President Doran's Announcement to the Community
Dear Bay Path students and families:
As we look ahead to the fall 2020 semester at Bay Path, we do so with the hope that you and your families are well. I know you are keenly interested in Bay Path’s Fall 2020 plans and, in this letter, I will convey highlights of The Path Forward plan in response to the pandemic. While our plan will continue to evolve over the coming months, the information provided in this letter and on our website should answer many of your current questions.
In addition to this overview, I think it is important to provide you with a sense of the guiding principles we have firmly embraced that drove, and will continue to inform, our decision making. First and foremost: the health and well-being of our students and community is paramount.
This commitment has been at the heart of our deliberations. Over 75 members of the Bay Path community, representing virtually every aspect of our University, participated in working groups, conducted external research, reviewed medical and public health guidelines, evaluated options, and ultimately presented the recommendations that form The Path Forward plan.
With your health and safety being the number one priority, we have arrived at the following key actions to mitigate any spread of COVID-19:
Masks or other approved face coverings will be provided by the University and worn by every member of the Bay Path community everywhere, except in a student’s own room or an individual’s office. Mask wearing has proven to be the most effective way of controlling spread of the virus. Personal hygiene is also key, through frequent and thorough hand-washing and use of hand sanitizer, which will be made available in every campus building.
Social distancing is another key factor that reduces risk of contagion. Campus facilities will be marked with appropriate physical distance guidelines. This also means that co-curricular activities, for example athletics, will be modified for the fall semester.
Reducing the number of people present at any given time, whether in classrooms or dorms, also known as de-densifying, is another key strategy recommended by the CDC and others to mitigate spread of cases. At Bay Path, that means we will welcome traditional students back to dorms but in single rooms only. From an academic perspective, most classes will be held online, and for those classes that will continue to meet on campus, restrictions regarding the number of students in any given class will be enforced.
Testing will be required of all students, faculty, and staff who will have a presence on any of the Bay Path campuses. A process of daily symptom tracking will also be put into effect for those on campus.
Sanitization of facilities is also a key priority for us. Complying with CDC guidelines, we will implement an aggressive plan to frequently clean and disinfect all Bay Path facilities. Classrooms and learning spaces will be disinfected twice a day, five days a week. Residence halls, with the exception of each student's personal dorm room, will also be sanitized and disinfected regularly throughout the day. In addition, a team will be deployed to clean high-touch surfaces across the campus.
Our second guiding principle in developing The Path Forward is that the delivery of our academic programs, services, and co-curricular activities will continue to foster achievement among each of our unique student populations. Our world-class faculty are at the heart of this promise. Given the expertise and experience they bring to the classroom, and the commitment they have to the success of each and every student, your educational journey will be unparalleled. You will soar.
This guiding principle means that the quality and rigor of our academic programs will be upheld, whether your classes are on-ground or online. It also means that you will continue to have access to student services like financial aid and career development; and that we will deliver unique programming, virtually as necessary, that will creatively engage our community.
The development and delivery of the online experience is one of Bay Path’s core strengths. For over a decade, we have proudly distinguished our online programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels and our resolve is to continue being the gold standard for online education. We have invested millions of dollars over the past years, through major grants from the federal government, to build a nationally-recognized online program that provides a qualitatively superior experience as evidenced by graduation and satisfaction rates of online students that far surpass national averages. Our online models are based on adaptive learning, state of the art student engagement experiences, superior technology, one-on-one advising and faculty interaction, and best in class teaching and learning expertise. We are unreservedly committed to making online education—academically as well as through engagement and support— work for our students.
The course schedule for fall and guidelines for programs are detailed in the academic section of the plan. Specific information is provided separately for our graduate students. Student services and guidelines regarding student activities, clubs, organizations, and events are also included in the plan.
As noted above, Bay Path’s Fall 2020 plan incorporates significant external guidance in keeping with our third guiding principle: Our decision making is based on data, science, and the guidelines established by external experts and we will be prepared to respond quickly and effectively as demanded by evolving public-health issues. The resources that will continue to inform our decision-making, and implementation and monitoring of our actions include the CDC, the Massachusetts “Safe on Campus” Framework, and the MA Department of Public Health. Please bear in mind that our plan reflects answers and steps we can take now to the best of our ability. Should there be a surge in the spread of the virus regionally, or should Massachusetts guidelines change in response to concerning data, we will respond accordingly. But we will do so with the least disruption to the student experience as possible.
Finally and very importantly, a note about our shared values of community, inclusion, innovation, integrity, and respect. These values that define Bay Path will not only endure, but they will define our collective response to the challenges that lie ahead. These very values led to the fourth guiding principle of The Path Forward: Our ability to teach and learn together in a safe environment requires that all members of our community lean on one another and follow established guidelines consistently and compassionately.
As a member of the Bay Path community, you are part of a safe and caring community, where every voice is heard and respected, where kindness is part of the fabric of our institution, where every journey is embraced, where diversity of every form is valued, where every pathway is exalted. Together, we will embrace the guidelines to ensure a healthy Bay Path community, not because it is required, but because we choose to. Our community is built on caring for each other, caring for the well-being of our faculty, students and staff, and we are all committed to doing what’s right to protect each other from this virus. We Are Bay Path.
While Fall 2020 will look and feel different for all of us, our commitment to providing a quality educational experience remains the same. In closing, I am deeply honored to serve as your President, and I look forward to greeting you in the months ahead.
Sandra J. Doran, J.D.