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Campus Reopening: Welcome Message from President Fithian

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

As I walked on campus yesterday (and stopped by the Kneller for my COVID test), it was wonderful to see signs of our University coming back to life. Students with whom I spoke at the Kneller all felt their classes were off to a good start and everyone was excited for the reopening of residence halls and, next week, our classrooms. Welcome back!

All of you deserve the credit for the confidence I feel in our decision to reopen campus for spring semester despite the ongoing threat of COVID-19. Your adherence to The Clark Commitment was a decisive factor in our success last fall. We conducted more than 85,000 tests at Clark resulting in 44 positives and a positivity rate of .058% — among the best of all colleges and universities in Massachusetts. I know we can do it again this spring and I thank you for doing your part.

As you know, our decision to delay the return to campus until this weekend was in response to a high positivity rate in Worcester projected through the end of February. Thank you for understanding that decision, even though I know you were anxious to be back at Clark. Now, with the steady decline in the city’s positivity rate over the last few weeks and our comprehensive pre-arrival testing regimen, we are able to move forward with far greater assurance of lessened risk to your health. But while the virus appears to be on the wane, it is still a challenge. We will closely monitor the COVID-19 data and trends, and continually assess our situation.

You will notice we have lowered our COVID alert status from Level 3 to Level 2, which reflects the same “moderate” risk level under which we operated in the fall. Please know that lowering the alert level does not mean that any of us can lower our guard. We all must continue to take the pandemic seriously and be diligent about complying with key safety guidelines. Everyone in our community is required to abide by the principles of The Clark Commitment, which requires mask wearing, physical distancing, frequent hand washing, and adherence to Clark’s rigorous COVID-19 testing regimen.

We approach this semester with both joy and humility. It’s heartening to know that classrooms and labs and our library will soon be active again. And I’m thrilled we will have a carefully managed spring sports season as well as a full slate of varied and vigorous student programming offered throughout the semester. The vital work of Clark never ceases, thanks to your commitment to this special university, and it is especially enlivening, exciting, and hopeful during each semester’s opening weeks.

Our successful winter intersession reaffirmed that our faculty and students have become adept in the art of online teaching and learning. Members of our community have chosen to teach and study remotely this semester out of caution for their health and the health of their loved ones. I respect and understand their choice, and I look forward to the day when they can rejoin us on campus.

You all have persevered through extraordinary circumstances, meeting the many challenges posed by the pandemic with tremendous resilience, grace, and patience. As our spring semester unfolds let us continue to draw strength from being a part of Clark’s remarkable community and let us treat each other with kindness and respect, and with consideration for what we are all going through together but may be experiencing differently.

Sincerely,

David Fithian ’87

President