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  • Safe Return to Campus

    A Plan for Resuming In-Person Instruction & Activities


    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: September 10, 2020 4:30 p.m.
    “Anticipating a Pivot” replaced by “Campus Operation Plan”
    Latest Residence Life newsletter added

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    Fall 2020 Safe Return Plan


  • A Letter from President Maloney
    Barry Maloney
    Barry M. Maloney,
    President

    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:

    • The wearing of masks or other appropriate face coverings on campus;
    • Severe restrictions on who may come to campus from outside our community;
    • An on-campus population that is less than half of our usual capacity, where most of our staff are working from home;
    • De-densifying the number of students on campus at any given time;
    • The use of either masks or face shields by our faculty while teaching;
    • Restrictions on the use of common areas, and changes to foot traffic patterns;
    • New ways to access the library and its resources, which will be detailed in a plan developed by its director; and
    • A reconfigured dining experience.

    Guidance for Decisions

    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.

    Academic Calendar for Fall 2020

    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.

    Athletics

    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.

    Keeping Coronavirus Risk Low

    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.

    Accommodations

    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.

    Unique Fall

    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:

    • Academic Contingencies;
    • Facilities Use; and
    • Mental Health and Wellness.

    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.

    Sincerely,

    Barry M. Maloney
    President

    Worcester State University Safe Return Team

    Safe Return Team

    Carl A. Herrin, Chair
    Julie Kazarian, Co-chair

    Anthony Adade
    Donald Brickman
    Madeline Campbell
    Andrea Dever
    Joseph Dicarlo
    Dawn Eades
    Kathleen Eichelroth
    Kevin Fenlon
    Ryan Forsythe
    Lisa Gaimari
    Tara Hancock
    David Needham
    Jason Kapurch
    Thomas Kelley
    Roberta Kyle
    Linda Larrivee
    Stacey Luster
    Tom McNamara
    John Meany
    Syamak Moattari
    Susan Moore
    Michael Mudd
    Laura Murphy
    Kristen O’Reilly
    Katey Palumbo
    Russ Pottle
    Jennifer Quinn
    Emily Soltano
    Maureen Stokes
    Tammy Tebo
    Henry Theriault
    Jonathan Walker
    Lois Wims

    Kathleen Rogan, Note taker

    Safe Return Working Groups

    SubgroupsPurpose/Function/Charge
    CommunicationsFocus on development of written, video, social media, and other virtual messaging strategies intended to communicate affirmative and positive information about the University.
    Academic contingency plans- FallExploration and development of viable options for course delivery through various modalities & address diverse instructional needs of students in order to ensure successful completion of academic work.
    Retention of continuing studentsMaintaining a high rate of persistence among currently enrolled students.
    Recruitment of new studentsEnrolling a suitably sized incoming class of first year and transfer students, as well as graduate and other enrollments.
    External relationsFocused on maintaining positive relationships with the Worcester-area community & other key stakeholders.
    Federal stimulus coordinationCapitalizing on available federal funding through the CARES Act and other federal stimulus legislation.
    Use of campus facilitiesUtilization of campus facilities on a temporary basis in service of local high-priority needs, as well as planning for a return to “regular” campus life.
    Mental health & emotional well-being supportProviding optimal support of students in the context of the uncertainty of current circumstances, as well as to advise on the well-being of the University’s employees.
    Wrap-around academic support/preparationEnsuring the successful transition from high school to university for our future incoming students.

    Combined Safe Return Subgroup Participants

    As of June 26, 2020

    Anthony Adade
    Rosemary Ahmadi
    Jeremy Andreatta
    Nathan Angelo
    Elena Arranz
    Daron Barnard
    Mark Beaudry
    Matt Bejune
    Elizabeth Bidinger
    Laxmi Bissoondial
    Dean Bowen
    Donald Brickman
    Erika Briesacher
    Jodi Briggs-Pickett
    Donald Bullens
    Paula Bylaska-Davies
    Kristine Camacho
    Madeline Campbell
    William Chabourne
    Marilyn Cleary
    Thomas Conroy
    Michelle Corbin
    Meghna Dilip
    Sharon De Klerk
    Anthony Dell‘Aera
    Andrea Dever
    Joseph Dicarlo
    Kirsh Donis
    Allison Dunn
    Dawn Eades
    Kathleen Eichelroth
    Kevin Fenlon
    Sue Foo
    Ryan Forsythe
    Charlie Fox
    Curtis Fraser
    Adrian Gage
    Lisa Gaimari
    Joanne Gallagher Worthley
    Maria Gariepy
    Rebecca Giard
    Sara Grady
    Roger Greenwell
    Vicky Gruzynski
    Charlotte Haller
    Tara Hancock
    Tona Hangen
    William Hansen
    Carl A. Herrin
    Cheryl Hersperger
    Jennifer Hood-Degrenier
    Yan Hu
    Eihab Jaber
    Brittany Jeye
    Christian Kaniu
    Bonnie Kanner
    Jason Kapurch
    Nikki Kapurch
    Joshua Katz
    Julie Kazarian
    Thomas Kelley
    Margaret Kerr
    Douglas Kowalewski
    Roberta Kyle
    Mark LaCroix
    Linda Larrivee
    Hana Lasell
    Angela Latter
    Kelly Laviolette
    Robin Leo
    Stacey Luster
    Nabin Malaker
    Frances Manocchio
    Mary Jo Marion
    Sharon McDonald
    Michael McKenna
    Sarah McMaster
    Kristie McNamara
    Tom McNamara
    John Meany
    Kenneth Melnick
    Susanna Meyer
    Susan Mitroka-Batsford
    Syamak Moattari
    Susan Moore
    Michael Mudd
    Charisse Murphy
    Laura Murphy
    Timothy Murphy
    David Needham
    Kristen Nelson
    Eric Nichols
    Christie Nigro
    Sam O’Connell
    Steven Oliver
    Sandra Olson
    Kristen O’Reilly
    Michelle Page
    Katey Palumbo
    Eileen Perez
    Andrew Piazza
    Mim Plavin-Masterman
    Sarah Potrikus
    Russ Pottle
    Joseph Quattrucci
    Robin Quill
    Jennifer Quinn
    Hilda Ramirez
    Brittney Rende
    Lawrence Roberge
    Kathleen Rogan
    Nicole Rosa
    Adam Saltsman
    Christina Santana
    MaryLynn Saul
    Nancy Sheehan
    Hardeep Sidhu
    Elizabeth Siler
    Danielle Shaver
    Kenny Smith
    Emily Soltano
    Champika Soysa
    Maureen Stokes
    Sarah Strout
    Colleen Sullivan
    Seth Surgan
    Louise Taylor
    Tammy Tebo
    Karen Tessmer
    Henry Theriault
    Tanya Trudell
    Marcela Uribe-Jennings
    Jaime Vallejos
    Sebastian Velez
    Don Vescio
    Mark Wagner
    Marc Wagoner
    Jonathan Walker
    Elizabeth Wark
    Cleve Wiese
    Lois Wims
    Karen Woods Weierman
    Maribeth Wrobel
    Weichu Xu
    Adam Zahler

  • Preface to Safe Return Plan

    Worcester State University Fall 2020 Safe Return Plan (Revision 1)
    Download the full Worcester State University Fall 2020 Safe Return Plan

    (Highlights indicate where changes have been made.)
     
    Prior Versions:

     

    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.

  • Pillars of a Safe Campus Environment


    Mutual Contract of Social Responsibility

    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:

    • Participate in training exercises to learn the required safety practices and navigate the new normal on campus;
    • Receive the flu vaccination in the fall, subject to medical guidance from a personal health care provider;
    • Self-monitor for and report all COVID-19 symptoms using the University-designated reporting method (Worcester State expects to select a self-reporting app later this summer);
    • Practice essential personal safety practices, including wearing appropriate face coverings, and practicing enhanced personal hygiene such as frequent hand washing and sanitizer use, abiding by safe social distancing practices, and following all safety instructions and signage;
    • Ensure that all personal belongings and all living, studying, and working spaces are kept clean; and
    • Participate in testing and contact tracing under prescribed protocols designated by the University and public health officials.

    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.

  • Social Distancing and Face Coverings/Masks
    • When possible, keep six feet of distance between you and someone else.
    • Individuals will also be required to wear face coverings on Worcester State grounds and in Worcester State buildings.
    • Failure to comply will violate the mutual contract of social responsibility.
    • Refusal to comply may result in immediate removal from campus, exclusion from campus, and/or other disciplinary action.
    • All employees and students will be provided two washable face masks.
    • Facilities staff, University Police, and other designated employees will have the option to use N95 face masks to be provided by Worcester State.
    • Disposable face masks will be readily available for individuals who forget face covering at key distribution centers across campus.
    Protective Face Covering/Gear Inventory

    Worcester State has purchased supplies of protective face covering/gear for 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.

     

    Building Access & Traffic Flow

    Building Access

    All buildings on campus now have designated entrances and exits which have been clearly marked. The following document provides diagrams of those designations:

    PDF icon Building Flow Maps (Entrances & Exits)

    Note: in the event of an emergency which requires evacuation of a building, any door may be used as an exit.

    Traffic Flow

    To keep pedestrian traffic as socially distant as possible, please keep to the right in corridors and stairwells.

    Physical Barriers and Guides

    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.

     

    Hygiene Protocols

    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—

    • Promote handwashing and/or sanitizing, consistent with CDC guidance.
    • Provide employees and students with supplies and standards for sanitizing personal work areas, workstations, desks, lecterns, plexiglass, and similar high-touch surfaces.
    Cleaning and Disinfecting

    The University will—

    • Provide additional equipment for Facilities’ use in daily sanitizing activities.
    • Provide additional materials and disinfecting solutions for employees to use for self-performing sanitizing in both instructional and personal use spaces.
    • Establish daily sanitizing protocols for all campus physical spaces.
    Testing and Contact Tracing

    Information About COVID-19 Testing

    As part of the Worcester State University Safe Return to Campus Plan, and to promote the safety of the Worcester State community, all residential students, as well as certain groups of commuter students, faculty, and staff will be required to participate in a scheduled COVID-19 surveillance testing program.

    Following the direction of many colleges and universities across the Commonwealth, Worcester State has contracted with the Broad Institute, a biomedical and genomic research center with a well-utilized COVID-19 diagnostic lab, founded in conjunction with Harvard University and MIT. Broad Institute uses the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test for the active presence of the COVID-19 virus, also known as a “point in time” test. In addition to this testing program, Worcester State has plans in place to manage COVID-19 on campus via daily self-checks of symptoms facilitated by a mobile application, testing, contact tracing, and isolation and quarantine protocols. These measures go beyond guidelines set by local, state, and federal health and higher education officials for campus re-openings.

    Testing Process

    Testing will occur on campus in Wasylean Hall (7 Hills Lounge) at no cost to participants. This Worcester State COVID-19 Testing Center is managed by a full-time staff person with a medical background. Please review the informational pamphlet and video below for more information on the observed self-swab nasal collection process. The test is self-administered, with a trained observer, and takes about three minutes. Results are expected within 24 hours of receipt at the diagnostic center. Testing will begin the week of August 31 and continue throughout the fall semester.

    Test Results

    Test results both positive and negative for all testing participants will be provided to each test-taker through the HIPPA-compliant CoVerified app, which ensures your health information is secure. Initially the test taker and University Health Services will have access to the result. If your test result is positive, a medical staff member in Worcester State’s Health Services will reach out to you to offer support and review next steps, including campus contact tracing. You may also be required to test again to confirm the positive result.

    Positive results are disclosed to others as required. For employees, this means Human Resources, and for everyone, the local public health departments and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health would be notified. Supervisors, colleagues, and members of the Worcester State administration will not have access to health information.

    Next Steps, If Your Test Is Positive

    Those found to be positive for the virus will be required to isolate in their homes, apartments, or in designated campus housing for at least 10 days, the last three of which they must be symptom free. Prior to returning to campus activities, an individual will need clearance from their local Board of Health.

    The Worcester State Health Services medical staff will work with the Worcester Department of Public Health to identify via contact tracing individuals who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Students, faculty, and staff could be required to quarantine themselves for 14 days as directed by public health officials.

    Glossary

    Contact Tracing: A program to reach out to individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, and contacts of these individuals. This will help reduce the spread of the disease and ensure the individuals have the support they need to isolate or quarantine. The names of individuals who have tested positive are not released to their contacts.

    CoVerified: A free app for Android and iPhone that integrates with the Broad Institute's testing platform, and allows users to monitor symptoms and receive test results. See https://www.coverified.us/.

    Isolation: The physical separation of people who have a contagious disease from people who do not have the disease.

    Quarantine: The physical separation and restriction of movement of people who have been exposed to a contagious disease, for monitoring for development of illness.

    Surveillance Testing: The monitoring of the current state of the epidemic of COVID-19. At Worcester State, the goal of surveillance testing is to quickly identify when/if the virus is present on campus and to minimize its further spread.

    Close Contact: criteria for determining whether the contact with an infected individual warrants quarantine, based on proximity, length of time in contact, environment context (e.g., large room, outside), active symptoms of the infected person with whom contact is made.

    Testing Schedule And Participants

    NOTE: All members of the campus community who are required to participate in the campus surveillance testing programs will be notified via email with next steps.

    Students

    • All students living on campus are required to participate in a weekly testing program.
    • All in season athletes are required to participate in a weekly testing program.
    • Students commuting to campus are required to participate in a regular testing program. Frequency of testing is based on number of face-to-face credit hours.
    • Students with a 100% remote schedule and who do not come to campus at any time are not required to participate in the campus testing program.
    • Testing frequencies may change based on community testing results and public health trends.

    Staff (APA, AFSCME, NUP)

    • All staff members who are scheduled to be on campus with a high level of contact with students and the public are required to participate in a weekly testing program.
    • All staff members who are scheduled to be on campus less frequently in a hybrid format with a level of contact with students and the public are required to participate in every other week testing program.
    • Staff members who work remotely and do not come to campus at any point will not be required to be tested.
    • Testing frequencies may change based on community testing results and public health trends.

    Faculty

    • Faculty members teaching all courses face-to-face will be required to participate in a weekly testing program.
    • Faculty members teaching in blended formats with regular face-to-face classes are required to participate in every other week testing program.
    • Faculty members teaching in a remote only format are not required to participate in a testing program.
    • Testing frequencies may change based on community testing results and public health trends.
  • Plans for the University’s Academic Program, Fall 2020

    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.

  • A Blended Opening

    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 our current learning environment, we continue to explore unique, innovative ways to engage students. Still, this approach must recognize and plan for:

    • The health needs of students, faculty and staff.
    • A recurrence of COVID-19 infections.

    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:

    • Synchronous delivery, whether partially in-person or streamed with video conferencing technology for students learning remotely; and
    • Asynchronous delivery. Online learning with priority given to blended courses with in-person synchronous sessions.

    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:

    • Faculty members should have the option to teach fully online, with the approval of the department chair and dean, if the instructor is experienced in online education, or as a reasonable accommodation when a qualifying condition is documented and approved through Human Resources.
    • If a fully online teaching schedule is requested via HR, other accommodation methods (such as teaching remotely, wherein class meetings are held using Blackboard) will be offered.
    • Faculty will be expected to teach in distance setting to the same high standards found in a classroom setting. Therefore, faculty are expected to attend workshops or training sessions, or document their prior training, to meet the University’s academic standards in distance environment.
    Campus Operation Plan

    A change in operations may occur when positive case numbers increase and/or external factors indicate a pivot would be in the best interest of health and safety of the campus community.

    Campus StatusExternal FactorsWorcester State TestingStaffing/Supplies Considerations
    Safe Return - Blended
    • Face-to-face, blended, remote
     
    MA Phase III OpeningBaseline TBDAdequate for “Safe Return - Blended” operations
    Two Weeks Remote
    • Most students shelter in place
    • Remote learning in operation with limited F2F
     
    MA Phase III
    • City of Worcester is trending to red
     
    Average positive test rate stable or declining to move back to “Safe Return - Blended”

    Average positive test rate increasing moves to “Limited on Campus”
    Supplies must be replenished to move back to “Safe Return - Blended”
    Limited On Campus
    • Most students return home
    • Remote learning with rare exceptions
     
    MA Phase II
    • City of Worcester is red for more than 2 weeks
     
    Average positive test rate remains high and increasing over 7 daysInadequate to operate with community on campus
    Severely Limited
    • Fully remote operations
    • No face-to-face classes
    • Essential personnel only on campus
     
    State/City ordered shut-down
    • Stay at home order
     
    N/AN/A

    Note: 100% in-person operations will occur when there is an effective treatment/vaccine that is widely available.

    Equity and Access to Learning

    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:

    • Consider how blended/online teaching modalities produce new kinds of inequities in access to digital technologies and off-campus learning environments.
    • Commit resources to addressing those inequities. Digital and home-learning inequities during the ongoing pandemic represent an important retention concern for the institution, and a community imperative as an anchor of Worcester’s social fabric.
    • Identify necessary resources, including:
      • Laptops for students who do not have them;
      • WiFi hotspots for those without internet access; and
      • Access to funding for any/all individual software needs that may arise as part of participating in blended and/or online courses.
      • Laptops are available to loan to students who need one to support their academic success. Students should apply for support from the Student Emergency Fund.
    • Carefully calibrate eligibility for the Student Emergency Fund, or other newly identified funding, including in consideration of full-time or part-time status, financial aid status, etc.
  • Technology


  • Faculty Support

    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.

    University Learning Management System

    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.

    Student Technology Considerations

    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.

    Space Planning

    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:

    • Occupancy limits have been determined and signage has been posted for:
      • All academic instructional and specialized instructional space.
      • All non-academic spaces.
      • Spaces previously used as communal spaces such as lounges, conference rooms, and convenience areas.
      • Elevator cabs.
    • Evaluated pedestrian pathways for density, floor markings and signage.
    • HVAC systems have been upgraded to allow continuous air flow. All systems have been upgraded with MERV 13 rated filters.

    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.

  • First-Year Student Services


  • “Becoming a Lancer”

    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.

  • The Student Experience


  • Residence Life

    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: September 9, September 2, August 26, August 19, August 12, August 5, July 29, July 22, July 15, July 8, June 24

    Food Service

    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:

    • Reduced or eliminated guest seating capacity based on social distancing guidelines in all locations. Sheehan main dining hall will be reduced from 620 to 208 seats for in-person dining;
    • Installation of plexiglass at all dining locations;
    • Signage indicating customer pathways and floor queuing decals, as needed;
    • Online/remote ordering to allow customers to place a to-go order ahead of time;
    • Option for grab-and-go items at food service locations;
    • Establishment, with Residence Life, of household dining times;
    • A designated COVID-19 food safety manager;
    • Delivery process for residential students in isolation or quarantine;
    • Contactless catering and check in process; and
    • Enhanced safety protocols for food services employees, dining locations, and guests (if permitted).
    • Outside guests will not be permitted to dine in the dining hall.

    Note: Commuter students have been refunded $150 for commuter meal plan as of August 12, 2020.

    Library Services

    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.

    The Library is open to current students, faculty and staff only. OneCard ID will be required to access building during hours of operation which are Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    Learning Location Spaces

    To provide students with quiet and safe study spaces during this unique semester, Worcester State University has designated three spaces on campus as Learning Locations:

    1. The auditorium in the May Street Building (on the window side of the partition) Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.
    2. The Lancer Landing room in the Student Center Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.
    3. Room L-236 in the Learning Resource Center Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

    These spaces will provide a space for students to complete coursework and/or participate in online classes.

    Athletics

    All formal competitive activities are suspended for the fall. Small group practices and conditioning activities may be held based upon public health guidelines and training requirements of individual coaches.

     

    Health Monitoring

    Department of Student Health Services (SHS)

    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.

    Containment

    Healthy Campus

    Mandatory isolation or stay at home for symptomatic individuals (coughing, sneezing, fever, rashes or any symptoms).

    Testing

    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.

    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.

    A COVID-19 Response Manager has been hired to support testing and contact tracing in Student Health Services.

    Self-quarantine/Isolation

    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.

    Student Wellbeing and Mental Health

    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.

    Training

    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 Student Support

    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.

    Outreach Efforts

    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.

  • Campus Restrictions


  • Remote Work

    Worcester State University Policy on Remote Work

    • Human Resources will extend the opportunity for staff to telework whenever possible.
    • All meetings will continue to be held remotely until further notice.
    Restricted Visitor Access

    Visitors to Residence Halls

    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.

    Wellness Center

    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.

    Campus Events

    One of the many changes implemented to address the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students is creation of the Campus Usage Committee.

    Scope and Objective

    The Campus Usage Committee will evaluate all space requests and event proposals which include or involve external participants (defined as individuals who are not current Worcester State faculty, staff or students), provided the space request or event proposal is scheduled to occur on property owned or operated by Worcester State University.

    These requests may originate from external parties seeking to utilize Worcester State facilities (e.g., external conferences or sports camp), or internal departments who plan to interact with external participants on campus. Please note, there are several types of event proposals/space requests that the Campus Usage Committee is not required to review. Examples include:

    • Department return to campus plans (unless the department plans include the involvement of external participants);
    • Construction/external contractor projects;
    • Space or event requests involving Worcester State faculty, staff, or students only (either on or off campus); and
    • Research projects involving Worcester State faculty, staff, or students only.

    The primary objective of the Campus Usage Committee is to ensure event plans are in compliance with current health and safety guidance from the State of Massachusetts, event plans are in compliance with the Worcester State Fall 2020 Safe Return to Campus Report, and the proposed event does not pose an unnecessary health or safety risk to Worcester State faculty, staff, students or event participants.

    For additional information regarding event planning and reserving physical space for an event, please visit the Conference & Event Services pages.

    Process

    If you have an event proposal/space request, please:

    1. Complete the event proposal template
    2. Ensure the proposal form is formally reviewed and approved by the division head. Please note, formal approval is obtained via a physical wet signature on the form (scanned), or email trail showing review and approval by the division head.
    3. Ensure the approved proposal is submitted to Jonathan Walker (jwalker@worcester.edu), at least 10 days prior to the start date of the event.
    4. The proposal will be evaluated by the Campus Usage Committee. Please note, the Campus Usage Committee may request additional information regarding the proposal.
    5. The Campus Usage Committee will notify the proposer and division head of the results of the evaluation. If approved, the Campus Usage Committee will also notify key campus offices of the upcoming approved event.
    6. The chair of the Campus Usage Committee will provide a summary of events to Cabinet.

    The Committee

    Adrian Gage, Assistant Dean, Residence Life and Housing
    Tara Hancock, Executive Director, Alumni
    Mike McKenna, Director, Conference and Event Services
    Sandra Olson, Assistant Vice President, Facilities
    Hilda Ramirez, Executive Director, Latino Education Institute
    Jonathan Walker, Director, Internal Controls and Risk Assessment

    Questions should be directed to Jonathan Walker (jwalker@worcester.edu)

    Limit non-essential travel

    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.

    Shuttle to Goddard Lot and Sagamore Road Studios

    The shuttle will not run between Goddard Lot and the University for the fall semester. The shuttle will run between campus and the Sagamore Road Studios.

     

    Limited Access to Communal Social Spaces

    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. The May Street Auditorium and Lancer Landing are identified spaces where students can use for synchronous classes and for use between classes.

    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.

    Mandatory Training and Compliance

    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:

    • Face coverings
    • Frequent handwashing and sanitizing
    • Social distancing/elevator occupancy
    • Safe Return to Campus website for reference
    • Campus cleaning protocols
    • What to do if you get sick
    • Upon Return to Campus – what to do
    • Importance of mutual shared responsibility
  • Other Safe Campus Subcommittee Reports


  • Recruitment

    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:

    • “Meet a WSU Faculty Member” Meetings: Worcester State faculty members provide virtual meetings for accepted students to learn more about academic life. Faculty share insights into what classes are like, how students can be successful and how they pursue their academic interests.
    • Virtual Financial Aid Information Sessions: The financial aid office hosts virtual financial aid information sessions for accepted students and maintains daily financial aid office hours for accepted students.
    • Virtual Multicultural Student Information Session: The Admissions Office and the Office of Multicultural Affairs host ALANA accepted student events to celebrate and showcase our diverse student population and how our community supports its diverse student population.
    • Virtual Transfer Events: The Admissions Transfer Center offers virtual office hours, virtual transfer decision days, and virtual transfer admissions sessions for prospective transfer students.
    • Virtual Faculty Office Hours – “Chat With a WSU Faculty Member”: The “Chat With a WSU Faculty Member” virtual office hours will be offered to all new incoming students to connect with a Worcester State faculty member via a ZOOM conference call. These virtual office hours are intended to replicate in-person office hours that faculty make available to students.
    • Summer 2020 New Student “Gatherings” at Alumni Homes: The Admissions Office and Alumni Office will offer “Summer 2020 New Student Gatherings” using our network of alumni to host gatherings at their homes. With the cancelation of Congratulations Day and in-person, on-campus June orientation days, many new incoming students have missed out the opportunity to meet each other in an informal, in-person setting. These alumni-hosted gatherings will help to facilitate new students meeting in person, form connections with classmates, generate excitement over attending Worcester State, and engage alumni. These events aim to support our new student enrollment and mitigate summer melt.

    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:

    • Drive-Thru Campus Tour: Drive-thru campus tours will provide an alternative to on-campus, student-led tours. Two drive-thru options will be available. Option 1 includes a mapped tour route with information stops. Signs will be created to help students and families navigate the tour from their cars and a script/audio narration will be developed for them to follow along. Option 2 incorporates the use of staff and students on-campus. Students and families can register in advance for a tour time and be greeted by an admissions counselor or student tour guide. Families will be checked in, provided with admission materials, have questions answered, and receive assistance navigating the tour. Access to buildings may be available on a limited basis. Refreshments or a giveaway will be provided.
    • Virtual Campus Tour: A more robust and realistic online virtual tour, which will be accessible via the Worcester State website. The online virtual tour will replicate a more traditional campus tour and provide prospective students with 360-degree photography of the outside and inside of buildings along with video and audio content. The virtual tour will be connected to the admissions CRM so that prospective student information can be captured.
    Retention

    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:

    • Face-to-face instruction while keeping faculty, staff, and students safe;
    • The earliest possible announcement of the fall opening decision;
    • Flexibility in allowing students to select classes properly identified in WebAdvisor based on their modality; and,
    • As much consistency in remote instruction across courses as possible.

    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.

    Communications

    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:

    • MARCOM’s coordination with each Safe Return to Campus team to disseminate their content broadly across multiple mediums.
    • Sharing information and news articles on social media each week which allows for robust sharing and increase traffic to Worcester State’s website.
    • Telling more stories about our community through stories posted on the Worcester State News feed.
    • Development of press releases from specific news articles.
    • Increase of development of pandemic resiliency stories featuring Worcester State’s students, faculty, staff and alumni.
    • Posting updates to the Safe Return to Campus website on social media platforms.
    • Posting relevant updates related to changes in public health or state guidelines as it relates to Worcester State’s plans.

    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

    External Relations links Worcester State to external organizations providing COVID-19-related support including:

    • Worcester Together, a collaboration of the United Way of Central Mass, the City of Worcester and the Greater Worcester Community Foundation. Through this connection Worcester State is represented on the Worcester Together Accountability Subcommittee which will provide accountability for all 78 organizations that were signatories to the Worcester Together statement.
    • Developed and implemented a survey of faculty and staff to gauge interest and expertise in volunteer capacities.
    • Facilitating learning opportunities for Worcester State students who are willing and able to provide support to various volunteer organizations.
    • Generate financial support for Worcester State students through donations to and through which students can apply for a grant from the Student Emergency Fund. To donate: https://alumni.worcester.edu/se; to apply for funds: https://www.worcester.edu/Student-Emergency-Fund/
  • Public Health Information

    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.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    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 safereturn@worcester.edu. We will identify common areas of inquiry and use them to provide answers here.

  • Testing

    Who will get tested and when?

    Resident students and all in-season athletes are required to be tested weekly.
    Commuter students who have at least one class on campus will be tested. If you are required to participate in the Worcester State testing program, you will be contacted directly via email. The email will contain information on the testing center and frequency of testing.

    All staff members who are scheduled to be on campus with a high level of contact with students and the public are required to participate in a weekly testing program. Staff members who are scheduled to be on campus less frequently in a hybrid format with a level of contact with students and the public are required to participate in every other week testing.

    Faculty members teaching all courses face-to-face will be required to participate in a weekly testing program. Faculty members teaching in blended formats with regular face-to-face classes are required to participate in every other week testing program.

    Testing frequencies may change based on community testing results and public health trends.

    Updated: 09/11/2020 2:45pm 

    How does testing work?

    Testing is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m in the Seven Hills conference room in Wasylean Hall. You will sign up for testing on your phone using an app called CoVerified. Tests are completed in a 3-minute window from check-in to completion. Results will be available within 24 hours and will be sent directly to you via CoVerified. Results will also be shared with Health Services and the Department of Public Health. 

    Updated: 09/11/2020 2:45pm 

    Where can I find a dashboard of testing results?

    The Worcester State COVID-19 dashboard will be updated each Thursday evening with the latest information from our testing partners. Testing of students, faculty, and staff at Worcester State University will provide a key insight into the health and wellness of the campus community as we progress through the Fall semester.  

    Updated: 09/11/2020 2:50pm 

    What happens if a student in a class tests positive?

    If a class member tests positive, the classroom will go offline for 48 hours of cleaning. All contacts of the student will be notified.

    Updated: 07/16/2020 4:35pm

    What happens if my roommate tests positive for COVID-19?

    If your roommate tests positive for COVID-19, your roommate will be moved into isolation accommodations located in Chandler Village. You may be asked to quarantine in your room, or to move into the university’s quarantine accommodations.

    Updated: 08/10/2020 11:25am

    Will I have to self-report my health status?

    All students and employees, whether on campus, remote, or a combination of the two, should use the CoVerified daily symptom self-checker app. You should report new symptoms, not ones that are considered your “normal”—for example, seasonal allergies, migraine, etc. Doing so may result in a false restriction to campus. If you are unsure what to attribute a symptom to, then you should report it.

    Questions related to the app, including issues with sign-on, should be directed to Paul Vernucci, our COVID-19 Response Manager.

    Updated: 09/11/2020 3:05pm

    Where can I get tested in the Worcester area?

    A map with all testing sites in Massachusetts can be found here

    Free testing is available at multiple sites in Worcester through the Stop the Spread initiative. 

    Updated: 08/19/2020 9:50am

    Health and Safety

    Will the fall academic calendar change?

    We do not intend to alter the fall academic calendar and the began as scheduled on Tuesday, Sept. 1. We do, however, recognize 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.

    Updated: 09/11/2020 3:10pm

    How will public health requirements be enforced?

    The health of the Worcester State community is our shared responsibility. There is signage around campus to remind students, staff, and faculty of the need to continue social distancing and to wear masks at all times. Plexiglass has been installed in public-facing offices and enhanced cleaning procedures have been implemented.

    Updated: 09/11/2020 3:10pm

    Does I need to wear a specific type of face mask?

    Any face covering that covers your mouth and nose and fits snugly around your face can be used.

    Updated: 07/09/2020 1:00pm

    What do I do if I forgot my mask?

    Disposable masks are available at the information desk in the Student Center and at the Residence Life office in Sheehan Hall.

    Staff are also able to pick up masks from the HR Office.

    Updated: 09/11/2020 3:15pm

    I’ve already had COVID-19 and recovered. Do I still need to follow the safe return protocol?

    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.

    Updated: 07/09/2020 1:00pm

    How will HVAC systems aid air circulation and filtration in university buildings?

    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.

    Updated: 07/09/2020 1:00pm

    Will I be able to pause my studies if I get sick?

    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.

    Updated: 07/09/2020 1:00pm

    If I have concerns about mental health and wellness, what should I do?

    Please contact Counseling Services at 508-929-8072 or via email: counseling_wsu@worcester.edu. 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.

    Updated: 06/18/2020 8:00am

    What is the occupancy limit in academic/administrative office suites?

    Single offices have an occupancy of one. Guests should not be invited into such an office.

    Academic and administrative office suite waiting areas have a guest occupancy limit of two. Visitors should follow the direction of staff members, even if this means waiting outside in a hallway until it is safe to enter a waiting room. 

    Signs have been posted that indicate occupancy limits.

    Updated: 08/14/2020 2:30pm

    Are visitors be allowed on campus?

    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.

    Updated: 07/09/2020 1:00pm

    Will face-to-face meetings be allowed?

    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.

    Updated: 07/09/2020 1:00pm

    Will classrooms be cleaned between classes?

    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.

    Updated: 07/09/2020 1:00pm

    What will happen if a student comes to class without a face covering?

    Faculty may inform the student that face coverings are required to be present in class. If the student needs 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.

    Updated: 07/09/2020 1:00pm

    Campus Services

    What food options are available on campus?

    Worcester State's food service provider, Chartwells, has developed an extensive safe return plan for students, faculty, and staff.

    Sit-down dining in the Sheehan Dining Room POD will be available to resident students only, and only during each resident’s assigned household dining time. Dining hall tables have been distanced for safety and assigned dining times by building have been established to ensure the space is not overcrowded.

    Outside of your assigned dining time at the POD, you will be able to 'grab and go', meaning you will select your food from several options, and then dining service staff will package that food in a container for you to eat elsewhere.

    Another option for resident students, as well as commuting students, faculty, and staff, is to order food from the Lancer's Loft in the Student Center using the Boost app


    The Market in Dowden will also be open starting at 7 p.m. on weekdays. 
     
    Chartwells has provided a full list of their hours of operation for all locations.

    Woo Cafe in Sullivan, Starbucks in the LRC, the Food Court in the Student Center, and the Smoothie Lab in the Wellness Center will all be closed for the fall semester.

     

    Updated: 09/11/2020 3:45pm  

    Is the Wellness Center open?

    The Wellness Center is open for student use only, and they have provided detailed reopening information

    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. 

    Updated: 09/11/2020 3:50pm

    Will there be spaces available on campus for me to set up my laptop to participate in online classes or complete homework?

    Yes, there will be learning locations with wifi and appropriately distanced work stations set up in the auditorium of the May Street Building and Lancer Landing on the 3rd floor of the Student Center. Both will be open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

    Updated: 08/19/2020 9:25pm

    How do I access the library?

    Access to the Learning Resource Center (LRC) is limited to students, faculty and staff with valid Worcester State OneCards. To access the building, users must use the card reader machines located at the 1st and 2nd floor entrances. Users without OneCards will not be able to access the building. 

    The Learning Resource Center is open Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM, and Sunday from 10 AM to 6 PM. They maintain a page for their most current Hours of Operation.
     

    Updated: 09/11/2020 3:55pm

    Where can I get my OneCard?

    For assistance with OneCards, visit or contact the OneCard Office located in the Shaughnessy Administration Building, Suite A-140, 508-929-8888, https://www.worcester.edu/OneCard/. The OneCard Office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 5 PM.

    Updated: 09/11/2020 3:55pm

    Is the bookstore open?

    Yes; the bookstore is open and will have social distancing spacing similar to other retail spaces. 

    Updated: 07/16/2020 4:35pm

    Will Worcester State offer laptops for student use?

    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/.

    Updated: 06/18/2020 8:00am

    What happens if I get sick?

    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

    Financial Questions

    Is Worcester State offering any emergency financial support for students in need?

    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/.

    Updated: 06/18/2020 8:00am

    If all my classes are fully online, will my tuition be discounted?

    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.

    Keep in mind that your Worcester State degree will hold the same value when you graduate, no matter if one semester includes courses delivered remotely. 


    Updated: 07/20/2020 3:05pm

    Will I still be charged for the commuter meal plan?

    All commuter students have been refunded the $150 commuter meal plan.

    Updated: 08/12/2020 11:00am 

    If changing public health conditions require campus to be shut down again, will my residence halls fees be returned?

    Yes. Residence hall fee 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 

    For Resident Students

    What's a Go Bag?  Do I need one?

    Yes, we suggest that you bring a pre-packed "Go Bag" with items you may need if you need to move into quarantine or isolation space. A pre-packed bag will be easy to grab and save you from quickly trying to figure out what you may need for two weeks. We suggest packing:

    • Linens: bedding (sheets, pillow, blanket); towels (bath, hand, face)
    • Clothing:  2+ complete changes of comfortable clothes (sweats, PJ pants, t-shirts, hoodies, fuzzy socks)
    • Medicines: cough drops; Tylenol (fever reducer); Vicks VapoRub; Mucinex DM (or Robitussin cough and chest congestion)
    • Toiletries: thermometer; toothbrush and toothpaste; shower items (shampoo, conditioner, soap); body lotion; hair care (brush, ties); feminine hygiene; tissues
    • Lists: allergies; important people's phone numbers
    • Other:  Gatorade (or Pedialyte); snacks; masks; distractions (coloring books, crayons, deck of cards); extra cell phone charger

    Updated: 08/20/2020 11:45am

    As a resident student, am I restricted from leaving campus?

    No, resident students are not restricted from leaving campus. As per Massachusetts guidelines, students who travel outside of the identified lower-risk states would be required to submit a Massachusetts travel form prior to re-entry and quarantine accordingly.

    Updated: 08/10/2020 11:45am

    Can I have guests in the residence halls?

    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. 

    Updated: 07/09/2020 1:00pm

    What’s the difference between quarantine and isolation?

    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 I am not in residence for the Fall, am I able to register for the Spring?

    Space permitting, if a student wants to come back for the spring semester we will work with them to find a space. 

    Updated: 07/16/2020 4:50pm

    For Student Athletes

    Are all fall and winter athletic activities cancelled?

    All formal competitive activities are suspended for the fall and winter, 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: 09/11/2020 4:20pm 

    Will I lose a year of eligibility?

    Participation in practice and training activities this fall will not affect NCAA eligibility. 

    Updated: 07/16/2020 5:00pm 

    For Prospective Students

    Can I tour campus?

    Yes. We have several options available for students to experience Worcester State safely.

    In-person tours are available. These hour-long tours are available by appointment only

    Our drive-thru campus tour is also available. 

    Visit https://www.worcester.edu/Visit-Us/ for more information.

    Updated: 09/11/2020 4:20pm

    For Faculty & Staff

    What should I do with my trash/recycling?

    Each single office occupant should leave their trash and recycling receptacles outside their office at the end of each day on campus. Facilities staff will not be entering single occupant offices except to disinfect on a weekly basis.

    For those who are not in single occupant offices, there will be no change to your trash and recycling will be pick up. 

    Updated: 08/14/2020 2:15pm

    Where can I find sanitizing products for my office?

    Utility carts with sanitizing spray and paper towels are located throughout all buildings on campus. Individuals are encouraged to sanitize their personal offices daily, particularly frequently touched surfaces such as plexiglass dividers, keyboards, light switches, multifunction printers and door handles. Empty spray bottles can be returned to these carts and placed in the bag attached to each cart. If supplies need restocking, please contact the Facilities office at x8208.

    Updated: 08/14/2020 2:20pm

    Where can I find sanitizing products for my classroom?

    Bottles of sanitizing spray and paper towels have been provided for each classroom. Instructors are encouraged to wipe down their work surfaces and all frequently touched objects in the room (dry erase markers, podiums, keyboards) before and after each use. Students can also use these sanitizing products to wipe down chair arms and desk surfaces. Empty spray bottles should be returned to the plastic bag attached to one of the sanitization utility carts located in every building on campus.

    Updated: 08/14/2020 2:20pm

    How do I clean my plexiglass divider?

    Plexiglass dividers should only be cleaned with the sanitizing spray that has been provided and dried only with a fiber cloth (in order to prevent scratching the surface). These cloths can be obtained from Central Receiving and Stockroom. Please do not clean dividers with any product that contains alcohol or ammonia.


    Updated: 08/14/2020 2:30pm

    I have run out of hand sanitizer. Can I get more?

    Yes. Hand sanitizer can be obtained through Central Receiving and Stockroom.

    Updated: 08/14/2020 2:35pm

    How is mail being handled?

    Mail will not be delivered. It can be picked up at the Mail Center located on the first floor of the Learning Resource Center. Packages and stock room supplies will be delivered.

    Updated: 08/14/2020 2:35pm

    How was it determined who would be working on campus, and who could work remotely?

    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. 

    Updated: 07/09/2020 1:00pm