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Otis College Closes Campus, Suspends In-Person Classes, and Moves to Online Learning

After Spring Break and starting March 30, classes will move online.

Update: As of 11:00 p.m. March 16, the Otis College campus is closing with allowances for move-out plans. Read more below, and see the March 16 Letter to the Community on the COVID-19 Response Hub, for more information. 

Public health authorities are encouraging colleges and other institutions to support “social distancing” in an attempt to slow the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Colleges and universities are focal points for this effort because many people who travel internationally are on campuses, which also feature many spaces where people are in close proximity.

Many colleges and universities have decided over the last few days to reduce in-person learning in favor of online instruction to help reduce the risk of infection and spread.

After review of the plans of local peer schools and other colleges and universities, rapidly evolving guidance from numerous health and higher education authorities, conferral with academic leaders, students, faculty, staff, COVID-19 task force, senior leadership team, and board chair, Otis College concurs with the driving principle that privileges the health and safety of everyone on our campus.

Accordingly, Otis College is taking the following actions. This information only covers the Spring 2020 semester; no decisions regarding Summer 2020 and beyond have yet been made. As Otis leadership learns more, additional measures may be enacted, or the below-stated plans may be revised:

On Tuesday, March 16, Otis College leadership decided to close its entire campus, starting at 11:00 p.m., including residential housing, individual and group studios, labs, shops, the physical library, and other campus spaces, with allowances for move-out plans of various kinds over the next several days. Sadly, Annual Exhibition, Industry Night, the Fashion Show, Scholarship Benefit, and Commencement have been cancelled. The College will find alternative ways to celebrate and publicize our students’ accomplishments and work over the coming months. 

All BFA and MFA courses will be taught remotely beginning March 30 through the end of the spring semester. Faculty will shift course assignments and expectations accordingly. Department chairs, the Teaching/Learning staff, and the Provost’s office will offer guidance and support. Students who need access to remote technology can email helpdesk@otis.edu or call 310-665-6803. Online library resources for research will remain available through the library website. Library staff, academic advisors, and department staff will be available online, by phone, and via Zoom to support students. More academic information for faculty, department staff, and students is forthcoming from department chairs and the Provost’s office.

Spring Break: During the Spring Break period (March 15–22) students should follow all recommendations and/or requirements posted on the COVID-19 Resource Hub and its linked pages. Please pay special attention to Messages to the Community, Community Health Announcements, and International Travel Guidelines posted there.

Following Spring Break: Classes will be suspended the week of March 23 through March 29 to allow faculty and students to prepare for online learning following Spring Break and will begin meeting online on Monday, March 30. Faculty and students will receive additional information on how to prepare for online instruction.

Instructions regarding Extension courses will be sent to currently enrolled Extension students and instructors in a separate message.

Therefore, following Spring Break and the suspension period, on March 30, classes will not convene in-person, but will continue through online modes through spring semester-end. While Otis College leadership recognizes the challenges this shift poses for many on campus, we are also confident in the school’s faculty, technological resources, and the resourcefulness of the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) toward providing tips and training in support of temporary online instruction. 

During Spring Break and through this period of online instruction, students who have returned home for Spring Break (March 15th–22nd) and the week of course suspension (March 23rd–29th) are being asked to remain at home, or to return home or to their permanent residences, as on-campus housing is being closed. Residential students should remove their personal belongings from their assigned rooms by noon, Friday, March 20th. Students who cannot return home may petition for an exception; these will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Residence Life and Housing will be sending additional information.

The Student Health and Wellness Center (SHWC) is still available for both medical and counseling appointments. It is required that ALL students CALL before coming to the center to seek medical or psychiatric care. Please call the SHWC at 310-846-5738 with any questions or to make an appointment.

Otis College leadership will continue to take proactive steps to safeguard the community while simultaneously supporting continuity of business as alternative methods for operations are navigated. With the closure of campus, most staff jobs will be working remotely. The parameters for remote working mirror our current practice. Otis staff members should connect with managers regarding how this will work in their department or division. Otis College leadership continues to monitor guidance from health officials to guide these decisions. Campus-wide sanitation practices have also been increased to reduce potential infection.

All currently scheduled International and Out-of-State Travel Study courses have been cancelled; further travel study planning is suspended until further notice. Updates on all travel-related matters, including domestic Travel Study, will be included on the Travel page of the COVID-19 Resource Hub.

All public events at Otis College scheduled through the spring semester will be cancelled. No new events will be scheduled at this time. This includes all events with external visitors.

Otis College leadership recognizes that with such change to normal campus activities many questions will arise, and additional information will continue to be provided on the COVID-19 Resource Hub’s Overview, Residence Life, Travel, Teaching and Learning, and other pages.