COVID-19 Update from President Decatur

On Oct. 15, 2020, President Sean Decatur shared an update about COVID-19, including preliminary plans for the spring semester.


Dear Kenyon College community, 

As we begin the second half of our fall semester, I want to commend you for the effort you have put into making this semester possible. We are all adapting to these new ways of living, learning and working, and our community’s preparation for this semester, as well as its rigorous adherence to public health protocols, has helped keep our COVID-19 caseload remarkably low thus far. Indeed, among 4,390 test results received to date, we have received only four total positive results, and one in the past seven days. (More data are available on the College’s COVID-19 dashboard.) 

That said, today the state of Ohio reported a record high of 2,178 active cases. While Knox County has not seen a spike in cases, the county’s alert level has moved from yellow to orange due to the proportion of cases occurring in non-congregate settings and the number of people seeing a doctor for respiratory symptoms. Further, the wastewater sample collected on Oct. 8 in the Village of Gambier showed elevated levels of the virus. We are monitoring all of these indicators closely and will inform you of any precautionary measures the College will take to further reduce the risk of transmission. In the meantime, I urge you to be vigilant in practicing good public health: wear a mask, keep your distance, avoid gatherings and limit unnecessary travel. 

Spring Semester Planning

We recognize that, with registration for spring courses approaching, you likely have questions about Kenyon’s plans for the spring. We remain committed to inviting as many students to be in residence as public health conditions allow, prioritizing juniors, seniors and students unable to study remotely, and will share details in early November, including information about off-campus study and athletics. In the meantime, we have made minor adjustments to the spring calendar to accommodate two mid-week days off over the course of the semester — we learned this fall that we must build in time for renewal, even if traditional spring-break getaways are not possible. 

Key Dates

  • Nov. 5: Seniors register for spring courses.
  • Nov. 12: Juniors register for spring courses.
  • Nov. 19: Sophomores register for spring courses.
  • Dec. 3: First-years register for spring courses.
  • Dec. 15: Spring semester bills released.
  • Jan. 11: Spring semester student housing selection opens.
  • Jan. 15: Spring semester bills due.
  • Feb. 1: First day of spring semester classes.
  • May 11: Last day of spring semester classes.
  • May 13-17: Final examinations.
  • May 18: Residences close at noon (except for seniors).
  • May 22: 193rd Commencement for the Class of 2021. At this time, we hope to have an in-person event, but we must remain flexible.

Fall Departure

Students in residence must vacate their rooms by noon ET Wednesday, Nov. 25, and take or store all belongings. Similar to their arrival, students may have one guest assist them with move-out; guests must conduct a health assessment prior to coming to campus, as outlined on our website. Students do not need to schedule a time slot to move out, but we ask that they be judicious with their time and that they and their helper take particular care when navigating shared spaces. 

We are modifying our testing protocols in November so that every student in residence is tested within 14 days before departing campus. Students who wish to take an additional test just before traveling may choose to do so at their own expense; please email for more information.  

We understand some students may be unable to return home between fall and spring terms due to exceptional circumstances. Those students may apply to remain in residence between Nov. 25 and the start of the spring semester. Watch for details from the Dean of Students in the coming weeks. 


Even as we must remain steadfast in our adherence to public health protocols, we must also remain flexible with our plans. As 2020 has illuminated, much can change, quickly and unpredictably. Please watch your inbox in the coming weeks for more details regarding spring. And please, continue to take good care of yourselves and others. This past year has tested us like no other, but I continue to be inspired by the strength and depth of compassion that this community has consistently demonstrated. 


Sean Decatur