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College to shift its summer programs online

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury and Ripton will not see the usual influx of more than a thousand students this summer after Middlebury College decided it would offer its summer academic programs only online because of the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
“Health and safety remain at the front of our minds as we decide what to do this summer,” Middlebury Provost Jeff Cason said in a letter to the community this past Friday. “As a consequence, most of our major programs will not take place in person this summer.”
Students will miss out on the in-person experience of the Middlebury language schools on the main campus. One strength of the program has been the language pledge, by which students promise to speak only the language they are learning — including when they are off campus mingling with local residents. In addition, students working on entrepreneurial projects through the MiddCORE program and those working toward a master’s degree in the Bread Loaf School of English in Ripton will not come to town, but will engage in their work remotely.
Middlebury’s Institute of International Studies in California in Monterrey, Calif., will also offer courses online.
Two programs scheduled for June at the Breadloaf Campus in Ripton — conferences for environmental writers and translators — will not be held at all.
Cason, the provost, explained the reasoning for the moves in his April 14 letter, as reprinted below:
“With academic continuity underway through remote instruction for the remainder of the spring semester for both our Vermont and California campuses, as well as the Schools Abroad, we have now turned our attention to plans for Middlebury’s summer academic programs. Our summer schools and programs provide our undergraduate and graduate students with expansive opportunities, and we want to continue as many of them as we can for the 2,000-plus who typically take advantage of them.
“That said, health and safety remain at the front of our minds as we decide what to do this summer. As a consequence, most of our major programs will not take place in person this summer.
“Many, however, will take place through remote instruction. In particular, the Language Schools and the Bread Loaf School of English will be mounting versions of their programs remotely, recognizing that our students want to gain further proficiency in the languages they are learning, make progress toward their MA degrees, and engage with their faculty and fellow students. The Bread Loaf School of English, for example, will offer new credit-bearing opportunities that fulfill degree requirements and allow students and faculty to work together at close range, even though at a distance—building in unique ways on their collective talents.
“We are facing an unusual summer, and we want to engage as much as we possibly can with our students and help them make academic progress. Our faculty colleagues will miss the in-person, face-to-face community that empowers and inspires us. But, as we come together remotely, we’re excited by what we can learn and do.
“In addition to the Language Schools and the Bread Loaf School of English, several other programs will move forward this summer, remotely. These include the Institute’s English Preparation for Graduate Studies program and the Institute’s Monterey Summer Symposium on Russia, the latter fully funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. We will also offer MiddCORE remotely.
“At the same time, a number of summer programs will be cancelled this summer. As announced two months ago, the School of the Environment’s China program will not take place. The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences in June—the Translators’ conference and the Environmental Writers’ conference—will be cancelled (we will make a decision about the August Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in June). The Center for Social Entrepreneurship’s June Forum will be cancelled. Several other undergraduate programs will not run, including the Museum Studies program run through our School Abroad in Oxford, and the summer study program on Performing Arts and Community Engagement that was slated to run in Uganda. Finally, there are a number of Institute summer programs that will be cancelled or postponed, while some others will run remotely. Students scheduled to take those programs will be contacted separately.
“We are in an extraordinary moment. We are adapting our academic programs as well as we can. The leaders of our various summer programs will be communicating to their students and faculty and staff colleagues in upcoming days about how the summer will play out. I ask for your patience as we work through our next steps.”

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