January 16, 2022

Dear Members of the Connecticut College Community,

Welcome to the start of a new year. I hope the break from the semester’s routine was restful and restorative.

It is hard to believe that two years have passed since the start of the global pandemic. No one can possibly account for the anxiety, stress, and collective loss we have experienced through this period. Nor measure the creativity, ingenuity, and sheer goodwill that has kept us all moving forward. I remain ever grateful to our staff in student life and our partners at Hartford HeathCare, who have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep our campus safe; to our faculty, staff, and student leaders who have helped us refine our protocols and make better decisions; and to all of you for your forbearance and faith.

And here we are again, about to embark on yet another semester with COVID in our midst. Yesterday, you received a message from the College with details about our approach to the start of the new term. I am writing today to reflect on what this means for us as a community.

Our foremost concern has always been your health and safety. This semester is no different. The only thing that has changed is our accumulated experience of living with COVID. By now we know that vaccines and boosters are effective in preventing serious illness; that indoor masking inhibits community spread; and that regular testing is useful for monitoring both individual and campus health. Our plans for the start of 2022 include continuing all these protocols to protect each other and our extended community.

The recent surge of Omicron makes this necessary. We expect to see a larger number of positive cases as everyone returns to campus next week, and our plans, including remote instruction for the first week, are designed with this in mind. We want to ensure that operations continue so that everyone—students, faculty, and staff—can participate as fully as possible at the start of the term in order to achieve their goals for the rest of the semester.

Of course, there will be disruptions as people test positive and isolate, or as local schools close and parents are forced to adjust. This will add stress to an already stressful time. I ask simply that we all exercise an extra measure of compassion, flexibility, and understanding with each other over the next few weeks. As we have seen time and again, when we come together as a community of empathy and care, we are able to do the good work that ultimately fulfills us and our educational mission.

I look forward to seeing you on campus in the coming days. Until then, I send my best wishes for a successful 2022.

Katherine Bergeron