Updates and Next Steps for Fall 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I write to share with you a letter we sent to your student today, which highlights our current success to date, with a low-to-no-prevalence of COVID-19 on campus. Since the beginning of the semester, we have had six students test positive and all have recovered successfully. Because of our shared campus commitment to keep each other and the local community healthy and safe, we have been able to slowly expand our in-person gatherings and host more in-person and small group meetings on campus. 

As you may know, we are currently operating at Alert Level 2–Yellow. I’ve received questions from many students as to when we will shift to Alert Level 1–Green. I am in regular consultation with our infectious disease experts at Hartford HealthCare about this very topic, and hope to share more information with you in the near future.

I encourage you to visit our new webpage, Things To Know: Fall 2020 Information and Resources, and to discuss it with your student. Here, you will find detailed information about our dashboard, testing protocols, travel on-and off-campus and a reminder of our COVID-19 expectations. 

I am proud of our entire campus community for taking on the challenges of this semester and adhering to our expectations. Thank you for all you do to support your student and for your continued help to ensure a successful fall semester. 


Sincerely,



Victor Arcelus
Dean of Students

 


 

Dear Students,

We just finished week two in Alert Level 2–Yellow and have conducted over 14,000 tests since Aug. 17. During our time together, six students have tested positive and recovered. I have been in conversation with many of you, and it is clear that there is a tremendous commitment to our effort to maintain the health and safety of our campus and local community. Thank you. In this message, I’d like to address three topics that will help us continue our community’s success: 

  • The in-person opportunities made possible by Alert Level 2–Yellow 
  • The next steps toward Alert Level 1–Green
  • Two resources developed by Student Life to support your understanding of our COVID-19 expectations and to assist you in managing life on campus so that we can achieve Alert Level 1–Green and remain there until mid-November.  

Highlights
The start of this year has been very different from any other. While we typically begin with a great deal more in-person activity, this year we have taken a much more measured approach in order to maintain the health of our community.  

In the past two weeks, however, as we shifted to Yellow, you will have noticed a number of changes. Here are some examples:

  • In-person classes in regular classrooms, studios and outside spaces. 
  • In-person Protestant Worship and Catholic Mass on Sundays, Shabbat on Fridays and two recent Rosh HaShanah services.
  • One-on-one meetings with the Division of Institutional Equity and Inclusion staff and students to plan events together. (For example, as part of Latinx Heritage Month, this weekend 25-30 students will be flying kites on Tempel Green.) 
  • Virtual and in-person advising appointments hosted by the Class Deans, Academic Resource Center (ARC) and the Hale Center for Career Development. 
  • Language tutoring group meetings in Walter Commons. 
  • One-on-one meetings with faculty/staff and students, including lunch and coffee gatherings with groups of students in different spaces across campus.
  • Virtual and in-person DIY nights; outdoor movie nights on Tempel Green; on-campus Outdoor Adventure hiking trips; club sport practices; DJ and food trucks on Tempel Green coordinated by the Office of Student Engagement and student leaders. 
  • Virtual and in-person meetings for clubs and organizations to plan indoor events for up to 25 people and outdoor events for up to 100.  
  • REAL student staff leading a wide variety of programming in the houses both in-person and virtual. 
  • Strength, HIIT and agility sessions for varsity athletes on Silfen Field led by strength and conditioning coaches.
  • One-on-one and small group meetings with coaches and student athletes; fall sports training in groups of 10 and now in groups of 25; spring sports in-person training starting today; winter sports beginning on Oct. 15. 
  • Access to the Fitness Center and pool. Both are open to all students using a reservation system, providing over 600 students a day with the opportunity to workout in the facilities. Fieldhouse courts, squash courts and other spaces are opening soon. Outdoor spin classes and yoga on Tempel Green are also offered. 
  • Expanded dining options, including a takeout format with more choices. Campus coffee shops are also open for takeout. 
  • Additional gathering spaces across campus for students to study and gather, including Shain Library (with expanding hours), Crozier-Williams and Walter Commons.      

Next Steps
The above list highlights a few of the many ways that life on campus is becoming a bit more normal during the pandemic. These in-person gatherings are now possible for us because of everyone’s diligent work to follow our COVID-19 expectations, including our regular testing protocols. This has been a tremendous collective effort, and we want to continue on this trajectory so we can shift from Alert Level 2–Yellow to Alert Level 1–Green very soon. 

So, how do we do that? I am in regular contact with our infectious disease experts at Hartford HealthCare to discuss specific cases and our overall campus operations. Our most recent conversations have focused on a possible move to Alert Level 1–Green in the near future, particularly if we continue to see a low-to-no-prevalence of COVID-19 on campus. Two changes we might consider include allowing in-person dining in our dining halls and allowing you to visit your friends in different residence halls. I hope to share more information about these two areas in the coming days, provided we continue along our current trajectory.  

Another important step for everyone is to get a flu shot. It is not required but is strongly recommended. The College is offering flu shots for free, with two opportunities to get a shot on campus: Wednesday, Sept. 30 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and Monday, Oct. 5 from 1-5 p.m. To reserve a time, please visit this Flu Clinic link. You can also get a flu shot off campus at local pharmacies and urgent care centers. 

I also want to remind you that Student Health Services is open 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday to Friday for telehealth and in-person visits. Call (860) 439-2265 or email for an appointment. SHS staff are available to see you about any medical needs that you might have.   

New Resources
In order to help us continue our current success of four consecutive testing days with no new student cases, I’d like to share with you two resources that will enhance your understanding of how to live and interact safely on campus and in the region.

  • First, we have launched a new webpage called Things to Know: Fall 2020 Information and Resources. This page compiles a lot of the information that I’ve shared in recent messages and is an easy way to reference the information and access important links. I will continue to update this information throughout the semester.
  • The second resource is a document called Select COVID-19 Expectations and Possible Consequences. This helpful grid aligns our expectations with examples and possible consequences if the College learns that the expectation is not followed. I’ve been in regular conversation with students on this topic and hope that this document helps to shape our mutual understanding of how we need to operate as a community during COVID-19.

Thank you for your continued attention to all of these matters and for your care and support of each other.  I also invite you to engage with faculty, staff and your peers in thinking creatively about new ways for us to connect as a community during these challenging times.  

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Sincerely,



Victor Arcelus
Dean of Students