Herkimer College Responds to COVID-19, May 2020
Dear Friends, Families and Community Members,
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges throughout the world have experienced unexpected and unprecedented challenges. From the start, difficult decisions had to be made quickly, based on the fluidity of information and guidance. Herkimer College’s response to the pandemic was certainly not unique, as many institutions had to take similar actions, such as:
- converting courses to alternate modes of delivery;
- making academic support, advisement, counseling, library and other student services available remotely;
- issuing refunds and credits for on-campus housing and meal plans;
- shipping of belongings, like medications and textbooks, left behind in campus housing to students at their home addresses;
- acquiring and providing equipment such as laptops and Wi-Fi access to students and employees with technological challenges;
- shipping caps and gowns to graduating students, and holding a virtual commencement ceremony;
assisting students who did not have a safe home to return to, as well as international students who could not get home; and
- implementing an emergency grant program to provide financial assistance to students in need.
Though colleges have faced many challenges, those most affected are the students. Completing courses remotely has been difficult for many, especially those with minimal distance learning experience. Many students have also faced significant personal hardships.
Despite the challenges, the vast majority of students have been resilient, resourceful, adaptable and committed. The Class of 2020 has so much to be proud of! The challenges they have overcome to complete their academic goals will have an everlasting positive impact on how they deal with adversity in their future careers and personal lives.
Several institutions around the nation have announced they will remain online for the fall or delay the start of their fall semesters. For several thousand other colleges and universities, there are still too many unknowns. The reopening of Herkimer’s campus will be determined largely by guidance from the Governor, SUNY and our local health department. We have developed a response to four scenarios, the most likely being a hybrid model, meaning employees and students would be on campus following a variety of social distancing guidelines to ensure the health and safety of our entire campus community.
With more than 20 years of experience offering full degrees and support services online, Herkimer is well-positioned to provide an exceptional student experience this fall, regardless of how classes are delivered. The delivery of courses is not the only thing on students’ and families’ minds as they consider what’s to come this fall. Many students are rethinking their college plans for this fall for a variety of reasons. For those exploring other options, it is not too late to consider the excellent opportunities locally.
On behalf of Herkimer College, I would like to thank the healthcare workers, first responders and all essential workers in our community. I would also like to offer positive thoughts and prayers to all who have been affected by the pandemic. As we move forward, be assured that Herkimer College will be guided by two commitments—offering an excellent education to each and every student and providing for the health and well-being of everyone in our campus community.
Cathleen C. McColgin, Ph.D.