We have looked forward with anticipation to the day when we would be returning to campus and resuming in-person classes. In preparation, we spent several months developing a comprehensive health and safety plan overseen by the Return to Campus Taskforce and the Academic Return to Campus Work Group. Our $9 million investment in that endeavor includes creation of a donor-funded COVID-19 Testing Center on campus, key to a safe return. We placed delivering an excellent Christ-centered education at the forefront of all our efforts to be ready to return safely at the appropriate time. At each step, we have followed state and county public health and governmental guidance as we monitored the COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates that surged in the last few weeks.
Last Friday, July 17, Governor Newsom issued K-12 guidance, which requires all school districts in counties on the COVID-19 monitoring list to begin their academic year online. APU operates in all counties on this monitoring list. While colleges and universities still await specific instructions from the county and state, the principles conveyed in the Governor’s message are clear. Weighing these factors along with our commitment to the health and safety of the APU Community, we will now pivot to remote learning in an online modality this fall, striving to re-create the classroom environment with an emphasis on interactions between faculty and students. Fall classes will begin on August 31, 2020, in order to provide time for faculty, staff, and students to effectively prepare for remote learning. In turn, the Fall Semester will end on December 18, 2020.
Remote learning comes with a renewed commitment to rigorous academics, rich student support, intentional faith integration, and deep connection between faculty, staff, and students—distinctions of an APU educational experience, whether in person or virtual.
You will experience:
- Christ-centered academic excellence
- Meaningful engagement between professors and students with new improvements in technology to support learning
- Robust wellness and health resources to navigate COVID-19 and thrive in distance education
- Transformational faith integration and spiritual development through online chapels, discipleship groups, and spiritual mentoring programs
- Opportunities to connect with other students, faculty, and staff through various virtual programs and services
- Personalized student advising and peer counseling that promotes academic growth and faith maturity
You will receive multiple communications starting next week that will provide additional guidance on the extent and scope of remote learning, student engagement opportunities, housing, chapel and other spiritual development opportunities, and student wellness services. Programs that prepare students for professions essential to our state and nation’s recovery from the pandemic, including healthcare, have necessary in-person components we will accommodate this fall. Students in these programs can expect to hear from their departments in the coming days.
Though disappointed to not be in-person this fall, we are grateful to advance our mission and anticipate an exciting Spring 2021 return to campus. Our ongoing investment in health and safety measures will make this possible. As we move forward, I encourage you to spend a quiet moment with our Lord and reflect on Psalms 46: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea (1-2); The Lord of hosts is with us (7).”
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to work together to navigate these most uncertain and challenging times.
With best personal regards,
Paul W. Ferguson, Ph.D., DABT, President