May 2021 Semester (Sint Maarten Campus)
March 11, 2021
Dear Physicians in Training,
We are now two months into the January 2021 semester, and this community has done a commendable job making our return to campus successful. Special recognition and thanks go to our Student Government and Student Judiciary Committee leaders who have championed several important health and safety initiatives, and to the many campus community members who have followed protocols and practices. Your collective support has enabled AUC to safely deliver our hybrid curriculum as planned, and groups of students are regularly coming on campus for in-person learning activities.
Two major initiatives are giving us more confidence as we look to increase our in-person offerings. The launch of our COVID-19 surveillance testing program has further strengthened AUC's safety and response plans and is allowing us to continually monitor and contain potential outbreaks. After randomly testing hundreds of campus community members and receiving zero positive results, this program is demonstrating that the risk of asymptomatic spread at AUC continues to be low. Sint Maarten also began the first phase of its vaccine rollout in February, with a goal of vaccinating 70 percent of the island population by June. As the vaccine becomes available to more and more groups of people, we encourage our entire campus community to get vaccinated.
With these initiatives in mind, we have decided to continue the May semester on-island with a similar hybrid academic approach as this semester. This means students will be required to be in Sint Maarten and can expect new allowances for in-person activities – both academic and extracurricular – should current trends continue.
Phasing in Expanded Activities and Adjusting our Protocols
Your faculty and campus leaders are regularly reviewing campus protocols and opening opportunities to do more in-person activities this semester and next. Here are a few updates we can share today:
For the current January 2021 semester
- We are exploring opportunities to safely engage with our community partners on service-oriented projects outside of campus. Community Action Day (now days) resumes this month, for example, with student participation in Sint Maarten’s vaccination efforts.
- Student organizations and clubs are now able to resume limited in-person activities, subject to administrative review and approval to ensure that proper safety protocols are followed.
For the upcoming May 2021 semester
- We are working toward a reinstitution of our normal exam protocols which require Sint Maarten-based students to take all exams on campus, in a socially-distanced manner.
- We will continue to teach all ICM 2-5 courses in person. Students who are approved to remain remote for the May 2021 semester will need to defer those courses to the September 2021 semester.
- We will no longer offer the option for remote students to double up on deferred ICM courses in a subsequent semester.
Student feedback is an integral part of our planning process. We greatly value our partnership with SGA and will continue to work with them collaboratively on adjustments for May.
Students Who Are Currently Remote
Students who are currently completing the January semester remotely should plan to arrive to Sint Maarten in time to self-isolate for seven days prior to the start of classes on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. We ask that you refrain from coming onto campus until your self-isolation is complete.
If you are currently remote and believe that you will not be able to return to Sint Maarten for health or other reasons, please submit an Extenuating Circumstances form. Dr. Scott Rinker, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, will contact you to discuss your situation and options. You may be allowed to continue your education remotely, however, we will not be permitting students to double up on ICM courses in the September 2021 semester. Please be aware this means your medical sciences timeline and financial aid status could be impacted if you decide to complete the semester remotely.
Again, thank you for staying vigilant and enabling AUC to safely carry out this semester’s plans. It is so important that we do not give into COVID fatigue. Please continue to follow public health guidelines, keep up your social distancing and face mask wearing, and do not gather in large crowds. Your adherence to health and safety guidelines both on and off campus will be a main determinant in our ability to continue in-person learning and is an essential component of your professional development as a health care provider.
Heidi Chumley, MD, MBA
American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine