Dear Marietta College Campus Community and The Long Blue Line,

This morning’s COVID-19 Task Force meeting left me reinvigorated about all that we are accomplishing and look forward to accomplishing at Marietta College during a global pandemic — and I cannot emphasize enough just how happy I am to be a part of this dynamic Pioneer community.

Even in times of a pandemic, our students continue to push themselves academically by exploring areas of research and sharing their knowledge with others. At 7:00 p.m. tonight, I encourage you to watch the presentations of three such Pioneers — April Davis ’21, Katie Kitchen ’21 and Emily Kinney ’22 — who discuss their summer research work during the virtual 2020 Investigative Studies Fall Symposium.

We are in Week 7 of our semester, and our students and faculty are focused on mid-term exams and projects. As our students look forward to successfully completing this work, I would like to add another treat they can look forward to at the end of this week — Late Night Wing Night at Izzy’s. We have partnered with Parkhurst Dining to treat students from 7:00-11:00 p.m. Saturday, October 3rd, FREE wings, loaded fries and ice cream novelties. Our students have put in the work, I am happy that the College and our Parkhurst partners are able to add a reward.

Students, faculty and staff continue to follow the Marietta College Cocktail of wearing facemasks, washing their hands, maintaining safe physical distancing, and monitoring for symptoms daily before interacting with campus. We currently have nine students in quarantine and one active case. The active case is a contractor who has not been on campus since September 20th. You can monitor Marietta College’s numbers through our site — www.marietta.edu/covid-19-cases-reporting. On the site, you will notice that the College is reporting three total cases. That total includes the contractor but does not include the student who exhibited symptoms, tested negative for COVID-19 twice, but then tested positive for the antibody once recovered from symptoms. According to the local health department’s guidelines, the student is not to be counted as a positive case. For your assurance and out of abundance of caution for our campus community’s health, Marietta College will continue to care for students who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms as if they are positive cases until they are symptom free, test negative once symptoms subside, and complete the isolation timeline.

During our meeting today, we discussed a number of items of importance. Though plans have not been set in stone, they are at a stage where they are important to share with our campus community.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine provided some recommendations to Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) on sample testing symptomatic and asymptomatic members of campus communities, and Marietta College is looking at ways to be able to affordably and effectively accomplish this. We have reached out to the medical division of the Ohio National Guard to help us and this request has been granted. Thankfully, the National Guard will be able to administer the tests for free. Starting in mid-October and lasting for five Wednesdays, the medical teams of the Ohio National Guard will help us administer tests to a cross-section of our students (residential, commuter, student-athletes, student groups, etc.) who agree to be tested and employees who wish to be tested. This will give us a snapshot of our campus’ overall health with regard to COVID-19 and also meet the state’s recommendation of testing a percentage of campus. The test results will be ready within 24-48 hours. The National Guard’s first two visits would be reserved for the Marietta College community’s testing, and subsequent visits would serve the rest of the Marietta area. Again, this is the tentative plan, and adjustments may be made later.

As some of you may have learned, the federal government dispersed 150 million five-minute antigen tests. We hope to obtain the $5, 15-minute Abbott test to be made available to our Center for Health and Wellness. To prepare for that possibility, Marietta has applied to the Ohio Department of Health to obtain a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) Certificate of Waiver to be permitted to administer such testing. I appreciate the work that has been done by our CHW medical staff and our Division of Student Life on this front.

Tomorrow, October 1st, please be aware that the 2021-2022 FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) will be open. Students, please share this news with your families so our Office of Student Financial Services can begin working on your financial aid packages.

Two items regarding Winter Break were discussed. First, we have a number of international students who will remain on campus for the seven-week break between Fall and Spring semester. The Office of Education Abroad is looking for faculty, staff and community sponsors who are interested in serving as foster families for these students during the extended break — providing care packages, safe-distanced interactions and other fun activities. Please reach out to Christy Burke, Director of Education Abroad, if you are interested. Her email is cb002@marietta.edu.

Also during Winter Break, students will be able to choose from nearly 40 online courses that will be available. The College is a member of the Acadeum CIC Consortium, which provides our students with highly vetted, quality online courses. Because the courses are within the consortium, students will be able to use the grade and the credit hours — giving students an opportunity to improve their GPA. Though student financial aid will not be able to be used to pay for the courses, the College is offering them at the same discounted rate ($333 per credit hour) that the summer courses were offered, which is a substantial savings over the regular semester tuition rate. Once course offerings are available and the registration portal opens, the Records Office will send out an email about what is available and how to register. We anticipate courses being available about the same time as Spring registration beginning on October 19th.

We are all working diligently to complete this semester, and we are also looking at ways to start and complete the spring semester safely and with as much, or even more, success. I am pleased with the progress we have made so far, and I know the hard work we are putting in to today will give us even more to celebrate at the end of this academic year. As always, thank you for all that you do for our special Marietta College Family.

Bring Forth a Pioneer!

Bill Ruud
President and Professor of Management