Campus Report

2020-21 Planning Update for Students and Families

Office of Communications
July 14, 2020

Dear members of the Kenyon College community,

Since our last update, staff and faculty across the College have been working through the myriad details related to welcoming students back to campus in August. We also have been tracking the course of the pandemic, which has taken a dramatic turn in just two weeks, with cases now higher than the peaks of the spring, across the country and here in Ohio. In consultation with faculty, staff and the Board of Trustees, we have decided to adjust the plans we announced in June. We recognize that changing course creates additional disruption in an already volatile time. But one of the guiding principles of our work has been following data and best public health practices, and as these evolve, we must be prudent and flexible in our plans. 

For the 2020–21 academic year, Kenyon College will offer a mix of in-person and remote instruction, welcoming every student to campus for at least one semester. First-years, sophomores and new transfer students will be in residence for the fall semester; we hope to be able to invite all students to campus for the spring, but if conditions do not improve we will invite juniors and seniors. We will reserve space on campus both semesters for international students, regardless of class year, and for other students with exceptional circumstances. The fall semester will begin one week later, August 31, to accommodate the shift. 

Read more: Calendar and Cohorts, Arrival

By reducing the number of students on campus at a given time, we gain added flexibility to maintain physical distance — a key component of any plan to minimize the risk of virus transmission. With this model, we are able to offer students their own single-occupancy room, expand our capacity for quarantine and isolation, retain limited dine-in service in the dining hall, and teach classes in spaces that are optimized for both learning and safety. 

Read more: Health and Wellness, Housing and Residential Life

This design, too, allows us to preserve in-person instruction for courses best delivered that way, which we know Kenyon students and faculty value. Academic departments are adjusting their course schedules to optimize offerings for each cohort of students based on when they will be studying on campus and when they will be at a distance. This model also allows international students to remain on campus for both semesters and during winter break, supporting them to the greatest degree possible in light of proposed regulations of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

We understand that some students and faculty will be unable, or prefer not, to return to campus even with added precautions. In offering a selection of courses online each term, students may opt to study remotely for the year and continue to make progress toward their degree (international students should consult with the Center for Global Engagement on how this will affect their visa status). We will be flexible on the requirement that students be enrolled at Kenyon for eight semesters to graduate. 

Read more: Course Registration

While this model provides students, faculty and the College with added flexibility, it undoubtedly means reimagining plans for the year. A campus with fewer students will be inherently different, and indeed some activities will present too great a risk to resume responsibly. We will offer a one-time credit — 10 percent of tuition ($6,080, or $3,040 per semester) — in recognition of this reality. 

Read more: Charges and Financial Aid

One particularly difficult decision we have made is to suspend athletics competitions for the remainder of the 2020 year. We know this is disappointing, but we do not believe that we can create a safe environment for competition given the risks posed by travel and game play to our student-athletes, coaches, staff and community. In the fall, we will evaluate our plans for athletics competitions beginning January 2021.

Read more: Athletics

On our website you will find additional details about Kenyon’s revised plan. Please also join us for our next open forum for students and families on Wednesday, July 15, at 7 p.m. EDT. You may view the session on our livestream channel or watch the recording after. To submit questions in advance of or during the session, please use this form.  

Read more: Key Dates

Throughout this process, we have been committed to making decisions informed by data, with the health of our community our top concern. And in the face of changing data, we must re-evaluate. We also have been committed to making decisions with empathy and compassion, recognizing that this public health crisis is affecting people in very different ways, and that the stakes for our students and our employees are very high. A liberal arts education equips us to make decisions not when they are easy but when they are hard, and I have never been more grateful to have such a deep well to tap.


Sean Decatur