Dear Campus Community:
Thank you to our students and their champions for their patience and flexibility as dedicated faculty and staff educate, advise, and inspire students during these challenging times. I appreciate our community’s cooperation in adhering to the shelter-in-place order that began Nov. 5. Westfield State University’s order was supported by the City of Westfield’s Heath Department and allowed us to cautiously manage and navigate the needs of positive COVID-19 cases, while concurrently meeting the needs of our greater student population.
Throughout the Curtailment period, Westfield State closely communicated and collaborated with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and coordinated efforts with the Massachusetts Community Tracing Collaborative (CTC). As positive cases were identified through University testing or other testing sites, students and close contacts were communicated with, and provided instruction to isolate or quarantine. I recognize the careful attention and energy that has and continues to go into this important process.
On-Campus Isolation and Quarantine Update
Today’s numbers indicated that 26 students are isolating and 11 are quarantining at Lansdowne Place, while 28 students quarantine on campus suites or apartments following Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines. Our front-line staff and those who volunteered to supplement their efforts have worked diligently to address the residential and health needs of our students in isolation and quarantine. Their work has been met with cooperation from impacted students.
However, we are now at a critical juncture, as the health and safety of our students and workforce remains Westfield State’s priority.
Move to “Critical Operations Only” phase of Curtailment Plan
Given the lessening capacity for isolation and quarantine and a continually increasing need for related resources, the University has made the difficult, but necessary decision to activate the next phase of its Curtailment Plan.
This “Critical Operations Only” phase involves the following measures:
- Continuing exclusively remote learning until the end of the fall semester.
- Closing residence halls to the general student population. A controlled move-out plan (Nov. 17–22, 2020) will begin Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 10 a.m.
- Cancelling or moving online any on-ground campus events and activities.
- Continuing the University’s remote workforce plan and other flexible work arrangements, reserving an on-campus presence for personnel associated with critical operations.
- Sustaining the University’s shelter-in-place order beyond Nov. 19. Further updates regarding campus restricted access will be provided on Monday, Nov. 23 after the controlled move-out of our residence halls is completed.
I apologize for the inconvenience this short notice brings to our residential students and their families. In addition, I regret the collective disappointment that these changes for the remaining semester brings to all students—commuters and residents. Know that the University consulted the expertise of DPH to coordinate the timing of the residence hall closures to take place after all close contacts of positive COVID-19 cases (beyond roommates and other on-campus close contacts already identified and properly quarantined following DPH guidelines) were notified of their potential exposure to COVID-19 and instructed to quarantine.
Should you be contacted by a member of the University Contact Tracing Team now or in the future, please respond promptly as your immediate response is important to your health, as well as the health and safety of your family, friends, the campus community, and that of our surrounding communities.
Exclusively remote learning will extend until the end of the fall semester. Limited allowable exceptions to this include on-ground learning or academic requirements that cannot be transitioned to online instruction. The list of exceptions will be similar to the list during this semester’s delayed-opening period in September. Overall, moving to exclusively remote learning will help us to further de-densify the campus to help preserve the health and safety of our campus community.
Controlled Move-out Plan for Residential Students
A controlled move-out of residence halls will begin Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 10 a.m. The schedule is designed to allow less than 10 people, per hour, per hall to move their possessions out of their rooms. Although a parent or friend will be permitted access to campus during move-out to assist their students, those guests must follow health and safety protocols and will not be permitted access to residence halls or other campus buildings.
Residential students will receive more information from Housing Operations later today to register for a check-out date and time. In order to receive their full, prorated Housing and Dining refund, residential students must:
1. adhere to the move-out date and time that they have selected while following mask,
handwashing, and social distancing protocols; and
2. complete appropriate check-out procedures.
Due to a few limited and specific, in-person academic requirements or housing insecurity issues, there will be a small number of students who will be allowed to remain in Housing and/or have access to campus for the remainder of the fall semester. The application process for such exemptions will be provided in the email from Housing Operations to come later today. Academic exemptions will center on learning requirements that could not be transitioned to online instruction or the completion of student teaching, practicums, clinicals, or field placements that require students to be in the Westfield area. Exemptions will be reviewed and/or approved by the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs or the Dean of Students.
The move-out is scheduled as follows:
Residential Students who remained on campus during the shelter-in-place
Move out: Tuesday, 11/17 through Thursday, 11/19, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
Residential Students who remained on campus to complete their quarantine or isolation period
Move out: When cleared by University Health Services, individual move-out plans will be arranged.
Students exempt from move-out plan
Remain in current Housing assignments until the controlled move-out phase is complete and they are permitted to move into campus apartments for residency through the end of the semester. These students are required to attend mandatory asymptomatic/surveillance COVID-19 testing on Thursday, Nov. 19.
Residential Students Temporarily Off Campus During Shelter-in-Place
Move out: Saturday, 11/21–Sunday, 11/22, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
Included among this group of residential students are those who opted to leave campus for their quarantine or isolation period. When cleared by University Health Services, individual move-out plans will be arranged.
On Thursday, November 19, the Dining Commons (DC) will close at 8 p.m., TJ Bistro and Marketplace Convenience Store will close at 9:30 p.m. Starting on Friday, November 20 Dining Services will operate through the GET App only for pickup at the TJ Bistro location from Noon to 6 p.m. everyday. TJ Bistro is located on the Scanlon Hall Side of the Dining Commons. Students who are exempt from the move-out will be have access to their meal plan and ongoing Dining Services. Residential and commuter students who have a meal plan and are not exempt from move-out will be emailed directly regarding a prorated credit for unused portions of their meal plan. Dining Services can be contacted at email@example.com or 413-572-5410.
Credits/Refunds to Housing, Dining Services, and the Fitness Center
Due to this phase of Curtailment, prorated refunds will be made for Housing, Dining Services, and the Fitness Center. More information on this will be coming from Student Accounts in the days ahead. The University is in the process of preparing Spring 2021 bills and therefore credits from the Curtailment are not likely to be processed before bills are sent, as credits/refunds will take a few weeks to finalize. Note that residential students must complete required check-out procedures by Sunday, Nov. 22 to receive a full prorated refund. Following check-out protocol is critical to ensure the University can confirm the students who meet exemptions to remain on campus.
Spring 2021 Semester
Westfield State will return to delivering a combination of in-person, remote, online, and hybrid courses when the spring semester begins Tuesday, January 19, 2021. By December 14, students will receive information on an additional housing selection process based on the to-be-determined configuration of Housing options for the spring semester. The University plans to offer residential housing and weekly asymptomatic/surveillance COVID-19 testing next semester for residential students.
Testing during the week of November 16
In light of the current Curtailment, only students exempt from move-out and employees involving critical operations will remain on-campus for the remainder of the semester. Therefore, the next round of on-campus surveillance testing will take place Thurs., Nov. 19 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will be intended for:
- Exempt students who will remain in Housing for the remainder of the fall semester
- Faculty/Staff with an on-campus presence for the remainder of the fall semester
Given the residence hall closures, the asymptomatic/surveillance mandatory testing for students who had an on-ground presence—which was previously announced for Wed., Nov. 18 during the shelter-in-place—will not take place, nor will the next round of testing previously scheduled for Nov. 30–Dec. 3.
Note that free drive-up testing is available at Holyoke Community College Mon., Wed., Fri., and Sat. from 7 to 11 a.m. and Tues. and Thurs. from 2 to 7 p.m. Alternative testing locations are available throughout the Commonwealth. Click here to reference the list of sites.
Moving Forward During a Pandemic
I know I have provided a large amount of information to you with this announcement and you will have many questions. We will continue to update the “Critical Operations Only Curtailment” frequently asked questions and I will provide additional updates through University email. The Safe Fall Opening webpage will continue to serve as the most up-to-date source of information throughout the semester.
Students and families or faculty and staff who have remaining questions about the University’s Curtailment Plan are encouraged to call our designated phone line—413.579.3050—from 12 to 7 p.m. today (Nov. 16) and from 1 to 6 p.m. tomorrow (Nov. 17).
When I first arrived at Westfield State, I shared with you my three priorities for this academic year. Perhaps the most important one is to treat our students as if they are our own children. Throughout the many decisions we have made during the pandemic, know that this has been my guiding principle.
Stay safe and be well.
Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D.