Making difficult decisions is always tough and doesn’t get any easier with time, at least not for me–but the time has come. We have decided that we cannot meet face-to-face in Yellow Springs for the Fall residency and assure a safe learning environment while also providing the highest quality learning experience. It is just impossible right now even with optimal planning and we certainly can’t wait until the last minute to decide.
First and foremost, the pandemic’s current trend lines across the country (and internationally) and the exponential growth and potency of the Delta variant is truly terrifying. And, for those who will be eligible, boosters will barely have started for many who would hope to bolster up their defenses as vaccination strength declines.
Second, given Antioch University’s Midwest building’s capacity and classroom sizes, there is little way to hold sessions with any real social distance. We cannot hold sessions outdoors at that time of the year because it will be too cold and tents with heaters are not practical.
Third, our students, faculty, staff and guests would need to travel from almost all 50 states, some with very high contagion rates. We also have a number of international students for whom the likelihood of travel at this time would be very challenging to say the least. This isn’t a program drawing from only one city or region, which if things were under control in that location, could bring a sense of confidence in perhaps controlling exposure. Such is not the case for our program and learning community.
Finally, while many students would be indoors and masked the entire day for four days straight (which already raises questions about the quality of the learning experience), many others have already communicated to me directly as well as with their advisors and program staff that they are feeling tremendous angst over health and safety and have decided to attend virtually no matter what. Hyperflex or Simulflex teaching, as it is coming to be known, demands a tremendous stretch on faculty capacity and technology capability to level the playing field for all students and not require those on site to participate via their laptops even while sitting next to one another in the classroom or to make those joining virtually feels like observers to the classroom and outsiders to small group discussions.
Unfortunately, we will not be able to hold an on-site Commencement and we will be communicating more information about Commencement plans with graduates and finishers as soon as possible.
Even though we don’t have all the details worked out, I wanted to communicate this important time-sensitive information immediately given all the questions we’ve been fielding and personal decisions that have to be made about flights and hotels.
Please know this decision was not taken lightly. The health and safety of our faculty, staff, students and the communities we serve was our paramount concern. I hope that I have explained our reasoning.
Please stay safe and healthy, in peace,