| About | Public Health Information
The safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff is important to us. We continue to take steps to ensure that our campus community is informed with the latest information about the pandemic and how it affects Worcester State.
Worcester State established a COVID-19 Response Team which met regularly to assess the risk level and to work through possible solutions. These included decisions related to screening, housing of students returning from study abroad activities, reconsideration of university-related travel, and as it transpired, with the elevated risk level, the cancellation of all in-person activities. Decisions were made on a case-by-case basis and in conjunction with the latest information on the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
As the spring semester came to a close, focus turned to preparing for a safe return to on-campus activities when appropriate. The COVID-19 Response Team has evolved into a “Safe Return to Campus Team” with the mandate to assess what actions must be taken and what standards must be met to satisfy state and federal health requirements.
Safe Return: The Plan for Returning to Campus
Updated: August 11, 2020 12:00 p.m.
The Safe Return to Campus Team is comprised of a number of working groups focusing on specific areas of the institution's operation. The team are led by the following members:
Lois Wims, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Kathleen Eichelroth, Vice President of Administration and Finance
Maureen Stokes, Assistant Vice President of Communications and Marketing
Thomas McNamara, Vice President of University Advancement
Carl Herrin, Chief of Staff, President’s Office
Laura Murphy, Associate Dean of Health and Wellness, Director of Counseling
Joseph DiCarlo, Dean of Enrollment, Director of Admissions
Ryan Forsythe, Vice President of Enrollment Management
Julie Kazarian, Dean of Student Affairs, Senior Student Affairs Officer
Tammy Tebo, Assistant Dean of Academic Services
The original COVID-19 Response Team met daily to assess and prepare for various contingencies as the outbreak continues to evolve. The working group was comprised of the following members:
Anthony Adade, Associate Vice President and Chief Information OfficerDonald Brickman, University PoliceMadeline Campbell, Associate Dean for Distance and Global EducationAndrea Dever, Associate Director of Donor RelationsKathleen Eichelroth, Vice President of Administration and FinanceRyan Forsythe, Vice President of Enrollment ManagementLisa Gaimari, Health Services AdministratorCarl Herrin, Chief of Staff, President’s OfficeJason Kapurch, Chief of PoliceJulie Kazarian, Dean of Student Affairs, Senior Student Affairs OfficerRoberta Kyle, Dean of Graduate StudiesLinda Larrivee, Dean of the School of Education, Health, and Natural SciencesTom McNamara, Vice President of University AdvancementJohn Meany, Deputy Director of AthleticsSyamak Moattari, Associate Professor Health SciencesSusan Moore, Executive Director of Human ResourcesMichael Mudd, Director of AthleticsLaura Murphy, Associate Dean of Health and Wellness, Director of CounselingDavid Needham, Assistant Director of Multimedia ServicesKatey Palumbo, Director of International ProgramsRuss Pottle, Dean of the School of Humanities and Social SciencesJennifer Quinn, Director of Title IX, Alcohol and other Drug Prevention and EducationMaureen Stokes, Assistant Vice President of Communications and MarketingHenry Theriault, Associate Vice President for Academic AffairsJonathan Walker, Director of Internal Controls and Risk AssessmentLois Wims, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
In addition to the following archive of bulletins send to the Worcester State community during the pandemic, please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions.
Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,
By now, most of the campus community has either read or heard about today’s New York Times article, “More Than 6,300 Coronavirus Cases Have Been Linked to U.S. Colleges,” which lists Worcester State University, the only public university in Massachusetts referred to in the article, with 33 positive cases.
Contrary to the NYT headline, which would give the impression that these positive COVID-19 cases happened on our campus, I assure you they did not. The self-reported numbers occurred after mid-March when the university transitioned to remote learning and work. The reporting of cases is based on information shared, voluntarily and following DPH protocol, by students and other members of our Worcester State community. While the narrative accompanying the list lays out the caveats about what these numbers represent, Worcester State feels publishing these numbers is misleading and punishes the most transparent campuses.
I will address this matter in future meetings of Campus Conversations. However, here is the information from our website which has been regularly updated since April:
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) UpdatesThe safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff is important to us. We continue to take steps to ensure that our campus community is informed with the latest information about the pandemic and how it affects Worcester State. Worcester State University has been notified of 21 self-reported positive cases (19 students, 2 employees), and 12 presumptive positive cases (11 students, 1 employee) of COVID-19 to date.
The safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff is important to us. We continue to take steps to ensure that our campus community is informed with the latest information about the pandemic and how it affects Worcester State. Worcester State University has been notified of 21 self-reported positive cases (19 students, 2 employees), and 12 presumptive positive cases (11 students, 1 employee) of COVID-19 to date.
We have been diligently working on our plan for a Safe Return to campus, although should there be any immediate questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barry M. Maloney
Dear Worcester State Community,
As we near the completion of the spring semester, I reflect on the tremendous efforts we’ve undertaken to support our students during this unprecedented time. While many decisions were made that have helped them succeed in this remote learning environment, we must now turn our attention to how we will reopen the campus this fall.
I have asked members of our COVID-19 Response Team to reorganize around our fall opening needs. They have begun to work in subgroups on various scenarios for a safe opening in accordance with the CDC and state public health agency guidance:
While each subgroup has a specific focus, all have macro concerns for resuming residence life and high-quality academic instruction while ensuring the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff, and for maintaining fiscal stability. The next six weeks will be critical as we plan for a safe opening, followed by another six-to-10 weeks of plan implementation. If your time allows, I welcome your service to these subgroups.
We are in the planning phase for determining what a safe opening will look like and how it will be undertaken. A delicate balance needs to be maintained in order to be successful. Incoming new students and those returning will arrive at a campus that is different from the one they had once visited or previously attended. Every aspect of our campus, it seems, is in flux.
I will talk more about these matters, and answer questions, at the next Campus Conversation, scheduled for this Friday, May 8, at 1 p.m. If you are not able to attend the meeting, it will be recorded and posted to our website following the meeting.
Barry M. Maloney, President
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
I am pleased to report that Worcester State has swiftly adopted a one-time change to the pass/fail policy for undergraduates, as well as postponed the withdrawal and pre-registration deadlines, in order to make it easier for students to succeed this semester and beyond, in the context of the COVID-19 state of emergency.
We have pushed the course withdrawal deadline forward three weeks, to April 21, so that students have more time to determine if receiving a “W” rather than a grade is their best option. Similarly, we have changed the pre-registration and advising periods, as was communicated in a March 25 email sent by WSU Communications and Marketing. Undergraduate student advising for pre-registration will begin in earnest on April 6 and conclude April 17, 2020, and pre-registration is scheduled, by class year, for April 21 through April 24.
In this semester that is unlike any other, students are seeking the ability to take more courses on a pass/fail basis than has been permitted. Via an emergency meeting yesterday, the All University Committee (AUC) recommended, and today I approved, a Spring 2020-only policy whereby undergraduate students can designate any course “pass-fail.” They must do so by May 22, 2020, which is, purposefully, after grades have been determined.
There are numerous considerations when opting into “pass/fail.” It is critical for students to connect with their advisor before making such decisions. There were valid reasons for limiting the types of courses that could be designated pass/fail, and those reasons may remain valid for certain students, even in this time of COVID-19. Another consideration is that pass/fail grades are not part of the calculation of a student’s GPA. Even while recognizing these concerns, the AUC voted unanimously to adopt the change so that students, in consultation with their advisors, may do what is right for them during this difficult time. (See attached new Spring 2020 policy, which applies only to undergraduates.)
I want to thank our governance committees (the AUC and the Academic Policy Committee) for the speed with which they tackled this necessary policy change, and their hard work on all three issues covered in this letter. And I congratulate the many students who spoke out about the pass/fail issue. I appreciate hearing your voices.
Barry M. MaloneyPresident
Commencement represents the culmination of years of study and is often the most important milestone in a graduate’s life. It is a special day, not only for students and their families, but for the entire Worcester State University community – the many faculty, staff, and alumni, who celebrate with our graduates.
Due to the COVID-19 public health pandemic and the upheaval it has caused, including limits on gathering sizes that could extend well into May, we were forced to reconsider holding our graduation ceremonies in mid-May. After consulting with class officers and soliciting feedback from academic department chairs, I have decided to postpone the 2020 undergraduate and graduate ceremonies until August. Students felt this was the best of several options – all unfortunate ones, of course – that we considered, and faculty expressed a desire to accommodate students. It is our intent to provide ceremonies that are very similar to past ceremonies, and consistent with what we had been planning for May until the state of emergency was declared, including having graduates process and cross a stage as their name is called.
The new time for our undergraduate ceremony will be Friday, August 14, 2020, in the evening, at the DCU Center in Worcester. Our graduate ceremony will take place on Friday, August 28, 2020, at 6 p.m. in the Wellness Center on campus.
I want to acknowledge that postponing commencement is just one of many losses our second semester seniors and other graduating students are facing, in this time of the novel coronavirus. I am encouraged by the extraordinary commitment I have seen from faculty to ensure that these students can complete their coursework and meet graduation requirements this semester. My hat is off to that spirit of cooperation and the determination to take charge of what we can control for the good of our students. I look forward to celebrating that achievement, as well as our students’ achievements, in August.
Sincerely,Barry M. Maloney President
Dear Worcester State Students,
This is a reminder that remote instruction for the remainder of the spring semester begins Monday, March 30. The campus is closed to students and the general public. In addition to remote instruction for coursework, the university's employees are working off site and supporting students remotely. Email is the best way to communicate, and staff are scheduling phone calls and virtual meetings with students.
We have not made a decision about how and when to celebrate our 2020 commencements. CDC guidance and the continuing spread of the pandemic will certainly affect our planning. As we also attend to the pressing issues associated with completing the spring semester, we will inform the campus community no later than Friday, April 3, concerning commencement activities.
The Worcester State COVID-19 Daily Brief will be sent to each weekday at approximately 11 a.m. to address the latest topics from the day’s COVID-19 executive team meeting. If there’s no Daily Brief sent by 11 a.m. it is because there is no new information to share. The communication subject line will be the same each day and the sender will rotate between departments such as the Dean of Students, President’s Office, Provost, etc. All messages sent will be posted on the COVID-19 website. This site is the best place to find up-to-date information from the University as well as important updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Office of Communications and Marketing
In the wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic Worcester State's Counseling Services are currently working on how to best serve our students remotely. Effective March 16 Counseling Services staff will not be seeing students in person until further notice. We recognize this is a stressful time and we are working towards a plan to best support you. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. The emotional impact is individualized and may differ depending on the individual’s personal experiences, as well as internal and external factors. In an emergency, students off campus should call 911. On campus students should contact University Police at 508-929-8911.
The following resources are available to you and may assist in coping and symptom reduction.
The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
Mindfulness stories, strategies, news, practical advice and insights. Corona virus specific strategies and guidance. Sign up for daily meditations or download the app.
Recommendations on managing stress and anxiety from the CDC.
The Steve Fund is aware of the impact that COVID-19 (coronavirus) is having on the mental health and emotional well-being of young people of color, including adolescents, college students, and young adults and their families
Go to the Counseling Center website in the student portal for additional resources and self help apps.
We know that this may be a stressful time for you and that you are understandably looking for new information. As you read in President Maloney's email our residence halls will be closing as of March 30, 2020 for the remainder of the spring semester.
We will be working to develop a plan to invite our spring residents back to campus to collect their belongings. We will notify you as soon as the plans have been finalized.
Your safety and well-being are important to us so access to the residence halls will only be granted on a limited basis. Thank you for your patience as we continue to monitor the conditions related to COVID19.
Please make sure you are routinely checking your Worcester State email. For the latest information on Worcester State's response to COVID-19 please check the main response webpage at https://www.worcester.edu/Public-Health-Information/
Please reach out to Residence Life, through email at email@example.com. We will respond promptly to answer any questions that you may have.
Residence Life and Housing
First, I thank you for being patient with Worcester State University as we worked collaboratively over the past few weeks in the face of this unprecedented coronavirus global pandemic. These are challenging times for all organizations, and universities in particular, as we have a responsibility to carry on, in order to serve you - our students.
On March 13, President Trump declared a national emergency, and Massachusetts Governor Baker expanded his ordinance for the coronavirus yesterday evening. Consistent with these measures, we aim to reduce the concentration of people on our campus. The campus will be on a reduced staffing schedule to maintain a level of service to students. Please continue to attend to emails from various Worcester State departments about COVID-19, and frequently check the web site: https://www.worcester.edu/Public-Health-Information/
Worcester State will commence using distance learning modalities, beginning March 30 for course instruction for the remainder of the semester. As noted in an email March 11, labs and other experiential learning course requirements may continue as on-campus activities and be set for a future date. In the remote instruction plan, we also aim to build in flexibility to meet potentially changing circumstances and to maintain high-quality teaching. More information will follow from the Office of Academic Affairs.
Consistent with the national and state recommendation that limits public gatherings, we find it necessary to close our residence halls effective Monday, March 30, 2020 through the end of the spring semester. Please look for additional information to follow from Residence Life with instructions for retrieving your personal belongs. Worcester State University is working with the State of Massachusetts to determine when and how refunds may be made available to resident students. At this point, no decisions have been made and we are awaiting guidance from the Commonwealth. These adjustments will take into consideration financial aid guidelines.
At this time, no final decisions have been made on scheduled, academic year-end activities including commencement.
I am privileged to work in higher education, and with the next generation of college students that have chosen Worcester State University for their education. I deeply appreciate your continued patience as we work together to confront the situation before us and problem-solve through it.
The Department of Residence Life in accordance with Worcester State University, is acting with caution in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak to protect the safety of our residential community. As you know, the University has extended Spring Break through March 29, 2020. We are asking that all resident students, whose circumstances allow, to leave campus for the two weeks of Spring Break as part of larger measures to guard against the possible spread of coronavirus in our community.
Students with extenuating circumstances (including those from countries with travel restrictions and those whose legal residence is Worcester State) which require them to remain in our residence halls must petition to stay in the halls over spring break. (This is a new form that needs to be filled out regardless of whether you completed the original spring break form in your myhousing account). Petitions must be submitted by Thursday, March 12, 2020 at 10:00pm and will be responded to by Friday March 13, 2020 at 12:00pm.
Please complete the petition to stay in the halls over Spring Break.
Resident students who are approved to remain in the residence halls will receive additional information regarding their stay in the halls, including meals, etc. Resident students may contact the Office of Residence Life and Housing at firstname.lastname@example.org or their Residence Director with additional questions. The Office of Residence Life and Housing will continue to provide information as available.
When leaving the residence halls for the two week spring break period please be sure to take your valuables, medications, anything you need for academic class work, etc. Access to the residence will only be granted for extenuating circumstances.
Thank you for your patience as we continue to monitor the conditions related to the Coronavirus. Your safety and well-being are important to us.
Please contact the Office of Residence Life and Housing at email@example.com or 508-929-8074.
Residence Life and Housing
Worcester State University
Sheehan Hall 101
486 Chandler Street
Worcester, MA 01602
To All Students, Faculty and Staff:
Spring Break begins this coming Monday, March 16, and today we announce that any class that is not fully online will be suspended for the following week as well - a decision we arrived at in consultation with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education and our Board of Trustees. As messaged earlier today, Worcester State University is fully open through the end of this week, with classes taking place.
Classes will resume on Monday, March 30. We are using the next two weeks to plan for resuming them in a way that maximizes distance learning delivery modes. As of today, I do not foresee the closure of our campus for the semester, as some other universities have done. That said, I point out that the COVID-19 public health crisis -- which has now been deemed a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) -- is fluid and rapidly changing, which means that our response to it could change over time. I urge everyone to pay close attention to Worcester State University emails from various senders that will contain important and necessary information in the coming weeks. All communications will be posted to the Worcester State COVID-19 website, devoted to the topic, which is: https://www.worcester.edu/Public-Health-Information/
Over that two-week class suspension period, the university will be developing plans for resuming coursework and building in flexibility for the remainder of the semester. I look forward to working with our faculty and administration on determining how best to deliver course materials to our students while preserving academic integrity.
We understand that there will be concerns about lab courses and projects, and we are actively considering options. Internships, practica, student teaching will continue based on the schedule of the placement organization/entity/school.
Fully online courses will not be impacted by the class suspension.
Students living on campus will be receiving a message shortly from Residence Life. Those who traditionally leave for Spring Break are asked to take their personal items and necessities with them.
The university campus will remain open for faculty and staff to work on campus. More information will be forthcoming from Human Resources. I recognize that the responsibilities of our clerical, trades, and maintenance staff may require a different approach than the one taken with other employees. As always if you are sick, you should stay home.
Out of an abundance of caution, and in the best interests of our student-athletes, effective Thursday, March 12 and lasting through Monday, March 30, the MASCAC will suspend conference athletic activities, including all athletic events, team meetings, practices and contests, on or off campus, except for those teams currently competing out of state. The situation is being actively monitored and will be reassessed over the next two weeks to determine if further action is warranted.
The health and safety of the Worcester State community is our first priority. To protect the health of all within the university campus and the larger community, we will limit public gatherings on campus to no more than 50 persons. We will also engage in enhanced campus cleaning procedures during the two-week class suspension. More details will follow.
Due to the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth, Gov. Baker declared a state of emergency for Massachusetts. Beginning today for the next 30 days, guidelines have been established for agencies in the state. This is being done to restrict the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the Commonwealth. Worcester State University will cooperate fully with this executive action as we strive to protect the health of all within the university campus and the larger community.
This state of emergency does not impact this week’s academic classes, and all on-campus and online courses will proceed as scheduled.
The Governor’s Executive Branch guidance for agencies include:
Worcester State University continues to carefully monitor conditions relating to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The University leadership -- comprised of members from Cabinet and other designees from across the campus community -- meet daily to assess and prepare for various contingencies as the outbreak continues to evolve.
The University strongly encourages all campus community members to practice personal prevention measures and to exercise judgement when it comes to all travel. We have attached a CDC flyer recommending several important public health measures. An additional recommended resource is the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Please go to our website for Worcester State information and community notifications concerning COVID-19.
Lois A. Wims, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Gov. Baker has declared a state of emergency beginning tomorrow, March 11, in an effort to restrict the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the Commonwealth. Worcester State University will cooperate fully with this executive action as we strive to protect the health of all within the university campus and the larger community.
In a news conference earlier this afternoon, the Governor announced the following Executive Branch guidance for agencies.
Please review the attached memos from Commissioner Santiago, which addresses the Department of Higher Education’s involvement in these initiatives, and from Jeff McCue, assistant secretary and chief human resources officer for Massachusetts. They outline more detailed steps we all need to take to do our part in helping to stem this outbreak. Further announcements will be forthcoming as conditions develop and information becomes available.
TO: Community College Presidents, State University Presidents, Martin Meehan, President, University of Massachusetts
FROM: Carlos E. Santiago, Commissioner
DATE: March 10, 2020
Governor Baker and the Massachusetts Human Resources Division released the attached guidance today for all executive branch employees regarding the Coronavirus. While this guidance is directed at executive branch employees, the measures within address a number of areas we know have been important to many of you in your planning and prevention efforts, and as such, I strongly urge you to implement the measures at your institutions as well.
The measures are effective March 11, 2020 and will be revisited in 30 days.
Please see the attached document for more detailed information on each measure.
TO: All Executive Branch Employees
FROM: Jeff McCue, Assistant Secretary and Chief Human Resources Officer
SUBJECT: Coronavirus Advisory
Last week, we shared information about how the Commonwealth is responding to coronavirus (COVID-19) and reminded all staff how to prevent the spread of the disease. As you know, additional cases have been confirmed and the Baker-Polito Administration is taking additional steps to mitigate the spread of the disease. We will continue to keep you informed through regular outreach and we encourage you to check the Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control websites for regular updates.
Given the evolving nature of COVID-19 and out of an abundance of caution, we are today adopting some additional precautionary measures for the foreseeable future, effective March 11, 2020:
Each of the above measures will be revisited in 30 days or sooner as circumstances dictate.
These actions complement additional precautions that have been undertaken to ensure Executive Branch workspaces are safe for employees and visitors. The following precautions remain in effect:
The changing circumstances around COVID-19 are challenging to us all. All staff are reminded of our Mass4You Employee Assistance Program and are encouraged to access this EAP support as needed at 866-342-6892. The caring professionals staffing this line are available 24/7 to support you in dealing with any stress associated with medical challenges, caregiving and coping.
Thank you for your continued vigilance as we work together through the challenges of COVID-19. We will continue to keep you updated on further developments as we encourage you to consult both the Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control websites for the most up to date information.
We close by reiterating the steps we can take to make a safer workplace for us all.
Thank you and be well.
Assistant Secretary and Chief Human Resources Officer
Human Resources Division
If you are planning to travel during spring break, please click here to fill out a form with information regarding your travels.
Spring Break is approaching, and the news as it relates to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), continues to evolve. If you are planning to travel over spring break or at another time in the semester, you are urged to monitor the official sites listed below for up-to-date information, and to avoid any unnecessary travel at this time if you can.
Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to facilitate contact with U.S. Embassies.
As we have seen over the past few weeks, there have been new cases of the Coronavirus that have emerged in countries outside of China. In the future, there may be additional countries added to the CDC's list of restricted travel. Currently, it is recommended to travelers to avoid all non-essential travel to China, Italy, Iran, and South Korea. You should be aware that travel restrictions can change suddenly. Travelers are encouraged to assess the viability of any pre-existing travel plans, and especially for travel to countries already on the CDC alert list.
Some person-to-person spread of the virus outside of China has been detected. At the time of this update, the risk to Massachusetts residents remains low. Symptoms of COVID-19 may include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The CDC believes these symptoms can appear 2 - 14 days after a person is exposed. Precautions to mitigate the spread of colds and the flu can also help protect against COVID-19.
Worcester State will continue to follow the CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines for prevention and management of the Coronavirus. Health Services continues to monitor the situation very closely. They remain engaged with global, federal, state, and local health organizations in the university's continued effort to obtain the most current information on the virus, and implement the most current recommendations. They continue to share information, similar to this email, with all university students. Health Services may monitor or isolate students returning from areas most affected by COVID-19.
More information on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/
If you have any questions please let us know!
Residence Life and Housing
Advice for students/travelers returning from countries with widespread transmission of Coronavirus (COVID-19) spread: The most up-to-date information about this new coronavirus is available from the CDC.
Disclaimer: This document was compiled by the Worcester State Health Services department from various sources of information. For more information please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Worcester State University continues to carefully monitor conditions relating to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). University leadership meets regularly to assess and prepare for various contingencies in the days and weeks ahead. To facilitate communication on this quickly evolving public health situation, the University has created a website. This site is the best place to find up-to-date information from the University as well as important updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Worcester State currently has students that are studying abroad this semester in Italy. The students have been informed that when they return to the United States they will need to do self-monitoring for influenza-like symptoms and at a minimum, self-quarantine for 14-days before being allowed to return to campus. The 14-day protocol includes the submission to Health Services of documentation from their primary care physician. We are continuing to support our other study abroad students around the world and at this time are not requiring their return home.
With spring break approaching on March 14, we understand that campus community members may be planning to travel. Worcester State, in accordance with posted travel advice, recommends reconsidering personal international travel due to the growing outbreak of COVID-19. Countries around the world are introducing new entry and exit protocols with little notice, which may inhibit travels back into the United States and other parts of the world. If you travel, please monitor travel advisories from the CDC and the U.S. Department of State and avoid travel to countries affected by reported outbreaks.
Dear Worcester State University Students,
I am writing since Spring Break is approaching, and as we know, the news in regards to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), continues to evolve. The situation has been changing daily and anyone who is planning to travel over the break or during the semester, are urged to monitor official sources of information.
As we have seen over the past few weeks, there have been new cases of the Coronavirus that have emerged in countries outside of China. In the future, there may be additional countries added to CDC’s list of restricted travel. Currently, is it recommended to travelers to avoid all non-essential travel to China, Italy, Iran and South Korea. Please be aware, at times, travel restrictions can change suddenly. Students are encouraged to assess the viability of any pre-existing travel plans and especially for travel to the countries already on the CDC alert list.
Worcester State University Health Services will continue to follow CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines for prevention and management of the Coronavirus. These guidelines may include monitoring or isolation of people returning from areas most affected by COVID-19.
Some person-to-person spread of the virus outside of China has been detected. At the time of this update, the risk to Massachusetts residents remains low. Symptoms of COVID-19 may include fever, coughing and shortness of breath. The CDC believes that symptoms can appear 2 to 14 days after a person is exposed. Precautions to help spread colds and the flu can also help protect against COVID-19.
If you become ill while traveling or upon return, it is important that you monitor your temperature, avoid contact with others and consult with a health care provider indicating where you have traveled.
Health Services will continue to monitor the situation. We remain engaged with global, federal, state and local health organizations in our continued effort to obtain the most current information on the virus, and implement the most current recommendations.
Health Services is available for any questions or concerns that you may have. Please contact us at 508-929-8875.
Lisa Gaimari, ANP, Worcester State University Health Services
Worcester State University Health Services is continuing to monitor the outbreak of the Coronavirus (referred to now as COVID-19), which originated in Wuhan, a city in central China. Coronaviruses are respiratory viruses and are generally spread through respiratory secretions (droplets from coughs and sneezes) of an infected person to another person.
At this time, there is no identified risk to the Worcester State University community.
The most up-to-date information about this new Coronavirus is available from the CDC www.cdc.gov/coronavirus
In addition, The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has launched a new website that provides up-to-date information on COVID-19: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus
Health Services is also monitoring the community for Influenza Like Illness/Seasonal Flu. At this time, in Massachusetts, influenza activity last week, did decrease from very high to high rates of Influenza Like Illness/Influenza(flu). Influenza is also a respiratory viral illness. Symptoms of an influenza like illness/flu are fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
CDC does recommend everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.
There are some simple steps to protect yourself and your family:
Stay home from school and work if you are sick with a flu-like illness (fever > 100.0°F with cough and/or sore throat) and avoid contact with others so the virus does not spread. Stay at home until you have been free from fever (< 100.0°F) for at least 24 hours after your last dose of fever-reducing medication (like Tylenol, Advil or Motrin). If you are ill with a flu-like illness, contact Health Services, 508-929-8875, or your Health Care Provider for further recommendations.
Worcester State University Health Services will continue to monitor the situation, and we will keep the University community informed as necessary.
Worcester State University Health Services is monitoring the recent development of an outbreak of a new Coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, a city in central China. To date, there have been five confirmed cases in the US, all appear to involve individuals who recently traveled to the US from Wuhan City. At this time, there is no identified risk to the Worcester State University community.
Symptoms of the Coronavirus include fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as cough and difficulty breathing. In some cases, the virus has led to bronchitis and pneumonia.
If you have traveled from central China in the past 14 days and have a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, contact Health Services immediately during our office hours of Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, or seek care at a local hospital or urgent care center.
Health Services is also monitoring the community for Influenza Like Illness/Seasonal Flu. At this time, Massachusetts, in general, is experiencing high rates of influenza like illness/influenza(flu). Symptoms of an influenza like illness/flu are fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
All members of the Worcester State University community are urged to follow the same strategies they would ordinarily use to protect themselves and others during a normal cold and flu season:
Stay home from work and school if you get sick with a flu-like illness (fever > 100.0°F with cough and/or sore throat) and avoid contact with others so the virus does not spread. Stay at home until you have been free from fever (< 100.0°F) for at least 24 hours after your last dose of fever-reducing medication (like Tylenol, Advil or Motrin).
For further information regarding Influenza Like Illness/Seasonal Flu, and if you are a Worcester State University student ill with flu-like symptoms, please contact:
Good Morning Colleagues,
As promised, I am following up on yesterday's email regarding the Governor's earlier directive.
The work performed by our University falls under the Governor's "COVID-19 Essential Services" designation. Therefore, unless directed otherwise by your supervisor, there are no changes being made to your status at this time.
Please contact me if you have any questions, or need other assistance.
Susan L. Moore
Executive Director, Chief Human Resources Officer
Governor Baker issued an executive order for non-essential businesses to close, effective Tuesday, March 24 at noon. In light of the ongoing pandemic, the University closed its campus to visitors and students last week, and enabled most employees to work remotely. As it pertains to the latest executive order, the University will be meeting later today to determine which few personnel are essential to remain on campus, and those employees will be notified as such. At this time, all employees should continue their work from their remote location as previously assigned.
We appreciate your efforts in this regard, and encourage you to speak with Susan Moore in Human Resources if you have any questions or are in need of assistance. She can be reached at 508-688-5708 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We will continue to provide updates as soon as we possibly can.
Dear Worcester State Faculty and Staff,
The state universities have received guidance regarding the reporting of COVID-19, and as such, we’re taking this opportunity to share an update regarding how such reports will be handled from this point forward.
Faculty and staff must inform Human Resources if they’ve been in close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 or they, themselves, have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Students who have been in close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 or they, themselves, have been diagnosed with COVID-19 must inform Worcester State's Health Services. Close contact is defined as follows:
The University will work with the community member to determine if a risk exists to others within the University, and inform those individuals as guidelines dictate. The University will also report cases to our local Board of Health and the Department of Higher Education.
Travel restrictions – including local, New England and out-of-state – will continue until further notice. For additional information related to travel authorization, procurement and more, please refer to the March 13 Worcester State COVID-19 Daily Brief.
Maureen O. Stokes
Assistant Vice President for Communications and Marketing
Dear Worcester State community,
First, I want to thank Worcester State’s employees for working collaboratively over the past few weeks with the administration in the face of the unprecedented coronavirus global pandemic. These are challenging times for all large organizations, and universities in particular, have a responsibility to carry on, in order to serve our students. I know we all aim to support them and their needs, even as we cope with our own work and personal needs.
On March 13, President Trump declared a national emergency, and Massachusetts Governor Baker expanded his ordinance for the coronavirus yesterday evening. Consistent with these measures, we aim to reduce the concentration of people on our campus, in order to slow the transmission of the coronavirus. Human Resources sent a message to employees last night and again this morning. Please continue to attend to emails from various Worcester State offices about COVID-19, and frequently check the web site: https://www.worcester.edu/Public-Health-Information/
Worcester State University has made the decision to move the remaining instruction for this semester to remote instruction, as of Monday, March 30. Students have been notified of this decision in synch with this message, via a separate email from me. As noted in an email on March 11, labs and other experiential learning course requirements may continue as on-campus activities and be set for a future date. In the remote instruction plan, we also aim to build in flexibility to meet potentially changing circumstances and maintain high-quality teaching. I greatly appreciate the effort faculty and staff have made in the past 10 days to prepare for this eventuality, and understand additional virtual trainings and remote learning methods are being made available later this week.
I recognize that the disruption to normal routines that the emergency has necessitated means it is suddenly difficult for many of our employees to come to work, due to changes in regular child- or family-care arrangements and prolonged school cancellations, especially. Consistent with Governor Baker’s recommendation for employers, we will work with staff who seek telecommuting or other remote work options. I urge such conversations between staff and their supervisors to take place as soon as possible. Unless emerging circumstances dictate otherwise, we will remain open this semester albeit on a skeleton staffing profile. Ensuring continuity of operations will undoubtedly require on-site employees beyond those typically considered essential employees. We are working on department-level on- and off-site work plans, with the aim of implementing them as soon as possible.
I am privileged to work in higher education, where a typical colleague’s first response in a time of crisis, is “How will this affect our students?” rather than “How will this affect me?” I deeply appreciate your collegiality as we work together to confront the situation before us and problem-solve through it.
As the University works to address each challenge that the fluid situation created by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) presents, we anticipate that employees may face their own personal challenges in one capacity or another. In that light, I’d like to offer some helpful information that can guide you in addressing them.
Are student and work study employees going to be allowed to work during spring break and the following week?
While students will not be residing on campus, the University will allow them to continue working on campus if:
You should not require your student employees to work during this period.
What should I do if I am sick?
If you are sick, please stay home from work and use your sick time to cover your absence. You should return to work when your symptoms have gone, when a doctor approves your return, and/or you are 24 hours free of fever without the assistance of a fever-reducing medication.
What should I do if I think I, or a family member residing in my household, have been exposed to COVID-19, or has contracted COVID-19?
If you believe that you have been exposed to COVID-19, please call in sick per your normal departmental protocol, and use sick time to cover your absence. (If you are absent to care for a family member, you should use sick-in-family.) Then, please contact me directly at 508-929-8117 for further discussion.
What should I do if I have been diagnosed with COVID-19?
Please call in sick to work per your normal departmental protocol, and use sick time to cover your absence. Then, please contact me directly at 508-929-8117 for further discussion.
What if I don’t have enough accrued time to cover my medical absence due to COVID-19?
Employees may be allowed access to the relevant APA or MSCA sick leave bank (if they are a member) or an AFSCME sick leave extension for this purpose, without being required to go off the payroll first, and with appropriate medical documentation.
What should I do if my child’s school closes but the university is open?
Initial guidance suggests that employees should use personal, vacation, and/or compensatory time to cover their absence for the purpose of caring for a child until they can arrange for alternative childcare. Other options may be available, with authorization from Human Resources, depending upon the employee’s role at the University. Please contact me via email to inquire about your options.
What should I do if I am considered higher-risk according to the CDC guidelines, or if I live with someone that is?
The CDC has issued general guidance that older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease, and pregnant women are at a higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. The University is committed to working with employees and their health care provider to determine appropriate avenues for the maintenance of their well-being. One such precaution currently in place is the reduction of the maximum capacity of gatherings to 50 people on campus. Others are the extension of spring break, cancelation of travel – both domestic and international, additional hand-sanitizer stations placed around campus, disinfectant wipes and spray delivered to each department, and deep cleaning done by the maintenance staff. If you have concerns about your ability to remain in the workplace because of a pre-existing medical condition or similar higher-risk situation, please contact me directly for further discussion at 508-929-8117 or by email.
Supervisors should not approve any work-from-home or other alternative modality options for their employees without the authorization of Human Resources, which includes moving courses normally taught in-person, to an online format. Specific parameters and guidelines will be set for any reasonable accommodations put in place. The supervisor will be involved in the conversation as it relates to the responsibilities of the job. Medical information will remain confidential in Human Resources.
What should I do if I have traveled or intend to travel to a Level 2 or Level 3 country?
If you traveled to, or intend to travel to, a country deemed to be Level 2 or 3, you must notify Human Resources prior to returning to work. Similarly, please notify Human Resources if you experience symptoms consistent with COVID-19 while traveling or after your return.
How are absences for these situations handled for 03 contractor (part-time, non-benefited) employees?
03 contractors do accrue sick time, and they may apply that sick time to their absences. Otherwise, 03 contractors will only be paid for time worked. 03 contractors may continue to work during spring break and the following week.
These questions are some of which I’ve received in the last few days, and I hope that you find them helpful. I look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure the consistent application of considerations and accommodations as they relate to the needs of our employee community.
Generally speaking, please contact Human Resources if you have any questions or need assistance. Emergent situations should telephone the office at 508-929-8117. Non-emergent questions should be emailed to me directly. As a reminder, if you are sick, or feel that you may have been exposed to COVID-19, please call in sick and utilize your sick time to cover your absence. Read the daily briefings, continue to monitor the University website, and seek clarification via email or telephone if your question is not covered in the FAQ's.
Thank you for your attention to this important communication.
Dear Campus Community
One such way we’ve established to keep everyone apprised of the work being undertaken by the leadership group is through a daily communications brief. The Worcester State COVID-19 Daily Brief will inform the campus community of plans such as student absences, scheduled programs on and off campus, student/faculty travel, alternative modality for classroom instruction, and more.
The Worcester State COVID-19 Daily Brief will be sent to each weekday at approximately 11 a.m. to address the latest topics from the day’s COVID-19 meeting. If there’s no Daily Brief sent by 11 a.m. it is because there is no new information to share. The communication subject line will be the same each day and the sender will rotate between departments such as the Dean of Students, President’s Office, Provost, etc.
All messages sent each day will be posted on the COVID-19 website. This site is the best place to find up-to-date information from the University as well as important updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The campus community is invited to attend the Tuesday and Friday COVID-19 response meetings that are held at 3:30 p.m. and 9:30 a.m., respectively, in the President’s Conference Room. However, today’s meeting has been changed to Student Affairs conference room 326. . These meetings are to discuss how we are addressing the evolving outbreak, latest news from our state and national representatives and updates on new procedures and protocols we are launching.
Worcester State had students who were studying abroad this semester in Italy. Those students have been transported to the United States and/or another country, where they will continue their program of study remotely until the end of the semester. We are continuing to support our other study abroad students around the world and at this time are not requiring their return home.
With spring break next week, we understand that campus community members may be planning to travel. Worcester State, in accordance with posted travel advice, recommends reconsidering personal international travel due to the growing outbreak of COVID-19. Countries around the world are introducing new entry and exit protocols with little notice, which may inhibit travels back into the United States and other parts of the world. If you travel, please monitor travel advisories from the CDC and the U.S. Department of State, and avoid travel to countries affected by reported outbreaks. In addition, should you come into contact with someone who may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus and are concerned about community spread, faculty and staff should contact Human Resources at 508-929-8053 and students should contact Health Services at 508-929-8875.
For domestic locations, the CDC has advised individuals over 60 and/or those with preexisting conditions to reconsider travel and crowded locations. Many domestic conferences and events have been cancelled and some have moved online. In the event of a cancellation or change of your plans for University approved domestic travel, please notify Jonathan Walker in Risk Management at email@example.com.
Blackboard training events have been scheduled and will continue for faculty preparing for the possibility of suspension of onsite classes. I have asked CTL, the Library and IT to work together to compile complete lists of resources, including open source and free tools, that faculty and students might consult. Faculty will receive a brief, two question survey from my office this afternoon Links will be posted by the end of today to this website. Please be sure to communicate with your students prior to spring break, in an encouraging manner, to emphasize that coursework will continue in the event of onsite disruption.
Good evening Colleagues,
As you are aware, the COVID 19 virus has presented some unique challenges to communities internationally and recently in the U.S. I stress that the current risk remains low in Massachusetts. The University has launched a webpage for updates and current information regarding any impacts on Worcester State.
For now, please be assured that the entire campus leadership has been gathering best practices and information to support academic continuity in the unlikely event that the campus might need to interrupt the normal class schedule. Towards that end, the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Instructional Design support staff will be offering workshops for faculty about moving instructional content to Blackboard. These may serve as a refresher for some faculty and new opportunities for others: All sessions will be held in S117. Please bring your laptops with you.
The following Blackboard Boot Camp sessions are scheduled prior to spring break:
Blackboard Boot Camp: Getting Started (topics include: getting started with your course, organizing course content, grade center and discussions)
Additional sessions will be scheduled after spring break Blackboard: Beyond the Basics. These sessions will include Collaborate, Respondus lock down browser and Blackboard IM). You can also visit www.worcester.edu/it See Support & training for documentation about Blackboard functions.
This time will require creativity, flexibility, and a keen focus on the continued success of our students. My sincere thanks to all of you who have reached out to provide suggestions or offer to support. It has been an impressive level of teamwork so far.
Lois A. Wims, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
As an employee, if you become ill while traveling or upon return, it is important that you monitor your temperature, avoid contact with others, and consult with a health care provider indicating where you have traveled. Since symptoms can take up to 14 days to appear, employees who have returned from such areas should speak with their physician to determine if there is a need for them to be monitored or isolated, and provide Human Resources with supporting medical documentation before returning to work.
Susan L. Moore, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Executive Director, Chief Human Resources Officer
In addition, The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has launched a new website that provides up-to-date information on COVID-19: https://www.mass.gov/2019coronavirus
Health Services is also monitoring the community for Influenza Like Illness/Seasonal Flu. At this time, in Massachusetts, influenza activity last week, did decrease from very high to high rates of Influenza Like Illness/Influenza (flu). Influenza is also a respiratory viral illness. Symptoms of an influenza like illness/flu are fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
Stay home from work if you are sick with a flu-like illness (fever > 100.0°F with cough and/or sore throat) and avoid contact with others so the virus does not spread. Stay at home until you have been free from fever (< 100.0°F) for at least 24 hours after your last dose of fever-reducing medication (like Tylenol, Advil or Motrin).
If you are ill with a flu-like illness, speak with your Health Care Provider for further recommendations.
The University will continue to monitor both outbreaks and update employees as necessary. As we're advised every flu season, please continue to practice good hand-washing techniques and follow the other recommended steps listed above.