To Our Undergraduates:
We write today to share deeply disappointing news: The accelerating spread of COVID-19 requires that Case Western Reserve reduce the number of students allowed to live on campus this fall.
Early last month, we thought that the extensive health and safety measures we had implemented would mitigate risk enough for us to welcome everyone who planned to live on campus in the upcoming semester. As the summer progressed and more students opted out of on-campus housing, our confidence grew that we would be able to manage much of the transmission risk among students in such close quarters.
Unfortunately, that trend toward remote learning slowed, and last week, our county’s public health agency recommended that all school districts open virtually. Added to those data points was the news that July saw 1.9 million new COVID-19 cases, more than double any other month since the pandemic reached the U.S.
Taken together, these external developments convinced us that we needed to do more institutionally to mitigate infection risk. To that end, we have adopted a model where each residential student lives in a single room (but continues to pay the rate of the room they originally reserved).
To accomplish this goal, we will allow only the following undergraduates to live in on-campus housing during the fall semester:
- First-year students;
- New transfer students;
- Students already living in residence halls this summer;
- International students able to enter the U.S.;
- Second- and third-year nursing students; and
- Students scheduled to graduate in January or May of 2021.
No other students will be permitted to live in residence halls or Greek housing (whether the chapter members live in university or privately owned housing).
To be clear, this policy applies only to the fall semester. Our plans for spring semester housing will depend on the extent of pandemic-related progress in the coming months.
We recognize that this decision will frustrate and sadden those who looked forward to returning to Cleveland this month, and regret that health considerations required us to exclude any of you. We also appreciate that this decision raises several questions, and have created a section on the COVID-19 FAQ page to address them; it also includes a form for submitting additional inquiries.
That said, we want to address two of what may be your most-pressing concerns here:
- In-Person Courses: We ask that students now unable to live on campus but registered for in-person courses wait to change their schedules. In the wake of this decision, some faculty may choose to change the designation of their courses to allow remote participation. We will notify students once the Office of the Registrar has completed the process of updating course designations.
- Extenuating Circumstances: Some students now ineligible for campus housing may have academic or personal situations that make being off-campus exceptionally problematic—for example, those whose graduation would be delayed by a semester or more because they were not able to take a specific course or courses. The university will be sending a separate communication that details the process of requesting waivers, but we want to emphasize that the health considerations that drove this decision mean that exceptions will be granted only when no other solution exists—and even then, only to the extent single rooms are available.
Finally, we continue to require that all students living in residence halls and Greek housing be tested upon arrival. You will receive details about that process in a subsequent communication.
Again, we are sorry that health concerns mean that we cannot accommodate all of you this fall, and very much hope that 2021 brings better health circumstances for our community, nation and world. For now, however, we must do all we can to protect your well-being in the conditions we face today.
We appreciate your patience and understanding.
Barbara R. Snyder
Ben Vinson III
Provost and Executive Vice President