, in-person academic experience in a manner that is safe and responsible for our community. Realizing that we must remain ready to respond to new information as it becomes available and that any of these plans may necessarily vary, we want to share our current thinking.
Health and Wellness on Campus
Our plan is to begin the academic year understanding that there is no COVID-19 vaccine or effective treatment fully developed. Accordingly, we are working on several dual-mode learning environments. Ideally, we will all be learning on campus, in person, and in class together, but we are cognizant of the challenges some of our faculty and students in more vulnerable populations may face. Therefore, we are considering options for participating in class virtually and are making plans for a variety of scenarios to help you succeed academically.
We are also working with our medical partner, Sarasota Memorial Hospital, to establish protocols for health screenings and testing.
Additionally, we are making preparations to address any situation where a member of our campus community may become ill. To this end, we are identifying quarantine and isolation procedures for students who might become ill from the virus to minimize the spread of contagions. Furthermore, we are developing a comprehensive well-being campaign for our campus, detailing the College's approach to general health and safety, including guidance on personal protective equipment and wearing face masks.
Residence Halls and Dining
Our residence hall and dining teams are poised to respond to physical distancing and group size limitations. Staff is hard at work to assess our residential halls and to develop protocols to maintain health and reduce the potential risk of spread. In addition, the College is working with its dining partner, Chartwell's, to develop the most flexible plans for dining occupancy and carry-out options.
Each instructional space is being evaluated to determine the occupancy levels that allow for six-foot physical distancing. Should we need to limit group size and/or provide appropriate physical distancing, we will manage classroom space to optimize in-person classes.
Weather and Other Unforeseen Events
Currently, all students are required to submit a hurricane plan in the event campus needs to close for weather-related events. We are expanding this requirement from the hurricane scenario and asking each of you to complete a leave plan by the start of the academic year that outlines your plans should we need to close our campus for any reason.
Together we are working our way through an incredible time in human history that is redefining so much of our lives. We are eager to welcome you all back to campus. All of us at the College -faculty, staff, trustees, and donors - are working toward that goal.
Wishing you and your loved ones good health,