| About | Safe Return to Campus
The goal of Worcester State’s Safe Return to Campus plan is to protect the health of the campus–and the broader–community, while enabling students to progress toward their educational goals. This plan is a work in progress that may be subject to change as conditions evolve and we receive further guidance from federal and state health officials. Worcester State is eager to welcome students back to campus as safely as possible.
Updated: August 6, 2020 12:00 p.m.Links to latest Residence Life newsletter added.
Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,
I am pleased to announce that Worcester State University is in a position to welcome students back to campus for the Fall 2020 semester, both in our classrooms and in our residence halls, provided the Commonwealth has progressed to at least Phase Three of reopening by mid-August. Classes will begin, as had been previously scheduled, on September 2.
Many courses not previously designated as “online” will be offered with some face-to-face and some off-site instruction (blended). Even when offered at a distance, many classes will take place at the scheduled time (synchronous), allowing for interaction, and many classes will also be recorded, offering students flexibility. We are planning for as much in-class instruction as we can safely provide.
Resident students will be housed in single- or double-occupancy rooms, with a portion of our housing capacity reserved for any quarantining needs.
While everyone is eager to resume the full collegiate experience, the fall semester will look substantially different than any one that has preceded it. New requirements and limitations will include:
Our comprehensive plan meets the objectives that Governor Baker’s higher educational working group laid out as part of the state’s safe reopening plan (https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-higher-education). Campuses that opt to bring students back to campus are to do so in a way that protects the health of the campus–and the broader–community, while enabling students to progress towards their educational goals. Our plan achieves both.
We aim to complete next semester as we begin it, and we do not intend to alter next semester’s academic calendar. We recognize, however, that a resurgence of COVID-19 could require us to pivot to distance learning instruction modalities at some point in the semester, in accordance with public health guidance.
Our MASCAC conference and the NCAA are expected to make announcements regarding fall sports early in July, and both incoming and returning student athletes will be hearing from our Athletics Department.
We will engage in safe health practices to keep our coronavirus risk low. Signs throughout campus will remind us to wash our hands frequently, wear face coverings and/or social distance, and wipe down surface areas. We will reinforce the message that no one should come to campus while sick. New cleaning protocols are in place, and ventilation improvements are underway.
Such measures work. And we engage in them not just to protect ourselves, but to protect others. In fact, I've been encouraged by one aspect of the pandemic: it's spurred us to reach out to others with care and concern. I encourage everyone to ask a member of the Lancer community how they are doing. Let's pay that forward as we come back to campus.
We are reviewing state guidance for higher education COVID-19 testing, which was released Wednesday. . A symptom-checker app will be part of our toolkit for addressing the virus, both so that students and employees will know whether they should come to campus each day, and to indicate who might be symptomatic, and therefore should be tested. We are prepared to test them.
We stand ready to accommodate students and staff who may be at higher risk than others for contracting COVID-19, to ensure that they can learn and work. Students are encouraged to contact Student Accessibility Services at 508-929-8733, and employees should contact Human Resources at 508-929-8053.
The next semester will be unique. While we may learn some things from a blended learning approach, we will never lose sight of this hallmark of a Worcester State education: our dedicated and outstanding faculty, whose passion is teaching and who advise and get to know their students. We anticipate that the spring semester would bring us far closer to our traditional format. We have no doubt that, once a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available, we will once again offer the full collegiate experience—with face-to-face, full-capacity classes and the whole range of on-campus activities for everyone to enjoy, in person.
The Safe Return Plan for Fall 2020, highlights of which are indicated in the “A Summary of ‘Safe Return to Campus’ Subgroup Reports” section below, ensures we will reconvene this fall in accordance with guidelines established by the CDC and the Massachusetts Departments of Public Health and Higher Education, while prioritizing student success. I want to congratulate the many employees who diligently and quickly prepared planning documents and teed up key decisions for Executive Cabinet and me over the past month -- some 145 of them (70 faculty), in cooperation with union leadership. Plans have been developed for ten areas. I’ve touched on:
Other plans cover: Budget, Communications, External Relations, Federal Stimulus, Recruitment, Retention, and Wrap-Around Services/Student Support.
More implementation details will follow, and the plan each group submitted will be posted, in the coming days and weeks. Even as we release our plans, I acknowledge that we continue to face uncertainties and shifting guidance from officials. We will make adjustments to them as circumstances warrant. You are encouraged to frequently check our Safe Return website.
No doubt members of the Worcester State community will have many questions about how we will be returning to campus. One venue for addressing them will be the Campus Conversation, via Zoom, this afternoon (June 18, 2020) at 2 p.m. You should have received an email invitation with details for joining in. I look forward to hearing from you.
Barry M. Maloney
Carl A. Herrin, ChairJulie Kazarian, Co-chair
Kathleen Rogan, Note taker
As of June 26, 2020
Sharon De Klerk
Joanne Gallagher Worthley
Carl A. Herrin
Mary Jo Marion
Karen Woods Weierman
This Worcester State University Fall 2020 Safe Return Plan represents the framework for the University’s approach to start of the 2020-2021 academic year. In the context of the ongoing global pandemic, we will strive to provide a high-quality higher education learning experience for all of our students while maintaining a healthy and safe environment for the entire University community. We recognize that the key to being successful in this regard rests primarily on the shoulders of our excellent and dedicated faculty–all of whom have spent tremendous effort preparing for the various instructional modalities this plan outlines and that we, as a university, must embrace in light of the pandemic’s impact on us and society.
We are in awe of the remarkable commitment by our returning students to continue and complete the academic work they have begun prior to this health crisis, and we are equally impressed by the strong desire of our new students to join us this fall to launch (or continue) their higher education ambitions with us. Welcome! Your commitment (and that of your families and supporters) to our re-imagined educational enterprise, including its clear new set of personal responsibilities, will be a key measure of our shared success this coming year.
Our staff have also spent innumerable hours working (mostly remotely) since April to assemble this plan and then begin its implementation which reflects their continued commitment to our students’ success and our institutional mission.
This report will be updated and refreshed as developments – health-related and fiscal, to name just two – dictate. A live, contemporary version of this document will therefore be maintained and appropriately annotated to provide the current details of our plan going forward. Please check back to our website periodically to see additions, amendments, and corrections.
Because Worcester State University cannot guarantee zero cases, nor prevent all community infections, we must expect that every member of the University community will be committed to creating a culture of safety and accountability to maintain a healthy campus. Everyone who comes to campus for classes and work must understand and acknowledge this reality. Every member of the Worcester State community must also acknowledge that they have a responsibility to themselves and their fellow Lancers to do their part to be safe, honor restrictions, follow appropriate public health guidelines, including those from the Centers for Disease Control, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the Worcester city Department of Health, and comply with all written University guidance posted or otherwise communicated to the campus community.
So that we may create a culture of safety and accountability throughout the Worcester State University community, every member of our community is expected to adhere to the following guidelines:
The key pillars to maintaining a safe and healthy campus, and fulfilling our mutual social responsibility to all in the Worcester State community, are articulated below.
Worcester State has purchased supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to provide to students and all employees upon return to campus for the fall semester. Purchases include various types of face covering/masks, face shields and gloves. Procedures for fall semester distribution are under development.
Worcester State will install plexiglass or similar barriers in areas where close contact will occur (e.g., front, public-facing desks, and reception areas). Worcester State may install markings on floors and signage to guide traffic flow and social distancing where lines typically form, as appropriate.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “regular handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others.”
The University will—
The testing protocols and approach to contact tracing remain a work in progress. The University will be testing residential students who are symptomatic of COVID-19, and referring employees for testing to local testing facilities or testing locations available through their health care providers.
Plans for testing the student population are nearly complete, and will be included in a future version of this report. Additionally, the University is weighing the option of ‘surveillance testing’ of its residential student population–balancing its reported efficacy at identifying and preventing an expanded community spread of the virus on campus against the considerable cost of such testing.
Tied to any testing will be a process known as contact tracing–a public health process used to quickly track close contacts with an infected individual in order to identify other individuals with the virus and break the path of contagion. Together with other tactics–like those mentioned above–contact tracing is considered a key method to reduce the infection rate for COVID-19.
The University’s Health Services is already a part of the network for contact tracing of communicable diseases, and has been active with Worcester’s Public Health Department with regard to prospective tracing involving our campus community since the outbreak emerged in March. The University plans to expand its contact tracing capacity in conjunction with Worcester’s Public Health Department.
The University’s priority is to provide a safe and equitable teaching and learning environment that will maximize student success on the way toward their academic goals. This plan anticipates that Worcester State University will utilize a combination of face-to-face, blended, and online course delivery. Most classes will be delivered in blended format, as described below.
This plan is also premised on the successful move by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to Phase 3 of the Governor’s state reopening plan in advance of the start of the academic year.
Worcester State University will open in-person for fall 2020 in accordance with its previously published academic calendar and with as many on-campus learning opportunities available to students as possible.
Worcester State’s approach to education capitalizes on the faculty-to-student interaction and relationship, and students’ interaction through learning with each other. This has been our cornerstone since 1874 and with the advances to current our learning environment, we continue to explore unique, innovative ways to engage students. Still, this approach must recognize and plan for:
While we intend to be open for business, our approach leverages blended and online learning both to de-densify classroom spaces and to accommodate student and faculty health needs as they may arise. In addition, we will be prepared to move academic programming to remote learning modalities, if and when public health developments so dictate.
Fall 2020 classes will be delivered primarily in a blended format, except for those classes already designated to be delivered fully online. The University’s priority in course format is blended courses with in-person, synchronous sessions.
Blended courses would be offered in one of the following formats:
With blended classes, between 25 percent and 99 percent of course activities could be completed virtually.
Faculty and department chairs, in conjunction with their respective deans, will work together to identify the days when courses will take place on campus to ensure an equitable distribution of the number of in-person classes.
With regard to students with accommodations approved by the University’s Office of Student Accessibility Services (SAS), a variety of approaches may be taken to ensure equitable learning environments. Such approaches can be identified and cataloged during the summer, in partnership with SAS.
For faculty accommodations:
Blended to fully remote—
While balancing campus safety and the goal of maximizing student success, it is vital that equity be a top priority, and that University continue to address issues of access as they may affect students with limited or no internet access.
Recognizing that the pandemic and its economic costs have disproportionately affected people of color, the University will:
To support a blended opening, the University expects to dedicate resources to aid with faculty course conversion. Preliminary efforts in this regard have been underway since May and will continue through the summer. Those include a set of faculty professional development sessions and trainings organized through the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), including participation by more than half of the faculty in Quality Matters programming. CTL and IT Services has an array of additional programming scheduled over the balance of the summer.
Additionally, the University has made preliminary commitments to acquire additional hardware and software intended to better facilitate the delivery of blended course offerings, and expects to commit additional resources as the summer proceeds.
The University recognizes that in order for faculty to convert large portions of face-to-face coursework into online and blended modalities, they may record lectures, design course modules aligned with Quality Matters standards, and/or migrate significant amounts of content online (assignments, tests, etc.). To aid with those efforts, the University is weighing how it will best be able to assist with instructional design and IT support for Blackboard and related IT services.
To promote students’ ease of learning online and to assist the University in maintaining compliance with applicable policy, procedures, and law, the University restates that Blackboard is its official Learning Management Software (LMS), supported by IT Services. Consequently, instructors of blended or online classes are strongly encouraged to utilize Blackboard as a course’s central LMS. This will ensure that faculty members have the support they need, that IT can safeguard the privacy of the platform, and that students are positioned to succeed in online learning. While it is not obligatory that instructors utilize an LMS in their face-to-face courses, it is encouraged that an up-to-date syllabus be provided on Blackboard at a minimum. Ongoing Blackboard training is available for faculty.
While the use of a standard LMS is one component of an equitable blended/online learning plan for optimizing student learning, the University understands that several additional considerations must also be kept in mind, notably that students must have access to suitable laptop computers and high-speed internet as essential to completing blended, online, and remote coursework. For fall 2020, Worcester State University has recommitted to its laptop requirement. Further, the University will support assisting students with internet access, both on campus and at their homes where access is limited or not available.
In order to promote social distancing, Worcester State will limit the number of individuals in classrooms, offices, and buildings, as well as students assigned to residence halls and bathrooms. Capacity limits were determined using a formula that took into account the current occupancy and the recommended social distance per person. To this end, our facilities department has:
New occupancy limits in each classroom and common areas will be posted and all students, faculty, and staff will be expected to respect those limits for the health and safety of our community.
To best welcome, support and engage First-Year student to the Worcester State family, the Wraparound Subgroup developed programming that is academic as well as social, beginning this summer and continuing through the fall semester. Called Becoming a Lancer, this campus-wide initiative will give new students the information and resources they need to be successful at Worcester State.
The foundation of Becoming a Lancer is designated as “Enrolling a Lancer.” Under this heading. The first semester course schedule for Fall 2020 is created by an academic advisor in The Academic Success Center (ASC). Every First-Year student is assigned an academic advisor who will develop a relationship with the student as they transition to fall and will serve as a point person for them through the summer and their first year at Worcester State.
The next stage is “Engaging a Lancer,” which will provide first-year students connection points that are introduced in a monthly format. This includes programs like New Student Orientation, processes related to financial aid and student accounts along with health services and residence life. These offices will provide videos and content that will be added to a monthly roadmap to engage students around these topics. There will be opportunities under this stage that will allow students to socially interact with offices and one another.
The last phase is “Educating a Lancer.” First-Year students will be offered the opportunity to enroll in a free, three-credit course in Summer II (July 13-August 28). The course is focused on reengaging first-year students in an academic setting and establishing college-level expectations before they begin in the fall. The course will be offered online and in a flexible format. The course is asynchronous, meaning it does not meet at a specific time each week. This course is taken for credit and will count toward graduation.
Our faculty and staff are committed to supporting the specific needs of First-Year students and the programming within Becoming a Lancer addresses those needs.
Worcester State University intends to open fall 2020 with a residential component to campus life, utilizing its full residential capacity consistent with public health guidance and the University’s approach to health and safety.
Residence Life will model small communities or “households,” which are key components of our plan for living on campus.
A household may consist of just one student in a single room, two students in a double room, or suitemates, or it may include others on one floor who share a common bathroom.
Whatever the household’s makeup, students living in these defined spaces will be expected to live together in new ways. They must exercise careful control of how shared spaces are used and maintained, and everything from bathroom use to household cleaning to shared elevator use must be scheduled and coordinated. Students on floors with common bathrooms will be given daily schedules for bathroom use that will limit the number of students in a common bathroom at one time. Common bathrooms will receive frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces by our facilities staff, and each bathroom in apartments and suites will receive a starter kit of disinfecting products for students to wipe down surfaces before and after use.
Residence hall bed counts have been carefully reviewed and adjusted to reduce density. Some returning students may be impacted by the adjustment to the density of on-campus housing. In July, Residence Life will directly contact students whose room assignments have been impacted by the density reductions to identify a new room assignment prior to their arrival on campus.
Students living in apartments and suites with in-unit bathrooms typically arrange bathroom schedules to manage individual use, and this fall will be no different. Upon arrival, apartment and suite “households” will be asked to support each other and develop bathroom use and cleaning schedules.
The University has set aside student housing that will serve as quarantine and isolation accommodations for residential students. Residential students required to stay in one of these spaces will be supported with meals delivered by on-campus dining services and daily health monitoring by Student Health Services.
The traditional move-in process will be altered to allow students to bring belongings to campus over an extended time period in August. This will allow all students and staff to maintain a safe distance and reduce crowds during the process. Residents will receive information on how to sign up for a move-in time during the last week in July.
Note: Residence Life continues to keep the resident community updated via their #WooWeekly newsletter which is emailed to all resident students: August 5, July 29, July 22, July 15, July 8, June 24
Worcester State’s food service vendor, Chartwells, has developed a COVID-19 specific and customized plan called Path to Open based on CDC, local and state guidelines. Plans include:
During the Fall semester, the Library will continue to provide an extensive array of online resources and services. Users will be able to access all electronic resources including 250+ databases, 170,000+ eBooks, and 150,000+ subscriptions to journals, magazines, and newspapers. Library staff will provide individual research assistance by chat, email, and phone. Library instruction for classes will be provided online in synchronous and asynchronous formats in conjunction with the growing collection of tutorials, and research guides developed by Library staff.
In partnership with other University offices and departments, the Library continues to investigate offering in-person services following public health guidelines to ensure the health and safety of all who visit the Library and the Learning Resource Center. Subsequent plans will be announced as they become available.
Our MASCAC conference and the NCAA are expected to make announcements regarding fall sports in July, and both incoming and returning student athletes will be hearing from the Worcester State Athletics Department when those decisions are finalized.
As the primary source of medical care for students on campus, Health Services has prepared a detailed report on what is required for a safe return to this campus. This includes a list of necessary supplies, staffing, and physical considerations of current office space. The report also includes recommendations for isolation and quarantine spaces as outlined by the American College Health Association. Worcester State Health Services is benefited by having a long-term director and a strong relationship with the Worcester Department of Public Health.
SHS will be the primary contact for the receipt and dissemination of information related to a reported COVID-19 positive cases on campus. SHS will follow established protocols and guidelines for contact tracing, testing, and reporting, and will work with the Office of Communications and Marketing if information needs to be shared with the campus community.
Mandatory isolation or stay at home for symptomatic individuals (coughing, sneezing, fever, rashes or any symptoms).
Testing will be a key part of identifying those ill with COVID-19 and their contacts.
Worcester State Student Health Services (SHS) will continue to coordinate offsite testing for symptomatic students. Worcester State is currently assessing the feasibility of conducting symptomatic testing on campus.
Worcester State has commenced negotiations with The Broad Institute in order to secure the capacity to offer asymptomatic testing as deemed prudent, based upon availability, reliability, and effectiveness in reducing the transmission of COVID -19.
Due to the congregate nature of on campus learning, housing, and recreation, Worcester State has established a robust plan for self-quarantine/isolation, and contact tracing.
SHS is the “Command Center” to notify the Department of Public Health when a student tests positive for COVID-19 or a close contact of someone who identified positive.
SHS will be receive additional oversight from a temporary Public Health Manager, supported by an additional Nurse Practitioner.
Out-of-state/international students may require early move in to complete two-week quarantine.
Residents who are awaiting testing results will quarantine/self-isolate at their permanent off-campus residence, if feasible, or in their assigned space on campus, under the direction of SHS.
The University has a long-standing commitment to the wellbeing and mental health of its students. This has included being a JED campus, through which Worcester State has enhanced its mental health outreach, programs, and protocols; and established a Worcester State JED team.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the University and its Counseling Services have emphasized several elements of its JED strategic plan to meet the diverse mental health needs of our students during these times, and to ensure a culture of care relative to mental health and wellbeing campus wide. This focus serves to increase help-seeking behaviors, access to care, supporting students in transition, social connectedness, gatekeeper training, and aid with identifying students at risk.
The University will increase mental health and wellbeing gatekeeper training going into fall 2020 by educating faculty, staff, and students on recognizing, responding, and referring students in distress. These trainings include Resident Assistants (who live in the residence halls) as well as members of the athletic department coaching staff and trainers. These trainings, facilitated by counseling center staff with a trauma informed focus, are informed by data specific to the Worcester State student population and nationally. Trainings will further focus on understanding referral protocols for both emergent and non-emergent scenarios.
First-year students will be supported in their transition to Worcester State in a number of ways. EVERFI Mental Health and Diversity and Inclusion modules have been added to the already existing AlcoholEDU, sexual violence, and prescription drug pre-matriculation programs. These online programs will be introduced sequentially to first year students beginning in August and running through October. Virtual new student and parent orientation programs will include an increased presence of information relating to transition, self-care, and information on how to access campus mental health resources and supports. These programs will also serve to connect students in an effort to develop a sense of community and belonging in these difficult times.
Counseling Services will continue mental health outreach efforts to both new and returning students. In an effort to meet the diverse needs of our students, Counseling Services will offer individual counseling sessions via telehealth and some safe in-person sessions. In collaboration with the Worcester State marketing department the development of a wellness hub- website landing page will soon be launched. All wellness-related resources will be housed on this page. This will assist the University in communicating to both internal and external community members Worcester State’s commitment to holistic education and wellbeing.
Residence Hall visiting rules have been restructured: In all campus residences, access to rooms and living spaces is limited to on-campus residents only, at all times. Overnight guests will not be permitted. This plan may be subject to change as conditions evolve and the University receives further guidance from federal and state health officials.
The Wellness Center is planning for student-use only in the fall. A detailed operations plan has been drafted and outlines the daily cleaning procedures, and safety protocols for employees and students. Wellness Center staff will continue to offer a blended approach with virtual and in-person programs and services. The virtual classes are open to any member of the Worcester State community.
Students will not be allowed to sponsor a guest in the Wellness Center or its fitness facilities.
The University anticipates reopening its outside walking track to the community during restricted, posted hours later this summer and into the semester, subject to evolving health and safety concerns.
Current public health guidelines restrict the number of people who can gather in one location for a public event. If current restrictions continue, most public events on campus will be prohibited in the fall.
In light of health and safety concerns, and to aid with cost containment, the University has suspended all travel, both in- and out-of-state through the academic year, 2020-2021. This includes the suspension of all international travel, including planned study abroad programming.
There will be very limited exceptions made to meet University operating requirements. Exceptions require preparation of a detailed travel plan subject to review by the administration to determine if it is appropriate and necessary.
The University is developing, with its transportation contractor, a plan for shuttle use during the fall semester. This may include the addition of shuttles to adhere to social distancing guidelines. A final plan and schedule will be in place by August.
To comply with social distancing guidelines, all shared communal spaces on campus will be closed or have reduced density. Use of pool tables, gaming consoles, and other areas within the residence halls and Student Center will likely not be available for use in the fall. Gatherings in lounges and other informal spaces may be limited to no more than 10 people, and some even less, based on square footage. Signs will be posted at the entrance of each communal space and it will be expected that students maintain physical distancing at all times and wear a face covering over the nose, mouth, and chin. Furniture will be marked to identify where people can sit to comply with social distancing guidelines.
Additionally, conference rooms not otherwise converted to instructional space will either be closed to use or be restricted to meet social distancing guidelines. All such spaces will be signed with applicable limitations.
Human Resources will provide instructions for mandatory training on health and safety, and new campus protocols before employees return to campus. Training will be personalized to include our student leaders and human resources personnel reviewing content and/or narrating material. Essential health and safety content will include:
The University has continued to recruit and admit qualified students for the fall 2020 semester with an enhanced set of services and support systems, and with the usual admissions cycle has also begun its annual transition to recruiting the next classes for spring 2021 and fall 2021.
Summarized below are key elements of the University’s recruitment focus going forward:
For accepted students and potential applicants for fall 2020, questions about these and other Admissions services, please consult our COVID19 Admissions Website: https://www.worcester.edu/Undergraduate-Admissions/COVID-19-Updates/.
For prospective future students, post-fall 2020, the University has a set of planned activities and services beginning this summer. Those include:
The Retention Sub-group of the Fall 2020 Safe Return Team was charged to consider options to support the retention of all eligible Worcester State Spring 2020 students to Fall 2020.
One recommendation included a return to fall classes with multiple flexible delivery options, including:
Students’ technology needs were identified as numerous and likely to affect retention. The sub-group recommended that the University seek additional laptops and internet hotspots for future students in need (both available through the Emergency Fund). Additionally, students should be allowed on-campus in pre-determined spaces, outdoor spaces, and their personal vehicles to utilize the on-campus wireless internet signal.
Providing timely and accurate information concerning Worcester State University’s fall 2020 Safe Return to Campus is the responsibility of the Office of Communications and Marketing (MARCOM). MARCOM created a short-term COVID-19 communication plan (March through May) that included a dedicated COVID-19 website, and is working on a long-term Safe Return to Campus strategic communications plan that started in May and continues to the present. The Safe Return to Campus plan included a dedicated website. Articulating the plan via email, website, press release, photo opportunity, social media and other means is currently in process.
Elements of both plans included:
The Communications subgroup reviewed several topics and suggestions for awareness including the use of video content, increased distribution of student-written stories from The New Worcester Spy, podcasts, faculty, student, alumni and donor stories, that promote COVID-19 resiliency, and how the student emergency fund is helping all students that are in need.
External Relations links Worcester State to external organizations providing COVID-19-related support including:
While the focus of efforts has turned to a safe return to on-campus instruction and activities in accordance with our plan, we will continue to provide public health information related to the pandemic to our community.
The Safe Return to Campus plan is responsive to both state and federal guidelines, and therefore more information will be available as we progress towards September 2, 2020. These Frequently Asked Questions will be updated and expanded on an ongoing basis, and will provide information to all constituents of our community - students, faculty, and staff.
Note: As we compile additional responses to add to these FAQs, please direct questions you may have to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will identify common areas of inquiry and use them to provide answers here.
The health of the Worcester State community is our shared responsibility. Signage around campus will remind students, staff, and faculty of the need to continue social distancing and to wear masks at all times. Plexiglass will be installed in public-facing offices and enhanced cleaning procedures will be implemented.
Updated: 07/09/2020 1:00pm
This Safe Return Plan is contingent on reaching and staying at Phase 3 of the state’s Safe Opening Plan. Changing conditions and guidance from federal and state health officials may also affect these plans.
Updated: 06/18/2020 8:00am
Yes, IT staff is working remotely but all services are available to students, faculty and staff either by phone or online at https://www.worcester.edu/it. Wifi access is available on campus for all devices and computer labs will be open following state and Worcester State protocols for social distancing, masks, and temperature checks.
We are planning to open both retail locations and the main dining hall for the fall semester. Worcester State's food service provider, Chartwells, has developed an extensive safe return plan for students, faculty and staff.
The Sheehan Dining Room will be reserved for residential students only. Dining hall tables have been distanced for safety and assigned dining times by building have been established to ensure the space is not overcrowded. Students living in the residence halls are welcome to pick up to-go options at any time during and outside their assigned time. Students living on campus may also visit any of the retail locations.
Commuter students will have the option to visit one of the retail locations on campus.
Faculty and staff are also welcome to visit one of the retail locations on campus.
Chartwells has invested in technology that allows all Worcester State community members to place a to-go order ahead of time. Customers will also have the option for grab-and-go items at food service locations.
Detailed information regarding dining services will be emailed to the campus community at the end of July.
The Wellness Center is planning for student use only in the fall. A detailed operations plan has been submitted and outlines the daily cleaning procedures and safety protocols. Wellness Center staff will continue to offer a blended approach with virtual and in-person programs and services. The virtual classes are open to any member of the Worcester State community. At this time, guests will not be allowed in the Wellness Center.
Any face covering that covers your mouth and nose and fits snugly around your face can be used.
Disposable masks will be available at central locations.
HVAC systems will be set to run continuously (rather than based on typical building occupancy timeframes) to prevent the build up of stale air. Air filters will be replaced with MERV 13 rated filters, per CDC guidelines.
We are working on implementing a self-checker app to allow people to review themselves for symptoms each day. Information will be forthcoming once a decision is made about how we're moving forward with it.
Yes, you do. There is not enough research in place to be certain that a person can't contract the virus twice or be a spreader of the virus.
This information should be released around July 15.
Many classes will have a 'blended' designation, which means that the course will have face to face/in person meetings and materials and elements that are available online. After students review their course schedule, they can make any changes necessitated by their circumstances.
Faculty will describe their expectations for classes and attendance policies in their syllabi for the class.
‘Synchronous’ means a class will have an online meeting time and day(s) to be interacting with their professor; ‘Asynchronous’ means online elements that a faculty member will post and the student will work on at any time (not at a scheduled time).
Should you become ill, please notify student affairs for any expected absence for a length of time. The decision to continue or take a leave will be yours based on an assessment of how much you have or will miss of class material. Your advisor can help you assess your best options.
Labs will be conducted with social distancing and mandatory face coverings.
Yes; the bookstore will have social distancing spacing similar to other retail places.
Updated: 07/16/2020 4:35pm
Worcester State has long supported students in need with the Student Emergency Fund, which assists students by providing limited emergency financial support when they need assistance with unexpected, unforeseen, and unavoidable circumstances that jeopardize their ability to successfully continue in school. More information about this fund can be found at https://www.worcester.edu/Student-Emergency-Fund/.
We do not intend to alter the fall academic calendar. The semester is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, Sept. 1. We recognize, however, that a resurgence of COVID-19 could require us to pivot to distance learning instruction modalities at some point in the semester, in accordance with public health guidance.
No, tuition will not be discounted if all the classes on your schedule are fully online. Our faculty are working hard to create robust online classes, both synchronous and asynchronously. Not only do these online classes often take more time and effort to create and execute than in-person classes, but they also provide an equally robust learning experience.
Updated: 07/20/2020 3:05pm
Worcester State has secured a number of laptops to loan to students who are in need. Students who are in need of a laptop to support their academic success, should apply for support from the Worcester State Student Emergency Fund at https://www.worcester.edu/Student-Emergency-Fund/.
Please contact Counseling Services at 508-929-8072 or via email: email@example.com. We have additional information about our services on the Counseling Services website. If this is an emergency, please contact Worcester State Police Department immediately at 508-929-8911.
Residence halls will have designated areas for isolation and quarantine for residential students who are sick, test positive, or think they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive. Commuter students in similar situations should quarantine at home.
Updated: 07/20/2020 3:00pm
Yes, there is a plan in the works to designate spaces where students can set up their laptops to participate in their online classes. These spaces will include socially distant work stations. More information will be coming in August.
Updated: 07/20/2020 2:25pm
We are evaluating the commuter meal plan in light of changes in student schedules.
Each resident has been assigned a week between August 3-21 to move their belongings into their fall room assignment. Move-in during these weeks is mandatory as it will allow a safe and physically distant option to move all residents into the halls.
Updated: 07/16/2020 4:25pm
All travelers arriving to Massachusetts – including Massachusetts residents returning home – are instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Beginning July 1, travelers from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, and New Jersey are exempt from this directive and not required to quarantine for 14 days.
Students should contact Health Services and/or the Dean of Students Office prior to returning to campus for further information.
Residence Hall visiting rules have been restructured: In all campus residences, access to rooms and living spaces is limited to on-campus residents only, at all times. Overnight guests are not permitted. Students should plan to meet up with their guests outside of their building prior to leaving campus. This plan may be subject to change as conditions evolve and we receive further guidance from federal and state health officials.
To-go options will be available for the main dining hall in Sheehan and other retail locations on campus. Chartwells will continue to cater to the specific dietary needs of students. More information will be distributed to the campus community at the end of July.
Quarantine housing: used when a person has potentially been exposed to an illness and needs to separate from other people in order to see if they develop symptoms and become sick. Isolation housing: used when someone has symptoms or is confirmed to have an illness.
Residence Life has set aside housing that will serve as quarantine and isolation accommodations for residential students. When a resident student is temporarily assigned to quarantine or isolation, the resident will receive a detailed plan from Health Services about the steps they need to take to prepare for their stay in temporary accommodations, including a “what to bring” list, information about self-care during the quarantine or isolation period, and contact information for assistance during the quarantine or isolation period.
More information can be found here: https://www.smore.com/3025k-wooweekly
Updated: 07/16/2020 4:30pm
If you are no longer interested in living on campus for the 2020-2021 academic year, please go to https://www.worcester.edu/myhousing, look under APPLICATIONS and complete the Fall 2020 Status Change Form. Please choose buy-out as the reason.
If you cancel by July 27, 2020, the cancellation fee will be waived. If you have any questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated: 06/26/2020 2:00pm
Unfortunately, if a student cancels their housing for the fall semester, we will not be able to hold that space for the spring semester - it will be assigned to another student.
Space permitting, if a student wants to come back for the spring semester we will work with them to find a new space.
Updated: 07/16/2020 4:50pm
Yes. Residence hall fees refunds will be determined on a pro-rated basis if the campus must shut down again for health reasons.
Updated: 07/20/2020 2:30pm
All formal competitive activities are suspended for the fall, with the possibility that at least some intercollegiate games may be rescheduled for the spring season. Small group practices and conditioning activities will be held based on public health guidelines and training requirements of individual coaches.
Updated: 07/16/2020 4:50pm
Winter sports are still being evaluated and will be addressed in September.
Participation in practice and training activities this fall will not affect NCAA eligibility.
Updated: 07/16/2020 5:00pm
Yes, orientations will be taking place. Please visit https://www.worcester.edu/Orientation/ for more information about orientation resources.
Yes! There's still time to complete the admissions process. Financial aid is available and housing is by wait list. Contact the Admissions Office at 508-929-8040 or email@example.com for assistance.
While our buildings are currently closed to visitors, there are several options for students to experience Worcester State safely. Our virtual tour and drive-thru campus tour are available. On-campus tours are being considered for later this summer. Visit https://www.worcester.edu/Visit-Us/ for more information.
Testing protocol is still being developed. Everyone should wear face coverings, practice social distancing, and wash hands per public health guidelines to keep our community safe. If you feel unwell stay home, no matter if you’ve been tested or not.
Classrooms and converted-to-classroom areas have all been assessed by facilities with new capacities set. Each is different. A rough 'rule of thumb' is approximately 45 to 50 percent of usual capacity
Updated: 07/16/2020 4:30pm
If a class member tests positive, the classroom will go offline for 48 hours of cleaning. All contacts of the student will be notified.
The University is not allowed to limit the number of individuals in a bathroom. People are expected to be respectful of each other and maintain proper social distancing at all times.
All staff meetings should take place virtually, even if the participants are physically on campus. Customer services transactions may be conducted in person, with masks and proper social distancing.
Visitors should make an appointment to come to campus, or conduct their transaction remotely when possible. Community members will be required to have their University ID on them at all times when present. Community members must work together to adhere to posted occupancy guidelines.
HR worked with division vice presidents to determine, based on job function and required office occupancy levels, who and when each staff member would be on campus and whether they could perform their job remotely. Staff will be notified mid-July of their status.
No, we do not have the level of staff that would be required to perform those tasks at that frequency level. Sprays and towels will be placed in each classroom for individuals to use themselves, much like spraying the handles of shopping carts before you enter the grocery store or wiping down gym equipment after you've used it.
Faculty may inform the student that face coverings are required to be present in class. If they need a medical accommodation, they can be referred to Student Accessibility Services. If the student becomes unruly and refuses to leave the classroom or wear a mask, faculty may contact University Police accordingly. No one is under any obligation to stay in a classroom with a belligerent student, and can step away until the police get the situation under control. Face coverings are required.