Babson’s Response to 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Babson College will be open this fall. In updates to the community on April 21 and May 6, President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD shared how the College will maintain academic continuity come September.
June 26, 2020
Dear Babson Community:
Over the next two months, we will return to Babson’s campuses for the 2020-2021 academic year. We know it will look and feel different, but I am energized by our plans for fall and look forward to welcoming you back to Babson.
Today, I am writing to share details about the academic experience. We are sharing decisions as they are made and have already communicated some important changes, including a modified academic calendar. That information, and the details shared below, have been incorporated into our comprehensive return to campus plan, which will be released next week.
Learning together will be different this fall. Most classes will include a mix of face-to-face class time and online learning, with a smaller number of 100% online classes. Building on two decades of successful distance learning, and the lessons learned from our virtual campus experience this spring and summer, we have engineered our courses to capture the full potential of technology-enhanced learning while enabling safe physical distance. Students, both undergraduate and graduate, will have two primary choices for fall class formats – hybrid and fully online:
- Hybrid Classes: Hybrid classes blend face -to -face, in-person instruction with technology. These classes are designed to maximize your in-person experience in creative ways that still allow for proper distance at all times. Throughout the semester, faculty may use different delivery strategies at different times – teaching techniques such as split attendance, small groups, and blended learning. The majority of fall courses – any that are not 100% online – will be offered in the hybrid format. Hybrid classes can be attended virtually, which makes them accessible to all students, regardless of whether or not you are on campus.
- 100% Online Classes: Fully online classes provide engaging and dynamic delivery of content completely online. Classes are designed to take full advantage of technology capabilities in order to serve students who need the flexibility online instruction provides. Online courses are scheduled to begin from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET throughout the day, in an effort to provide options for students studying in different time zones. Classes will be scheduled five or six days a week.
Each of these learning formats is supported by considerable investment in technology and the virtual learning experience. This spring, when COVID-19 necessitated a move to virtual learning, 650 in-person classes quickly shifted online. The lessons learned from that experience have motivated enhancements and investments in hardware and software that will improve the academic experience and facilitate more seamless class discussion. Our faculty are participating in an intensive online teaching program and redesigning courses to be more accessible, creative, and innovative.
Things are changing, but the fundamental elements of the Babson experience remain constant. We are committed to building entrepreneurial leaders who will create scalable solutions to complex global problems, lead with empathy, and generate sustainable value across business and society. And no matter what, we will ensure that all students can make progress on their degrees, and that our campus and community remain as safe and healthy as possible.
Next week, in addition to releasing our full return to campus plan, I will mark my first anniversary as president of Babson College. It has been a tremendous and unexpected journey. I invite you to join me on Facebook Live next Wednesday, July 1 at midnight ET as I reflect on year one and look to the future.
Thank you for your continued support and flexibility as we navigate the next normal. We are moving forward together, as One Babson. I look forward to seeing you soon – online and in-person.
June 5, 2020
Dear Babson Community:
Earlier this week, I was joined by College leaders in expressing solidarity and concern for everyone impacted by the death of George Floyd and countless others. Our community, nation and world are grappling with important and disturbing concerns about institutional racism, violence against the Black community, and injustice in our society. Like many of you, I am sad and frustrated – feelings that are compounded by the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
As entrepreneurial leaders, we are driven to solve problems, to lead with empathy, and to create solutions to complex systemic challenges. Our mission is to be the leaders of the change we seek. Our work to improve equity and inclusion at Babson is ongoing – there is more to be done. In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to facilitate critical discussions around diversity, equity and inclusion. For now, this dialogue will happen virtually. This fall, when we return to campus, those conversations will take place face-to-face. I fully recognize that action must result from these discussions. We will thoughtfully and purposefully advance initiatives that support our community.
We continue to plan and prepare for the Fall semester and our anticipated return, guided by two principles: the health and wellbeing of our community and maintaining academic continuity for our students. A comprehensive plan for our return will be shared by July 1, though we do expect that plan to evolve over the summer, taking into consideration progress made on the Reopening Massachusetts plan and the continued guidance and recommendations from the CDC and other public health authorities. In the meantime, I want to share several key decisions that are central to our planning efforts.
Undergraduate Academic Calendar:
An important strategy for maintaining our community’s health is minimizing interactions outside of our campus community throughout the semester. Risk increases for everyone when large numbers of students leave our contained campus environment, return and interact with one another, and again return to their home communities. Therefore, we are modifying the undergraduate academic calendar in a way that will limit our collective exposure while providing a full semester of instruction. Changes include:
- Early start: classes will begin on Monday, August 24. We will communicate new information about move-in dates as details are solidified.
- Early end: classes will end on Thursday, November 19, prior to Thanksgiving break.
- Students will not return to campus between Thanksgiving break and the end of the semester.
- Final exams will take place virtually between Monday, November 30 and Saturday, December 5.
- Classes will be held on Labor Day (September 7) and Columbus/Indigenous People’s Day (October 12).
We continue to plan for a variety of circumstances and teaching modalities this fall. In addition to on-campus classes, all courses will also be delivered virtually. This WebFlex model will allow students the flexibility to move between face-to-face and online learning as needed throughout the semester. Additionally, class times may change slightly to allow more time between classes and less congestion during transitions. Students will begin to receive follow up communications from Student Life with additional information in the weeks ahead.
We made the difficult decision to suspend fall 2020 education abroad programs. We know that this is deeply disappointing for many of our students, but safety is our top priority. We have reached out directly to students impacted by this change, and encourage anyone with questions about study abroad, or re-registering for fall classes, to contact the Glavin Office or your Class Dean.
Graduate Academic Calendar and Registration:
All graduate classes will start on Monday, August 31 as scheduled. The Graduate School’s course registration will open the second week of July –an email regarding registration will be going out early next week. We continue to plan for a variety of delivery methods, and course formats may shift based on evolving public health requirements, with the expectation that all courses will be delivered face-to-face.
Ongoing Planning and Opportunities to Connect:
We are committed to sharing important decisions as they are made. We will share a full return to campus plan by July 1, but in the meantime, we invite you to join us at upcoming Community Forums where we will preview the fall semester, and give an update on decisions that have been made and what is still to come.
- Undergraduate Students and Families: Thursday, June 11 at 11:00 a.m. ET
- Faculty and Staff: Wednesday, June 17 at 9:45 a.m. ET
- New Undergraduate Students and Families: Thursday, June 18 at 11:00 a.m ET
- Graduate Students: To be scheduled for mid-July
We continue to thoughtfully and diligently prepare for our return to campus, and I am energized both by our developing plan and by the prospect of being together again as a community. We have many details to plan and prepare, and our teams are working to ensure progress continues as information evolves over the weeks and months ahead. I look forward to connecting with you at our upcoming Forums. Thank you for your continued flexibility and support.
Dear Babson Community Members,
As we continue to navigate through the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has placed upon our personal and professional lives, we also recognize that at the some point we will begin to transition back to an on campus format.
Guided by the Governor’s recent announcement on the four phases of reopening the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we have embraced those provisions and are guided by the governmental and public health advisories in our planning. Our priority has been and will remain the health and safety of all Babson community members. Therefore, we will remain in remote operation through Phase 1.
Return to Campus Employee Guide May 2020, you will notice some changes in the way our workplaces look and also see new practices and protocols, all designed for your protection and to enhance your wellbeing. Our goal is to collaboratively ensure you feel safe and secure while at work and to help you navigate the complexities of these challenging times.
Some of these actions include:
- More frequent cleaning and sanitizing
- Signage on social distancing
- Limitations to the use of elevators
- Suggestions for increased hand-washing
- Requirements for wearing facial covering
- More frequent communications on our operations, projections, practices and any new measures we are taking to support you and our community
The following guide has been developed to assist you in your transition and inform of your requirements as we return to campus. As the information and knowledge of managing this pandemic is evolving, please continue to check our HR intranet and the Babson College COVID-19 Response page for updated information.
Thank you for your continued efforts, collaboration and commitments to our academic and business continuity.
May 20, 2020
Dear Faculty and Staff:
The 2019-2020 academic year elicits vast and varied emotions. Gratitude for the flexibility and resilience of our community. Concern for our continued wellbeing. Grief for a semester upended by crisis. Motivation to bring Babson back stronger and more impactful than ever. And, most immediately, anticipation about our return to campus. It can feel overwhelming, but I continue to be energized and inspired by your support for our students and each other.
I am writing to share our preparations for a safe and measured return to our campuses. Our intent is to welcome the majority of faculty and staff back to campus and to begin on-campus classes this fall. We continue to plan for scenarios that may require flexibility to move between online and face-to-face options as the situation unfolds. The planning related to a return to campus operations continues to be grounded in two principles: the safety and health of our community and continuity of the academic experience for all students.
Let me share an update on immediate next steps and ongoing planning:
- Continuation of Remote Work Environment: Based on data from our recent manager survey, we feel confident that most areas of the College can effectively operate remotely. This allows us to preserve resources for students and community members returning to campus this fall. The following phased approach will be taken to return our workforce to on campus operations:
- Essential staff working on campus will continue to do so, adhering to physical distancing and other CDC guidelines.
- Remote work will continue for the majority of our staff and faculty.
- In the coming weeks, senior managers will work with their teams to determine when additional employees will begin to transition back to campus over the next few months to properly prepare for fall.
Exceptions to the stay-at-home order will continue to be at your manager's discretion and require advanced notification to Public Safety. Today, Human Resources will follow up with a detailed guide for planning the return to on campus work.
- Expert Guidance and Partnership: Reopening requires a new way of life for our students, staff, faculty and visitors. We have examined and are enhancing our safety protocols and operations. We are working with external experts, Environmental Health & Engineering (EHE), a leading industrial hygiene firm specializing in higher education, to help guide our decisions. EHE is providing solutions based on the most up to date public health, scientific, medical and engineering guidance. Additionally, we will continue to access expertise through our industry associations and state offices.
- Safety Guidelines and Health Monitoring Protocols: Several campus safety and health protocols are in development to ensure compliance with local reopening guidelines:
- Masks: Masks have been secured for all members of our community, and a policy will be issued for face covering as we get closer to the start of Fall semester. We will be fervently educating and reminding our community about proper mask wearing and hand washing.
- De-densification Planning: Working with our partners at EHE, we are examining all options for de-densification of buildings, including changes in classroom and residence hall capacity and altering dining areas and common spaces. This intense planning will continue for several weeks and be communicated well in advance of the semester start.
- Advanced Cleaning Protocols: Our Facilities team has deployed advanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols, including use of technology that covers larger spaces with more precise targeting of disinfectant.
- Practicing Physical Distance: Physical distance has been shown to limit virus spread. We are working to determine physical distance policies in and outside the classroom, public areas and residence halls.
- Other Strategies to Keep our Community Safe: In collaboration with other area colleges and universities and leading health experts, we are actively investigating a variety of additional tools and resources to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep our community as safe as possible.
On Friday, June 12 at 10am EST, we will host a virtual Community Forum for faculty and staff to discuss our ongoing planning efforts and timeline for critical decision-making. I invite you to join us for that session and to share questions in advance at email@example.com. Additional details will be shared next week.
I continue to be proud of our community’s exceptional management and response to this ongoing situation. I know the toll it has taken on so many, and I wish I could take away the fear, frustration and exhaustion with simple answers. While we may be growing weary of the constraints placed on our lives, there are positive signs of progress and we are beginning to understand what our new normal will entail. We have much work ahead. In order for us to succeed we must do the hard work together, as one community.
March 25, 2020
Dear Class of 2020:
The world has thrust upon the Babson community a great challenge. We understand the disappointment this has caused you and hear your desire to have a voice in the decisions surrounding celebrating your achievements.
Please know we are intensely exploring ways to celebrate the Class of 2020 and honor your accomplishments. Based on current government recommendations, and guidance from a cross-functional Babson task force, our commencement exercises, scheduled for May 16, 2020, will be postponed. We know this is something you’ve all been looking forward to as an opportunity to come together and celebrate everything you’ve accomplished during your time at Babson. We did not come to this decision lightly and share in your sadness.
There are many questions that remain to be answered. Our goal is to support you through this transition and recognize you as individuals and as a collective community. While there is no definitive date for when we will host a graduation ceremony, and no decisions about what it will look like, our goal is to find a way to celebrate together, surrounded by the people who supported us and enriched our Babson experience.
Our community is special, with many friends and classmates coming from all around the globe. This presents a unique challenge in finding a time, place, and manner in which we can all be together to celebrate our success. We ask for your patience and collaboration as we work through this process, identify new opportunities to celebrate the Class of 2020, and plan for a future date when we can safely celebrate our Commencement in a more traditional manner.
In the meantime, we want to hear from you.
How would you like to celebrate your graduation?
Are there creative ways to be together while we are apart?
When we are able to gather in person, what should Commencement look like?
Please share your thoughts and suggestions for innovative and safe ways to recognize your accomplishments, both virtually and when it is safe to gather together. Submit ideas to Classof2020@babson.edu or through the Commencement page by Friday, April 3.
While Commencement events have been postponed, your degree will be conferred as scheduled and you will become a Babson graduate on May 16 for employment and/or graduate education purposes. You will hear from the Registrar’s Office regarding important steps to maintain this timeline.
Commencement is the culmination of your Babson experience. It is an opportunity to celebrate with family, friends, and classmates and be recognized for your individual and collective accomplishments. It is an opportunity to look to the future with joy and excitement. It may look different this year, but we will celebrate you, in many ways, as we look towards a moment when you can be safely surrounded by the Babson community.
The past several weeks—and the weeks and months ahead—are a true test of what Babson has instilled in all of you; entrepreneurial leadership is the core competency we must possess to look at this daunting challenge as an opportunity to see the world in new ways. Thank you for your ongoing leadership, resiliency and willingness to adapt to new traditions—while we wait for the old ones to be safely held.
President Spinelli, Nori Horvitz ’20, Aly Massoud MBA’20
Physical Distancing Guidelines at Babson
These guidelines on distancing are created to deliberately increase the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. It’s important to stay connected, socially, with friends and family during this unsettling time.
To keep yourself and others healthy, but connected, it’s important you remember:
- In any public setting, maintain a safe distance between yourself and others. The CDC recommends keeping at least six feet apart from one another so as to not allow possible contact if an infected person were to cough or sneeze.
- Limit discretionary travel, including shopping trips, social visits - Use drive thru, delivery and take out options
- Avoid non-essential use of public transport
- Do not host or attend gatherings; opt for virtual meetings and gatherings – this includes academic group work.
- Maintain your mental and physical health; Exercise, fresh air and connections with friends and family are important to continue through technology options.