The Hendrix College Board of Trustees adjusted the fall opening plans to begin the semester remotely instead of in-person during its meeting Wednesday.

“This was an extremely difficult decision to make, and it is deeply disappointing to us all,” Hendrix President Ellis Arnold said. “Given the current situation and the primarily residential nature of our community, beginning the semester remotely is the most responsible position we can take in order to protect the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff.”

Hendrix officials said they will continue to monitor COVID-19 conditions and return to in-person classes if trends change.

“We are hopeful virus trends will improve so that we can welcome students back to campus safely and resume in-person instruction later this fall,” Arnold said, adding Hendrix continues to plan for an in-person and on-campus spring 2021 semester.

Board chair Jo Ann Biggs, a Hendrix alumna, said the board was grateful to faculty, staff, campus leaders and community partners for helping develop a strategic plan “to resume in-person classes this fall.”

“The current circumstances require us to re-examine our intentions to begin the semester in person,” she said. “The health, safety, and well-being of the Hendrix community is, and must continue to be, our highest priority. We look forward to welcoming students back to the Hendrix campus when conditions improve.”

The Fall 2020 Steering Committees have worked with Hendrix faculty since May to prepare for the upcoming semester and had initially announced in early June a change to the calendar to start the semester earlier and complete in-person classes before Thanksgiving break.

“While we are confident in our campus safety plans and our partners in the community, we have serious concerns, based on public health data and predictive models, about the current trajectory of the virus in central Arkansas and across the state, as well as increases in infections in areas from which many of our out-of-state students come,” Arnold said, noting how average daily cases in the state have “significantly increased” since mid-June.

Provost Terri Bonebright said: “Hendrix faculty are committed to challenging and inspiring students. That commitment doesn’t change whether they are teaching remotely or in person.”

Jeanette Anderton can be reached at janderton@thecabin.net

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