July 6, 2020
Dear MICA campus community,
I am excited to share details of MICA’s plan to reopen the campus in the fall. This memo serves as a high-level overview of the full reopening plan.
It has been developed by our planning teams in collaboration with local, state, and national public health agencies, as well as with higher education partners. While the pandemic requires significant changes in how we interact, MICA will continue to deliver and support inspired teaching and learning.
MICA’s reopening is guided by three primary goals: 1) Safely bring our community back on campus for those who favor or need to have in-person presence on campus and who are able to return to campus; 2) Provide flexibility in teaching and learning modes so that our community members can have more options to meet their circumstances and needs; 3) And continue to deliver a high quality MICA education.
The COVID-19 pandemic remains an evolving situation with shifting implications for MICA students, staff, and faculty. In fulfilling the above goals, the College must be nimble to meet emerging realities and responsive to a broad range of needs within our community. Therefore, our reopening plan follows an H+L approach, defined as follows:
H = High flexibility in providing options for students, staff, and faculty, as well as being ready to adapt to changing public health conditions as the pandemic develops in either positive or negative directions.
L = Low density of physical activities to maximize health and safety among MICA community members when on the physical campus and accessing campus facilities.
Below is a summary of the key components of the H+L approach to campus reopening. Students should pay special attention to the academic plan advising and adjustment information in the “Fall 2020 Academics” section.
Health and Safety Measures as Systems and Culture
The health and wellness of the campus community is best enhanced through a combination of institutional efforts and individual cooperation. All MICA campus community members who return to campus will be required to pledge and adhere to a standard set of mutual care and self-care practices and on-campus protocols in accordance with public health guidance.
- Testing & Contact Tracing: MICA will be testing any students with symptoms associated with COVID-19. For anyone who tests positive, treatment, contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine protocols will be activated. In addition, any students exposed to someone with a positive test result will also be tested. Options for general campus population testing are also being explored and a plan will be announced soon.
- Health Assessment: Campus members must conduct daily self-monitoring of their health conditions and must be free of any symptoms associated with COVID-19 to be on campus. Temperature checks are mandatory upon entering campus buildings.
- Inter-Personal Protections: Face coverings, which will be provided, are required in educational, working, and recreational environments, as well as public spaces inside buildings and outdoors. In addition, physical distancing of 6 feet between individuals will be required at all times. Plexiglass barriers will be installed in highly visited areas and check-in desks across campus.
- Enhanced Cleaning: For campus facilities, enhanced cleaning and sanitizing protocols consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for higher education institutions will be strictly adhered to by our Building Services team. For individuals, hand sanitization is strongly advised and expected.
- Telework: MICA will support continuation of telework for those who can effectively meet their job responsibilities remotely. Interested staff members should consult with the respective supervisors.
Fall 2020 Academics with Options for In-Person, Hybrid, and Online Studies
The Fall 2020 semester begins on August 31 and both new and returning students will be able to choose among in-person, hybrid, and online studies to build their individual academic plans. These flexible options will allow MICA students to make the best decisions in accordance with their specific circumstances and preferences for progression in line with their degree plans.
Options for teaching and learning:
- Undergraduate Studies will consist of hybrid instruction formats that mix in-person, hybrid, and online learning determined by course demands and the need to access shops and facilities. Depending on their course and year of study, students will have options for highly or fully online modes of instruction in Fall 2020. A full-semester online option will be provided to first-year international students due to anticipated, prolonged delays in their travel to the U.S.
- Graduate Studies will be centered on program-specific approaches that will blend in-person and online educational experiences.
- Students who return to campus but cannot arrive on-time or will need to quarantine upon arrival will be able to start the semester working online and remotely through the first two weeks of classes.
Reduced crowd density in educational spaces: There will be ongoing access to MICA’s physical campus—including studios, shops, and labs—with essential public health measures in place that reduce the density of physical gathering.
Clear options and process for students, staff, and faculty who require or seek learning and work adjustments: Guidelines and processes have been established for faculty, staff, and students who have circumstances or concerns about being on the campus to apply for flexible arrangements.
All undergraduate courses will be fully online post-Thanksgiving Break, and there will be no studio or facilities access for undergraduate students after the break. Fall break (October 17-20) will be cancelled to give additional access to on-campus facilities. Graduate courses will continue as normal and studio access will remain for graduate students through the traditional end of the semester.
Understanding that students may wish to adjust their academic plan, a modified class schedule will be posted in mid-July. Students will be encouraged to work with their academic advisor to adjust their academic plan, as needed, by July 31.
Residence and Student Life
MICA’s residential experiences and on-campus student activities will be delivered with density-reduction and public health measures in place.
- Move-in process: Move-in to the residence halls will be scheduled over a two week period to ensure low density during this traditionally high traffic time.
- Quarantine spaces: Designated spaces will be assigned to on-campus residents who are required to quarantine according to CDC public health guidelines.
- Thanksgiving Break: The residence halls will close for undergraduate students at Thanksgiving Break, although students who have a specific need to stay will be permitted to request an extension. Graduate students living on-campus will be permitted to stay in residence post-break.
- Dining services: Restructured dining services will include increased grab-and-go options, the elimination of self-service food and beverage items, strict seating capacity limits and other density reduction measures in place.
- Student life: Campus programming will be directed toward virtual community-building with a new app, launching this fall that will provide users with the ability to engage and connect digitally.
Focus on DEIG & Racial Justice
Our Fall 2020 reopening plan is informed by the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and globalization (DEIG). The Black Lives Matter protests of this summer have marked a long-overdue tipping point in our country’s progress towards racial and social justice for the Black community. As shared in our Institutional statements, MICA has unequivocally committed to the specific calls for the College to do better in its DEIG efforts.
In line with our vision of a “just, equitable, and joyful world,” the MICA community will work together to confront and dismantle structural racism, and to model a campus where we are able to listen and learn from one another across races and cultures. By mid-July, I will announce a set of commitments, actions, collaborations, and supports to accelerate MICA’s DEIG work with a focus on supporting our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community members.
Again, please view the details of MICA’s Fall 2020 reopening plan here. We will be soliciting feedback and hosting information sessions to help answer any questions you may have in the near future. Look for announcements for these sessions in the coming days.
To close, I thank all the faculty and staff members who have worked so diligently on creating the Fall 2020 reopening plan. Their planning follows the One-MICA R5 Roadmap that contains a comprehensive account of our community’s focused, pragmatic, and aspirational strategies for campus wide navigation through the pandemic.
To our students and their families, and to our faculty and staff, I look forward to welcoming you back and wish you continued health and wellness.