The Blair School’s plans for returning to campus

On June 16, Interim Chancellor and Provost Susan Wente shared the university’s plan for how we will return to campus for the fall semester.  As you already know, this semester will differ from previous semesters in many ways.  To begin with, here are the Fall Calendar Dates:

  • Start date: August 24
  • End date for in-person classes: November 20
  • Start date all online:  November 30
  • End date all online: December 4
  • There will be NO fall break
  • Thanksgiving Break: November 20-29
  • All classes held remotely November 30-December 4
  • Last day of the semester:  December 4
  • Exams period (all online): December 7-13

The Blair Academy has selected a tentative start date of August 17, contingent upon the university’s return-to-campus approval process.

Physical conditions at Blair will be dramatically different in the fall. Consistent with university policy, we will be following protocols for COVID-19 prevention. We intend to practice physical distancing and other requirements for health and safety in each classroom. Students will be sitting farther apart and will be required to wear face coverings. Faculty and staff will also be required to practice appropriate public health safety methods.

University-wide, physical distancing of six feet will be implemented in classrooms and studios. This will reduce in-person class sizes and may result in moving some classes to larger spaces. Classrooms will be disinfected daily during routine cleaning. Disinfecting wipes will be provided in classrooms and other spaces. Class scheduling has been adjusted to allow students and faculty more time to travel from one class to another. The Vanderbilt Facilities Department is increasing the amount of outside air delivered to indoor spaces using high-efficiency filtration systems that circulate around large numbers of spaces, and monitoring temperature and humidity levels within those spaces.

At Blair, in addition to the university-wide protocols above, we have ordered plexiglass shields for studios and coaching spaces. In addition, hallways and other spaces have been marked for one-way traffic to minimize contact and congestion. And our major classrooms, including 2133, have been approved for significant technological upgrades that will enhance our online capabilities.

Specific questions about Blair’s practices and classes will be addressed in an email from the Dean’s Office in the next two weeks. That information will contain details of the university’s return-to-campus policies, as well as further information about Blair instruction. Senior Associate Deans Melissa Rose and Pam Schneller have worked tirelessly on these many academic issues in the past three months, and Jared Wonderly, our Director of Facilities, has worked closely with Plant Operations to ensure that the building will be ready for the return of instructional operations in August.

In all these matters, the sole criterion has been ensuring the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.  I know that you join us in these concerns, and your assistance will be both needed and greatly appreciated.

As I say, further information will be forthcoming soon. Until then, please know of my gratitude for your assistance in meeting these challenges.

Mark Wait, Dean and Professor
Martha Rivers Ingram Dean’s Chair