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Important message to campus students

From SNHU President Dr. Paul J. LeBlanc, October 30, 2020

Dear Campus Students,

I write to you during these challenging times with an update on the Spring 2021 semester. I have been in awe of the resilience and spirit of our students throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and I am grateful for how you have remained engaged in your SNHU experience.

Our number one priority continues to be the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff. The SNHU COVID-19 Taskforce has spent months tracking the pandemic conditions and public health recommendations, conducting research, consulting with government and health officials, holding meetings, scenario planning, and listening to the voices of our students, staff, and faculty. Earlier this week they presented their recommendations to the leadership team of the University, and I want to share where we landed.

With cases on the rise in New Hampshire and across the country, the University has made the decision to continue delivering classes remotely for the Spring 2021 semester. Tuition rates will remain at SNHU’s reduced online rates for the spring semester.

While we are continuing with remote learning, we have listened to your feedback and are finding ways to improve on the experience of this fall:

  • Limited Face-to-Face Options: While we do not yet feel it is safe to hold face-to-face classes, we are exploring options to offer some in-person labs and academic support options during the Spring 2021 semester. We are working to provide safe and socially distant ways that faculty and staff can meet one-on-one with students who are facing significant hardship and to provide lab experiences that are difficult to replicate remotely.
  • Registration and Course Modalities: In the survey recently administered by the SNHU COVID-19 Taskforce, students overwhelmingly responded that they want clarity about how faculty members will deliver each course in the remote environment. We have built new features into our course registration process so you will know at registration whether a section is being offered as synchronous remote (meet virtually 2x/week), asynchronous remote (does not meet virtually), virtual hybrid (meets virtually 1x/week), or in person. Course registration for the Spring 2021 semester begins on November 16; you will hear from Academic Advising in the coming weeks with more information about this process.
  • Limited Campus Housing: Based on your feedback, we have a better sense of the particular hardships some students are facing with ongoing remote learning. For those students who are struggling with their learning environments at home, SNHU is offering the option for a limited number of students to live in campus housing during the Spring 2021 semester. SNHU will prioritize students who are faced with unsafe housing or who are unable to learn effectively in a remote environment due to distractions at home, unreliable access to the internet and technology, family and personal obligations, and other hardships. The Student Handbook COVID-19 Supplement outlines a clear picture of the residential campus experience, including guidelines and restrictions around masks, social distancing, quarantining procedures, testing policies, and other behavioral expectations. Room and board charges will apply. Students interested in living on campus are asked to fill out the housing survey by November 6, 2020. While the campus experience for students in this group will be a far cry from “normal,” we know that for some students it will provide much-needed support.
  • Athletics: The NE10 is still discussing options for the fall, winter, and spring seasons. Athletes will receive a follow-up communication from the Athletic Director with additional information once the NE10 makes additional decisions and recommendations.
  • Next Steps

    You likely have many questions on a number of topics, from the academic experience to financial aid, housing options, and our COVID-19 testing procedures. We have laid out a comprehensive FAQ document to answer these questions and more. Please also review the Student Handbook COVID-19 Supplement.

    The coronavirus pandemic continues to be a fluid situation. Even today, the increase in the number of cases in New Hampshire is resulting in some testing kit shortages, but we are hopeful that we will be able to move forward with our partial reopening plan in January. The Taskforce will continue to monitor public health recommendations, testing and tracking dashboards for New Hampshire and SNHU, and other relevant information in the coming months. The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff will remain our top priority, and the University may need to adjust plans for reopening campus depending on these conditions. Please know that what I have outlined here will almost certainly be revisited and revised as circumstances demand.

    We will continue to communicate with all students, faculty, staff, and parents in the coming months as we prepare for the spring semester. We want to thank everyone for their continued patience, resilience, and grace during these most difficult times.

    If you have additional questions, please reach out to covid19@snhu.edu or visit snhu.sharepoint.com/sites/covid19.

    With Penmen Pride,
    Paul

    Dr. Paul J. LeBlanc
    University President and CEO
    Southern New Hampshire University

Student FAQs

Why is SNHU continuing primarily with remote learning for the spring semester?

With cases on the rise in New Hampshire and across the country, SNHU has made the decision to continue delivering campus classes remotely for the Spring 2021 semester.

Our number one priority continues to be the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff. The SNHU COVID-19 Taskforce has spent months tracking the pandemic conditions and public health recommendations, conducting research, consulting with government and health officials, holding meetings, scenario planning, and listening to the voices of our students, staff, and faculty.

While we do not yet feel it is safe to hold face-to-face classes, we are exploring options to allow for in-person labs and other learning opportunities that rely on specialized classroom equipment/technology in the Spring 2021 semester.

For students who are struggling with their learning environments at home, SNHU is also offering the option for a limited number of students to live in campus housing during the Spring 2021 semester, while studying remotely.

Aren’t cases on the rise in New Hampshire, and across the country? Why is SNHU planning a partial re-opening in January?

While the coronavirus pandemic remains a serious public health threat and we acknowledge the recent uptick in cases as the weather gets colder, the University recognizes a number of factors that have changed since our decision to extend remote learning through the Fall 2020 semester:

  • Many of the public health mitigation efforts, such as wearing masks, practicing good hand hygiene, and maintaining social distancing, have proven to be effective at limiting the spread of the virus.
  • The U.S. has increased access to quicker and more accurate testing and improvements in contact tracing procedures.
  • Some students are reporting mental health challenges and feelings of isolation, and some are reporting that they are unable to learn effectively in a remote environment due to distractions at home, unreliable access to the internet and technology, family and personal obligations, and other hardships.

Therefore, we have devised a comprehensive plan that allows for a partial re-opening of certain elements of the campus experience, with strict attention paid to public health best practices and guidance from relevant authorities. These in-person elements are optional for students who have voiced their needs. We will continue to provide a robust remote environment for the majority of our academic experiences and engagement opportunities.

For questions, please contact covid19@snhu.edu.

I learn better taking in-person classes; why can’t SNHU return to in-person classes like other schools?

We understand that some students prefer face-to-face learning for a variety of reasons. However, due to the public health crisis and the guidelines from federal, state, and local officials, SNHU will continue with mostly remote courses in the spring of 2021. SNHU is exploring additional options to allow for some in-person labs and other learning opportunities that rely on specialized classroom equipment or technology. Because students will continue in a primarily remote learning environment, SNHU is continuing to invest significant time and resources to plan for remote instruction and ensure students are well supported throughout this experience.

In the survey recently administered by the SNHU COVID-19 Taskforce, students overwhelmingly responded that they want clarity about how faculty members will deliver each course in the remote environment. We have built new features into our course registration process so students will know at registration whether a section is being offered as synchronous remote (meet via video 2x/week), asynchronous remote (does not meet via videoconference), virtual hybrid (meeting via video 1x/week), or in person. Course registration for the Spring 2021 semester begins on November 16; you will hear from Academic Advising in the coming weeks with more information about this process.

SNHU faculty and staff remain committed to helping all of our students succeed, and we are here to help. If you would like to discuss taking a semester off, we encourage you to reach out to the Academic Advising Office at academicadvising@snhu.edu. Innovation Scholars (freshmen students) who have questions should contact snhufirstyear@snhu.edu.

What if my course/lab is offered in person and I don’t feel comfortable going in person?

All courses will have a remote option for students who do not feel comfortable attending in person.

Will the academic calendar be adjusted? Will there be a spring break?

The academic calendar will remain the same. Classes will begin January 4, 2021, for Innovation Scholars and January 12, 2021, for other returning students. Resident students will begin a staggered move-in at the end of January to allow a buffer between the holidays and a return to campus.

There will be a spring break, but students are encouraged to stay on campus and limit travel to reduce unnecessary exposure. Students who leave New England will be required to quarantine upon return, in accordance with state health guidelines.

I’m an international student; what does this mean for me?

International students should reach out to International Student Services if they have questions or concerns: iss@snhu.edu.

Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid

How much will it cost to live on campus this spring? Will housing scholarships apply? What residence halls will be open?

Housing will be $4,250 for the semester to account for single occupancy, and all students will be charged a mandatory, non-refundable $1,200 meal plan for the semester. The prorated rate of $4,250 accounts for a delayed move-in date at the end of January. As long as a minimum number of people are in campus housing, dining will be available; if not, students will reside in apartments and will not have the option for or be charged for a meal plan. If that is the case, students will need to provide and cook their own meals. All students will be made aware of this before they sign their Housing License Agreement and move to campus.

Students will reside in Monadnock, Kingston, or Tuckerman Hall. Separate residence halls will be used for quarantine.

Financial aid packages will be reviewed and will be updated as needed on mySNHU for students who are approved for campus housing.

If you have questions about campus housing, please contact
housingquestions@snhu.edu.

Will campus tuition remain at the reduced rates for all students, or will it return to normal campus rates? How will my financial aid be impacted?

SNHU will continue offering its reduced tuition rates for all campus students continuing with remote learning for the Spring 2021 term. Tuition for the Spring term will be reduced to $960 per course for undergraduate courses and $1,881 per 3-credit course for graduate courses. Assuming a regular five-course load per semester, undergraduate tuition will drop to $4,800 for the Spring semester. Institutional or merit-based financial aid may be affected by this change.

SNHU will ensure that no campus student pays more for remote learning in direct tuition costs than the student would have paid to attend in-person classes, once institutional financial aid is applied. All impacted students will receive a financial aid award letter that reflects the reduced cost of attendance by no later than December 1 for the Spring semester. Bills will be available on December 1.

If you have questions about your financial aid, please reach out to sfscampus@snhu.edu.

Partial Reopening Student Experience

What are the rules for students if they come back?

We strongly encourage students to thoroughly review the Student Handbook COVID-19 Supplement, which outlines the residential campus experience, including guidelines and restrictions around masks, social distancing, quarantining procedures, testing policies, and other behavioral expectations.

It is essential to note that campus life will not be the same as students have known, with in-person offices and services available remotely, the majority of events and classes remaining remote, and strict rules on social distancing and gathering, including that guests will not be permitted on campus at any time. Students who are approved to remain in campus housing will be held to incredibly high behavioral standards.

Will students be required to sign waivers before returning to campus?

Prior to returning to campus, all students must review the Student Handbook COVID-19 Supplement and read and acknowledge the risks and required actions for such a return in the Return to Campus Risk and Responsibility Acknowledgement, Waiver and Release. This is meant to ensure that each returning student and, when applicable, their parent or guardian are fully aware of and accept the inherent risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the inability of SNHU to completely eliminate or fully control such risks on its campus.

Will dining services be available? Is food delivery allowed?

The Dining Center will be open as long as there are more than 75 residents living on campus. The Cupboard -- SNHU’s on-campus food pantry located in the Student Center -- will also be open. SNHU will continue to assess what other food services will be available. Food delivery is allowed as long as delivery drivers remain outside and all parties wear masks and socially distance.

Can students meet in small groups on campus? Where will they be allowed to meet?

Apartment occupancy is restricted to the apartment’s resident and one other resident from the same building. When hosting a resident from the same building, students are encouraged to practice mitigation strategies including good hand hygiene, social distancing, and utilization of face coverings to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19. Occupancy is limited for safety reasons. This policy reduces contact between people and minimizes the potential spread of COVID-19.

Students living on campus will also be able to eat in the dining hall and meet in large spaces where social distancing is possible. The Residence Life staff will be coordinating additional socially distant programming for residents whenever possible. Virtual events will also be available to all students.

In-person events will be limited to resident students.

If you have a question not answered here, please contact covid19@snhu.edu.

COVID Protocols & Contingency Planning

What will the testing requirements be? Will COVID-19 tests be mandatory? If so, how often?

Students will be required to provide proof of a negative PCR-based COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival to campus. If students are unable to meet this requirement, they can contact the Wellness Center at 603-645-9679 to consider alternatives. Following this initial entry testing, students will be tested weekly. This surveillance testing is mandatory for all students participating in campus-based experiences.

For questions about testing and Wellness protocols, please contact wellness@snhu.edu.

Will students be required to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival?

Yes, students coming to campus from outside the New England states will be required to quarantine for 14 days after arrival. Students arriving from within New England will not. All Students will be required to provide proof of a negative PCR-based COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival on campus.

For questions, please contact wellness@snhu.edu.

Will SNHU provide students with masks and other personal protective equipment to keep them safe?

Students will be asked to bring 2-3 reusable cloth masks to school with them. These can be hand washed in hot water and soap and air dried. However, masks will be available at the Wellness Center if students’ masks get lost or become unwearable.

For questions, please contact wellness@snhu.edu.

How will you address students breaking social distancing or SNHU COVID-19 conduct policy rules?

The Office of Community Standards has developed student expectations that specifically address COVID-19 public health guidance. Students will be required to wear masks in all public spaces, maintain physical distancing, avoid large social gatherings, and comply with quarantine or isolation procedures, among other requirements. Should students not comply with these expectations, they will face sanctioning, including removal from campus if needed. The Student Handbook COVID-19 Supplement outlines a clear picture of these expectations and policies.

What happens if I or a classmate test positive for COVID-19? Can you explain the process?

If a student tests positive for COVID-19, they will be moved to isolation housing. Food, kitchen space, laundry service, and medical supplies (if needed) will be provided. Students with COVID-19 will isolate for AT LEAST 10 days and for 72 hours after first having no fever without a fever-reducing medication. These students will have regular contact from the Wellness Center. Students in isolation will need to be cleared by Wellness Center nurse practitioner staff before leaving isolation. Full contact tracing will be performed, and close contacts will be notified. The close contacts will then need to quarantine for 14 days. Students in quarantine will also have food, kitchen space, and laundry services, as well as frequent communication from Wellness Center staff.

For questions, please contact wellness@snhu.edu.

Will classes/services switch to remote for 2 weeks following the positive case(s)?

Most classes and services will be provided remotely to reduce the interruption of services should there be a confirmed case. Through thorough contact tracing, individual close contacts will be identified and, if needed, a remote learning opportunity will be provided for students who are affected.

Will there be housing for COVID-positive students?

Yes, if a student is diagnosed with COVID-19, they will be required to move to separate isolation housing on campus. Students will need to remain in isolation until medically cleared by the Wellness Center.

Will meals and essentials be provided for quarantined students?

Yes, students in quarantine or isolation will be provided with access to food and other essentials. These students will also be contacted regularly by the Wellness Center and Residence Life to check on their overall well-being and daily needs.

At what point would SNHU close campus?

SNHU will monitor internal and external factors in deciding to remain open or make modifications to this plan. These factors include the availability of isolation spaces for up to 5% of on-campus students, percentage positivity rate of on-going surveillance testing on campus, level of community spread in the local geographical area, state-wide restrictions, and advisories by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

If you have a question not answered here, please contact covid19@snhu.edu or wellness@snhu.edu.

Campus Support Services

What support services will be available in person on campus? Which services will remain remote?

For students who will be living in campus housing, most student services will remain remote; however, students will have access to dining services, computer labs, and the Freese Student Center. Students will also be able to use recreation and fitness facilities, though reservations will be required.

The Wellness Center (wellness@snhu.edu) will also be available for virtual and in-person visits by appointment for students living on campus.

The Wolak Library Learning Commons (wolaklearningcenter@snhu.edu) will remain closed to in-person visits at this time, but all services will still be available in a remote environment.

If conditions improve, the COVID-19 Taskforce will consider opening additional in-person services and amenities for students.