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:

Dear Campus Community:

I write today to share two important pieces of information—specifics on the Nov. 2–5 round of COVID-19 testing at Westfield State; and key reminders to be vigilant in adhering to health and safety measures on and off campus.

Nov. 2–5 Student COVID-19 Testing

The University’s November 25 round of mandatory asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for students will take place in The Woodward Center. Participation in the November 2–5 testing round is required for all residential and commuter students (including part-time continuing education and graduate students) that have an on-campus presence this semester. Students who took part in the September and October rounds of testing are still required to attend this round of testing.

The schedule for residential students is as follows:

Monday, Nov. 2:

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: residents of Dickinson and New halls, and Apartments.

Tuesday, Nov. 3:

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: residents of Davis, Lammers, and University halls.

The schedule for commuter students is as follows:

Wednesday, Nov. 4:  

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: commuter students with last names starting with AK

Thursday, Nov. 5:  

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: commuter students with last names starting with LZ.

Testing for faculty and staff is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.Wednesday, Nov. 4 and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5.

Students among those required to be tested that do not participate in the Nov. 25 round of COVID-19 testing will have their access to academic, administrative, and residential buildings through use of their University-issued ID temporarily shut off until they can produce a negative COVID-19 test result to University Health Services. 

In addition to the Nov. 2–5 round of COVID-19 testing, please mark your calendars and plan to participate in the final round of asymptomatic testing in the fall semester:

  • Nov. 30–Dec. 3, 2020

As you know, regular student asymptomatic testing will be complemented by as-needed symptomatic testing through University Health Services. Students with an on-campus presence who experience COVID-19 symptoms are required to report these to University Health Services and visit the office to be tested. 

#ProtectingTheNest and Others

You’ll note that the numbers updated on Westfield State’s COVID-19 Dashboard this morning illustrate a slight increase in positive cases involving our students; and numbers in the City of Westfield community are climbing as well. The increases underscore the need for all students and members of the campus community to be vigilant in following mask wearing, social distancing, and handwashing protocols.    

Your health and safety continues to be my priority. We certainly don’t want anyone becoming ill or passing the virus onto others, including elder members of our families or community, who are more likely to become very ill or hospitalized. As Massachusetts enters what some are calling “the second wave,” Gov. Charlie Baker is urging all to stop hosting and attending parties and large gatherings.

Gov. Baker announced at a press conference on Tuesday, Oct. 27 an uptick in COVID-19-positive cases in Massachusetts and mentioned that people under age 30 now account for most COVID-19-positive cases in the Commonwealth, explaining that many cases stem from social gatherings, primarily those that take place indoors without social distancing and masks.

Because younger adults who have the virus may exhibit no or less severe symptoms than older adults, I continue to caution us all to narrow our social circles and adhere to health and safety protocols on and off campus. Even a gathering of 10–15 individuals without using masks or insisting social distancing can have far-reaching, negative effects for our campus and the greater community. You or a friend or colleague who is asymptomatic may have no idea that you are passing the virus on to others.

Together, we can continue to do our part in mitigating the spread of this awful virus that has afflicted so many. Thank you, all, for your continued cooperation and adherence to protocols related to our Safe Fall Opening at Westfield State University.

Warmly,

Roy

 

Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D.
Interim President

Dear Campus Community:

Thanks to our testing partners, campus volunteers, and support staff, Westfield State completed its October round of asymptomatic COVID-19 testing. As reported on the University’s COVID-19 Dashboard this week, the University has administered 5,840 total COVID-19 tests to date. Zero positive results resulted from the October round of asymptomatic testing.

Despite these encouraging test results, elevated numbers of COVID-19 cases are being reported in communities across the state and nation. Locally, the City of Westfield reports 36 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases over the last week.

In addition, our Health Services team has been managing COVID-19 testing on students presenting symptoms, in between the University’s rounds asymptomatic testing. Those symptomatic students are quarantined as they await their test results. Teams in Student Affairs and the Office of Human Resources, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity have been working with Health Services to swiftly identify close contacts of those symptomatic students to ensure appropriate quarantine protocols are followed.

The University’s COVID-19 Dashboard that includes results from its asymptomatic and symptomatic testing is updated weekly, each Thursday. Westfield State’s next round of asymptomatic testing will be held November 2–5.

Be Vigilant to #ProtectTheNest
Our collective adherence to COVID-19 health and safety parameters has helped to insure the safety of our campus community, and the testing results have justified the effectiveness of these behaviors. However, even with our encouraging testing results, all students, faculty and staff are reminded to not let their guard down. Please continue to wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, maintain social distancing, and narrow your social circle to mitigate the risk to yourself and others on campus. All members of the Westfield State community are also reminded to follow comparable protocols during their time away from campus.

Reservations Now Accepted for Indoor Dining

Students on campus can now use the GET App to make 45-minute reservations for limited, indoor seating at Scanlon Banquet Hall, located across from the Dining Commons. Indoor seating is also available in Ely Campus Center, outside the Gym, and in the Wilson Hall café area. The new reservation process is located in the GET app under “myTABLES”.

Dining Services has created a video to show you how to reserve a table.

Tables will be disinfected after each use, and restrooms and hand sanitizer will be available for students to wash their hands before dining. Remember when dining—sit down, mask down; stand up, mask up! It is important that students only remove their mask to eat and only do so while seated. When students finish eating and are waiting for friends, they are reminded to wear a mask. Additionally, when entering and exiting the dining area, a mask must be worn.

Reminder: Available Student Study Spaces 

I offer a reminder to reference the online list of locations in campus academic buildings where students may find space to study during the fall semester. When using the spaces, be sure to follow all safety precautions, including abiding by posted room capacity limits; wearing a mask; wiping down your area before and after use; and frequent handwashing or sanitizer use. 

Use of Other Campus Spaces

As we continue to navigate restricted access at Westfield State University, remote/virtual internal meetings are encouraged as much as possible. When a remote meeting is not possible, contact Event Management at ex. 5580 or email Joanne Bigelow at jbigelow@westfield.ma.edu to inquire about limited options for reserving space for small, internal, in-person meetings. Similar to the cleaning protocols of student study spaces, areas reserved and used for small, internal meetings will need to be wiped down before and after use by the meeting participants, who will need to adhere to mandated mask, social distancing, and hand washing protocols.  

Flu Clinics

The University’s Health Services will sponsor its last fall semester Flu Clinic Thursday, Nov. 5, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Woodward Center. Offered by Stop & Shop Pharmacy, the clinic is free with most insurances or either $25 exact cash or check are accepted.

Spring Plans for COVID-19 Testing

The University aims to again partner with the Broad Institute to administer testing during the spring 2021 semester. More information will be shared in the coming weeks about COVID-19 testing, as well as other considerations for the spring semester.

Warmly,

Roy

 

Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D.
Interim President

Dear Campus Community:

As we reach the midpoint of the fall semester, the University is pleased with the response by members of our community to adapt to the many changes and to follow the precautions necessary to maintain a safe environment. We hope that the measures we have taken will continue to produce positive results.

COVID-19 Testing and Dashboard

Thank you for your continued cooperation with the October 13–16 round of COVID-19 testing. Working with our partners from the Broad Institute and On-site Medical and according to this week’s update to the University’s COVID-19 Dashboard, Westfield State has administered 4,542 COVID-19 total tests to date, which has yielded five positive results. Zero positives have come in the past seven days and one positive result came in the last 14 days. Our current positivity rate is 0.11 %.

We are awaiting final results from this round of testing, which will be shared next Thursday on the dashboard. Please refer to this resource for information about campus testing results, as well as COVID-19 case totals in the City of Westfield.

Wear Masks, Wash Hands, Keep Your Distance, and Don’t Hold Doors Open
Your continued vigilance related to COVID-19 health and safety parameters is critical to the University’s ability to continue in-person learning and meaningful residential experiences through the semester.

To keep all campus community members and safe during this time of restricted campus access, please adhere to established procedures related to wearing masks, frequent handwashing, and socially distancing from others. All are asked to “narrow your social circle” to mitigate the risk to yourself and others.

Also, it is important to not hold doors open for others to enter campus facilities, given the University’s status of continued restricted access throughout the fall semester. Only students who have participated in the COVID-19 testing program, and faculty and staff are permitted access to the academic, administrative, and residential buildings on campus this semester.

Flu Clinics

The University’s Health Services sponsored the first of three fall semester Flu Clinics yesterday, offered by Stop & Shop Pharmacy, and approximately 300 individuals received the flu vaccination. The next Flu Clinic will be held Thursday, October 22 at a location to be communicated soon. It is free with most insurances or either $25 exact cash or check are accepted.

Spring Plans for COVID-19 testing

The University aims to again partner with the Broad Institute and On-site Medical to administer testing during the spring 2021 semester. More information will be shared in the coming weeks about COVID-19 testing, as well as other considerations for the spring semester.

Warmly,

 

Roy

Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D.
Interim President

Dear Campus Community:

The University has successfully welcomed residential and commuter students to campus and started on-ground courses on Tuesday, Sept. 29. It has been wonderful to have our students’ energy and presence back on campus.

Thank you to all members of the campus community in working together to follow new protocols and procedures to ensure our health and safety.

COVID Testing and Dashboard

Thank you to the entire campus community for its cooperation with the September 24-27 round of COVID-19 testing. Working with our partners from the Broad Institute and On-site Medical, Westfield State has administered nearly 3,200 COVID-19 tests to date, which has yielded four positive results, as we shared with you earlier this week. For more information, refer to the email I shared Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 29, or visit the Safe Fall Opening site.

The University’s COVID-19 Dashboard has been updated with the most recent information. Refer to this resource for information about campus testing results, as well as COVID-19 case totals in the City of Westfield.

Planning has begun for the October 13-16 round of COVID19 testing. Required testing for students that have an on-campus presence and faculty and staff will again take place in The Woodward Center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to the below schedule:

Tues., Oct. 13: Residential students living in Dickinson and New halls and the Apartments

Wed., Oct. 14: Residential students living in Davis, Lammers, and University halls.

Thurs., Oct. 15: Commuter students (including part-time continuing education and graduate students) with last names beginning with A-K; and faculty and staff

Fri., Oct. 16: Faculty and staff (8a.m.-noon only); Commuter students with the last names beginning with L-Z.

Wear masks, wash hands, keep your distance, and don’t hold doors for others
To keep all campus community members and our visitors safe during this time of restricted campus access, I remind on-campus students, faculty, and staff to adhere to established procedures related to wearing masks, frequent handwashing, and socially distancing from others. Also, it is important to not hold doors open for others to enter campus facilities, given the University’s status of continued restricted access throughout the fall semester. Only students who have participated in the COVID-19 testing program, and faculty and staff will be permitted to be on campus for the fall semester. Access to academic and administrative buildings is limited to faculty, staff, and students through use of their University-issued I.D. cards, which must be worn visibly while on campus. In addition, only visitors with business with the University will be permitted on campus by appointment only. The respective University department or division must coordinate and log its campus visitors. 

Your continued cooperation with these parameters is critical to the University’s ability to continue in-person learning and meaningful residential experiences through the semester.

Important Reminders from Residential Engagement

The Residential Engagement team looks forward to building our residence hall communities. Learn more about Residential Engagement leadership by watching a welcome video from the team. If needed, students, champions, or community members are encouraged to contact resengage@westfield.ma.edu or 413-572-5402.

Additional policies in place for the fall 2020 semester are included in the Housing Agreement Addendum that residential students signed prior to move-in. These include:

  • Face masks will be required when students are outside of their room, apartment, or suite;
  • No guests are permitted in the residence halls, including 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; and
  • Students living in traditional halls will be assigned to one bathroom. 

Student Account credits/refunds
As previously communicated, student account credits (for Housing, Dining and Fitness Center fees) will be processed by mid-October. Financial Aid must be disbursed to a student’s account before credits can be applied. This activity is scheduled to occur next week. Once Financial Aid is disbursed and accounts are reviewed, credits/refunds will be processed on a rolling basis. The account review and credit/refund process may take up to two weeks to complete from the date of the Financial Aid disbursement. Updates will be posted to the Student Accounts website.

Welcome back, Owls! It is great to have you back in the nest.

Warmly,

Roy

 

Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D.
Interim President

Dear Campus Community:

As a result of Westfield State University onboard/asymptomatic testing that took place Sept. 24-27, 2020, four Westfield State University students were notified that they tested positive for COVID-19. Three of the students are commuters and one is a residential student; all have been directed to follow isolation protocols. 

The students who tested positive have been isolated from others on campus and are being monitored by University Health Services. We wish our students a speedy recovery. Only after completing the required isolation and clearance by Student Health Services will these students be permitted to return to campus. 

The City of Westfield Department of Health-led contact tracing was conducted for the residential student; and the University’s isolation and cleaning procedures were followed. For more information on student isolation and quarantine protocols, see the Sept. 8 email from Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Gloria Lopez or visit the Safe Fall Opening webpage, where that communication is posted. 

As you know, this round of testing was a requirement for any residential or commuter students that expected to have an on-ground presence on the campus this semester. A total of 2,819 tests were administered from Thursday to Sunday for this round of testing. The overall totals for testing have been entered into the University’s COVID-19 Dashboard.      

All residential and commuter students who have an on-campus presence are reminded to self-monitor for any COVID-19 symptoms daily. Any student exhibiting any symptoms should be in touch with University Student Health Services by calling (413) 572-5415. Faculty and staff are reminded to self-monitor also and be in touch with their personal health care provider if they are experiencing any symptoms, as well as notifying the Office of Human Resources, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity at (413) 572-8730.

Please stay safe and healthy.

Thank you.

Roy

 

Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D.
Interim President

Dear Campus Community:

We are excited to have begun welcoming back to campus residential and commuter students this weekend and we look forward to resuming on-ground courses on Tuesday, Sept. 29. We appreciate everyone’s adapting to new protocols and procedures put in place to ensure the health and safety of our full on-campus community. And, for those students completing their courses exclusively remotely this semester, know that we are continually working to enhance our efforts to support your academic and student experience.  

Pledge to Protect the Nest 

As members of the Westfield State Community, all individuals who will have a presence on campus this semester are asked to reference often and comply always with the Protect the Nest Pledge.   

Check Classroom Assignments 

Students who have on-ground courses are reminded to check their schedules in MyWestfield to confirm final classroom assignments. A number of classrooms had to be reconfigured to accommodate appropriate social distancing. Students are also encouraged to check with their professors regarding any changes in the meeting schedule for their classes.

Available Study Spaces on Campus 

With the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in adjustments to academic and student life, the University has compiled a list of locations in academic buildings throughout the campus where students may find space to study during the fall semester. For a list of such spaces, click here. When using the spaces, be sure to follow all safety precautions, including abiding by posted room capacity limits; wearing a mask; wiping down your area before and after use; and frequent handwashing or sanitizer use. 

COVID-19 Testing During Fall 2020 Semester 

Asymptomatic/onboard COVID-19 testing for on-ground students and employees was conducted September 24-27. The cooperation of all individuals being tested was appreciated. Students, faculty, and staff should note the following rounds of asymptomatic testing dates for the fall semester:   

  • Oct. 13-16;   
  • Nov. 2-5; and  
  • Nov. 30-Dec. 3. 

Details and instructions to schedule your COVID-19 testing date and time for the Oct. 13-16 round of testing will be emailed closer to the testing date. In addition, the University’s scheduled rounds of asymptomatic testing will be complemented by as-needed symptomatic testing through University Student Health Services. During the semester, students with an on-campus presence who experience COVID-19 symptoms are required to report these to Student Health Services and visit the office to be tested. 

Contact Tracing 

Westfield State University will work closely with the City of Westfield Health Department to manage student contact tracing, as the need arises. A designated team in Student Affairs has been appropriately trained and is ready to begin contact tracing if any positive cases arise at the University. On-campus contact tracing for faculty and staff will be managed by the Office of Human Resources, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity, who will also coordinate with the City’s Health Department for this process.

Owls Athletics Teams Activity 

Intercollegiate athletic teams will not compete this fall, but most teams will begin skill development activities either Oct. 5 or 6. For specific information, student/athletes should contact their coach or visit the Athletics FAQs web page.

Ely Fitness Center Access  

The Ely Fitness Center will be open Mon.–Thu., 7 a.m.–8 p.m.; Fri., 8 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sat. –Sun., 12–5 p.m. A fall semester membership fee and reservations are required to use the facility. Visit the Fitness Centers website to learn more. 

Thank you for your continued cooperation and adherence to protocols related to our Safe Fall Opening and continuation throughout the fall semester at Westfield State University.   

 

Roy

Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D.
Interim President

Dear Students:

Beginning tomorrow, Westfield State University’s September 24-27 round of asymptomatic/onboard COVID-19 testing will take place in The Woodward Center. Participation in the COVID-19 testing program is required for all residential and commuter (including part-time continuing education and graduate students) students that will have an on-campus presence for the fall semester. 

Early Arrival Students: Those students who were tested for COVID-19 on Aug. 31 and permitted to return to campus early due to specific academic requirements are still required to participate in the September 24-27 round of testing. 

Commuter Students (including part-time continuing education and graduate students): Commuter students who will have an on-campus presence in the fall semester should report for testing as follows:

Thursday, Sept. 24:  

  • 8 to 11 a.m.: Commuter students with last names starting with A-D;  
  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Commuter students with last names starting with E-K; and  
  • Noon to 3 p.m.: Commuter students with last names starting with L-Q.  

Friday, Sept. 25:  

  • Noon to 4 p.m.: Commuter students with last names starting with R-Z.  

Residential Students: Students living in the residence halls have been emailed their pre-determined test dates and times on Sept. 25, 26 or 27

Exclusively Online Students: Those students who are taking only online courses for the full fall semester, having no on-campus presence, are not required to participate in the University’s COVID-19 testing program.  

For more information on what to expect during the testing process, watch the “Protect the Nest: How Do I Get Tested?” video.    

In addition to the Sept. 24-27 round of COVID-19 testing, please mark your calendars and plan on participating in the other three rounds of asymptomatic testing in the fall semester:   

  • Oct. 13-16, 2020;   
  • Nov. 2-5, 2020; and  
  • Nov. 30-Dec. 3, 2020. 

Regular student asymptomatic testing will be complemented by as-needed symptomatic testing through University Student Health Services. During the semester, students with an on-campus presence who experience COVID-19 symptoms are required to report these to Student Health Services and visit the office to be tested.  

Thank you, all, for your continued cooperation and adherence to protocols related to our Safe Fall Opening at Westfield State University.  

Roy

Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D.
Interim President

Dear Campus Community:

We continue to plan to welcome back residential students and commuters to campus later this month, with on-ground courses resuming on Tuesday, Sept. 29. We have kept in contact with the City of Westfield’s Director of Public Health regarding local COVID-19 trends and have been keeping a close eye on sister state universities and other institutions who began managing on-campus student populations since the end of August. Currently, all factors and indications remain favorable for Westfield State to continue to move forward with our plan. However, like with all decisions made regarding Westfield State continuity during a very fluid pandemic, we have contingencies in place should the current, encouraging status of COVID-19 on campus and in the area change significantly.  

Reminder: Continued Restricted Access 
Restricted access will continue through the fall semester. Only students who have participated in the Sept. 24-27 COVID-19 testing, and faculty and staff will be permitted to be on campus for the fall semester. Access to academic and administrative buildings is limited to faculty, staff, and students through use of their University-issued I.D. cards, which must be worn visibly while on campus. In addition, only visitors with business with the University will be permitted on campus by appointment only. The respective University department or division must coordinate and log its campus visitors.  

September 24-27 COVID-19 Testing 
Asymptomatic/onboard COVID-19 testing for on-ground students and employees will take place in the University’s Woodward Center September 24-27, 2020. The Woodward Center is #2 on the University Campus Map.  

Residential students were emailed directly with their pre-determined test dates and times on Sept. 25, 26 or 27, while on-ground commuter students are reminded of the following schedule:   

Thursday, Sept. 24: 

  • 8 to 11 a.m.: Commuter students with last names starting with A-D
  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Commuter students with last names starting with E-K; and 
  • Noon to 3 p.m.: Commuter students with last names starting with L-Q. 

Friday, Sept. 25: 

  • Noon to 4 p.m.: Commuter students with last names starting with R-Z

Faculty and staff testing will be offered at The Woodward Center, based on the following schedule:  

Thursday, Sept. 24:  

  • 3 to 4 p.m.: Employees from the Student Affairs division  

Friday, Sept. 25: 

  • 8 to 9 a.m.: Faculty/Staff with last names starting with A-G;  
  • 9 to 10 a.m.: Faculty/Staff with last names starting with H-O; and  
  • 10-11 a.m.: Faculty/Staff with last names starting with P-Z

Data for students who signed the online testing informed consent forms by the Sept. 8 deadline have been inputted in our system, providing for a streamlined check-in at the testing site. Students who did not yet provide informed consent were sent an email from Dean of Students Maggie Balch on Sept. 17 that included consent forms and other instructions. 

Data for faculty and staff who submitted signed informed consent forms to the Office of Human Resources, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity in advance of Sept. 8 have been inputted in our system, providing for a streamlined check-in at the testing site. Information will be emailed soon to faculty and staff who did not yet submit informed consent forms, including instructions for those employees still interested in participating in the testing program.   

For more information on what to expect during the testing process, watch the “Protect the Nest: How Do I Get Tested?” video.    

In addition to the Sept. 24-27 testing, note the following future asymptomatic testing dates for the fall semester:  

  • Oct. 13-16, 2020;  
  • Nov. 2-5, 2020; and 
  • Nov. 30-Dec. 3, 2020.

Regular student asymptomatic testing will be complemented by as-needed symptomatic testing through University Student Health Services. During the semester, students with an on-campus presence who experience COVID-19 symptoms are required to report these to Student Health Services and visit the office to be tested. 

COVID-19 Dashboard 
Westfield State University’s Safe Fall Opening webpage contains the most up-to-date information, including a newly added COVID-19 Dashboard. The Westfield State University COVID-19 Dashboard provides information relating to the health of our campus community by transparently sharing metrics, such as the number of tests conducted, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, and trends in positive test results and percent positivity rates, consistent with local and state reporting protocols. Westfield State’s dashboard will be updated each Thursday with the latest information from our testing partners. 

Thank you, all, for your continued cooperation and adherence to protocols related to our Safe Fall Opening at Westfield State University.  

Warmly,

Roy

Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D.
Interim President

Dear Students,

Westfield State University is committed to providing on-going support for students in quarantine both on and off campus due to COVID-19. If you are living on campus and have been asked to quarantine or isolate, you probably have a lot of questions about what this means and how it will affect your life on campus. We hope we can answer many of these questions here, but do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions!

What is the difference between Quarantine and Isolation? 

Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19, but has not developed symptoms away from others who may not have been exposed, in order to prevent the possible spread of the virus.  A person may have been exposed without knowing it.  Students who are in quarantine should stay in their room at all times and should use their assigned bathroom.  Quarantine lasts for the full incubation period of the disease, which is the span of time during which people have developed illness after exposure.  For COVID-19, the period of quarantine is 14 days from the last date of exposure because the incubation period for this virus can be as long as 14 days.

Isolation is used to separate people with COVID-19 symptoms from others.  Students in isolation should stay in their room at all times and should use their assigned bathroom.  The isolation period is typically 14 days, but may be longer depending on whether the isolated individual continues to have COVID-19 related symptoms. 

Questions to Discuss With Your Support System Before Coming to Campus to Help Devise Your Isolation/Quarantine Plan:

Are you able to distance yourself from others in your home to keep other family members or loved ones safe?

If you live within driving distance, are you able to return home in a private vehicle?  If instructed to isolate or quarantine, you will not be able to travel on any public transportation (bus, train, plane, Uber, Lyft, non WSU-contracted taxi service, etc.) as you may expose others.

Can someone from your support system pick you up and take you back home?  If so, they must be within four hours of campus.  You will collect any personal items required for the quarantine period and then you can wait in the Davis Hall Common Room until your ride arrives.  You must wear your face covering or mask while you wait. 

If you are unable to return home or pickup cannot be organized within four hours of notice to quarantine or isolate, you will be relocated to a room in Lansdowne Place.  If you cannot isolate or quarantine at home, how will your family communicate with you (i.e. FaceTime, Zoom, GoogleChat, etc.)?

If you need assistance with developing and Isolation and Quarantine plan and are not sure where to begin, please contact the Dean of Students Office at 413-572-5421 and they will be happy to assist you.  

What Happens If I Need to Quarantine or Isolate While on Campus? 

If you are living in WSU residential housing and are advised you need to be placed in Quarantine or Isolation, you will be asked if you can quarantine or isolate off-campus with a support system.   If you are not able to do so, you will be asked to move temporarily to a room that is equipped for quarantine or isolation in Lansdowne Place.

Even though this is a temporary move, we encourage you to take enough belongings for the duration of your quarantine or isolation period. You are strongly encouraged to prepare in advance for the potential that you may need to quarantine or isolate.  

Please plan to bring the following items with you: 

  • Face Covering/mask
  • First Aid Kit (band aids, antibiotic ointment) 
  • Thermometer 
  • Medications, both prescriptions and OTC 
  • Glasses/ Contacts 
  • Clothing for 14 days 
  • Shampoo 
  • Soap 
  • Sheets and towels 
  • Laundry detergent 
  • Computer & charger 
  • Phone and charger 
  • Coursework-related items

Once you have moved to your designated Quarantine or Isolation room, you cannot leave your room (except to do laundry or discard trash, see below) or have contact with any visitors until you have been cleared by Health Services.  

Key items to be aware of while you are in quarantine or isolation:  

  • Stay in your room at all times and away from other people. You should use only the bathroom facilities in your apartment. 
  • In the rare event that you may need to leave your room (e.g. for an emergency such as a fire alarm), you need to be wearing a face mask that covers your nose and mouth at all times and you must maintain at least a 6-foot distance between yourself and others.  
  • Expect daily wellbeing checks from Health Services. If Health Services is unable to reach you by phone or email, a Public Safety officer or Residential Life staff member will be sent to check on you.  
  • Monitor your health while in your room. If you develop a cough, fever, or shortness of breath, or if you already have these symptoms and they are worsening, call Health Services at 413-572-5415 to alert them of your symptoms.  
  • Call Public Safety at 413-572-5262 or dial 911 if you develop any life-threatening emergencies such as*:  
    • Trouble breathing 
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest 
    • New confusion or inability to rouse 
    • Bluish lips or face 

Follow good personal hygiene and environmental practices, such as: 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.  
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes. Avoid touching your face. Do not share personal items with other people, such as dishes, towels, and bedding.  
  • Clean all surfaces in your room that are touched often, like counters, tabletops, and doorknobs. Use household cleaning sprays or wipes according to the label instructions.  

Please refer to the CDC for further guidance at:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/social-distancing.html 

How do I get meals while in quarantine or isolation?

Dining Services and the Residential Engagement Staff have partnered to provide you with meal delivery each day you are in quarantine or isolation.  When you are asked to quarantine or isolate, Health Services will collect information about any special dietary requirements you have and share this information with Dining Services.  Unless a specific diet is medically necessary (e.g you need to be on the BRAT diet, have food allergies, etc.), your meals will be delivered as outlined on the menu in your room.  When you move into your room, there will be a box of food to see you through to your first meal delivery.  Meals will be delivered to your door once a day, Monday through Friday. You receive extra meals on Friday for Saturday and Sunday. Meals will be a combination of ready-to-eat items like sandwiches

What do I do with my trash?

There is a trash chute located on each floor of Lansdowne Place. When you have trash to throw out, please wear your face mask, enter the hallway, and drop your trash into the chute. If there are others in the hallway, please wait for them to vacate the hall before leaving your room. You should only leave your room wearing a face mask and following social distancing guidance.

What happens to my emotional support animal while I’m in quarantine or isolation?

We understand this can be an especially difficult time for people and their animals. Since individuals in quarantine or isolation should not leave their designated space, you should not leave for any reason including animal care. Residential Engagement staff will discuss options available regarding your support animal.

What about my classes? 

The Dean of Students Office will reach out to you to discuss a plan for the period you may miss.  Faculty are ready and prepared to work with students who may be directed to quarantine at any point during the semester.   To assist in communicating with faculty, the Dean of Student's Office will send notification to a student's faculty sharing that the student will be working remotely and may need additional time in completing assignments and encouraging proactive, open communication between the student and the faculty member.  The Dean of Student's Office is also available to provide guidance, resources, and options if symptoms prevent a student from participating in remote learning. 

We hope that this communication provides you with helpful information to best prepare this semester.  We are here to support you and wish you a healthy and safe semester!

 

Gloria

 

Gloria Lopez

Vice President for Student Affairs

Dear Campus Community:

Although the fall semester is off to an atypical start, we welcomed the opportunity to engage our students remotely with the start of classes this week.

Academic Support and Information Services Updates

  • An extensive “How Do I?” Webpage serves as a centralized resource for students as they navigate a unique fall 2020 semester. Helpful information on how to access academic support services is well organized and intuitive for students’ easy access. Visit the How Do I? webpage for the answers to your academic support questions. 
  • The Ely Library is enlisting a variety of measures to ensure safe service this fall. Occupancy will be limited to ensure safe seating and physical distancing. Masks will be required at all times, and books will be retrieved by staff and pre-issued for pickup. Returned materials will be quarantined, per state guidance, before being made available again. Hand sanitizer stations and sanitizing wipes will be provided.
  • Technology Support will provide assistance online and by phone to minimize contact. If in-person help is needed, this will be by appointment only in the Ely Library and Wilson Hall, also to control contact. Technology Support has been working with vendors to make lab software available to those who need it, and preparing labs for safe use.
  • Media Services is making Zoom licenses available to every student, faculty member, librarian, and staff member through a site license. Media Services has also acquired enhanced web cameras for the classroom and has assembled Mobile Capture Carts that include cameras, microphones, GoPro camera, and the necessary software and hardware. These are specifically designed to capture “experiential learning activities” such as labs or demonstrations.
  • The Center for Instructional Technology has provided a wide array of well-attended training opportunities to equip faculty members to provide the best possible instruction through remote and hybrid modalities. The team at CIT has been providing outstanding assistance to faculty members in preparing for the fall.

Student Testing & Isolation and Quarantine

Students and parents were sent an email last week regarding the required COVID-19 testing for all residential and commuter students that will have an on-campus presence in the fall. Students need to complete the online consent forms by Sept. 8, 2020 through MyHousing in MyWestfield. Check University email for last week’s message and reminders.

Should any student test positive as part of our onboard testing on Sept. 24-27 or through symptomatic or asymptomatic testing during the fall semester, there are specific protocols for isolation and quarantine. Students who test positive will be encouraged to return home to isolate; however, a separate, designated residence hall is available for those who need to remain on campus for isolation.

In addition, students are encouraged to consult with their champions/parents about creating a plan in the event that they test positive. When residential students move onto campus in late September, they should bring a pre-packed bag with essential items they would need to isolate or quarantine for 14 days.

Dining Services

WSU Dining is excited to welcome student, faculty and staff back to campus. For students especially, we know this time of year is filled with excitement, but can also be full of anxiety. Dining’s mission is to feed students well and help them feel comforted when they are away from home. Food is a huge part of settling in the nest at Westfield State. Students are encourage to reach out with any questions. If they know they will be missing their mom’s chicken pot pie, or their grandpa’s veggie enchiladas, share the recipe with Dining Services and staff can bring a taste of home to YOUR Dining program.

Concerns about allergies, or how operating hours will synch with class schedules should be forwarded to dining@westfield.ma.edu. Dining staff will do their best to make your semester a delicious one! Follow Dining on social media or visit the website for video updates at www.westfield.ma.edu/dining

Refund/Credit Update

Given the delay with most students’ return to campus for move-in September 25-27, Dining, Housing, and Fitness Center fees will be prorated based on the number of unused days for the fall semester. Look for more specific information on the Fall 2020 refund/credit process to be posted on the Student Accounts webpage by mid-September.

We look forward to welcoming you back to the nest soon, Owls! 

Warmly,

 

Roy

Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D.
Interim President

Dear Faculty and Staff:

Despite the backdrop of a global pandemic and an atypical start to Westfield State’s fall semester, we are pleased to begin a new academic year. As we work toward our residential and commuter students’ return to campus on Sept. 29, we share with you some important information on COVID-19 testing for faculty and staff.

Testing: Required Forms and Schedule   

As part of our plan to keep the campus community safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Westfield State University is strongly encouraging onboard and periodic COVID-19 testing for faculty and staff who will have an on-campus presence in the fall semester. 

Employees interested in taking advantage of the onboard and asymptomatic testing offered by Westfield State University need to sign and submit to the University the two attached consent forms by Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. (See University email for the two mentioned attachments.) Signed forms should be scanned and emailed to hr@westfield.ma.edu. Employees who are not able to scan and email their signed forms should contact the Office of Human Resources, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity at 413.572.8730 to arrange a time to drop them off prior to the Sept. 8 deadline. 

Testing will take place in the Woodward Center. The overall schedule for onboard and asymptomatic testing is as follows:  

  • Onboard testing: Sept. 24-27, 2020  
  • October asymptomatic testing: Oct. 13-16, 2020  
  • November asymptomatic testing: Nov. 2-5, 2020  
  • Nov./Dec. asymptomatic testing: Nov. 30-Dec. 3, 2020  

Onboard testing for faculty and staff will be offered on Sept. 24 or 25, based on the following schedule:  

Thursday, Sept. 24  

  • 3-4 p.m.: employees from the Student Affairs Division 

Friday, Sept. 25  

  • 8-9 a.m.: faculty and staff with last names beginning with A-G 
  • 9-10 a.m.: faculty and staff with last names beginning with H-O 
  • 10-11 a.m.: faculty and staff with last names beginning with P-Z   

Additional Information on Testing, Results & the Wellbility App    

The University has partnered with The Broad Institute to supply test kits and process results, which are expected within 48 hours. The University has also contracted with On-site Medical to manage the administering of the tests, notifications of test results, and to assist with symptom tracking and contact tracing. The test collects samples from the front of the nose, is minimally invasive, and results in less patient discomfort than other types of COVID-19 tests. 

As part of our agreement with On-site Medical to assist with COVID-19 testing, a Wellbility app will be provided for faculty and staff use. As part of our campus community’s collective effort to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus, and to expedite the communication of test results, faculty and staff who have an on-campus presence for the fall semester will be strongly encouraged to use the app for daily secure self-assessment of potential symptoms. The app will also be used to assist with contact tracing, should the need arise. More details on the Wellbility app will be shared in future email communication closer to the Sept. 24-25 testing dates, as well as on-site during the testing. 

Faculty and staff with a positive or undetermined test result will be contacted swiftly and directly by an Occupational Health Professional in the Office of Human Resources, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity, who will communicate next steps.

As a campus community, all members will be expected to adhere to the Protect the Nest Pledge to ensure all community members collectively contribute to the safety and well-being of the full University community. 

Thank you for your attention to this time sensitive matter. 

 

The Office of Human Resources, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity

Dear Students:

We miss you and look forward to welcoming all residential and commuter students back to campus on September 29! We appreciate your understanding and flexibility given the announced delay of your physical return to campus from the beginning of September until the end of the month. We wish you well as you begin your online or remote classes next Wednesday, Sept. 2. 

Today I write to bring to your attention important, time sensitive matters in preparation for students’ return to campus on Sept. 29. 

Testing: Required Forms and Schedule  

As part of our plan to keep the campus community safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Westfield State University is requiring onboard and periodic COVID-19 testing for all students (residential and commuter) who will have an on-campus presence in the fall semester. 

Residential and commuter students who will have an on-campus presence in the fall semester need to complete and sign two online consent forms by Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020.  

Log into your myWestfield account to follow these steps to provide your electronic signature on two forms: 

Form 1: Consent to SARS-CoV-2 Testing and Waiver 

Form 2: Consent and Waiver of Liability  

  1. Click the “Quick Links” drop-down menu, and click “MyHousing.”    
  2. Click the “Applications” tab, and select “Form 1: Consent to SARS-CoV-2 Testing and Waiver”  
  3. Review the form and electronically sign at the bottom of the screen; click “Continue.”    
  4. Enter the Parent/Guardian information; click “Submit.”    
  5.  A confirmation screen will be displayed, and a confirmation email will be sent to the student’s email account. 

Repeat Steps 1-5 for “Form 2: Consent and Waiver of Liability”   

Testing will take place in the Woodward Center. The overall schedule for onboard and asymptomatic testing is as follows: 

Onboard testing: Sept. 24-27, 2020 

October asymptomatic testing: Oct. 13-16, 2020 

November asymptomatic testing: Nov. 2-5, 2020 

Nov./Dec. asymptomatic testing: Nov. 30-Dec. 3, 2020

  • Residential Students  

Following this email, a separate email will be sent to residential students within 24 hours by Housing Operations that contains a pre-determined move-in time between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Sept. 25, 26 or 27 for required COVID-19 testing. Prior to arriving at the residence halls for move-in, residential students should report to the Woodward Center for their testing times, which will be one hour prior to their pre-determined move-in times. 

  • Commuter Students 

Commuter students who will have any on-campus presence in the fall semester are required to be tested for COVID-19 on September 24 or 25 and should plan to report to the Woodward Center for testing given the following schedule:

Thursday, Sept. 24 

8-11 a.m.:                   commuter students with last names beginning with A-D  

10 a.m.-1 p.m.:           commuter students with last names beginning with E-K  

12-3 p.m.:                   commuter students with last names beginning with L-Q  

 

Friday, Sept. 25 

12-4 p.m:                    commuter students with last names beginning with R-Z 

 

In addition to signing the online testing consent forms by Sept. 8 and being tested in late September, all students are reminded that they must sign the Student Code of Conduct COVID-19 Addendum prior to returning to campus, as outlined in the Vice President of Student Affairs’ email sent on July 31, 2020.

Additional Information on Testing, Results & the Wellbility App   

The University has partnered with The Broad Institute to supply test kits and process results, which are expected within 48 hours. The University has also contracted with On-site Medical to manage the administering of the tests, notifications of test results, and to assist with symptom tracking and contact tracing. The test collects samples from the front of the nose, is minimally invasive, and results in less patient discomfort than other types of COVID-19 tests. 

As part of our agreement with On-site Medical to assist with COVID-19 testing, a Wellbility app will be provided for student use. As part of our campus community’s collective effort to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus, and to expedite the communication of test results, students who have an on-campus presence for the fall semester will be required to use the app for daily secure self-assessment of potential symptoms. The app will also be used to assist with contact tracing, should the need arise. More details on the Wellbility app will be shared in future email communication closer to the Sept. 24-25 testing dates, as well as on-site during the testing. 

Students with a positive or undetermined test result will be contacted swiftly and directly by University Health Services, who will communicate next steps. Although there are specific isolation plans for those students who test positive and will be remaining on campus, students are also encouraged to consult with their champions/parents about creating a plan in the event that they test positive. When residential students move onto campus in late September, they should bring a pre-packed bag with essential items they would need to isolate or quarantine for 14 days. In some cases, students who test positive may be permitted to return home to isolate; however, a separate, designated residence area has been planned for those who will remain on campus for isolation.   

As a campus community, all members will be expected to adhere to the Protect the Nest Pledge to ensure all community members collectively contribute to the safety and well-being of the full University community.

We look forward to welcoming you back to the nest in late September! 

Warmly,

Roy

Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D.
Interim President

Dear Campus Community:

I realize that last week’s announcement about delaying the return of our residential and commuter students to campus until late September, raised many questions. I hope today’s update provides many of the answers, as well as other important updates as the fall semester quickly approaches.

Changes Resulting from the Delay of Student’s Return

The following are important updates based on the recent adjustment in Westfield State’s Safe Fall Opening:

  • New Move-in Dates: The new move-in dates for the residential students will be Friday, Sept. 25 (12-4 p.m.), Saturday, Sept. 26, and Sunday, Sept. 27. There will no longer be an additional “drop-off” process. Instead, residential students will be provided a predetermined date and time to move into their assigned rooms. Housing Operations and Residential Engagement will organize the move-in schedule to ensure social distancing and safety for students and champions that assist with move-in. Note that there is no limit to the number of individuals who accompany the students to assist with move in; however, each student will be permitted only one guest in the residence halls at a time during this process.
  • Student Testing: Residential students will receive a predetermined time for required COVID-19 testing. Students’ testing times will be one hour prior to their move-in times. All students (residential and commuter) will receive an email by next Wednesday regarding testing and consent forms. The designated days for testing for commuter students who have an on-ground presence will be Thursday, Sept. 24 and the morning of Friday, Sept. 25.
  • Exemptions to the Delayed Return: Due to limited and specific, in-person academic requirements or housing insecurity issues, there will be a small number of students who will be allowed to return and have access to campus for the start of the fall semester. Through special arrangement with academic deans and department chairs, exemptions center on learning requirements that could not be transitioned to online instruction or the completion of practicums, clinicals, or field placements that require students to be in the Westfield area. These students (residential and commuter) will be communicated with directly. Residential students exempt from the delay will be permitted to move into their respective residence halls on Monday, Aug. 31. COVID-19 testing will be required prior to moving in. Information on the Aug. 31 testing, consent forms, and move-in will be sent through University email tomorrow, Aug. 21 to these exempt students. Also, exempt students must sign the Student Code of Conduct COVID-19 Addendum outlined in the Vice President of Student Affairs’ email sent on July 31, 2020.
  • Faculty and Staff Testing: Testing for faculty and staff who will be interacting with those exempt students will also be offered on Monday, Aug. 31. These employees will receive direct communication on voluntary faculty and staff COVID-19 testing and related consent forms on Friday, Aug. 21 also. For all other faculty and staff who will have an on-campus presence during the fall semester after Sept. 29, testing will take place on Thursday, Sept. 24 and the morning of Friday, Sept. 25.
  • Housing and Dining Refunds/Credits: Information will be provided in next week’s Safe Fall Opening Update on this issue. The campus is actively working on the details associated with providing refunds or account credits due to the delayed on-campus opening.

Continued Restricted Access

It is anticipated that restricted access will continue through the fall semester. Unless students are exempt from the delayed return, they should not return to campus until Sept. 29. Exempt students permitted to return to campus in advance of Sept. 29 are reminded that visiting University administrative and academic offices, as well as other support services offices will be handled through appointment only. This includes the Ely Library. Students are encouraged to access the office directory on the homepage of the University’s website for phone numbers. Feel free to leave a message and your call will be returned as quickly as possible. Restricted access is an important element of any contact tracing process.

COVID-19 Symptom Tracking and Contact Tracing

As part of our agreement with OnSite Medical to assist with COVID-19 testing, a Wellbility app will be provided for employee and student use. As part of our campus community’s collective effort to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus, campus community members who have an on-campus presence for the fall semester will be required to use the app for daily secure self-assessment of potential symptoms. The app will also be used to assist with contact tracing, should the need arise. Look for more details on the Wellbility app in future email communication.

Safety upgrades to campus buildings and classrooms

Facilities Management and Academic Affairs have been working to prepare buildings and classrooms for a safe return. Signage has been placed across campus at entrances and exits, hallways, bathrooms and elevators to direct traffic flow and limit capacity. Hand sanitizer stations have been added near entrances, exits and all bathrooms. Classrooms have had furniture arranged to create six feet of distance between students and rolling plexiglass shields have been added to classrooms to increase safety. Each classroom will be supplied with sanitizing wipes and sanitizer. Finally, the cleaning protocols in buildings, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state recommendations, have been greatly increased including daily fogging, frequent classroom and high-touch area cleaning. Bathrooms have signs indicating safe occupancy numbers as well as hand washing procedures. 

Departmental Supply Kits

This week, campus department offices received supply kits that include face masks (for use in situations where individuals may have forgotten their own personal face cloth coverings), sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer, and materials outlining critical information on work station and shared electronics cleaning. Information about re-ordering after the initial supplies are depleted will be shared soon.

Get the GET App

Dining will be using the GET mobile App to enable students to pre-order custom meals, access select menu items, and order for a designated pickup time using meal swipes, dining dollars, Owl Bucks, or a credit card. The new app will provide access to the menu items at the new pop-up location in Ely Campus Center. The almost famous WSU Rice Bowls will be available exclusively via GET, which will allow students to create and customize their own unique rice bowl to include favorite toppings. Also at Ely Campus Center, Ely Harvest will offer custom smoothies and grab-n-go items only via the GET app. Also, students can use GET to order the new Chicken Bacon Ranch Twister Wrap and Espresso Drinks at TJ Bistro. Breakfast and coffee orders can be ordered for a no-wait contactless pick up the Market Place Convenience Store in New Hall. Students should be sure to download the GET app before their return to campus.

Courtney Hall closure for fall semester

Due to several factors regarding safety, the design and efficiency of the University’s facilities, and housing flexibility for the spring 2021 semester, Courtney Hall will be closed for the fall semester. Students who planned to reside in Courtney Hall received notice of this change on Aug. 10. The letter is posted on the Safe Fall Opening FAQs page. Students originally planning to reside in Courtney this fall have several options to other campus housing facilities. Westfield State apologizes for this inconvenience.

Nearly $40,000 raised for Owls Helping Owls

Thank you to the many faculty and staff members who have provided their support to the “Owls Helping Owls” Student Emergency Fund, which has raised nearly $40,000 to support the essential needs of our students who do not have parents or champions to assist them since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak. With your help, the University has addressed the insecurities of our students in need during this trying time. If you wish to make a contribution, visit westfield.ma.edu/owlhelp to make a gift online or contact Marnie Dacko in Institutional Advancement at mdacko@westfield.ma.edu.

I know there are many changes being made now as the University continues to adapt to shifting circumstances for the fall semester. I appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to work through these issues and toward a safe fall opening.

Thank you for your support and commitment to Westfield State University. Go Owls!


Warmly,

Roy

Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D.
Interim President

Dear Campus Community:

I write to share a change in our Safe Fall Opening Plan. As you know, months of planning have gone into the plan that we initially shared about welcoming back our residential and commuter students to campus in the fall. Although we still plan to do so, the decision has been made to delay their return from the end of August until the end of September.

First day of classes for the fall semester will remain as Wednesday, Sept. 2, at which time all academic courses will be delivered remotely or online. On Sept. 29, the delivery of those courses will revert to the originally intended mode—In-person (NORMAL), Hybrid-blended (HYBRID), Remote (synchronous-RMSYNC), or Online (asynchronous-ONLINE).

This was not an easy decision. And unfortunately, the unpredictability of COVID-19 does not provide for any absolute right answer or course of action. Months of diligent planning had gone into our original plan to welcome back students at the end of August. Westfield State University was prepared. However, in conversations with medical professionals and recent guidance provided by our City of Westfield Public Health officials, I cannot in good conscience allow for the return to take place at the end of August. I made this decision to delay the return to campus until the end of September with the safety of our campus community as the leading consideration.

Quite frankly, we simply don’t know if the decisions right now being made by all institutions of higher education are right or wrong. What I do know is that I would rather err on the side of caution and safety. As you can imagine, the easier decision would have been to move forward with our original plan.  

I realize today’s announcement will be met with much disappointment, especially for our residential and commuter students who are eager to join our physical campus after many months of being away, or for our first-year and transfer students who looked forward to moving into their new home away from home.

Just yesterday, I observed a handful of families enjoying an appropriately social distanced tour of campus. Although I could not see their facial expressions through their masks, their other body language said it all—they were happy to be on campus. After all, our physical campus is one of the leading attractions for students who chose Westfield State University for their higher education. I empathize with you and ask for your continued patience as we delay students’ return for four weeks.

I realize that this announcement will also be met with many questions, and we will do our best in the coming days to provide clear and timely updates associated with our adjusted plan. Next week, expect more information about:

  1. Revised drop-off and move-in dates for our residential students;
  2. Dates for required on-board COVID-19 testing for all residential and commuter students who will have an on-ground presence during the fall semester;
  3. Applicable refunds for housing and dining; and
  4. Specific academic and housing insecurity exceptions to this delay on our students’ return to campus.

The Safe Fall Opening website will soon be updated to reflect our adjusted plan and will include all updates to be emailed to students, faculty, and staff next week.

I appreciate your understanding and flexibility as we work together and lean on each other through these unprecedented and difficult times.

Thank you.

Roy

Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D.
Interim President

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 20, 2020

Dear Students and Parents,

I hope your summer is going well and you are getting some rest and relaxation. I am writing to update you on the fall course schedule. As of today, you  will be able to see your current schedule including the updated delivery methods for your courses in myWestifild. You will most likely note changes in the delivery method for some of your courses. To help clarify these changes we provide the following definitions and codes.

GLOSSARY OF INSTRUCTIONAL MODES

In-person (NORMAL)*: A course in which all formal instructional contact hours are conducted face-to-face in a classroom, studio, or lab on campus, excluding the use of online for make-up classes. Students must expect that in-person courses will include some online materials and communications in support of class work.

Hybrid/Blended (HYBRID): A course that uses both in-person instructional time on campus and online instructional time. The general schedule of the in-person commitment is shared in the course schedule. Specifics are provided by the instructor.

Remote (synchronous) (RMSYNC): A course in which 100% of the instruction occurs remotely (online) and students participate in regularly scheduled virtual class meetings via Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate, or another platform.  For example, a class originally scheduled for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8:15am will only schedule virtual activities for that time period. Please note that the specific frequency of class meetings is determined by the faculty.

Online (asynchronous) (ONLINE): A course in which 100% of instructional time occurs online with no set time for virtual class meetings.

*Note:  term in parenthesis is the code that will appear in schedules.

We appreciate that some students will need to or want to change their schedule to increase the number of courses with face to face experiences or wish to move to a fully online schedule. Presently registration is closed while we continue to work with new students to finalize their schedules and evaluate the need to add additional sections of classes based on enrollment. At the end of this week, we will be sharing further information on the process to adjust your schedule.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Sincerely

Bob

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