Spring planning update

Message sent on October 28, 2020

President Iuliano shares updates on the planning process to prepare for the start of the spring semester.

Dear Members of the Gettysburg College Community,

In my note from a few weeks ago, I outlined a series of steps the College was taking to come to the best possible judgment about the structure of the spring semester. Our goal remains unchanged: we want our students back on campus. Although we have not yet come to a definitive judgment on whether we are able to responsibly bring back all or some of the student body, we are making important progress. I write today to provide a further update. Please know that the information we are providing today will not answer every question you have about the spring, however, our goal is to share information with you as we arrive at decisions.

Spring Start Date

Consistent with the decision made by many other colleges and universities, we will adjust the start of the spring semester, in our case until February 1, 2021. The later start serves several public health goals that directly bear on our goal to bring as many students back to campus as we responsibly can. Among the advantages of a later start are the following:

  • As the pandemic continues to spread across our state and country, it is best for the safety and health of everyone that we get through as much of flu season as possible, prior to returning students to campus.
  • By starting classes a few weeks later than originally planned, more of the semester will occur when the seasons have changed and the weather on our campus traditionally improves. This will allow for greater opportunities for learning, recreating, and gathering outside, which is both enjoyable and safer.
  • The winter holidays are a time when families and friends gather together from near and far. To reduce the risk of starting the semester with a significant number of cases on campus, we have been advised to let some time pass between the holidays and the start of the semester.

We are still working on how the spring calendar will be adjusted due to this revised start date and will send more information when we have it.

Virtual January Term

Because of our later start date, we will be offering a virtual January term experience during the weeks of January 11 - January 22, 2021. These sessions will be non-credit bearing and free to all students. Many of the offerings are designed to take what students have learned in the classroom and supplement it with training and skills that are vital for career success. We will have more information about these sessions in the coming weeks, but the topics are expected to include programming to refine oral presentation skills, improve study and time-management skills, and develop leadership abilities. Additional programming will allow students to connect directly with our Gettysburg College network of alumni in the health sciences and business professions, and learn valuable leadership lessons from Susan Eisenhower, Chairman Emerita of our Eisenhower Institute and the granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

We will share more information about the January term and how to register in the next couple of weeks.

Planning Process

There is still much to consider as we plan for the spring, and I know foremost on the mind of students is whether you will be back on campus for the semester. We are working hard to come to a definitive decision as soon as possible and in advance of Thanksgiving break. Until that time, there are community members working diligently to understand lessons learned from the fall and make plans for Spring 2021. More information about how we are approaching this work can be found on the Better Together website. In summary, we have two working groups that are being advised by three advisory committees (two student groups and one faculty committee). We also continue to be advised at every step by public health experts.

All told, these groups involve members of our community who individually and collectively are guiding the College’s work throughout this challenging pandemic. My thanks to each of them for the extraordinary time, energy, insight, and perspective they are bringing to every step of our analyses and decision-making as we finalize plans for the spring semester.

Common Questions

We have received many important questions related to how we are preparing for the spring from our community. You can review a list of the most common questions we’ve received and our responses.

Thank you for your understanding about the time and care it takes to assemble a strong plan for the spring. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to covidupdates@gettysburg.edu with any additional questions you may have.


Bob Iuliano