It has been almost three months since we updated everyone on our thinking regarding a return to in-person classes and there’s been a lot of news regarding the pandemic and treatments, including the new vaccines. Based on all of that, it feels like a good time to share an update on our thinking and our plans.
Just as a reminder, our last update in October was that we were going to stay fully online/remote through at least the end of the first quarter of 2021. Since then, the bad news has been that COVID-19 has been rampant in our area - as I write this, only two of our local key metrics are green, two are yellow, and four are red. Conversely, and just in the past 3 weeks or so, we’ve seen one vaccine enter distribution and a second vaccine ready for approval and in distribution by January. That suddenly makes the whole question of preparing to return to in-person classes seem real for the first time since last March or April despite the continuing short-term bad news.
NSS To Remain Online Through June 2021
So let’s not bury the lede any deeper. The updated guidance regarding our plans to return to in-person instruction is that we will continue to be completely online and remote through at least the end of June, 2021. Based on the information that we have seen regarding the planned rate of distribution of the vaccines, we see no realistic chance that enough people will be vaccinated before mid-year to make a return to in-person instruction a responsible thing to do.
We still believe July is an optimistic date for bringing classes back into the classroom full-time but it doesn’t feel completely unrealistic. We think a more realistic date is in the September/October timeframe. Pessimistically it could be January 2022, but we’re not going there in our planning. We have restarted our planning efforts with an eye to being ready to return to our classrooms as early as July. If things progress more slowly with vaccine distribution we’ll still be ready should it be September or October before a full-time return to the classrooms is possible.
As we said in our last update - no student that starts online will be required to return to in-person classes. We fully expect that, even if it is safe for most people to return to in-person classes in July or September, there will be individuals for whom a return to a full classroom is not feasible. We are planning under the assumption that we will need to support a hybrid mode of class delivery, with some students remaining online/remote and some students able to participate in-person. That may well become a permanent feature of classes at NSS, even after COVID-19 and 2020 is a dim, distant memory.
We are eagerly anticipating our return to in-person classes, but until then, stay safe and connect with us online.