GREENSBORO — Bennett College is planning for students, faculty and staff to return to campus in the fall after being away for more than a year.
The private women’s college announced Tuesday that it intends to start the fall semester with a mix of in-person and hybrid classes, events and campus operations. Hybrid activities have both in-person and online components.
The college expects to start the transition from all-virtual operations later this summer and finish by the end of September, according to a message from the college’s president, Suzanne Walsh.
Bennett is considering a plan to have students and employees return to campus in phases. The college will adjust its plans if coronavirus cases increase once again.
Like other area colleges, Bennett closed its campus and sent students home in March 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Bennett was the only Greensboro school not to reopen last fall. It opted to hold classes and conduct most college business virtually through the spring semester to protect the health and safety of students and employees. Walsh noted back in the fall that Bennett is a historically Black college — many of its professors and staff members are Black, too — and COVID-19 had sickened and killed a disproportionate number of people of color.
Salem College in Winston-Salem was the only other North Carolina institution to stick with virtual classes throughout the entire 2020-21 academic year. Salem held commencement in person last month, but Bennett went with a virtual graduation ceremony for the second straight year.
But as pandemic conditions have improved, Bennett wants to bring students back to its East Washington Street campus. Walsh said in her message that there have been continued declines in COVID-19 cases locally and statewide and she and other campus leaders “are increasingly optimistic” about projected increases in vaccination rates across North Carolina.
“It has been an extraordinary 15 months for all of us,” Walsh wrote. “We have collectively demonstrated that Bennett College is in fact antifragile and able to innovate and differentiate — even in a virtual environment.”
Walsh told students and employees that they would get more details next week about returning to campus.
Contact John Newsom at (336) 373-7312 and follow @JohnNewsomNR on Twitter.