Curious about how Colorado College has handled pandemic

I’d be interested in knowing more about how Colorado College has handled the COVID-19 pandemic, both initially at the end of the 2019-20 academic year, presently, in the 2020-21 academic year, and any thoughts on their plans for the 2021-22 academic year.

I’m looking for reports from current students and parents … beyond what’s available on their website.

Thank you!

@porcupine98 feel free to message me for additional information, especially if you have any specific questions. But here is a general response. Sorry it’s so long! FYI my daughter is currently a junior living off campus and has been in Colorado Springs for the first semester (though she came home from Thanksgiving- mid January) and is now back for the spring semester.

End of 2019-2020: pretty similar to every other LAC in that students were about to go on Spring break in early/mid March and it was clear by the time spring break actually rolled around that they would be online after spring break. The tricky part was getting students moved out of on campus housing. My daughter was able to find storage with other friends and essentially move out of her dorm room so she did not have to return after Spring break. Many students did not have enough time to move their belongings and had to sign up at a later date for a specific day/time to retrieve their things. Serious kudos to all of the professors who pivoted on a dime and turned their 7th and 8th block classes into a remote experience on such short notice. Not an easy undertaking! CC did provide continued housing and assistance for the few students who had to remain due to extenuating circumstances but the campus was pretty empty. One nice aspect of the Block plan is that students had completed 2 blocks of spring semester before spring break so technically only had to take 2 classes “online” to complete the semester. CC refunded the two blocks of on campus room/board that students missed.

Fall 2020 was a rough start. The school had planned to stagger on campus move in with freshman starting block 1 and returning students block 2. They had plenty of designated isolation housing for covid pos students. Tested students upon arrival, had requirements for mask wearing and social distancing upon arrival. Not sure if there was a mandatory initial quarantine, maybe just isolated pods based on who they lived with? Anyway there were some unforeseen problems with the county health department when a (one!) student tested pos upon arrival but didn’t know until the next day. Let’s just say contact tracing is tough when the kids don’t know each other by name and can’t ID each other since they meet wearing masks. So the county required CC to put the entire dorm in 14 day quarantine, students couldn’t leave their room unless it was for their designated 1 hour outside. Then it happened again in another dorm a week or so later. At that point it was clear that the county was going to require entire dorm lock downs even though CC had contact tracing and a designated off campus isolation facility.

Communication with the county health department was a real problem that first block even though they had worked with them all summer to come up with a viable plan to open the school. Perhaps the testing was inadequate (too long of a turnaround through the lab they used) and/or the contact tracing wasn’t up to standards the county required? FYI Covid pos rates at CC were typically FAR below the rest of El Paso county. And below UCCS and UC Boulder for the matter. But Anyway by the end of block 1 CC decided to ask everyone to leave campus unless they were in an in person class (there were a few but not many in person blocks) or could reasonably keep socially distant (like students in their own pod like apartment style housing). Dorms pretty much emptied out though there were a few brave students who were allowed to remain.

Eventually by October, CC received a generous grant for a major uptick in rapid testing as well as for the the ability to test sewage from housing units such as dorms, theme houses, apartments etc. I think more students moved on campus by block 3? They implemented frequent random testing of all students (on and off campus) including faculty and staff. When they detected increased viral particles in sewage they blanket tested all students in that grid.

Spring 2021 has more students on campus. Dining facilities are still grab and go. I think all students (100% both on and off campus) are now tested weekly. Pretty sure facilities such as the library, student center, and sports center are open (just with limited numbers basis). Because my daughter is off campus I don’t have a feel for what life is like on campus but she says there are definitely more people around this semester.

As far as I know there is an expectation that next year could be pretty close to normal as long as vaccines are widely available by the start of the school year. We have a new president taking the reins who will fill what has been a bit of a leadership void this year. Of all the years to have to rely on interim co-presidents this was a tough one for sure! The two have gotten by and done the best they can but it was bad timing to have lost a remarkably excellent president in the middle of a pandemic. All in all I feel CC has bent over backwards to try to successfully navigate the difficult issues that have arisen this past year. I do believe they are on firm footing moving forward. The entire community is extremely excited to welcome L. Song Richardson as our next president (none more so I am sure than the current interim co-presidents!) this summer. But time will tell how back to “normal” we can expect things to get by the fall, it will depend almost entirely on whether or not covid is under control both regionally and nationally.

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Super helpful and reassuring, thank you!

Are classes currently in person or remote? Any sense of what percentage of students are on campus … or off campus but able to interact on campus?

Here is a helpful link to CC’s COVID dashboard. I think somewhere on the page is a graph with the number of classes in person vs online right now. Students are finishing Block 5 and will start Block 6 on Monday. Off campus students can access the on campus facilities as long as they keep up with their required weekly COVID tests. Regarding how many students are living on campus… maybe 700? Maybe more like 900? Not sure! But I hope this helps answer some of your questions: Spring 2021 Plan - Colorado College

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