*Published March 9, 2021
To all members of the Northeastern community:
It was one year ago this week that we closed our North American campuses and began the odyssey of managing an unprecedented, global pandemic. Throughout the past 12 months, the Northeastern community joined together in a collective act of complex problem solving and resilience. What we have accomplished together has been miraculous by any measure. In true Northeastern fashion, when world conditions shifted, we adapted and thrived.
As we continue to progress successfully through the spring semester, the university is turning its sights toward Fall 2021 planning. I’m writing to announce that our current plans envision returning to a normal fall semester with regular campus activities. While COVID-19 will not be eliminated (it will likely be with us for years to come) the vast majority of scientific forecasts anticipate that the virus will be well under control by September. This includes the likelihood of widespread vaccination and the resumption of on-site K-12 education, which will relieve the tremendous care-giving burden that many of our faculty and staff, as well as students, have shouldered over the past year.
Announcing this now, in March, is important so that students and their families can plan accordingly. While it is likely that many precautious will still be in effect on our campuses—such as face coverings and some degree of viral testing—we want to be clear that we expect a “normal” fall semester to commence on the first week in September.
We developed many innovations and experiments to make the most of this unprecedented period, and some of these new approaches will continue to serve us well into the future. But the past year has reinforced the importance of our physical campuses for teaching, learning, research, and work. As President Aoun has said, the “power of place” remains central to our mission of transmitting and creating knowledge.
As the fall approaches—and as we have done throughout the pandemic—we will continue to follow the science, including the expertise of our own faculty, and adhere to public health guidelines in each of the regions where Northeastern maintains campuses. The safety of our community will remain at the forefront of our planning. We will remain agile and prepared to pivot in the event that conditions change beyond our control. If we need to make a shift in plans, we will inform the community immediately.
Thank you all for your tireless efforts to make this extraordinary time a period of continued success here at Northeastern. The university’s leadership is well aware of how difficult the past year has been on faculty, staff, students, and families. It is our hope that a full reopening in the fall will not only enhance our ability to achieve our mission, but also serve as a beacon of hope that a brighter future is within our grasp.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs