Safe Fall Opening

This webpage serves as the repository for accurate and updated information about Westfield State’s Safe Fall Opening plans.

For more information about the Coronavirus outbreak and how to protect yourself and others, please reference:

All students and their families,

We are a week closer to the start of a new academic year. This time usually comes with a great deal of excitement for me. In truth this year I am both excited and anxious. I am sure we are all anxious about what this year will look like. I want to report that the Faculty and Staff continue to work diligently to be ready for this fall. I also want to update you on a few of important items.

Our early Add/Drop period ends today. We hope you have been able to make adjustments to your schedule to have it better align with your needs. I will remind you that Add/Drop will again open at the beginning of the semester. Further, new students who are still having problems with their schedule should be in touch with our Office of Academic Advising for help.

As we get closer to the beginning of the semester please check your schedule for any classes with face to face meetings. We are continuing to finalize room assignments based on course enrollment to insure appropriate social distancing in the classroom.

We appreciate that social distancing is creating challenges in all of our lives. One area of concern for us is providing study space for students. I want to share that we are working on expanded study space on campus that will include a variety of spaces in dorms and classroom building. A comprehensive list will be shared at the beginning of the semester.

Finally I want to share a little information regarding our academic student support services. Our Office of Academic Advising, TRIO, Urban Education, Reading & Writing Center, and our Disability Services  (Banacos Academic Center) have been spending the summer planning for the fall. To insure appropriate social distancing and to be able to provide services to students who have chosen to not be on campus, these services will be primary offered through virtual meetings. Students will need to make appointments with program staff. There will be some limited ability to have in person meetings but will require an appointment. We plan to provide more details about these services as we get closer to the beginning of the semester but I felt it was important to let you know that we are developing ways to offer these services that is safe and accessible to all.

Take care and be safe

Robert C. Kersting, ACSW, PhD
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dear Campus Community:

I am pleased to share with you this week’s Safe Fall Opening Update, including my video message on the safe opening. For more information, please visit our Safe Fall Opening website which includes our the Safe Fall Opening Plan as well as continually updated frequently asked questions.

Social Contract for Safe Fall Opening

Protecting the Nest as Owls, we keep learning and we keep going; always flying to the next level, together. Being a part of the Owl community means that each of us must take extraordinary steps to stay well and persistently protect others. Therefore, each person will take responsibility for their own health and to help keep the Westfield State University community safe by stopping the spread of COVID-19 and other infections as identified and instructed by the University. Please review the Protect the Nest Pledge, outlining these steps to keep our community safe.

Building Access

Westfield State University will continue to operate with restricted access on campus throughout the summer and fall semester. Restricted access means that access to academic and administrative campus buildings is restricted to students, faculty, and staff through use of their University-issued identification. Building access by permissible contractor and vendors must be organized through department directors or otherwise referred to Public Safety (413-572-5262).

Campus Visits

Given the University’s continued restricted access through the fall semester, only visitors with business with the University will be permitted on campus. These visits will be allowed by appointment only. Appointments and access to campus buildings for visitors will be coordinated by the respective department or division. All campus visitors must be logged by the respective department or division. For tracking purposes during the pandemic, visitors who are permitted access to campus buildings will be logged. A visitor is simply defined as an individual that is a not a Westfield State employee nor a current student. Each department/office will receive more information about this with a link to the required visitor log and directions to save and submit completed weekly logs.

Course Scheduling Update

The early Add/Drop period has allowed a great number of students to successfully adjust their schedules to better suit their needs, based on their preference for remote or in-person learning. Add/Drop remains open for returning students through Friday and first-year and transfer students may still contact the Academic Advising Center to make scheduling adjustments through Friday. Note that Add/Drop will again open at the beginning of the semester.

COVID-19 Surveillance and Required Testing of Residential and Commuter Students

All residential students and those commuter students who will have an on-campus presence in the fall semester will be tested for COVID-19 by the University prior to the start of the semester. Dates, times and locations of the testing will be communicated to students directly in a separate email. In addition to­ on-board testing, monthly testing is planned for the fall.

Out-of-State and International Students plan

Students coming to campus from either an international location or a high-risk state (one other than ME, VT, NH, CT, NY, NJ or HI) will need to be tested for COVID-19 (by the University) and quarantine at the University’s designated residence hall for quarantine until a negative result is confirmed.

Travel Restrictions

Following the travel restrictions issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Westfield State University asks for continued adherence to several protocols, including a discontinuation of work-related travel and a preference for remote meetings. All travelers should take note of the state’s new travel order. All visitors and returning residents entering Massachusetts must complete a Massachusetts Travel Form prior to entering/reentering the Commonwealth and should be aware of the impact of non-compliance.

Warmly,

Roy

Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D.
Interim President

July 29, 2020

Dear Students,

On June 19, President Torrecilha informed you that Westfield State University will utilize both on-ground and online academic instruction and warmly welcome back both commuter and residential students to campus in September—something that I, too, am looking forward to as your new interim president.

As a follow-up to the June communication, I am pleased to share with you that our Safe Fall Opening Plan has been posted to our Safe Fall Opening website and includes important information about campus housing, dining services, athletics and activities, Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing, contact tracing, and other health and safety protocols and procedures. It is important to note, however, that the Safe Fall Opening Plan should be considered a working, flexible document—as federal, state, and local public health and safety guidelines and directives related to the COVID-19 continue to evolve. Because of this, I encourage you to refer often to our Safe Fall Opening website for the most current information and frequently asked questions, and forthcoming emails to keep you updated.

As uncertainties related to the pandemic remain, the University continues to monitor and implement the guidance provided by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, the state Department of Public Health, the state Department of Higher Education, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We’re also in close contact with state and local health officials. As such, I ask for your patience, understanding, and continued participation in the final preparation for your return to campus in the fall.

I am looking forward to meeting you this semester and to help ensure that you have a memorable, enjoyable educational experience at Westfield State. Above all else, though, your safety and well-being—and that of our full campus community—are my paramount concern, and we all need to work together to stop the spread of COVID-19.

This virus has no playbook, as you know, so creating our prudent plan to welcome you back to a safe nest this fall required careful, campus-wide collaboration. I realize it wasn’t a simple task and wish to express my gratitude and appreciation to the leadership of the University’s Safe Opening Taskforce (SOTF); our divisional working group members; and members of the University’s Emergency Response Team (ERT), for getting it done in a careful, thoughtful, and timely manner. 

In the meantime, I wish to relay what Governor Baker said during his press conference Monday: “COVID-19 isn’t taking the summer off, and neither should we.” So, Owls, let’s do this together; please continue to wear your cloth face coverings, wash your hands, avoid touching your face, and maintain social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Until we meet in September, enjoy the rest of your summer.

Warmly,
Roy

Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D.
Interim President

July 28, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff,

As we all know, COVID-19 has no playbook. I thank the teams of individuals at Westfield State for their careful and thoughtful consideration to equip our community with a prudent plan to welcome our students back to the nest for this fall.

The Westfield State University’s Safe Fall Opening plan is now posted to our Safe Fall Opening website. It is important to note that this should be considered a working, flexible document—as federal, state, and local public health and safety guidelines and directives continue to evolve. The University will continue to monitor and implement the guidance provided by the Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, the state Department of Public Health, the state Department of Higher Education, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   

Creating this plan required careful, campus-wide collaboration. I realize this was not a simple task, and I wish to express my gratitude and appreciation to the leadership of the University’s Safe Opening Taskforce (SOTF); our divisional working group members; and members of the University’s Emergency Response Team (ERT), for getting it done in a thoughtful and timely manner. 

Westfield State remains in close contact with state and local health officials, as uncertainties related to the pandemic remain. As such, I ask for your patience, understanding, and continued participation in the final preparation for our students’ return in the fall.

The safety and well-being of our full campus community remains our paramount concern.

Thank you, all, for doing your part to implement the plan, and for following the health and safety guidelines yourselves, to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Warmly,

Roy

Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D.
Interim President

July 24, 2020

Dear Campus Community:

I am pleased to share with you the latest updates on Westfield State University’s Safe Fall Opening. 

Fall Academic Course Schedules 
Undergraduate course schedules for the fall semester were shared via myWestfield on July 20. Today, July 24, Academic Affairs will share further information to assist undergraduate students to modify their fall course schedules.  

In addition, students in the College of Graduate and Continuing Education program will receive a message todaywith information about course schedules and procedures to make changes as desired. 

The delivery method for fall courses include in-personhybrid (blend of in-person and online instruction), remote/synchronous (100% remote instruction with a set time for virtual class meetings), or online asynchronous (100% online instruction with no set time for virtual class meetings). 

Athletics and Fitness Center  
Despite the statewide announcement of the suspension of fall Athletics season, planning is underway to provide student-athletes with on-campus, in-person practices, and conditioning and training opportunities. Westfield State Athletics will provide these opportunities in compliance with the NCAA Sports Science Institute (SSI) Resocialization of College Sports guidelines. The guidelines are composed of three successive phases based on a sustained downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases, continued physical distancing, and limited in-person gatherings. 

In addition, the University will follow Massachusetts State guidelines for operating fitness centers. The Fitness Center in the Ely Campus Center will be available for student use only during the fall semester. During opening weekend (Aug. 30 & 31), the center will be available for tours only from 9 a.m.to 4 p.m.; it will be closed on Sept. 1; and it will begin its fall schedule on Sept. 2.  

COVID-19 Testing
In addition to the University’s plan to test residential and commuter students at the beginning of the fall semester, as provided in last week’s update, logistics and details for voluntary faculty and staff testing are being considered. Further information on voluntary employee testing offered through the University will be made available when more decisions are made. 

Visitors to Campus
Given the University’s continued restricted access through the fall semester, only visitors with business with the University will be permitted on campus. These visits will be allowed by appointment only. Appointments and access to campus buildings for visitors will be coordinated by the respective University department or division. All campus visitors must be logged by the respective department or division. During restricted access periods, students, faculty and staff are able to access academic and administrative buildings through use of their University-issued IDs.  

Visit Westfield State’s Safe Fall Opening website for the latest information and frequently asked questions   

Warm regards,

Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D.
Interim President

July 24, 2020

Students and Parents,

As we move closer to the beginning of the fall semester, I want to update you on our course schedule and our plans for supporting students who wish to make changes to their fall schedule. Again, we appreciate that some students will want to increase their face to face classroom experiences while some will desire to be fully online. We also understand that your schedule  impacts your decision about housing.

As we updated course modality for the fall schedule, we did find some issues and inconsistencies. The Registrar’s Office has been working to manually correct these issues. At this time, the schedule does correctly identify the modality for all courses. We do apologize for any confusion this week has caused.

The next step is to allow students to update their schedules. With close to 4000 students we are unable to simply open this process to all simultaneously. We will be opening the ability to change schedules starting next week in a tiered process.

First years and transfer students require a staff member's help to adjust their schedule. We will begin that process on Monday (7-27) and it will run until Friday (7-31).  The first year students and new transfer students were divided alphabetically and assigned a day to schedule an appointment. The registrar’s office will be contacting these students directly with information on how to schedule their appointment. Those emails will be going out today with reminders next week.

Exploratory first year students will be scheduling a meeting with our Academic Advising Center and will be sent an email to make an appointment using Westfield 360. A video link will be provided instructing them on how to make the appointment.

On August 3, we will open Add/Drop for returning students. Monday and Tuesday (8-3 and 8-4) will be reserved for seniors to help insure they can register for classes they need to graduate. On Wednesday (8-5), Add/Drop will be opened for all returning students.  Add/Drop will remain open through Friday (8-7). I want to remind returning students that they do not need their PIN to add or drop courses at this point. It is worth noting that the regular Add/Drop period at the beginning of the semester also will allow students to make scheduling changes if needed.

It is my intention to send a reminder and update next week about this process that will include advising  contact information for returning students divided by major in case you need help with the Add/Drop process.

Thank you for your patience during these turbulent times.

Robert C. Kersting, ACSW, PhD
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

July 16, 2020

Dear Campus Community:

I am pleased to share with you the latest updates on Westfield State University’s Safe Fall Opening.

Billing and Housing Deadline Extended to July 31

Following the billing and housing communication received by students and families last week, we received much feedback regarding extending the deadlines for billing and for returning students to submit a Petition for Release with the Cancellation Fee waived. The deadline for students and parents/families to pay fall 2020 semester tuition and for returning students to submit the Petition for Release with the Cancellation Fee waived, has been extended from July 24 to July 31. We hope the week extension gives students and their families more flexibility and time as they make decisions and plan for the fall semester.

Academic Schedules and Student Support

As I shared last week, the finalized class schedule will be announced by Academic Affairs during the week of July 20. College deans, department chairs, and staff in the Office of the Registrar have worked together on adaptations to the fall course schedule, using feedback from surveys and forums following the spring semester. Faculty considered the nature of the course, learning outcomes, and student engagement as they identified the appropriate modality of instruction. Modalities range from fully online to partially online (hybrid) to in-person. Academic Affairs collaborated with Facilities to ensure instructional spaces will meet physical distancing guidelines.

Additionally, Student Academic Support Services Program directors have developed plans to remotely deliver services, based on their experience in the spring and summer terms. Staff will meet with students by appointment and hold drop-in office hours using an online meeting program. Staff are determining the protocols necessary to open study spaces for students by reservation.

MASCAC Suspends Fall Athletics

The Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) announced today its difficult decision to suspend the fall 2020 athletic season, including all indoor and outdoor athletic competition, due to the highly contagious nature of the COVID-19 virus and the risk of community spread through conference competition. Although there won’t be fall contests, Massachusetts state universities, including Westfield State, are planning to provide student-athletes with on-campus, in-person practices, and conditioning and training opportunities during the fall semester to support their physical and mental well-being. Winter sports are being evaluated and will be addressed in the fall. For more information on this, please visit the Westfield State Athletics website

Dining Services

Dining Services has introduced a new meal plan—The Owl Plan—to give students flexibility and convenience. The Owl Plan gives students 19 swipes per week (one per meal time) to use in the Dining Commons. Students can take what they like to make sure they get enough to eat at each meal.

The Owl Plan also gives students unlimited choices across campus with meal exchanges and dining dollars. For those students who are unable to visit the Dining Commons, they can opt for “Meal Exchange” at any retail location on campus, or visit The Marketplace for a quick snack, using their dining dollars on any of their selections in the store.

Students are encouraged to download the GET Mobile App now, so they will be ready to use a meal swipe, Dining Dollars, or Owl Bucks to order food for pick up at a convenient time at all dining locations.

Visit Westfield State Dining Services’ website for more information.

COVID-19 Testing

The University is planning for on-board COVID-19 testing of residential and commuter students at the beginning of the fall semester. We hope to contract with Cambridge-based The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard for these services. More information will be shared as operational logistics are finalized.

I encourage you to often visit Westfield State’s Safe Fall Opening website for the latest information and frequently asked questions.

Please be safe and well.

Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D.
President

July 12, 2020

To all our new and returning students,

Our University and our nation have been on quite a ride the last six months. As summer progresses, the fall will be upon us before we know it. Teams of faculty and staff at Westfield State University continue our planning to welcoming you back in the fall.

We continue to finalize a class schedule for the fall and plan to have the schedule available to students by July 20. We will be offering classes using a number of delivery methods. We will have some traditional face-to-face classes. We will offer some hybrid classes or classes with some face-to-face meetings and an online component. Hybrid classes will be offered with varyng amounts of face-to-face meetings. We will have some remote classes where students meet with faculty in real time through an online platform. Finally, we will have some classes online where there are not real time meetings online.

Over the next two weeks, changes in the class schedule, including changes in delivery methods, will begin to roll out in your schedule in myWestfield. All changes will not appear at once, but the schedule will be finalized and available to you by July 20. The schedule will include more details regarding the delivery method of each class.

Once your schedule is fully updated and you can see the modality in which your classes will be delivered, you can explore how you prefer to fine-tune your schedule to best meet your interests, needs, and learning style. We appreciate that some students may want to have more classes with face-to-face meetings, while other students may prefer a fully online schedule. To help facilitate fine-tuning your schedule, the Office of the Registrar will be opening drop/add by mid-August to allow early schedule adjustments.

We at Westfield State know these are challenging times with many unknowns but the faculty, librarians and staff remain unwavered in our commitment to provide you with a quality educational experience.

Over the next few weeks, more detailed information will continue to be shared regarding class scheduling, living on campus, dining on campus and social life on campus.

We look forward to welcoming you back to Westfield State University this fall.

Sincerely,

Robert C. Kersting, ACSW, PhD
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

July 10, 2020

Dear Campus Community:

I hope that you and your families are well as our community continues to navigate through the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our lives and those of our students and their families. While the pandemic has put physical distance between us, it has also brought us closer together through our care for each other, our families, and neighbors. Today, I am pleased to provide an update on several aspects of Westfield State University’s Safe Fall Opening plans.

A letter to our returning resident students – regarding the move-in, new protocols and expectations, and meal plans – was sent earlier today. The letter, in addition to other communication and FAQs regarding Westfield State’s Safe Fall Opening, is available at westfield.ma.edu/safe-fall-opening. We continue to update this page as plans are finalized, communications are sent, and answers to more FAQs are available.

As we continue to plan for our courses to be comprised of a mix of online, on-ground and a hybrid model, I share with you that the finalized class schedule for the fall will be available the week of July 20. Students will receive a more detailed message from Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Robert Kersting, Ph.D. on this topic in the coming days.  

For our student-athletes and us as fans, we all are eager for our Owls to return to competition. The Department of Athletics is awaiting an announcement from the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference in mid-July to reveal how the fall sports season will be administered.

More planning regarding the student experience, Dining Services on campus, COVID-19 testing, and changes to the living and learning campus environments continues. We will offer future, regular communication through email and videos on these and other matters as teams of faculty and staff continue to work on operational logistics to welcome our residential and commuter students back to campus in the fall.

Thank you for your continued patience and understanding. Despite the continued uncertainties surrounding COVID-19, Westfield State University is working diligently to provide a high-quality education and experience in an inclusive, diverse, and equitable environment.

I hope that this brief summary provides some answers as we continue to prepare and plan for the fall 2020 semester. We will continue to provide further answers and specifics in the days and weeks ahead. 

Sincerely,

Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D.
President

July 10, 2020

Dear resident student,

We hope you and your family have been safe and healthy. We continue to plan for the upcoming academic year and the safe return of students to the campus. In order to keep the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff as the focus of our Safe Opening Plan, we would like to update you on the move-in process, additional policies for the Fall 2020 semester, and the Petition for Release process.

Residence Hall Move-In Process

The move-in process will take place over two weeks in two separate phases. The first phase will have students able to move into their assigned room August 17-21 and August 24-28. Students will be able to register for one-hour time blocks to ensure social distancing. A maximum of two guests will be permitted to assist students with moving in. After moving in students will be expected to return home. The second phase will be on Sunday, August 30 when students are able to return to campus and remain in housing.

Additional Policies for Fall 2020

Based on recommendations from the state and other agencies, additional policies will be in place for the Fall 2020 semester as we focus on the health and safety of all students. Later this month, these additional policies will be covered in a Housing Agreement Addendum that all students living on campus for Fall 2020 will agree to prior to being able to move into housing. They will include:

Face masks will be required when students are outside of their room/apartment/suite.
No guests will be permitted in the residence halls. This includes residential students from other residence halls, commuting students, non-students, and family.
Room changes will not be permitted to limit contact between students assigned to different areas of housing.
Study lounges and kitchens will have seating reduced and in some instances may be unavailable for use.
Students living in traditional halls will be assigned to one bathroom within their residence hall and will not be able to access any other bathroom facilities.

Petition for Release

Returning students who decide they do not want to live on campus can complete the Petition for Release application in their MyHousing account. Students submitting the Petition for Release by the fall semester billing deadline, July 24, will be approved and have the $750 Cancellation Fee waived. Students submitting a Petition for Release after July 24 will not be guaranteed approval and will be responsible for the $750 Cancellation Fee.

New incoming first-year and transfer students may request to change their status from housing to commuting by emailing the Admissions Department at admissions@westfield.ma.edu. Students making this decision no later than the fall semester billing deadline, July 24, will not be responsible for the $750 Cancellation Fee.

Meal Plan Information

The Dining Commons and Marketplace Convenience Store will open on Sunday, August 30 at 12 Noon for all meal plan participants. All other Dining locations will open on Monday, August 31.

Dining will be following all guidelines established by the Commonwealth for the fall, including take out only meals and individually wrapped items.
Students and guests will be required to wear a face mask and follow appropriate social distancing practices when visiting any Dining location.
Please download the GET Mobile Application from your App Store for the ability to order ahead for contactless pickup as well secret menu items and popup locations.

We hope you are able to enjoy the remainder of your summer and we look forward to you joining us on campus this fall. Should you have any questions please feel free to let us know.

Sincerely,

Housing Operations

June 19, 2020

Dear Campus Community:

I write to share information about Westfield State University’s Safe Fall 2020 Opening.

Last semester was a unique experience for us all, and I am grateful for everyone’s flexibility, persistence, and desire to succeed in the face of adversity. As a community, students, faculty, and staff navigated the effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with uncommon grace, good sense, and cooperation. We learned a significant amount about our strengths as individuals and as an institution.

The decision has been made as part of our plan for a Safe Fall 2020 Opening to utilize both on-ground and online academic instruction and welcome back both commuter and residential students to campus in September.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Emergency Response Team’s Coronavirus Management Group has been working to manage continuity in the face of the global pandemic. In addition, a Safe Opening Task Force was convened with representation from all University divisions and unions to comb through the vast amounts of guidelines, standards, and protocols put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the American College Health Association (ACHA). The group used these expert sources combined with the guidance and directives of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, the state Department of Higher Education, and state Department of Public Health to present three scenarios for my Cabinet to consider for the fall 2020 semester.

The Cabinet and I came to our decision by weighing heavily the following criteria:

  • An ability to provide an environment with proper health and safety precautions
  • A favorable downward trend of the data related to COVID-19 in Massachusetts
  • A commitment to provide a high quality, engaging student experience
  • A capacity to be flexible given the uncertainties related to the pandemic
  • A commitment to ensure continuity

With a general plan set, University divisional working groups will continue to finalize their respective pieces of the plan to build on what has been determined so far.

As always, we remain in contact with state and local health officials as we work on the remaining logistical and operational details related to our Safe Fall 2020 Opening. We continue to appreciate your patience and understanding as we institute the following thoughtful and careful measures to welcome our students back to campus in September.

Health and Safety Preparation and Protocols

All members of the campus community will be asked to comply with a social contract that will emphasize expectations of all individuals in our community during an unprecedented public health crisis.

Cloth masks will be required to be worn by all individuals without prohibitive health conditions and six feet of social distancing, when possible, will be enforced. Hygiene and social distancing protocols will be prominently displayed on signage throughout the campus. All members of the campus community will be required to wear and display their University-issued ID badges when on campus property and to access campus buildings.

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) that exceeds beyond the cloth mask requirement will be provided to select employees, based on the nature of their job function and inherent risk. Although students will be required to provide their own cloth masks, additional PPE in laboratories and other academic learning environments will be provided by the University as the course or experience requires.

Our campus has remained open, but has operated with restricted access since the spring. The majority of staff have been ensuring business continuity through remote work with a limited on-campus presence. Following the release of a Return to Work plan in the coming days, and following the state’s current guidance, phased-in staffing will take place over the summer months to prepare for welcoming our students back to campus in the fall.

Enhanced cleaning protocols and frequency will be implemented this summer and continued in in the fall semester, with a particular focus on high-touch surfaces and high-traffic areas. Protocols are in line with the CDC, OSHA, and DPH guidelines.

Much of the in-person interactions on campus will be by appointment only.

Work is underway to modify campus environments—including academic buildings, dining spaces, and residence halls—to support social distancing and uphold health and safety protocols. Directional signs, occupancy limitation signs for elevators and restrooms, and hygiene and social distancing reminders will be posted prominently. An increased number of sanitation stations will be installed in all campus buildings.

Academic Learning and Teaching

The Division of Academic Affairs held several open forums for the campus community (attended by approximately 200 faculty and staff) to share their perspectives and ideas to best deliver academic instruction in the fall. In addition, the division surveyed students, faculty, and academic support staff regarding their spring 2020 experiences following the move to an exclusively remote teaching and learning environment. Valued input, creative ideas, and helpful data were gleaned from these important exercises and will be used to map out the comprehensive academic plan for the fall.

We anticipate a portion of classes to be delivered in a hybrid fashion, involving both on-ground and online components, while a substantial number of classes will be delivered exclusively online. On-ground class work will be implemented with proper social distancing and other health and safety precautions. College deans, department chairs, and staff in the Office of the Registrar will work together on adaptations to the fall course schedule using feedback from the surveys and forums, which indicated prioritizing on-ground experiences for first-year students, hands-on pedagogical demands (e.g. laboratories), and experiential learning requirements (e.g. clinicals, internships, practicums, etc.).

Extensive professional development will be offered for faculty in online teaching modalities and pedagogy. In addition, the installation of enhanced classroom technology and critical discipline-specific software will take place over the summer months to better prepare for courses that may include an online component.

Specific logistics on our course offerings will be announced in the coming weeks so students will gain a better sense of how their selected courses will be delivered.

At this time, no changes are anticipated to the academic calendar, with first day of fall classes remaining as Sept. 2, 2020.

Student Life

The student experience on campus for commuters and residential students will continue to provide robust programming and opportunities to engage while maintaining social distancing and other safety protocols.

We will work to de-densify residence halls in a way that limits the use of shared facilities and common areas in compliance with recommended guidelines. The move-in process for residence halls will mirror the move-out process in March, with students signing up for specific time slots offered over several days. Also, should the need arise, we will designate areas for isolation and quarantining of students who exhibit signs of, or have had direct exposure to COVID-19. In the weeks ahead, we will provide more specific information on these and other aspects of our housing arrangements for the fall.

Our Dining Services will undergo a significant transformation. Although food selections will continue to be healthy and flavorful, a takeout format will replace a dine-in experience in the Dining Commons. Retail dining will be enhanced to provide more variety and options for all students. Because of occupancy restrictions and social distancing mandates, Dining Commons hours will be more limited and we will only be able to offer one basic Dining Plan to students living in traditional residential-style housing. A second plan will be offered to commuters and residential students living in apartment-style housing.

An announcement from the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) regarding the fall Athletics season is expected in July. The Athletics Department will continue to be in touch directly with existing and incoming student athletes regarding any updates. 

Continued Contingency Planning

We will keep you apprised of our progress on a timely basis to ensure you have enough advance notice to plan your schedules. As always, every decision will be carefully considered and will reflect our top priority—the health and well-being of the Westfield State community.

While we are excited about this upcoming semester, we are aware that an unexpected outbreak of COVID-19 remains a possibility. For this, we will remain vigilant and continue our comprehensive planning efforts so that Westfield State is prepared for any potential COVID-19 complication. Contingency planning is ongoing and the ability of the University to pivot to changes in our circumstances remain a key element of our planning process.

The patience and understanding of our students and families is very much appreciated. I know this email does not answer all of your questions. Although we are able to provide some answers, many are still in process. We look forward to sharing with you updates as they become available in the days and weeks ahead.

I wish to thank the many individuals at Westfield State University who have dedicated countless hours to moving Westfield State forward, including the Safe Opening Task Force, the Emergency Response Team’s Coronavirus Management Group, and divisional working groups.

We will continue to update our community through regular email communication, as well as through FAQs and other resources and announcements to be posted on the Safe Fall 2020 Opening webpage. This webpage, easily accessed through the University website homepage, will serve as the repository for the latest updates for the fall opening. When divisional plans are more solidified, the University will offer additional forums and other opportunities to have a dialogue about the unique qualities of our fall semester.

Your understanding continues to be appreciated as we work to create an engaging and safe learning, living, and working environment at Westfield State University despite the ongoing uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sincerely,

Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D.
President

June 18, 2020

Dear Campus Community:

I wanted to inform you that the Council of Presidents of the nine Massachusetts state universities announced today the state universities' intention to welcome students back to our campuses, beginning in September, offering a combination of on-ground and online classes and re-populating residence halls for the fall 2020 semester. 

Following this general announcement by the Council of Presidents, you can expect to receive an announcement from me through email tomorrow, Friday, June 19, 2020, with more information on the fall semester at Westfield State. Our plan for the fall was chosen among the scenarios presented to Cabinet members and me by the University's Safe Opening Task Force (SOTF). 

Building upon Westfield State's ongoing contingency planning since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring, the SOTF, our Emergency Response Team, and working groups established in each of the University's divisions, will continue to work to develop detailed logistics based on the fall plan officially announced tomorrow. Health and safety will remain as the paramount consideration when finalizing details and operational specifics in adherence to state and federal COVID-19-related guidelines, protocols, and procedures.

Look for the fuller announcement on the fall 2020 semester at Westfield State University to come from me tomorrow, Friday, June 19, 2020. 

Sincerely,

Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D.
President