This message was sent to the WPI community.
Welcome to D-Term and the second half of spring semester! Hope everyone had some time to rest and relax over the term break. Personally, I’m excited for spring weather, and with this most unusual academic year entering the home stretch, I’m thrilled to share that we are planning for a return to in-person learning, teaching, and working in the fall of 2021.
The truth is the pandemic is not yet over, and we do still have some challenging weeks ahead. For the time being, we all must continue to adhere to the public health protocols you have become so accustomed to—like mask-wearing and social distancing.
But there is absolutely light on the horizon. You’ve shown that WPI can operate safely in the midst of a pandemic, and with vaccines expected to become more widely available by early summer, we believe it is prudent to plan for a more normal fall.
The vision for fall will become clearer in the coming months. We will continue to monitor the pandemic closely, paying especially close attention to the path of the virus once vaccinations become more widespread. As always, WPI will be guided by science and data, which means there could still be some public health measures in place in the fall and some adjustments to our idea of “normal.” (For example, there may be mask-wearing in certain situations, and we don’t yet know what project center travel might be like.) But overall, if things continue on a positive path, you can expect the 2021–22 academic year to look much more like it did pre-COVID.
Of course, lessons from the past year will continue to inform how we learn and work. For example, some courses or portions of courses may be effectively delivered online, and some travel or meetings may be better accomplished via Zoom. But this will become more a function of what best serves the purpose, rather than an approach necessary to ensure safety and full access to participation during a pandemic. Bottom line, while many things will return to pre-COVID normal, changes for the better will endure.
While we plan for brighter days ahead, we do so with the understanding that this is an ever-evolving situation. And so, in true WPI fashion, we will be ready to address any challenges that come our way. As we move forward with making plans for the next academic year, will keep you posted on any new developments—we also encourage you to check We Are WPI frequently.
It is important to note that we will only be able to get back to more normal operations if most everyone gets vaccinated, and so I encourage everyone who can get a COVID-19 vaccination to do so wherever it’s available, as soon as you become eligible under the state’s guidelines. The state is urging anyone who lives, works, or studies here to preregister for appointments.
In closing, I want to thank you once again for your continued support, patience, persistence, kindness, and dedication throughout this pandemic. We are moving forward #WPITogether!