Dear Students, Friends and Families,
The COVID-19 virus has disrupted our work, our lives and our community.
Nevertheless, in the middle of much uncertainty, I am so grateful for the way our students have engaged, adapted, and continued exploring and learning.
Greeners have pivoted to remote instruction, bringing their commitment, personal flair and unique presence to a different way of learning. In addition to their full-time studies, many students are working in jobs deemed essential during the pandemic. Despite learning from a physical distance, they have been able to connect with faculty and each other, and dig deep for success.
At the same time, the hardships many students face are very real, and have intensified during the pandemic. Our hearts go out to them while we increase support wherever we can. We have acquired Chromebook loaners for those who need them for remote learning. We have turned to generous donors to raise or redirect more than $133,000 for emergency grants to students. This week, we arranged with the Thurston County Food Bank to start serving students and local residents via drive-thru in a campus parking lot, which allows plenty of space for social distancing.
Faculty have worked swiftly to adjust programs and courses, teaching with empathy and offering alternatives to students who are facing challenges with remote learning. Thanks to our financial aid, student accounts and business services staff, Evergreen students are among the first at Washington’s public four-year colleges to get federal financial aid. Academic advisors, along with student wellness and activities staff are working hard to support student health and success. We have maintained student employment, and have not closed residence halls.
While most of us are working from home, Greenery and student housing staff, Evergreen police services and facilities staff are physically on campus every day to keep operations running, clean and safe.
This is a spring quarter unlike any other at Evergreen and we will continue with remote instruction over the summer quarter. Looking toward fall, I would like to share what’s ahead.
On Friday May 1, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced plans for gradually lifting state directives on the COVID-19 virus. His plans are based upon a progressive, four-phase process.
The Governor also noted that based on the trajectory of the virus in our state, and actions to limit the spread, he believes there is a very good chance of schools opening in the fall.
Based on this guidance and conversations among faculty and staff, we are planning to offer a blend of hybrid, in-person and remote programs and courses in fall quarter 2020.
These experiences will vary, depending upon the Governor's directives, the public health situation, and the focus and structure of our academic courses and programs. Our goal is to provide a rich Evergreen education, supported by the strong work of our COVID-19 planning and response group in developing safety protocols which protect everyone’s health.
As a small college, we have proven our ability to pivot quickly to a model that serves our students while keeping everyone safe. We know we can build a rewarding summer and fall experience for students, delivering high-quality education with lasting value. As current and prospective Greeners consider their educational goals in this new era, I know everyone at Evergreen is committed to their success.
Meanwhile, there’s a special bright spot on the horizon. A commencement committee with many members of the class of 2020 is creating a remote version of Evergreen’s famously joyous graduation, which will start at 1:00 p.m. June 12. You can keep track of developments here.
I hope we will all take time that day to greet each other and celebrate the amazing accomplishments of our students, supported with love from staff and faculty.
George S. Bridges
The Evergreen State College