After nearly five months of being apart, students, faculty and staff are returning to the Taylor campus this week to be together again.
In July, students were informed that Taylor would resume in person classes, while adhering to a COVID-19 reopening plan named the “Taylor Together, Again” plan.
“Our Taylor Together, Again plan reflects our current best thinking, supported by guidelines, counsel, and review from various experts” Paige Comstock Cunningham, interim president, said in an email introducing the plan. “Together, we are figuring this out. No one can do this alone.”
This plan is led by the Pandemic Re-opening Team (PeRT), a group of Taylor faculty and staff ranging from departments such as academic programming, dining services, facilities and residence life.
Consulting with a variety of sources at local, state and national levels — including the Center for Disease Control, alumni of Taylor and orders from Gov. Eric Holcomb — the PeRT team meets every day over Zoom to evaluate the Taylor Together, Again plan. Updates are published every Friday.
Skip Trudeau, vice president for student development, is part of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) for the PeRT team.
“(The Taylor Together, Again plan) is going to impact everything from life in the residence halls to the dining to the classroom,” Trudeau said. “It’s a worldwide pandemic and it’s just going to impact every aspect of what we do.”
Besides the requirement for students to wear a face covering at most times, the COVID-19 pandemic has also resulted in fewer freshmen enrolled for the semester, higher costs for cleaning and maintenance and the cancellation or postponement of many sports.
Michael Hammond, provost and member of the SLT for PeRT, says that Taylor’s number one priority is to provide a safe learning environment on campus that allows the semester to continue.
“Students, please know that Taylor faculty, staff and administration have worked tirelessly over the past six months to respond and strategize so that our mission would be preserved amidst this crisis,” Hammond said. “We love the Taylor experience as much as you do. All of these guidelines and restrictions are in place so that we can continue to safely move toward Thanksgiving and have a great fall semester. Please continue to pray for health, safety and wisdom.”
Like many students, juniors Lindy Peklo and Kayla Britt said they initially responded to the Taylor Together, Again plan with concerns over possible inconsistencies in the plan and lack of details regarding certain aspects of student interaction.
However, both Peklo and Britt are excited for the opportunities that this semester will provide to grow closer to the students on their floor.
“Even though it kind of stinks that we can’t have normal community with the campus, I like the idea of the family unit and how that emphasizes even more the floor, and how we are supposed to be a family,” Peklo said. “As a floor, we can really play into this idea … and really be a family.”
Britt said she also saw an opportunity that this time provides for the Taylor community to learn even more about boundaries and respect and accommodate others’ views more.
For more updates on the Taylor Together, Again plan or concerns over COVID-19 related issues, go to taylor.edu/coronavirus or email PeRT@taylor.edu.