On Jan. 7, Dean of the College Terry Papillon sent the message below to College students, with information and requests about class attendance this spring.

Dear students of the College,

Welcome back for the spring semester at Sewanee! The faculty look forward to having you back. We are starting under yet another variation of COVID-19 protocols, so I ask you to review our approaches and do all you can to keep us all well. We are all in this together, so it is important to be aware of your needs, but also the needs of those around you—your fellow students, the staff, and the faculty.

Let me make a few comments about class attendance: 

The interchange in the classroom is fundamental for education at a residential liberal arts college. The responsibility all have to be present in the classroom so that they can both contribute to and gain from the learning environment is a basic assumption here. It is therefore important that you be in class each day unless you are sick. Each of your professors will have policies about attendance and engagement for their particular class. 

And sometimes you might be sick. If you are out sick from COVID-19 (or another cause), please inform your professors as soon as possible. Remember that the professor will determine how students will keep up or catch up. And it will very likely be the case that one professor’s approach will not be the same as that of another professor. The approach will depend on the specific course and the specific faculty member. 

There should be fewer COVID-19 related absences from classes this spring and they should be shorter because of new direction from the CDC regarding quarantine and isolation. However, there may be more of them because of how contagious the omicron variant is. Thus, the University will monitor things closely as we begin the term and make adjustments as necessary.

It is also true that you may have to be away as an official representative of the University (athletics, academic conference, etc.). Please remember to inform your professors of this at the beginning of the term, or as soon as you are able. 

Given those realities for this spring, I ask you to keep other absences to a minimum. We all need to work together to make the semester successful from an academic point of view. Being together in the classroom is our goal. For your own academic success, it is important that you minimize your absences because absences make keeping up and succeeding harder. But your medical wellbeing is a top priority, and so you must pay attention to your health as well. This is a balancing act. There are many here who are resources for you as you navigate a sometimes complicated path through the spring semester. There are resources in the Dean of the College office as well as elsewhere (Wellness, Dean of Students, etc.) to help you. Let us know what we can do for you!

With my best wishes for the spring term,

Dean Papillon