Office of the President
Subject: Spring 2021 Plans - A Message from President Clark
Dear students and families,
After several weeks of campus-wide planning, I am writing to inform you of Bridgewater State University’s plans for the spring 2021 semester.
Overall, I am very proud of how the entire BSU community has managed through the fall semester. I am particularly moved by you, our students, and the responsibility that the overwhelming majority of you have demonstrated not only to protect your own health but to ensure the health and wellbeing of your peers and the entire community. You have shown great resilience in progressing with your education despite the challenges. You should be very proud of yourselves. I know I am.
From the outset, BSU has prioritized the health and safety of our campus community in its planning and operations, and we will continue to do so with regard to the spring by seeking to strike the appropriate balance between safety, education and community. Below, I have outlined our spring 2021 plans, highlighting any significant changes to our operations. I want to emphasize that we have been paying very close attention to what you have been telling us about your experience in the fall semester, both what has worked well and what may need some improvement. Our plan reflects your valuable input.
Spring 2021 Calendar
For public health reasons, we will start the spring semester one week later and eliminate spring break. Spring classes will begin on Wednesday, January 27, 2021 and we will hold classes during the week of March 8th. The semester will end on time, and we are scheduling an additional “wellness day” by cancelling classes on Friday, March 12, 2021.
The delayed start will enhance the overall health of the campus community by eliminating one winter week of classes when students are largely confined to indoor spaces. The elimination of spring break also mitigates concerns about bringing COVID-19 back to the campus after a week away. We are cognizant of the importance of students having a “mental health” break during the spring semester. This is the reason for adding an additional day off for students on March 12th, and, per the request of the Student Government Association and as approved through academic governance, we are strongly encouraging faculty not to assign additional coursework on a wellness day.
Most classes at BSU will continue to be held remotely, while science labs, studio and performing arts, and selected seminar and capstone courses will blend online and in-person instruction. Based on your feedback, and in partnership with college deans and the faculty, BSU is significantly increasing the number of synchronous online offerings. This means that many more courses will replicate an in-person classroom experience with faculty and students being together synchronously via Zoom or other platforms. We are also committed to delivering the courses in the modality, either asynchronous or synchronous, identified at the time of registration.
Undergraduate registration will begin on Friday, November 13, and you can find the complete registration schedule . The full spring course schedule will be available for students to view no later than October 31.
BSU will continue to provide students with exceptionally strong academic support services and resources to help each and every student succeed. Our Academic Achievement Center provides a comprehensive array of programs, whether students require advising, learning assistance, disability resources or other individual needs. Please visit our resource portal focused on online student success.
We continue to work closely with the faculty to ensure that they are as responsive as possible to your academic needs during this challenging time.
Finally, we are also reviewing Maxwell Library hours and plan to open additional study spaces on campus.
Based on our positive experience with students living in the residence halls this fall, BSU will continue to allow all students wishing to live on campus to do so.
Students living on campus this fall have shared with us that even when most classes are online, they find it much easier to concentrate on their studies by living on campus and being near campus resources. Resident students have also maintained their relationships with fellow Bears by safely visiting in their rooms with friends, enjoying meals together in the dining halls and participating in on-campus activities. BSU's COVID-19 positive testing rate remains significantly lower than the overall state rate, and our residence halls continue to provide a safe living and learning environment for BSU Bears to find and connect with each other. As a result of our experience this fall, and mindful of the current status of the state’s public health guidelines, Residence Life and Housing will be offering current resident students the opportunity to request residence hall and room changes for the spring 2021 semester that will allow them to live with or be closer to their friends.
Later this semester, Residence Life staff will be in contact with a move-in schedule, reflecting the later start of spring classes. Students with a demonstrated hardship may be able to move into their residence halls beginning Thursday, January 21, 2021. Residence Life and Housing is ready to welcome back to campus any students who either deferred their housing deposit until spring 2021 or did not deposit for housing at all because of concerns pertaining to the pandemic. For any questions, please feel free to contact Residence Life and Housing via email at ResLife@bridgew.edu or via phone at 508-531-1277.
BSU is currently working with students to review the fall dining experience to enhance dining hall and food delivery options for the spring semester. We will continue to offer a variety of indoor dining experiences so students can safely gather together as well as utilize convenient grab-and-go options. This semester, we launched Grubhub and (in a few days) our Bear Bites food truck; next semester, our starship robots will make their debut by delivering food safely and securely to residence halls and other locations on campus.
Our Student Life staff continues to work with students to identify and implement new opportunities for students to get together safely. We recognize that socializing is a core part of the student experience and, learning from our fall semester, we are exploring different ideas for safe in-person gatherings and for enhancing virtual events.
COVID-19 Testing & Contact Tracing
Our existing COVID-19 testing and tracing protocols and procedures will remain in place for the spring semester. BSU will retain its successful affiliation with the Broad Institute of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which has been turning around test results to us in less than 24 hours, thus allowing BSU to react quickly in isolating students with a positive result and quarantining any potentially affected members of the BSU community.
Residence hall students will be tested at the time they move into their residence hall and (at least) every two weeks thereafter. We will continue to conduct randomized testing for students taking hybrid classes and make testing available at no cost to everyone in the BSU community.
BSU is well aware that the pandemic has created serious economic hardships for our students and families. This spring, in addition to federal, state and local financial aid, we have more than $2 million dollars available to assist students with COVID-related emergency financial needs. No student or family should allow finances to get in the way of continuing their education at BSU. We can help. Please contact your Financial Aid Counselor to discuss your situation or visit the Office of Financial Aid website.
As we have all experienced during this semester, living and studying on campus comes with certain responsibilities and obligations that are in place to protect you and your fellow Bears. Our students have done well in following important health protocols, and we will need to continue to manage through the pandemic together by following basic rules, including:
- Following BSU’s Bear Paw Pact (pdf)
- Staying home when you are sick
- Maintaining physical distancing of six feet
- Wearing masks or face coverings at all times except when in residence hall rooms or eating in one of our dining halls
- Limiting the size of any social gatherings (based on state mandates)
- Participating in regular COVID-19 testing (for residence hall students and those in hybrid classes); and
- Assisting with COVID-19 tracing procedures
I want to again express my gratitude to our BSU students and families. So far, you have worked through this pandemic with determination and courage. This is not what we all imagined the college experience to be this year, but what is most important is that we carry on and move forward in our studies and in our lives. As I have said before, we cannot let this pandemic define us. The faith that I have in every member of our BSU family is embodied in these simple, yet powerful words: “We’ve Got This!”
Frederick W. Clark Jr., Esq.