In an announcement shared with the Bryant community, incoming University President Ross Gittell, Ph.D., who takes office succeeding Ronald K. Machtley on July 1, outlined plans for students to return to Bryant’s Smithfield campus for classes that will begin August 25.
Six Bryant committees, comprised of more than 50 faculty and staff members, worked on the interdependent aspects of the University’s fall reopening. These committees include Health & Safety; Academic Programs & Technological Support; Student Life & Support; Athletics & Recreation; Facilities, Staff & Budgets; and Communications. Bryant is in the final stage of developing plans that will be submitted to the Rhode Island Department of Health.
“The top priority of our collective efforts in this planning is to ensure a safe and healthy environment for every member of our community,” Dr. Gittell said.
"The top priority of our collective efforts ... is to ensure a safe and healthy environment for every member of our community."
“I know that my first year as president will present challenges and learning opportunities for all of us. Bryant’s pristine campus, secured entrance, location and moderate size, and culture of concern for the community are key assets that will serve us well.”
A modified academic calendar
In alignment with State of Rhode Island plans to reopen schools in August, Bryant’s campus-based student residential experience and instruction will commence with students moving in August 19 (first-years) through August 24. The early arrival will allow students to finish their fall academic work and complete final examinations by November 24, before Thanksgiving break, a modification of the academic calendar designed to mitigate any potential spread due to a fall COVID-19 resurgence. Bryant’s revised academic calendar ensures that all fall semester requirements related to instructional hours are met, and personalized interaction with faculty and staff maintained, while addressing health and safety concerns.
To ensure appropriate physical distancing within the classrooms, some class attendance will be split between alternating sessions. Bryant has made a significant investment in additional classroom technology, to ensure remote connectivity and further advance the University’s progressive teaching practices. All class sessions will be available on campus, via live streaming, and/or recorded for later viewing by lecture capture.
On-campus testing for COVID-19
In addition to the modified academic calendar, incoming President Gittell also noted steps to ensure that timely, high quality, on-campus testing for COVID-19 can be conducted and overseen by Bryant Health Services staff. Beginning on Monday, June 15, all of the University’s faculty, staff, students, and visitors will be required to use the newly developed Bryant Health Checker app to complete daily attestations regarding any COVID-19-related symptoms. Throughout the summer reopening and fall semester, all faculty, staff, students, and visitors will be required to adhere to strict physical distancing practices and to wear a face mask while on campus. Among the extensive measures for health and safety, all classrooms, residence halls, and community spaces will be undergo heightened cleaning.
In closing, incoming President Gittell noted, “The top priorities in our planning for the fall semester are to ensure the health and safety of students, faculty and staff; to continue the high-quality Bryant education and student life experience; to listen and learn on important issues including those related to inclusion and social justice; and to sustain our positive employment experience.”
He added: “The contributions of our dedicated faculty and staff, and their commitment to students and to Bryant, remains extraordinary and will help all of us through this challenging time in American higher education and for our nation and for Bryant University.”