Bard Academy and Bard College at Simon’s Rock recently announced in a media release, the conclusion of the in-person portion of the fall 2020 semester, which has resulted in a safe campus community and zero residential COVID-19 cases.

Simon’s Rock administered 7,557 COVID-19 tests over the semester with only two positive results; neither were from a campus resident. Simon’s Rock reported a positivity rate of 0.026%, making it among the safest in-person learning environments in the state of Massachusetts.

In August, Simon’s Rock announced a plan to welcome students back to campus for the fall semester with primarily in-person, socially distanced instruction as well as remote and hybrid offerings. As part of the reopening strategy, students’ off-campus travel was limited to Great Barrington until this week’s November break, when they return home to conduct the final three weeks of the semester online.

“This semester, with high school-aged students facing few in-person learning options, I’m pleased that we were able to offer an active, engaged, and protected in-person learning environment while maintaining the rigor and depth of the Simon’s Rock early college experience—both in and outside of the classroom,” said John Weinstein, Provost and Vice President of Simon’s Rock.

The cornerstone of Simon’s Rock’s reopening strategy has been the establishment of a contained community through weekly, community-wide COVID-19 testing by the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and rigorous safety measures that include handwashing, the use of face masks, and social distancing. The strategy’s phased approach included asking students to quarantine at home prior to arriving on campus in August, followed by a series of on-campus quarantines before students were allowed to enter the town of Great Barrington. Throughout the fall semester, Simon’s Rock closely monitored COVID-19 cases in surrounding communities and fostered open dialogue with students to ensure the campus experience remained safe, enjoyable, and productive.

Additionally, the Simon’s Rock campus community has adopted a philosophy of community support and success by taking COVID-19 awareness training and signing a campus-wide pledge affirming their understanding of campus policies and their commitment to protecting one another by following the policies. To further protect the Simon’s Rock community and its neighbors, campus access was restricted to students, faculty, staff, and authorized visitors.

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The reopening plan was developed by several committees at Simon’s Rock—in coordination with state and local authorities, public health officials, the Provost, college counsel, and Bard College—and prioritized the public health and the safety of the entire campus and surrounding Berkshire community.

Simon’s Rock is well-positioned to begin the spring 2021 semester with a proven track record of delivering a safe, in-person learning experience along with hybrid and remote instruction. Students will begin to return to campus in late January, with spring semester classes starting on February 8, 2021. Simon’s Rock is currently accepting applications for the spring 2021 semester as well as the fall 2021 semester.

(information sent to WSBS from Bard College at Simon's Rock for online and on-air use, photo taken from Bard College at Simon's Rock's Facebook page

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