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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 ongoing pandemic and how it affects Worcester State.
Worcester State’s COVID-19 Response Team / Safe Return to Campus Team meets regularly to assess the risk level and to work through possible solutions. These included decisions related to testing, residence life, university-related travel, and changes to campus operating status. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and in conjunction with the latest information on the COVID-19 virus.
As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday and winter season, the COVID-19 Response Team / Safe Return to Campus Team is focused on taking any actions necessary to ensure the safety of our community while satisfying state and federal health requirements. This includes consideration of the status of our campus, the wider Worcester State community, and the city of Worcester.
Updated: November 18, 2020 10:30 a.m.
Dear Students and Faculty,
Today President Maloney announces that Worcester State will move any in-person classes to fully remote modalities, for the period of Monday, November 23, through and including Tuesday, December 1, 2020.
Faculty teaching face-to-face courses or blended courses that still have an on-campus component have had fall-back, all-remote plans, which will be activated for this nine-day period. Faculty need to communicate to their students, in advance of this Monday, how classes will be delivered during this interim remote period, and they are encouraged to let their chairs know as well. Students in field, clinical, internship, or practicum will follow the plans of the placement site during this time period.
In part because many faculty teaching in blended formats had front-loaded the in-person course components, only about 100 class sections are affected by the change (out of a total of about 1,500). We expect disruption to be minimal and are hopeful that we will be able to return to our current course modalities on December 2, offering faculty some flexibility for completing the in-person elements of their course prior to the start of finals.
Worcester State will continue with our current testing protocols through Monday, November 23. Resident students will have special testing protocols prior to and returning from break, as noted below. Additionally, following our all-remote learning period, we will be regularly testing every commuting student who has an on-campus course component and any faculty member who will be on campus for any reason.
As Governor Baker has indicated today (November 18), resident students leaving campus for Thanksgiving break must receive a negative COVID test, administered within 72 hours of their departure, in order to prevent spread of the virus to their home communities. Our on-campus testing facility in Wasylean Hall should be used for this purpose.
The WSU testing center is open:
Any resident student returning to campus following Thanksgiving break has two options:
Resident student arrives on campus, completes their COVID test, and self quarantines in their room until a negative result is obtained. Our testing center will be open on Sunday, November 29, from 12 noon – 6 p.m.
Resident student returns to campus with a negative result in hand, from an FDA EUA-approved molecular (PCR) SARS-CoV2 test that had been administered within 72 hours prior to arrival. These results must be presented upon arrival to campus at the WSU Testing Center. Resident students choosing this option must plan to test through the WSU Testing Center a second time during the week they arrive back on campus.
If a resident student will not be returning to campus following the break, we ask that you please inform Residence Life at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Faculty and commuter students with in-person instruction are required to test and receive a negative result prior to resuming on-campus classes and activities.
Any faculty or commuter student returning to campus, beginning December 2, will have two options:
Faculty and commuter students should plan to come to campus, complete their COVID testing, and only plan to return after a negative result is obtained. Results are expected within 24 hours of receipt at Broad Laboratory in Cambridge.
The WSU Testing Center is open on the following dates with extended hours:
Faculty and commuter students may return to campus with a negative result in hand, from an FDA EUA-approved molecular (PCR) SARS-CoV2 test that had been administered within 72 hours prior to arrival. These results must be presented upon arrival to campus at the WSU Testing Center.
Once on-campus classes resume, all commuting students will now be tested each week they are on campus, through the end of the semester. Previously, only those students with 4 or more on-campus credits were tested.
As Governor Baker said today, “We have to practice prevention every day.” We also need to follow our on-campus COVID-19 protocols that have helped us to limit the spread at Worcester State. Please, above all, continue to wear a mask when you are on campus or in any other public place, and continue to use the CoVerified app to monitor symptoms and ensure you are cleared to come to campus if you are supposed to be here.
We wish everyone a safe and restorative Thanksgiving break.
Lois A. Wims, Provost
Julie Kazarian, Dean of Students and Chief Student Affairs Officer
Dear Faculty and Students,
Due to a confluence of factors, starting Monday, November 23, Worcester State will move all classes that were scheduled to be held in person to remote course delivery, through (and including) Tuesday, December 1. While our residence halls will remain open, we are instituting new required testing protocols for resident students, and for anyone who is returning to campus in December – including commuting students and staff – following the remote learning period. Please carefully read the letter from Dean of Students Julie Kazarian and Provost Lois Wims for important details. (Faculty, please also watch for a complementary email from Human Resources that will provide information for all employees.)
I commend everyone for their vigilance and willingness to undertake testing and significantly modify behaviors this semester. Please know that our surveillance testing positivity rate has never reached the 2 percent threshold we had established as an indicator for switching to remote learning. We have always, however, considered other factors. Key among them were positivity rates in the city of Worcester and guidance/mandates from state and local officials. Because the city has seen significant community spread for several weeks and because, today, new guidelines for higher education were released by Governor Baker, this switch to an interim all-remote learning period is necessary. We will be closely monitoring any new guidelines and, especially, the on-campus surveillance testing rate as students return to the residence halls and as others return to campus for the last several class meetings of the semester. If these factors become concerning, we may further postpone or cancel a return to in-person classes. Please check your email daily, and remain flexible, in case further guidance is forthcoming. Today’s decision for the short-term remote-learning pivot was made in consultation with our Board of Trustees, the Commissioner of Higher Education, the academic chairs group, the Safe Return Team leadership, and executive cabinet, and I thank them for their invaluable input.
I call everyone’s attention to mass.gov/thanksgiving2020, which outlines health risks of holiday gatherings and tips for how to celebrate safely. As Governor Baker said in a press conference today, we all must continue to wear face coverings, engage in social distancing, and refrain from socializing outside of our household units if we hope to keep our schools and the economy open.
I continue to be thankful for the Worcester State community. I see evidence every day – now more than ever – that we care for one another. I see it in the vigilant mask-wearing of our students in order to keep, primarily, others safe. I see it in the donations from so many to our student emergency fund. I see it in the creative problem-solving our employees have engaged in to devise new ways to support students through this difficult time. Please safely celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday next week, and I encourage you to take some time to reflect upon what you are most grateful for.
Barry M. MaloneyPresident
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