I am pleased to be able to write with a winter postcard from Girton. We are, of course, rather a long way from any kind of holiday, it being both mid-term and mid-pandemic in the UK. It has, as you will imagine, been a challenging time for students, both those who are new to Cambridge and those who returned after a disrupted Easter term, only to find more uncertainty in the air. Nevertheless, everyone is doing the best they can to keep heads down (teaching and learning continues apace) and spirits up, despite social distancing and - in some cases - quite long stints of self-isolation.
Our staff have been tremendous, rolling out a vigorous cleaning, health and safety regime, and paying great care and due attention to all the requirements for COVID-security. With the support of our student members, through the JCR and MCR, we have done all we can to keep the spirit of Girton burning brightly, including, with the help of alumni, launching a GirtOnline events project featuring Jazz, Book and Comedy Club every Thursday night.
We have continued to add a silver lining to the clouds, by taking the opportunity to record for posterity some of the major events that would normally be in-person but have had to go online. The Ceremony for the Commemoration of Benefactors is a case in point, you can also catch up with the online alumni weekend, and although there was no way we could get the sheer sparkle of the matriculation picnic dinner onto an events page, we did manage to post my speech and a little bit of the light - not live (!) - music that diners enjoyed.
We have had generally low rates of COVID in College so far, though through contact tracing and other protocols quite a few students have had to self-isolate. As Christmas approaches we are by no means out of the woods. On a positive note, the Christmas tree is ordered, and plans to stream the Advent Carol Service are well advanced. We are planning to support all those who want to get home for the holidays, and preparing to make the very most of what’s left of the term.
With my very best wishes to you and your families. I hope you and they are keeping well and staying safe.
Professor Susan J. Smith, FBA,