December Community Survey: Planning Spring 2022
What a treat to see great Christmas cheer on the Marble Corridor last week! Thanks to the Butterfly Network for stopping by to show me their crazy Christmas sweaters and festive antlers!! A very happy holiday season for all!
Hard to believe we’re in exam week now, the Fall 2021 semester is all over except the exams and grades (!!) and then we are all looking forward to the winter break as we celebrate the holidays in our many different traditions. I am so grateful to all of our students, faculty and staff who worked so hard and creatively all semester to make these past four months a great success.
Before we say goodbye to 2021, we conducted one last community survey for the year, and I present the results, below. I will be following-up on all of the comments with our Senior Executive Staff and we will have some new directions and opportunities when we start Spring 2022.
Thanks to all who participated in the survey, and here’s the breakdown of the participation:
Q2: How’s It Going?
This has become my favorite question because it takes the temperature of the campus community while eliciting very important comments. Here’s the breakdown by group — students, faculty, staff — with comparison to the responses in September and October:
What is very interesting to see on the results above is that while the student and staff responses indicate some improvement from October to December, the faculty responses indicate some additional stress. This is probably not surprising since the work of keeping classes engaged and moving forward definitely gets harder as the semester goes along, and the pandemic conditions wear on everyone. The comments are the most revealing:
Select Faculty Comments
“It’s nice to be back in person. When I teach in person I can see students’ reactions and better gauge if they are understanding the material and when I need to elaborate further. The hardest thing has been that students are not coming to class. I have had so many students ask me to do zoom during the in person classes because they have to stay home to care for children or have other reasons for not coming to campus.” (CAS)
“I know that switching to an on-line format has been very challenging for students who value and respond better to live classed. However, the pandemic made the change unavoidable. …I am amazed and proud of the tremendous courage and determination that students have shown responding to the change. I am also very proud that my students have been proactive by working with me to be adaptive and “help me design” changes as we progressed through the term to ensure the the format was working for their particular educational needs. I am always so very impressed by the dedication of our students to obtaining their education no matter what the challenge.” (PGS)
“I found that students didn’t seem ready to be back in the classroom–some of them physically unready (worried about being in person, others who just preferred convenience of logging in from home), and some of them mentally: still mentally exhausted from pandemic concerns but many of them simply unprepared to continue in their coursework (little retention of content from previous courses).” (CAS)
“It has been great being back on campus and interacting with students and faculty. I noticed that after midterm students became drained. I think this may also be the case for faculty as well. Looking forward to the holiday break. Overall, I had more students facing mental health challenges. Either from the course work, losing family members, or outside work obligations.” (CAS)
“I have been very blessed with my students. They are smart, eager, and enthusiastic!” (CAS)
“This semester has been more work with more students out taking care of children, parents, or other family members, or isolating while they are waiting for Covid test results. This resulted in a lot of keeping track and following up with grading on make-up work. I think I will change some of my policies to streamline this process, or set up my syllabus so that there are options to just drop some assignments so students don’t have to worry about making up the work every time. I also had a couple of assignments that ended up being a lot of work to track and grade. Will be revising those in the future!” (CAS)
“I believe that the students and I have become more proficient with the technology and have grown in developing learning new strategies to keep students engaged. The students are all working; therefore, being online has been a great motivator because students do not have to rush through traffic to get to class. There has been perfect attendance in the class.” (PGS)
Select Student Comments:
“This is my first semester in College and it was so grateful because I love the Professors that Trinity have.” (Early College Academy Student)
“When I decided to continue my journey to get my bachelor’s degree in 2019, my main concern was time management. My job moved headquarter locations during the pandemic and I was the lead on that move. When Trinity transitioned to virtual learning for the SPS program, I was concerned, because Trinity never had an online degree program previously. I was used to being in a classroom setting. I wasn’t sure how I would fair with taking classes online. With that being said, this experience has surprisingly worked very well for me. I am able to commute from work in time to log onto class. There were come connectivity issues in the beginning, as everyone was getting used to being in a virtual classroom. I really hope that Trinity considers creating an online Undergraduate and graduate program going forward.” (SPS)
“The pandemic has brought on us many issues including financial insecurity, career instability and family members with need for special care. Furthermore, immigrant students like me whose birth country is in the midst of war worry about family members left behind and their visa applications. For these and more reasons, the semester has definitely been difficult to complete while staying fully focused.” (CAS)
“Despite my classes being virtual, my professor have been able to teach the material in a very good way. I’ve learned a lot and virtual classes have actually made it more flexible for me to manage school, work and personal life. I was hesitant at first when I new the graduate program was going virtual but I wouldn’t have it any other way specially because I live far away from school and my classes are late at night.” (BGS)
“Transitioning from online to in person classes, I expected to have more difficulties getting to class but I was actually MORE motivated to go to class.” (NHP)
“Due to me being a working adult with a full time job and a 5 year old, I have actually been doing well with my classes online vs in person. When I was in person, I failed a few classes and had to retake them. Being online Ive made the Deans List and even obtained my AA!” (SPS)
“My professor gave me the confidence to want to continue in this path towards my degree.” (NHP)
Select Staff Comments:
“I believe that it is going than expected. I expected good things but I am glad to see people going to their normal (or new-normal) routines and adapting to the changes that needed to be made due to the ongoing pandemic; don’t get me wrong, people are very worry but resolved to move on with their lives as this doesn’t appear that it ill go away any time soon. As a staff member, I am gratetul for the flexibilities provided (such as working a couple of days online and the efforts on keeping the staff informed not just about the pandemic and what to do but also about the school’s efforts to make sure the Trinity community feels safe).”
“I’m very appreciative of the understanding and empathy received as we are still coping post pandemic.”
“While going better than I expected, I had hoped we’d be farther past the pandemic than we are and engaging in more in-person meetings, projects, and more. When I’m in the office, it’s hit or miss who’s also on campus, especially in the afternoon. This affects the collaborative process. This is not Trinity’s fault – this is the way of the world.”
Q3: How should we handle Covid-19 mitigation in the Spring 2022 semester?
A few notes from me:
We have not made any decision yet on whether to require booster shots; I learned last week that some area large universities intend to require them, but the CDC has not issued an opinion on this yet and we are watching the issues closely. We do strongly encourage everyone to get boosters before the spring semester begins, and we will keep you apprised if our policy changes to a mandate.
Some of the comments (sample below) on this set of questions asked why we don’t stop everyone coming onto campus to review their vaccine cards. This is simply impractical. In fact, we do know who’s who on our students-faculty-staff lists, and we do know who is vaccinated, who has a legitimate exemption, and who is not in compliance. We do keep a close watch on exposures and potential dangers. You may not know this since you do not see the surveillance, but we are keeping a close watch and so far — thanks to all who are in compliance — Trinity has had NO cases of on-campus Covid transmission and relatively few cases among our population in their lives outside of Trinity’s campus.
We are addressing individual cases of non-compliance individually. We continue to ask that others not intervene in these cases, but let us know if you have concerns.
We do have a policy requiring visitors to provide proof of vaccination and we do get good compliance on that. Here again, we don’t stop people at the gate but we do maintain the lists and we keep a close watch on people coming and going.
We do expect everyone to wear masks indoors and to maintain social distance. These practices are well-known to mitigate Covid-19. As well, stay home if you are sick is common sense and keeps everyone else safe.
We will continue with staff rotational days (3 days on campus, 2 days remote work) in Spring 2022.
We are evaluating the longer-term issues around online teaching and learning, and how much we will continue online for PGS programs, whether to add more online for other programs. This is an ongoing discussion among deans and faculty.
We will be making some announcements about changes in Campus Health Services as we move into the Spring 2022 semester. I am pleased to tell you that the installation of the Electronic Health Records (EHR) system is almost complete, and with that system we will be able to work with the D.C. Department of Health to get the vaccines for distribution on campus. Watch your email for future announcements about this.
Q4: Rating Campus Services
We asked everyone to rate campus services since this kind of quick assessment helps us with planning and changes that we need to make between semesters. The results are helpful, and I’m pleased to say very happy for most departments, and the comments are constructive:
The Senior Executive Staff and I are reviewing all of the comments provided on this question and we will be addressing the areas of dissatisfaction with the managers responsible. I am very pleased to see that the Library gets high marks on this survey — congratulations to University Librarian Trisha Smith and the entire Library Team for always being there, in-person and virtually, to help our students and faculty with their research and academic projects.
I will write more about our final question on the 125th Anniversary planning in a future blog.
Thanks to everyone for your great input! And thanks for helping to ensure a safe and successful semester for Trinity!!