January 8 Campus Reopening Memo

Jan. 8, 2021

We hope that you have enjoyed a restorative holiday break.

The positive opening of a new year was disrupted this week by the January 6 treasonous attack on our democracy. It served as a harsh reminder of the deep divide of ideology, the willful rejection of facts, and the persistent racial injustice—imagine the contrast in response if the attackers had been non-White—that diminish us as a people and as a nation. We at MICA stand with those who fight to protect our democracy and establish racial and social justice. May the new year bring much needed change and restoration, and let us all work toward progress, unity, civility, and healing. We continue to learn from the crises around us and the time for our action is now. The deeply creative and civically-engaged MICA community will settle for no less.

With the new year and the new semester, this extraordinary community of students, faculty, and staff will start the important work of teaching and learning once again. To that end, we are writing to update you on the College reopening plans for this Spring. In November, we announced a Spring 2021 reopening plan that is science-based, responsive to the most current public health conditions, and prioritizes the health and safety of our community. Since that time, MICA has been actively monitoring the ongoing public health situation, developing policies and protocols for in-person activities, and preparing for this upcoming semester through teamwork.

The November plan was to reopen in Spring under Operational Mode 3 — which continues the approach of online/remote instruction in all our classes, while beginning the process of bringing students, staff, and faculty back onto campus on a highly limited basis.  At that time, we noted that we would make a final decision regarding any changes to our reopening plans by mid-January.

Today we are confirming our plan to reopen in Operational Mode 3 and in general alignment with the approach outlined in the November announcement. This approach includes a one-week delay to the start of classes (with the semester beginning on January 25), a highly reduced number of students living in the residence halls (approximately 100), limited on-campus access to shops and studios for graduate students and undergraduate seniors, and the possibility of highly limited in-person engagements for students accessing campus as conditions permit.

Although there are recent increases in key public health indicators, such as infection rates in Baltimore City and the State of Maryland, the reopening plan was designed to accommodate such increases. In addition to the implementation of city and state public health measures and CDC recommendations, MICA has instituted robust testing, contact-tracing and quarantine protocols, and a comprehensive social agreement for all members of our community to minimize the risk to those who will be on campus this Spring. This plan has been developed in collaboration with MICA’s consulting epidemiologists from the University of Maryland Medical School, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, as well as the multi-constituency Healthy, Safe, and Sustainable Campus Committee, and Reopening Steering Work Group.

In addition, the plan includes the ability to manage risk to our community by limiting or postponing specific on-campus functions and activities in response to changing public health metrics and conditions. Given the recent surge in infection rates over the holidays in Maryland and the City of Baltimore, the start date for the following on-campus and/or in-person activities will be postponed for at least two weeks from the start of classes, or until February 8, 2021:

  • In-person field-based activities, including off-site film shoots and community-based residencies.
  • Access to the MICA Fitness Center.

We will again assess our readiness to commence these activities in early February and will communicate the results of this assessment and decision to the MICA community at that time.

For more in-depth information about Spring Reopening and MICA’s testing process, please be sure to read the recently released issue 07 of Recap, which should be in your in-boxes already or arriving soon.

Additional information for MICA employees returning to campus can be found in the recently released memo from Human Resources.

We are hopeful that the recent approval of vaccines for COVID-19 and the increasing medical knowledge regarding treatment and public health signal the beginning of the pandemic’s containment. We look forward to a time soon when the MICA campus will once again be fully open to our students, staff, faculty and our many publics. In the meantime, we thank you for your trust, your patience, and your continued energy and inspiration as we navigate the pandemic and continue to teach, learn, and grow together as a community.   

Samuel Hoi, President
David Bogen, Provost

Office of the President
Maryland Institute College of Art
1300 West Mt. Royal Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21217