Christendom College brought its fall semester to a close on Thursday, December 11, marking the end of a remarkably successful semester. While the college offered 100 percent of classes in-person, there were no recorded COVID-19 cases amongst the student body while classes were in session — a testament to God’s grace and the college community’s perseverance, planning, and camaraderie in the face of a challenging beginning to the 2020-21 academic year.
“We worked hard over the summer months to develop a robust safety plan that would make it possible for us to safely study, pray, and grow together again as a campus community — in-person. Thanks be to God, we were able to do so successfully,” says college president Dr. Timothy O’Donnell.
The college took a number of steps for the well-being of students, faculty and staff. The academic calendar was revised to remove fall break and end the semester at Thanksgiving, in order to reduce travel, with final examinations being delivered online in early December. Further, all classes were scheduled at no more than two-thirds capacity to facilitate spacing, and sanitization of classroom spaces was increased. Nurse’s hours were increased on campus as well, and mental health resources were made available both in-person and virtually for students to tend to their emotional well-being.
The health and safety of the students, faculty, and staff was the top priority for the entire college, while also ensuring the integrity of the college’s Catholic liberal arts education.
“Going virtual in the spring was a stark reminder to us all of the importance of an in-person educational experience. Students studying the liberal arts thrive in the classroom, where they can consider the most important questions that face mankind together with their professors in a dynamic environment. I am grateful to the faculty, staff, and students for working so hard to make this semester such a resounding success, in the face of some of the most difficult challenges we have faced as an institution,” said O’Donnell.
The college’s smaller size and rural setting proved to be an advantage, with the college’s overall plan receiving certification from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
“We were faced by many challenges this year, but our college community stood together in a powerful way,” said Amanda Graf, vice president of student affairs. “We were well prepared as an institution, from having houses, food, and spiritual support ready for potential isolation to recording lectures in case students were unable to attend their classes. We also partnered with a testing site near the campus that allowed our students to have peace of mind throughout the semester. All of these efforts allowed our students to study and live on campus comfortably this fall.”
Classes officially came to a close on Tuesday, November 24, with many students returning to their homes to take their finals remotely. Other students remained on campus until after their finals were complete, taking them virtually before returning to their homes for winter break.