COVID-19 Update: Spring 2021 plans

On Nov. 2, 2020, the College announced plans for the spring 2021 semester.


Dear Kenyon College community, 

As has been said many times before, 2020 has tested us like no other. I continue to be inspired by the strength and depth of compassion that binds the Kenyon community. Our success thus far is a testament to your commitment to one another, and to the community as a whole. It has also been a learning experience, as we have adapted the campus and our practices to the pandemic reality. Based on that experience, and with the support of the Knox County health department, we will invite seniors, juniors and sophomores to be in residence this spring; first-years will study remotely as planned.

Our choice to keep the density of campus low this fall has served the Kenyon community well, and given the current trajectory of the pandemic we will continue this approach for the spring semester. Rooms in traditional residence halls will remain single-occupancy. We have seen other campuses use housing “pods” successfully, and we will introduce this model in our apartments for the spring. By permitting students to share rooms within these units, we will increase our capacity on campus without compromising public health protocols. 

While we wish we could invite all students to study in residence, we have every confidence that our first-years will succeed in their remote studies. With 70 percent of the class enrolled in at least one year-long course, first-years will benefit from the continuity of these seminal Kenyon courses. Further, first-years are more likely to be enrolled in courses with other first-year students, and we know that classes where students are either all remote or all in person are preferred by students and faculty.

Below you will find additional details about Kenyon’s plans for spring 2021.

Residential and Remote Study

As noted above, seniors, juniors and sophomores are invited to study in residence this spring; first-years will continue their studies remotely. As in the fall, we will reserve space on campus for students with exceptional circumstances, including international students, regardless of class year. To petition for an exception, or to elect to study remotely or take time off in the spring, please complete the relevant form on our website by Nov. 9 or otherwise specified date. 

Questions: Dean of Students,; Dean of Academic Advising and Support, 

Off-Campus Study

Kenyon has made the difficult decision to suspend off-campus study through spring 2021. We know this news will be disappointing to students who had hoped conditions would improve enough to study away in the spring, and we share in that disappointment. However, global public health challenges continue to make most meaningful exchanges impossible to conduct safely.

Questions: Center for Global Engagement, 


As with this fall, athletics activities will proceed in a deliberate, measured way that follows National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) phasing guidelines. Regarding conference play, the North Coast Athletics Conference (NCAC) announced last month that it has extended its suspension of intercollegiate competition for all winter sports; it has not yet made a decision about spring sports competition. We encourage student-athletes to be in touch with their coaches. The NCAC also has published a set of FAQs on its website.

Questions: Your coach; Athletics Department,


  • Spring semester housing. All students invited to be in residence for spring 2021 — including those in residence this fall — will participate in the housing selection process, which will open on Jan. 4. Students with approved housing accommodations will be pre-housed prior to the general housing selection process. Spring semester classes will begin on Feb. 1, with a phased move-in the week of Jan. 25; watch for details in December. 

  • Fall departure. All students in residence must vacate their fall housing assignments by noon ET Wednesday, Nov. 25. So that we may conduct a deep cleaning, no belongings may be left on campus over break, even for students returning in the spring. If necessary, students residing outside of the continental United States may be granted permission to remain in residence through the end of the fall semester, departing by noon ET on Dec. 19. Please email no later than Nov. 9 for more information and to make those arrangements.  

  • Remaining on campus over winter break. We understand, too, that some students may be unable to return home between fall and spring terms due to exceptional circumstances. To learn if you qualify, please visit our website, then submit the appropriate form(s) by Nov. 9.

Questions: Dean of Students,; Office of Residential Life, 


At this time, we very much hope to be able to celebrate the Class of 2021 Commencement in person on May 22, but we must remain flexible given the uncertain course of the pandemic. We expect to finalize plans by mid-January.

Questions: Office of Campus Events,

Work-Study and Other Student Work

Kenyon recognizes the value of work-study and other student work experiences in a Kenyon education. The policies adopted in August to address the unique challenges arising from COVID-19 will extend through the spring 2021 semester. As in the fall, students studying remotely in the spring term who would otherwise have work-study as part of a need-based financial aid package will have that allocation converted to a Remote Learning Grant and receive a check to be mailed the week of Feb. 15, 2021.

Questions: Your supervisor; Career Development Office, 

Financial Aid and Billing

We understand 2020 has been challenging for many students and their families, and we have taken steps where possible to ease the strain. We remain committed to meeting 100 percent of demonstrated need and our financial aid staff is available to answer any questions you may have. Spring 2021 semester billing statements will be emailed Dec. 15, with a due date of Jan. 15, 2021.

Questions: Office of Financial Aid,; Student Accounts Office,

# # #

This semester has taught us much about a Kenyon education, about our capacity to learn (and unlearn) under truly novel conditions, about how to keep ourselves well by keeping our distance, about how far six feet can feel and how surprisingly close an advising session over Zoom can be. We have demonstrated that we can carry out Kenyon’s educational mission while protecting the health and safety of our community, supporting both students and employees, and stewarding the long-term health of the institution. Indeed, we have proven they are intertwined, and always will be.

With appreciation,

Sean Decatur