Santa Fe Campus Fall 2020 Opening
Because the pandemic is an ongoing and dynamic threat, we will be updating and adjusting our policies on the pages linked to below to meet the latest health and safety needs of our communities. Our plans have been informed by local conditions and the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, public health authorities in New Mexico and Maryland, and Johns Hopkins University.
Please note that on July 31, 2020, the college announced that the fall semester would move fully online. These FAQs will be updated on Tuesday, August 4, 2020.
Based on the current situation in New Mexico, the college plans to have undergraduate and graduate students on-campus in Fall 2020 alongside intensive health and safety protocols that all will be expected to follow; we are also offering Fall 2020 online options for students who have travel/visa challenges, for students who have health and safety concerns, and for students who do not want to follow health and safety policies on-campus. These policies are outlined in this FAQ. By choosing to attend on-campus classes in the fall, you are agreeing to be part of a community that is committed to the prioritization of health and safety. You are also acknowledging that on-campus classes could be moved online at any time. Those who arrive on-campus and refuse to follow health and safety policies will be removed from campus housing and enrolled in online classes. Though COVID-19 has proved to be less dangerous for most young people, it remains quite dangerous for older and immunocompromised members of our community; thus, on-campus students must understand that they are responsible for more lives than just their own. We urge students and families to select the option that best aligns with their preferences, concerns, and values.
Classes begin on August 27, but on-campus students should arrive early enough to attend registration, orientation, and move-in. In the event that COVID-19 rates in New Mexico rise significantly, this date could be pushed back and we will update on this as soon as we are aware of any changes. All students are urged to make the most flexible travel plans possible, with driving to campus being our recommended mode for those who can. More on this below.
Arrival to campus will be staggered to avoid overcrowding during the move-in process. Students will be assigned a date for their arrival and will be expected to test and then quarantine until results are received. International travelers will be scheduled to arrive August 17–18; see quarantine note at bottom. New students will be scheduled to arrive on August 21–22; see quarantine note at bottom. Returning students will be scheduled to arrive on August 23–26; see the quarantine note at bottom. While the state of New Mexico currently requires anyone entering the state to quarantine for 14 days, we are hopeful that our current testing policies will be approved by the State and will know more soon. See Health and Safety in the Time of COVID-19 section for additional details.
Because of the large crowds in airports, the lack of ventilation on airplanes, and the possibility of shifting arrival dates due to possibly changing state/federal guidelines, we strongly recommend that you drive to campus if possible, which will help to keep your future community members safe and allay any need to update airline tickets.
Yes, both Santa Fe and Annapolis will offer January Freshmen (JF) classes this year, which allow students to begin their first semester in January. January Freshmen complete their second semester in the summer, and then experience a normal fall/winter academic year after that. This program has run in Santa Fe for many years, and will work well for students who want to defer their on-campus experience for a full semester; do note, however, that COVID-19 is still likely to be with us alongside strict health and safety policies.
The deadline for confirming whether a student will study on-campus or online is July 15. If a new student chooses on-campus and later opts for online due to increasing health and safety concerns, the college will refund their housing deposit.
Students must defer or elect to take a gap semester by July 15; we will work with students individually on their questions and needs.
There will not be discounts for tuition and fees.
Students will only pay room and board for the weeks that they are in the residence halls. This does not apply to students who choose to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, as we are not allowing students to return to campus housing if they have chosen to leave for the holiday.
No, the deposit is nonrefundable. However, we can defer your acceptance and deposit to the JF or Fall 2021 term.
Students can have one family member join them on-campus for move-in. Once moved in, the family member will depart campus and join orientation activities virtually. See additional information below on testing for arriving students.
The college urges students to take all safety precautions possible before arriving to campus in order to keep exposure rates low in our community; this includes wearing masks, social distancing, and quarantining as much as possible before arriving to campus. In a perfect scenario, this would happen for 14 days prior to arrival on-campus.
Students should arrive to campus in the fall with at least three reusable face coverings (mouth and nose must be fully covered), hand sanitizer, a thermometer, and over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Housing assignments will be finalized after students confirm their intentions (online or in-person) for the fall semester. We expect assignments to go out by the end of July.
Under normal circumstances, all students are required to live on-campus and must petition for permission to live off-campus. For the 2020–21 academic year, sophomores, juniors, and seniors will have the option to live off-campus without petitioning for permission. Those who choose to live off-campus are helping us de-densify the residential halls, where we will have a reduced bed count for the upcoming year. Students who live off-campus are also agreeing to participate in daily temperature screenings before entering the campus—more details on screening procedures to come. All students must indicate their housing preferences by July 15.
As St. John’s College prepares to deliver our unique program of study to students on-campus and online, we have consulted with a number of agencies, organizations and associations including: Centers for Disease Control, New Mexico Department of Health, Maryland Department of Health, New Mexico Governor’s Office, Maryland Governor’s Office, Council of Independent Colleges, American College Health Association, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of New Mexico.
Students who decide to join the campus community in-person will be required to adhere to our newly developed COVID-19 policies. These policies include but are not limited to: the wearing of masks; social distancing; limiting gathering sizes (size limits to come); closure of communal spaces and kitchens; staggered and assigned dining hall hours and class times; and required testing upon arrival followed by random COVID-19 testing throughout the year. Students who will not adhere to these guidelines will be removed from campus housing and enrolled in online classes for the remainder of the semester.
All students will be assigned an arrival date when they will be tested. As soon as a student’s family member has successfully moved them into the residence halls, the student will be tested and required to quarantine until results are received. If there is a positive test, the student will be moved into one of the college’s isolation units. The New Mexico Department of Health will be notified to conduct contact tracing for our community. We will continue to test random samples of students monthly throughout the semester. Students are expected to comply with testing expectations or opt to take online classes.
We are working with Pathology Consultants of New Mexico (PCNM) to provide the testing to students. The state of New Mexico has mandated that all COVID-19 tests be 100 percent covered. This means that PCNM will file directly with each student’s insurance company and 100 percent of the cost will be covered. No bills for any service provided on behalf of the college related to COVID-19 will be sent to the student.
All students will be tested upon arrival and expected to quarantine in their room until test results are received. It is possible that students may be asked to return earlier to undergo one of the following: 14 days of quarantine or two rounds of testing and 5–7 days of quarantine; the college will make this determination according to the latest state/federal requirements by late July. All will be supported with food deliveries. Those living off-campus but planning to attend in-person classes will also be required to undergo testing and quarantine.
Students who arrive via international travel will arrive early, be tested upon arrival, and quarantine for 5–7 days in order that they can be tested again after five days to account for the virus’s likely incubation period. After the second test results are received or the quarantine period has ended, students can end their quarantine. All will be supported with food deliveries and truly essential services that may arise. Note that the state or federal government could require a 14-day quarantine for international travelers at any point; in this scenario, the college will work with students on an individual basis.
We have secured sufficient isolation units those who test positive. These units are equipped with private bathrooms which are within walking distance of campus. Students who are exposed to students who test positive will be required to undergo screening and quarantine within their current residence. We will also have policies in place to ensure that bathrooms are not overcrowded and are on an intensified cleaning schedule.
Students will be required to wear a mask at all times except when alone in the student’s private residential room, when eating or drinking, and when engaging in approved activities with a friend—such as hiking our trails or cycling downtown while maintaining six feet of social distance. More guidelines on approved activities to come from Student Life. Masks should always cover both the nose and the mouth.
Students, staff, and faculty will be expected to follow daily screening protocols, which are currently in development. This may include the daily monitoring of temperatures and/or the using of screening apps on phones. More information on this will be provided when finalized.
All staff and faculty who can complete their work from home will do so. This does not include faculty who have selected to teach on-campus classes.
Yes, the campus will be closed to all but the campus community and those who provide services to the campus community.
Classes will be arranged to ensure social distance between students, in addition to other measures listed elsewhere on this FAQ. The dining hall and coffee shop will function at a 50 percent capacity with pre-packaged options at each station. Plastic barriers will be set up on the tables to provide private eating spaces for students. Shared bathrooms will have policies in place to ensure staggered usage/reduced capacity. All common kitchens and common spaces, including the Cave, will be closed.
Students should arrive to campus in the fall with at least three reusable/washable face coverings (mouth and nose must be fully covered), hand sanitizer, a thermometer, and over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. In addition, we recommend students bring warm clothes like hats, gloves, scarves, and winter coats to heighten comfort while outside in colder months.
We are not able to answer this question at this time. We will rely on guidance from the CDC/New Mexico Department of Health when a vaccine becomes available.
No bedrooms will be shared and no students will have roommates. Only students in apartments and suites will have suitemates. There will also be new policies for the use of shared bathrooms and an intensified cleaning schedule in shared bathrooms.
We have secured isolation units near campus for students who test positive for COVID-19. We have a team in place to deliver meals and other necessities to students in isolation and will monitor their health via our health center or outside support, as needed. Students in isolation will be permitted to continue with their classes via online options during that period of time (as their health permits). Exposed students will be expected to shelter in place until testing can occur.
Nobody will have a roommate this year. If a hall mate or suite mate tests positive for COVID-19, that individual will be transferred to a St. John’s-provided isolation unit. The New Mexico Department of Health will be notified of any positive COVID-19 test results and will interview and screen students to determine who has been exposed. Exposed students will be expected to quarantine in their room; if an exposed student tests positive they will be moved into our isolation units.
We request that families in the Southwest region who do not have immunocompromised family members, older family members, or undue hardships pick up their COVID-positive child and transport them home for self-isolation. Academic accommodations will be made online for COVID-positive students. If families are unable to do this, the college will care for them and place in isolation units.
Students who live off-campus are expected to follow SJC safety guidelines, even while off-campus, and will be expected to comply with screening protocols, which will likely include temperature screenings before entering campus each day. Reports of off-campus violations will be reviewed and responded to in the same manner as those violations that occur on-campus. Compliance with our safety guidelines is essential to our risk mitigation strategy.
Students are asked to use caution when conducting activity off-campus, such as adhering to social distancing protocols, wearing masks, and avoiding large crowds.
The SAC weight room will be open to all current Polity members this fall. Equipment stations will be six feet apart, some equipment will not be available for use, and the sharing of equipment will not be permitted. The basketball courts, racquetball courts, locker rooms, and showers will be closed until further notice. Students will have use of the SAC for one-hour appointments only (no walk-ins) to allow for appropriate social distancing. We are currently working a plan to rent/loan bikes and outdoor adventure equipment.
For now the Meem Library facility will remain closed to everyone but library staff, with the exception of one designated study room where community members will pick up their book requests. We hope to phase open the facility according to state, college, and ALA (American Library Association) guidelines.
If you are immunocompromised, we strongly urge you to enroll in online classes. If you have health and safety concerns, but are not compromised, we recommend that you consider online classes.
If you do not believe in and/or will not follow our health and safety policies this fall, you should enroll in online classes. We understand that families have different values and approaches to safety in the time of COVID-19, and we do not want to force any students to engage in precautions that they do not believe in. At the same time, we are required to follow and enforce federal, state, and higher education safety protocols as well as care for all members of our campus community.
If a student chooses to travel for Thanksgiving break, they will not be allowed back into the residence halls and should consider this their moveout date for the semester. Classes may continue in-person or may move to all online depending on circumstances at the time. If a student chooses to travel for Thanksgiving, they will not receive room-and-board refunds for the weeks that they are no longer in the residence halls. If, however, the college moves students out of the residence halls at Thanksgiving due to COVID-19, students will all receive room and board refunds for weeks not spent in the residence halls.
Students living on-campus should recognize that we may be asked to close the campus mid-semester. We will have supplies on site to assist students with move-out if that is required. Classes will move to online and students will receive room-and-board refunds for the weeks not spent in the residence halls.
The college intends to start the fall semester on schedule with on-campus, online, and hybrid options, all of which will deliver the Program with rigor and integrity. Online options are strongly recommended for students who have travel/visa challenges, for students who have health and safety concerns, and for students who do not want to follow strict health and safety policies on-campus. These policies are outlined in this FAQ. By choosing to attend on-campus classes in the fall, you are agreeing to be part of a community that is committed to the prioritization of health and safety. Those who arrive on-campus and refuse to follow health and safety policies will be removed from campus housing and enrolled in online courses. We urge students and families to select the option that best aligns with their preferences, concerns, and values.
COVID-19 requires multiple adaptations to the delivery of our educational Program—both for the on-campus and online students. We have an unwavering commitment to offer the Program of Instruction to all of our continuing and incoming students while maintaining the integrity, robustness, and delight of this education. We believe the substance of the Program can be offered well, and better than most other forms of education, online or in-person with appropriate protocols. Our small discussion-driven classes and relative logistical and technical simplicity (“a book, a table, and a blackboard”) are advantages in this environment.
Our expectation is that students who are on-campus will experience most classes in-person. However, final class configurations will be affected by the numbers of students and faculty who select on-campus versus online options. Consequently, some students who are on- campus could experience hybrid classes in which students join class virtually and/or online classes. At present, we expect this to be the exception rather than the rule.
The college will employ a number of classroom changes to promote safety including de-densification of the classroom; more class periods to stagger arrival and departure times; outside classes; hybrid classes to lower number of students in the classroom; online classes; social distancing; wearing of masks; intensified cleaning schedule; and the regular opening of windows and doors to promote additional air flow.
In order to allow for greater schedule flexibility and spreading out over the course of the day, we will reduce our single tutorial and laboratory periods to 70 minutes (from 85 minutes). This is the same as Annapolis’s long-standing schedule. We will have more class periods available each day (beginning at 8 a.m. and extending to 5:10 p.m., for tutorials and labs), including multiple start times for seminars: 4:30 p.m., 6 p.m., and 7:30 p.m.
We will have limited in-person capacity in most rooms, which will be around 10 students. This could lead to classes intermittently dividing into sections and to intermittent independent work to allow for rotation of students. Hybrid technology may also be utilized to allow for full group participation.
We expect to take advantage of our abundant outdoor space and open air to hold some classes and will keep doors and windows open when weather and temperatures allow. We recommend that students bring warm hats, gloves, scarves, and coats to allow us to comfortably spend time outside as late into fall as possible.
There will be no pass/fail options this fail. While we offered this option last spring, it was due to an emergency disruption. Today, we are able to plan and deliver a full, quality Program regardless of an on-campus or online delivery.
Yes, subject to reasonable modifications should changing conditions warrant them.
Our library and bookstore will be able to ship books (and manuals) to students.
Students will be responsible for meeting minimum expectations for connectivity, hardware, and software. For those with financial challenges, students may be eligible for college emergency funds and need-based financial assistance. For those with technical challenges, our IT team (and other offices) will be able to offer clarification, advice, and technical support.
All students are expected to be able to attend classes remotely, as needed, with access to high-speed internet connectivity, a normal tablet or larger digital device, and appropriate software and applications. More details will be shared as registration approaches.
Yes, the college surveyed returning students on a number of online, tech, and COVID-related issues. A large majority of students who commented on questions pertaining to an online vs. on-campus experience preferred to be in-person in the fall.
As of now, a majority of faculty prefer to be on-campus in the fall.
Students who are not able to attend in-person classes because of health, safety, or travel restrictions will be able to join classes online.
Graduate Institute programs will be offered in-person and online this fall, via both online and hybrid classes. Currently, the college is offering these classes during the fall semester under a waiver from our accrediting agency, the Higher Learning Commission, and guidance from the Department of Education. The college intends to offer online through the end of the academic year.
Like undergraduate students who live off-campus, Graduate Institute students who live off-campus will be tested upon arrival, and will be regularly screened thereafter. Those who live on-campus will follow the same on-campus protocols as other students who live in campus housing.
COVID-19 has undoubtedly brought on extensive new costs for the college, as well as extensive revenue losses. This reality is true across the higher education sector, and St. John’s College is not immune from this financial upheaval. However, in the midst of so much uncertainty, the college is in a stronger position than most small colleges thanks to the bold measures taken over the last four years. Because of our commitment to working toward a balanced budget, combined with the outpouring of support for our Freeing Minds campaign, St. John’s is confronting this crisis from a position of greater strength, with firmer financial ground beneath us and a stronger support system in place for students. We are even experiencing a sustained uptick in applications and deposits for the fall, at a time when some of our peers are witnessing the opposite. Our continued success depends on our wider community’s continued support.
We continue to work toward the resumption of in-person classes in the fall, with the understanding that some details will remain fluid as state and local authorities continue to modify their recommendations. It is likely that online instruction will continue to some extent. Unlike colleges and universities with a tradition of remote learning, St. John’s has been compelled to tread unfamiliar ground; but as is often the case, uncertainty has been an area in which our college community has not feared to venture. The results from the spring semester have been surprisingly reassuring, with technological disruptions minimal, classroom discussions robust, and lines of communication remaining clear and open between students, staff, and faculty. In addition, we have learned that the simplicity of what we do—books and deep conversation—transfers better to an online environment than most college programs.
Like many other small colleges, St. John’s has been actively preparing for enrollment challenges that we knew were headed our way. Although the pandemic is now exacerbating those challenges, our distinctive Program is showing its strength in a highly competitive environment. More than half of our peers in the Small College Consortium are reporting a decrease in deposits, some by double digits. By comparison, our deposits are holding steady in Annapolis and have increased in Santa Fe. We are realistic, however, about the higher costs that we will incur on both campuses as we take measures to ensure the health of our community and meet the financial need of our students. Continued support for the Freeing Minds campaign, which is the foundation of our new philanthropy-centered financial model, remains the key to our financial stability and an important tool for minimizing our dependence on student-derived revenue.
Many of our students, parents, alumni, and donors have asked how the college is doing financially during COVID-19. The good news is that we have spent the last four years tightening our belt, balancing our budget, reducing inefficiencies, and working collegewide across the two campuses to streamline administration. We are two-thirds of the way through our $300 million capital campaign aimed at funding our lowered tuition price, and we can see our goal in sight. We are very lucky when we compare ourselves to many small private colleges struggling though the pandemic. But we are not immune to its effects. This year will set us back significantly with the considerable costs of preparing to keep students safe, the loss of this past spring’s housing revenue, the likely loss of significant housing revenue for online students, and the likely loss of tuition revenue from those who choose not to attend college at all this fall. As the college strives to continue serving a population that is less advantaged on average than that of most of our peers, and at a time when these students have been dramatically affected by the pandemic, we will need the help of those in our community who have the means to step forward.