Please take a moment to rejoice, exhale, smile and pat yourself on the back for reaching the end of an unprecedented semester and doing so in the most Shenandoah of ways — through commitment, compassion and respect.
We went into this semester knowing there was the possibility that we might not make it through a full term of in-person learning. Times were uncertain. We watched as schools across the country opted to go fully online; others had to close temporarily for weeks or months as their COVID-19 cases spiked.
But Shenandoah was well-prepared and pivoted with the uncertainties to welcome more than 4,000 students this fall — shattering our previous recruitment and enrollment records! We maintained in-person operations by pledging to keep our community safe and adhering to a new personal conduct and social distancing policy. Our iMLearning program made the transition to online learning nearly seamless, our Shenandoah Go app united us in tracking our symptoms as a university community, and our asymptomatic surveillance testing has helped monitor and reduce the spread of the virus on our campuses.
And we’ve accomplished all of this because of you!
It was not easy — in fact, it was mentally and emotionally exhausting, wasn’t it? — but you persevered. You wore a mask, you socially distanced, you excelled in the new hybrid classroom, and you put your university and the health of our SU community above everything else.
Our Incident Command System, which met throughout the year, and the Executive Committee to Reopen Shenandoah tirelessly discussed pandemic protocols and best practices. Our wonderful professors worked to meet the demands of a hybrid education, putting hours into Zoom training and online learning. And our amazing staff kept us safe, our buildings clean and our operations running seamlessly. On top of all that, this week several of our faculty and staff will be assisting in the local vaccine rollout by administering vaccines and performing clerical and data entry duties. We thank you!
As you know, the majority of classes for the spring semester will start on Feb. 1, which allows us to hold our first-ever January Term. J-Term is a time to try something new, lighten your spring class load or catch up on a class you might have missed.
These next couple of weeks are the time to relax, rejuvenate and recharge for the winter and spring. If you are local, consider taking an evening walk to enjoy the lights on main campus. But wherever you are, please be safe, be careful and continue to follow the guidelines that have kept us healthy to this point. And please continue to hold in your heart the SU students, faculty and staff who have lost loved ones to this wretched virus.