With majority support from students and parents, faculty and staff, and with the unanimous approval of the Board of Trustees, Siena College has officially changed its dates of instruction for the fall 2020 semester. Classes will begin on Monday, August 24 and final exams and residential life will conclude by Wednesday, November 25. 

Out of several modifications to the academic calendar considered by the College’s Contingency Working Group, this course of action provides students the best chance at completing a full academic term of in-person instruction, and better mitigates the threat of the virus spreading on campus. 

While it is impossible to know for certain what impact the virus may have months from now, health professionals warn there is an elevated risk of a COVID-19 resurgence during the winter months. By beginning classes 15 days earlier than originally scheduled, overall instruction can remain at a normal pace, but with final exams concluding before Thanksgiving recess. Students will not be expected to return to campus until the beginning of the spring semester. 

The modified calendar, by itself, does not extinguish the threat presented by the virus. Physical changes to the campus are also required and underway. In harmony with New York state guidelines and CDC recommendations, wall mounted hand sanitizers have been installed at every building entrance as well as office and classroom spaces. Six feet of distance is required around all front desk/reception areas, and where that may not be possible, protective barriers are being constructed. All classrooms are being outfitted with cameras so that dual delivery of the academic program is possible if required.

Many more details will be provided in the coming weeks as the College finalizes its plans and procedures for the repopulation of campus in August. 

In a virtual town hall with students and parents on June 16, President-Elect Chris Gibson ’86, Ph.D., addressed the changes to the academic calendar and took questions from the participants. The entire town hall can be viewed below: