After a relatively uneventful fall semester, upcoming J-term and spring classes at Mills will continue with a pandemic-era hybrid approach that incorporates both online and in-person learning. While the mix will still heavily lean toward the virtual, several more courses will meet on campus in 2021, including lab sciences and art studios.
There were plenty of pitfalls to the first four months of a most unusual school year—for students and faculty members alike. Email and Zoom fatigue have plagued many in the Mills community, and at a faculty-staff town hall on October 27, 2020, Dean of Student Life Chicora Martin reported that students have diminished resources on both financial and emotional levels. Technology needs are up, while many of those learning off-campus don’t have the
kind of privacy they need for online classes.
The 180 or so students living on campus do have the opportunity to socialize, even as they occupy single rooms. “Students are able to establish social bubbles, and we encourage them to do that,” Martin said. “They have those two or three friends, and they eat together, so they’re interacting in small groups.” A new COVID-19 dashboard is available at mills.edu/covid-19/covid-dashboard.php, showing (as of press time) that there have been no positive cases on the Mills campus since September 2020.
Additional signs of normal life are showing themselves as everyone learns how to adapt to the pandemic. Later in the fall, outdoor yoga sessions on Holmgren Meadow gave those on campus socially distanced time outside, and the area surrounding Mary Morse was reconfigured to allow student and faculty children the opportunity to roller skate. Martin said the Division of Student Life had found better virtual engagement among some populations, such as student parents, and that post-pandemic programming would be adjusted to accommodate those groups.