Update From William James College President Nicholas Covino, May 28, 2021, 3 PM:
Dear William James College Community,
This week, I have been to several events with people gathered without masks. One of them even had a buffet that I thought would be banished forever. I expect that many of you have been within similar crowds and felt the relief and enthusiasm that we have been desiring for fourteen months. Hard to believe that this trial is ending, but the beginning of the end of this pandemic is certainly here.
As we approach the summer, many members of our community will be achieving an important milestone, completing their studies, and transitioning from William James College student to alum. When we were taking pictures earlier in the month, one of our graduates said that this degree was a miracle that will allow her to pursue a dream of managing an NGO to help homeless people. Others came with family and friends to mark the success of the first person in the family to acquire a graduate degree. Each academic department has identified a way to recognize this special Class of 2021 who endured a tumultuous year and found time for field learning, academic achievement and professional growth and got their degree done. Faculty, staff, supervisors, and your peers are proud of your work: Congratulations!
Making plans during this pandemic has been challenging, but the decision to move our formal Commencement ceremony to September 26 seems to have been one of the good ones. In-person exercises will be held at the Boston Park Plaza, although we won’t be sure until August how many guests we can invite. However, we will create a virtual viewing option for those who are unable to attend. More details on Commencement will follow.
Our Communications folks ask that those who are graduating, please share your photos and celebrations with us and on social media, wherever you may be in the world. This is an unusual time, but so is the attainment of your degree.
Now to some of the other business:
Our staff has been working on campus on a two-day per week schedule since late August with the building closed on Friday. As we prepare to welcome students and faculty back for the fall, the College staff will move to a three-day per week schedule on campus and our building will resume five-day, weekday operations. The new building hours, beginning the week of June 7, will be Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM.
Summer Holidays & Time Off
Juneteenth is now an official College holiday. This year Juneteenth is a Saturday and we will observe the holiday on the Friday prior. The College will be closed on Friday, June 18. In addition, the College will be closed for an extended period over the July 4th holiday. In order to allow our faculty and staff to have some additional time with family and to recharge, July 2, 5 and 6 will be given as extra days off this year.
Mask & Vaccine Policy
The Commonwealth’s mask mandate will be officially lifted this week. Effective immediately, masks will no longer be required OUTDOORS when visiting the William James College campus. However, to allow our community some extra time and space to adjust to the new guidelines, the College will retain existing policies regarding mask requirements for INDOOR spaces through the end of June 2021.
As are many colleges and business in Massachusetts, vaccinations will be required for all members of our community before the start of the Fall semester. While this is a somewhat complicated issue, it is the course that best supports the public health directives and provides the greatest safety and comfort for our members. This fall, faculty and staff will be delivering our work on campus, but classes will be offered in a hybrid fashion to allow those who may need this accommodation to complete their work. New technology, including the addition of large screen monitors, has been added to classrooms to make this possible. Students who require further accommodation to the vaccine requirement should contact the Registrar’s Office. Interested staff should contact the HR Department. Further information on policy changes and information regarding this pandemic will be posted on the WJC website.
Next week, our Teachers21 department will present a program for K-12 educators on strategies for trauma-informed teaching. Several experts and area educators will explore what we might expect to see in the post-pandemic world of elementary education. Students and staff are welcome to join:
When: June 3, 2021
There will be time for further reflection about this historical year. Like most of the world, our learning community has been through an enormously uncomfortable and frightening political, social, and public health experience. There have been many times that I have asked for patience, compassion, and outreach from each of you. Many, many, people have found the ability to move from their own discomfort and fear to make that effort to care for others; we are all the better for it. We have had difficult discussions, challenging emotions, and times of considerable anxiety, disappointment, and helplessness. As the summer months present, we will surely see the diminishment of cases in this country and the emergence of a greater sense of personal safety and comfort. We will, also, hold those parts of the world in mind that are not as lucky as we are to be here. Certain faculty, staff and students have distinguished themselves by their thoughtfulness, generosity, and care for others. You have helped us to keep things together and, now, to heal. Thank you.
Enjoy the long weekend. Better has begun to come.