A Message from the President

Wednesday, Mar. 10, 2021

Dear Stetson University Community,

A Year of COVID-19

Our community has been nothing short of amazing during this past year, and we want to share a few moments together to recognize the difficulties and hardships this pandemic has demanded of us all. Please join us Thursday, March 18, the one-year anniversary of the first day of virtual classes, for a Covid Remembrance: Marking One Year of COVID-19. Students, faculty and staff can sign flags and write messages and remembrances outside the CUB near the flagpole in DeLand this week and next, and at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday we will hold a special service to mark the past year.

The pandemic changed the patterns of classes, community and connections that were part of our daily routines. Fortunately, I can emphasize that unlike some institutions, Stetson never closed. Instead, we did what we do best: we cared for each other and we learned. We learned how to mitigate the virus through new ways of interacting. We wore masks, distanced ourselves, washed our hands, cleaned and disinfected our spaces, and met in virtual classrooms and spaces. We never stopped learning.

I think we can credit some of what we have learned this past year to many of your colleagues who remained on campus. From staff in Facilities, Food Service, Wellness, Health Service, Stetson Post Office, Purchasing, Finance, Residential Living and Learning, Public Safety and the duPont-Ball Library, so many members of this community continued to support student learning, health and safety.

We also continue to keep the community informed, publishing more then 40 weekly Safer Campus Task Force updates, and holding multiple webinars: 57 in DeLand, nearly 20 of which I hosted, and 84 at the College of Law, many of those featuring Dean Michèle Alexandre.

In-Person for Fall 2021

That is why I am informing you today, as we approach the one-year mark, that we intend to continue to support community health and will safely move to in-person learning for the Fall 2021 semester. All operational areas of the university should begin planning now for the repopulation of campus as of May 24, two weeks after our in-person 2021 Commencement ceremonies.

We will continue to abide by the health and safety guidance offered by state and national public health experts who have helped us successfully manage the virus on campus. This combination of initiatives, including masks, distancing, tracing and testing, assisted us in having zero COVID-19 transmissions from in-person classes or sponsored events, and low campus positivity rates.

Our Safer Campus Task Force, our ongoing communications with local and state health agencies, and our AdventHealth partnership will continue to help steer the University during this change. Our highly successful testing events will continue throughout the year as needed, enabling us to better assist those who could be most affected by COVID-19.

Academic Planning

We want to return to a fully in-person, face-to-face learning environment that is part of the magic of Stetson, and academic leaders are assessing health strategies and classroom limitations. The University is working to schedule in-person learning where class space can accommodate students, staff and faculty safely, while taking into account the rapidly changing national and local vaccination, health and safety landscape.

We know that Stetson will continue some online learning and, to a certain extent, hybrid classes, but at this time we plan and expect most classes to be in person with a smaller percentage of virtual learning.

More Information

Vaccination programs are starting to expand, and we are posting information on our Safer Stetson website for the community. The University is continuing discussions with our health partners and state agencies to explore the possibility of bringing vaccinations directly to the campus. We will keep you informed as more information becomes available and ask that as you get vaccinated you complete the vaccination form on the Safer Stetson website. As part of our health and safety planning for Fall 2021, Stetson is planning to again provide gateway testing at both the DeLand and Gulfport locations for students, faculty and staff prior to the start of the fall academic year.

Current employee approvals for ADA accommodation will expire as of Monday, May 24, and requests for the summer and fall semester accommodation must be submitted to HR. Additional information about this process will be communicated by HR. As of May 24, the University expects employees to conduct their work on campus unless other specific arrangements have been approved by the VP, dean, or department head. If your workspace doesn’t allow for adequate distancing, you will work with your supervisor to address it.

Campus Life and Student Success, Athletics, student groups and organizations will be planning for a more vibrant, but safe, campus experience in the fall. Focus orientation and move-in day activities will continue to keep health and safety in mind, but plan for a more personal, in-person experience.

Expect more information as we finalize our academic and operational planning. As always, please keep aware of updates through email, the Safer Stetson website, Stetson Today and social media.

In community,

Christopher F. Roellke, PhD
President and Professor of American Studies and Education