Covid-19 October 16 Update: Remote Learning Extended through June 2021

Covid-19 October 16 Update: Remote Learning Extended through June 2021

Categories: COVID-19, Union News

Dear Union Community,
 
Let me offer yet another welcome to 2020 Fall Semester at Union.  We are glad to see our returning students and excited to welcome the new incoming class. Given all the pressures students are required to manage as they learn, it is remarkable to me that each of you has taken the step of being “at” Union during these trying times.  Personally, I am saddened to not meet you in the halls, dorm buildings, or mailrooms; I miss those on-the-spot interactions that mean so much to me and others.  But I am certain, now more than ever, that we will get through this year together as we collectively support and creatively learn how to be present to one another and to move forward in strength.
 
Last week, the Union faculty decided that based on present health information, remote learning will be extended through June, 2021.  That means all courses will be offered online in the spring.  The faculty also decided to keep the same grading system as the fall; the default grading system is pass/fail but students can request a Union grade (CD, CR, etc.) and must do so by the end of the add/drop period.  Faculty may designate a few courses for grade only,  and this will appear in their syllabi and in the online catalog. This is important information for you to have as you think about registration for next semester. I will be writing you soon with more information about graduation. Please know that these decisions were made out of deep concern for the health impact of COVID-19 on all students, faculty and Union staff, many of whom travel to get to work.  We are a community, all of us, and upholding the common good of the whole has been and will remain our ethical standard.
 
As with the present semester, we will continue to find ways for students who live on or nearby campus to gather in small, socially distanced contexts, such as a once-a-week in-person chapel and community lunches.  For those who are not physically close, we will continue to find ways to check in with you and explore avenues for keeping everyone connected, including a daily virtual chapel and virtual student senate meetings. 
 
I realize these days are filled with isolation for some, a lack of privacy or quiet time for others, and illness and loss for many. Looming over all of this is the political storm of our election season. In my lifetime, the spiritual stakes for our nation have never been higher.  It is a deeply fraught time, and all of us must be acutely aware of the disparate impact of these pressures on peoples’ lives, particularly communities of color and the poor. The urgent need for change could not be more evident. Nothing less than the future of democracy is on the ballot.  For this reason, I encourage every member of the Union community to vote, and if possible, participate in supporting voter turn-out. 
 
We are also working on community forums on “Know Your Rights” and “Protest Training.”  On Nov. 4th, we will host an online discussion of the election (who knows what we will know) at 11:00, Community Chapel led by the Black Caucus at 12:00, and an open, virtual Community Meeting at 12:30, following Chapel. Please stay tuned for more to come on these and more plans.
 
At Union, we gather to explore large questions of meaning, purpose, and faith and to wrestle with ethical issues of enormous global import. Now more than ever, this mission is vital to the future of our planet, and your education is absolutely essential to that future.
 
You give me hope.  We give each other hope.
 
Onward,
Serene Jones
President & Johnston Family Professor for Religion and Democracy

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