Westfield State is closely monitoring the Coronavirus situation and planning appropriate responses. Visit our Coronavirus Update page

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Coronavirus Update

This webpage serves as the repository for accurate and updated information on Westfield State’s response to this public health issue.

Faculty:

Westfield State University’s Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning now features online resources for remote teaching.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

See below for a list of Coronavirus Updates issued to the campus community.

New CDC Recommendations on Wearing
Cloth Face Coverings during COVID-19 Pandemic

April 5, 2020

Dear Westfield State University Faculty and Staff,

Based on new data about how the Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a recommendation that people wear cloth face coverings to cover their nose and mouth in public settings. The CDC states that these face coverings are particularly important to wear in situations when you may be near people (for example, at the grocery store or pharmacy) and when you are in public, in areas of widespread COVID-19 illness. The face coverings can be made of household items or made at home from common materials at low cost.

Please note that these cloth face coverings are NOT meant to protect you from COVID-19, but they can protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms. In addition, these cloth face coverings are NOT a substitute for social distancing; the CDC still recommends that you stay at least 6 feet away from other people, perform frequent hand cleaning, and take other everyday preventive actions. Lastly, cloth face coverings should not be placed on children younger than 2 years of age, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.

For faculty and staff who need to work on site, please plan to wear cloth face coverings whenever on campus. If you don’t have easily available to you cloth face coverings or material to make them, please contact your supervisor, who will work with Human Resources to provide you with a cloth face covering.

For more information on the CDC’s recommendation, please visit the following CDC information:

Thank you for your attention to this important public health matter. We hope you all are staying safe and well.

Lisa Brosnan
Interim Director, Health Services

Dear Faculty and Staff:

I appreciate your continued flexibility and resilience as we continue to advance the mission of Westfield State University with continued challenges.

As you know, earlier this week, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker extended the non-essential business emergency order until May 4, 2020. Westfield State remains exempt from the closure order as we support online learning, meet the needs of a limited number of residential students, and host ongoing construction projects. Although we remain open, the University will continue to operate in a period of restricted access to campus until further notice.

I realize that working remotely is not ideal for many, but I appreciate your collective effort to reduce our on-campus presence as much as possible. Keeping away from or limiting your activity on campus will help the University do its part to help flatten the COVID-19 curve.

For those staff who are on the AFSCME’s rotating on-campus schedule, I thank you. Your work in campus buildings and on the grounds to ensure Westfield State’s business continuity and that the needs of our residential students and other on-campus staff are met, is vital.

By both measures, we are working together in true Westfield State fashion to weather this uncertain storm.   

For faculty or staff who need to work on site, I offer the following reminders:

  • Adhere to all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations and practice social distancing for the safety of all individuals;
  • Remember to carry on your person and make visible your Westfield State University-issued identification card; and
  • Inform your supervisor, dean, or vice president when you work on campus, as those work areas will need to be cleaned.

New information on the COVID-19 pandemic and Massachusetts’ response to it remains frequent. Please monitor University email regularly and visit Westfield State’s Coronavirus Update webpage to keep current. There, a growing series of FAQs reflects the ongoing updates related to this public health emergency.

Absorbing constant headlines and reports on this one subject can be heavy. And, balancing your commitment to Westfield State’s workforce with your responsibilities at home or as a member of our weary society, can be daunting.

So, I urge you to keep connected—even if from six feet away or virtually—with your peers, colleagues, students, mentors, friends, loved ones, neighbors, and others, as you continue to play an important part in preserving Westfield State University as a community that we and our students relish to be physically part of someday soon.

Thank you for all you do for Westfield State in these uncertain times.

Stay safe and be well.

Sincerely,

Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D.
President

Dear Campus Community:
 
Numerous disruptions and necessary adaptations in relation to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continue to impact us all. Thanks to members of our campus community, who came together through the governance process, additional flexibility will be granted to our students, who have been particularly impacted during this trying spring 2020 semester.
 
The Academic Policies Committee and the All University Committee have championed a policy that temporarily lifts restrictions on the option to take courses on a pass/fail basis for the current semester only.
 
By May 5, 2020, students can decide to use the pass/fail option for most courses in which they are currently enrolled. Supporters of the recently approved policy explained that alleviating the pressure of attaining a certain letter grade will allow students to better focus on mastering the content in their courses, while continuing to adapt to new online teaching and learning strategies.
 
A copy of the recently approved policy is attached. Specific information about converting to a pass/fail option and information about course exemptions are forthcoming from the Division of Academic Affairs.
 
I appreciate the input of many faculty, staff, and students that resulted in this important policy change. In particular, I offer special thanks to APC Co-chairs Dr. Mark Horwitz and Dr. Janet Gebelt, as well as AUC Chair Dr. Edward Welsh, for their thorough and expedient delivery of a well-vetted and workable policy on behalf of our students. Their collaboration and cooperation serves as a model for establishing creative solutions to navigate this challenging time.
 
Sincerely,
 
Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D.
President
 

Pass/Fail Spring 2020 Policy

Dear Faculty and Staff:

Over the last two days, my inbox has included messages from union members, mainly those from AFSCME, sharing their concerns about keeping Westfield State University open and having some employees work on-site given the tenuous public health emergency.

I hear you and understand your concerns.

Like those implemented at colleges and universities across the Commonwealth and nation, Westfield State’s on-site workforce plan was established to provide the basic needs of a limited number of residential students who remain on campus and includes employees who are fulfilling necessary functions on-site that cannot be completed remotely but remain vital to business continuity.

Following the Public Health Guidance for Institutions of Higher Education Related to COVID-19 (issued 3-17-20)the great majority of University functions are now being managed remotely. We continue to promote and abide by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, including enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols and appropriate social distancing measures. And, as you know, entry to our campus buildings is limited to only employees, who are able to access the building(s) in which they work by the use of University-issued identification.

However, with the rapidly evolving status of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we realize that we need to do more and limit on-campus presence even further.

To that end, Dining Services and Facilities and Operations will begin next week to set rotational schedules for their teams to reduce the number of dining and facilities employees on campus who are needed to serve the population that remains on campus, as well as tending to other roles such as mail processing, filing, copying, and other responsibilities that cannot be performed remotely. The rotational schedule will allow maximum flexibility within those departments for employees to work remotely or to be home, while paid, as we continue to identify work that can be accomplished at home, such as professional development. 

In addition, we continue to work on solutions for other AFSCME employees in other areas.

The details of this rotational schedule are forthcoming and will be shared with AFSCME union leadership and with Westfield AFSCME members once established. Although the rotational schedule may not address all of your concerns, I hope it addresses some.

Thank you to all who took the time to relay your important concerns. I encourage you to continue to do so as we work together as a community to manage the challenges that accompany this uncertain time.

Despite the less than optimal set of circumstances we currently face, please know that I appreciate your continued dedication and hard work to advance the mission of Westfield State University.  

Sincerely,

 

Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D.
President

Dear Faculty and Staff:

I write to share the unfortunate news that extending employment offers to fill vacant positions at Westfield State University will be temporarily suspended. As of today, March 26, 2020, no new employment offers will be extended to candidates until further notice. This disruption in our recruitment and hiring efforts is necessary for the Cabinet members to gain further clarity amid several financial uncertainties precipitated by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Existing search committees are encouraged to continue their work (with the exception of extending an offer) until hearing further direction. By April 9, 2020, I will provide an update on the status of this matter. Until then, we ask for patience from our hiring managers and search committees, currently hard at work to bring onboard talented candidates to join Westfield State’s workforce.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D.
President

Dear Faculty and Staff:

These are anxious days for us all, and I am writing to thank each of you for everything that you have done during this incredibly challenging time. Your cooperation and collaboration to safeguard the wellbeing of our students and the campus community, while ensuring the level of service and support to our students and their families, has been exemplary.  

I cannot emphasize enough how grateful I am to everyone for taking significant measures to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, be it through social distancing, frequent hand washing, other sanitary precautions, attending meetings virtually, and/or self-isolation, while continuing to carry out your own core duties and the business continuity of the University. 

We continue to follow the guidelines set forth by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education and Department of Public Health.  

As a community, the current state of affairs appears unsettling. However, stronger than this uncertainty has been the resilience, creativity, and ingenuity from all of you, that serves as a significant juxtaposition to the pandemic we face. Over the last week especially, I find myself referencing the proverb of novelist James Lane Allen, “Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.” I share with pride that the character of those at Westfield State University is strong, wise, and adaptable.  

University leaders continue to work with their divisions to move to a predominantly remote workforce plan. On campus, following the mandated residence halls check out process over the weekend and through Tuesday, we expect approximately 40 students who meet specific exceptions to be transferred to Davis Hall to remain on campus for the spring semester. We will work to continue to meet the on-campus, basic needs of those students.  

Understand that the unprecedented pandemic we face makes it impossible to institute a perfect response. We must be creative and display further initiative to advance the University’s mission while employing a fair and safe workforce plan to the best of our ability.   

This situation has put much additional weight on our workforce. Faculty had to—in a matter of days—take their on-ground courses online. I can’t thank you enough for your flexibility, commitment, and willingness to go above and beyond to continue to educate and inspire our students.

And, the collaboration of teams of employees who have supported this transition has been remarkable, as has been the collaboration of those who have begun to deliver essential student support remotely. Media Services, CIT, Technology Support, Information Technology, and others have worked at a rapid and effective pace to ensure the transition to online work and virtual teaching/learning environments has been possible.

The teams and people associated with Housing and Residential Engagement, Facilities, Health Services, Dining Services, Public Safety, and others have been called upon to fulfill the on-campus needs of our students. Your hard work and devotion is vital to our community and it does not go unrecognized. Thank you. 

The tenacity and focus of our Emergency Response Team’s Coronavirus Management Team cannot be understated as this multidisciplinary group addresses each day’s priorities, and devises swift, yet prudent contingencies as the pandemic continues to evolve rapidly. Following such contingency decisions, our communication and marketing teams have effectively relayed key updates and information to the University’s various constituents.  

My daily conversations with leaders from our peer state universities and other institutions of higher learning across the state and nation indicate that we are certainly not alone with our current challenges. In addition, conversations at the cabinet level and through those of our ERT indicate that our divisions are overcoming similar obstacles and drawing from best practices of their colleagues. You, as an individual faculty or staff member, are not alone in your skepticism or uncertainty. But, together, we will be stronger, more creative, more resilient, and wiser as a community when this time of crisis passes.  

I trust that a great number of exchanges with our students and families have involved uneasiness and uncertainty; however, I hope that some of those exchanges also allowed you to gain a greater level of understanding, sense of cooperation, and overall humility.    

During this stressful time, I encourage you to keep in open and frequent communication with your supervisors and colleagues. Also, please make use of the resources available to you, through our Employee Assistance Program or other helpful resources, like the Mental Health and Coping with COVID-19 webpage made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

While it is important to ensure that Westfield State’s mission continues, your compliance with social distancing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 continues to be critical. 

As our most immediate concentration is ensuring our own campus community has and is provided with the resources and support it needs, I also want to offer help to our neighbors in this turbulent time of need. In this statewide and national emergency, we have received many requests for resources, involving to both supplies and facilities. To best assess and allocate such resources to our surrounding communities and partners as we are able, our ERT Coronavirus Management Team asks that external requests of this kind be centralized. Please forward such requests to your divisional vice president as you receive them.  

We will continue to keep you posted on Westfield State’s response to this fluid pandemic. I appreciate your continued support of each other, as well as our students and families, even if it is from a distance. 

I thank you for your patience and hard work each day to advance the mission of Westfield State University. 
  
Please be well. 

 

Sincerely, 

Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D.
President

Dear Students:

We appreciate your feedback and questions related to the important issue of payments made for housing and dining given Westfield State University’s decisions for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester in light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We hope that the following announcement addresses your concern and lessens the uncertainty associated with this matter.

Reimbursement for Housing and Dining

A plan to reimburse payments for housing and dining already made to the University has been established. The process will be swift but not immediate, as account adjustments or credits will be determined on an individual-student basis. Currently, we await guidance from the U.S. Department of Education about the impact, if any, of this situation on federal financial aid and loans. The appropriate adjustment of accounts cannot take place until we have this confirmation.

Timing of Student Account Adjustments

We plan to start issuing prorated adjustments or credits to student accounts by mid-April 2020. Please note that the adjustment or credit will be applied to any outstanding account balance first. Look for further details to be posted on the Student Accounts webpage by the end of March 2020.  

Study Abroad

In addition, the University will issue refunds for short-term study abroad travel courses, which were scheduled but necessarily cancelled due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. A credit will be issued on your student account for the amount of the payment made on your student account, which varies by course.

Move/Check Out Requirement

Students living in residence halls who complete check-out by March 24, 2020, or who have approved alternative move-out arrangements for a later time with the Housing and Residential Engagement office, will receive a prorated adjustment or credit of their room and meal plan charges for the semester. Students who have neither scheduled a move-out appointment nor contacted the Housing and Residential Engagement office to make alternative move-out arrangements are urged to do so as soon as possible, as their reimbursements will be delayed until that action is completed.

I appreciate your patience and understanding through these challenging times and circumstances. In the meantime, please heed the instructions and warnings from medical health professionals, and practice social distancing to keep yourself and those around you safe and healthy.

And, please be sure to access the University’s Coronavirus Update webpage for current information about and updates regarding this continually evolving global emergency situation significantly impacting Westfield State University, Massachusetts, and our nation.

Stay safe and be well.

Sincerely,

Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D.
President

Dear Faculty and Staff:

As a follow up to yesterday’s information, please find more detailed instruction to assist in your telecommute.  If you have any questions, as always, please contact the Support Desk at;

  • 413-572-4357 (please note if there is no answer, please leave a message as the call volume is very high at this time)
  • supportdesk@westfield.ma.edu

Office Phones

  1. Forwarding phones campus wide is not an option due to infrastructure restrictions.
  2. All voicemails are sent directly to email.
  3. To send your inbound calls directly to voicemail:
    1. From your physical phone on campus, pick up the handset and dial *2, then 5771.
    2. You will hear a “long tone,” which confirms the forward to voicemail.  When someone internal or external calls your phone, it will not ring, it will go directly to voicemail.
    3. The voicemail will then be sent to you via email.
    4. Once you return to the office, go back to step 3a and dial #2 then 5771.
    5. You will hear a “long tone,” which confirms the cancelling of the forward to voicemail.
    6. When calling back from home or your cellphone, use *67 prior to dialing the number, as this will protect your number from being released.
      **Please note, some businesses and individuals require you to release your number to complete the call.

Network Drive Access

  1. The network drives, commonly known as the “S” and the “P” drives, are only accessible off campus via VPN (please see the next section).
  2. As an alternative, you can use One Drive, which is fully accessible off campus without the need for VPN.  Please note:
    1. No personally identifiable information (PII) or sensitive information can be stored in One Drive or any other portable device (external drives, thumb drives, etc.) as it is subject to the Remote Access and the Data Classification Policy.
      Any data moved to One Drive can only be seen by the creator unless you give permissions to others.
    2. None of the data is backed up by Westfield State.
    3. You will need to be on campus to move the network drive data to One Drive.
    4. Anything deleted stays in the O365 recycle bin for 30 days, after that, it is unrecoverable.
    5. Here is the link to the access instructions for One Drive

VPN AccessPlease check with your department head before proceeding. You must have received approval from your Divisional Vice President for VPN access.

Technology Support

  1. Given the high demand for IT support, employees are advised to use existing troubleshooting systems (i.e. confirm internet access with your home carrier, reboot and try to recreate the issue, etc.) to triage either computer or access issues.
  2. Report access issues or other IT problems related to working remotely to the Help Desk—413-572-4357 or supportdesk@westfield.ma.edu
  3. Unfortunately, the University cannot support solving personal computer problems.

Alan Blair
Chief Information Officer
Chief Information Security Officer

Update: March 18, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff:

Your understanding, cooperation, and patience is appreciated as Westfield State University establishes the necessary support for its remote teaching/learning and workforce plans given the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Both measures have been put in place to support social distancing as a means to further prevent the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), as prescribed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

As the demand for IT support continues to be high, the following items are meant to serve as helpful information for faculty and staff. For other helpful updates and information as we work together to ensure business continuity at Westfield State, visit the University’s Coronavirus Update webpage.

Phones and Communication

  • Phones should be forwarded to voicemail, which will generate an email for that message (please ensure your voicemail is set up properly and please check email regularly).
  • Email Out of Office Assistant can be used to provide further instructions to contact faculty or staff.
  • Some departments may opt to continue in-person phone coverage as required.

Network Drive Access

  • Access to a network drive (shared or personal) off campus requires either a VPN or copying files from your network drive to your Microsoft One Drive location.
  • Instructions are forthcoming about copying files from a shared or personal drive to the Microsoft One Drive.

VPN/Remote Access

  • Vice Presidents are working with ITS to determine assigning additional VPN licenses based on required access to applications that cannot be accommodated with other solutions.
  • Significant cyber risks exists in using non-Westfield State computers without adequate security protocols.
  • VPN access cannot be shared and are assigned to individuals.
  • VPN is not required to issue or approve an RO, submit or approve timesheets, access Banner self-service, access Degreeworks, or access email.

ITS Support

  • Given the high demand for IT support, employees are advised to use existing troubleshooting systems to triage either computer or access issues.
  • Report access issues or other IT problems related to working remotely to the Help Desk—413.572.4357 or supportdesk@westfield.ma.edu
  • Unfortunately, the University cannot support solving personal computer problems.

There will be another communication distributed no later than tomorrow, March 19th, 2020 with more detailed instructions as a follow up to this summary.

Thank you,

Alan Blair
Chief Information Officer
Chief Information Security Officer

Update: March 18, 2020

Dear resident students,

This email contains important information about checking out of housing for the Spring 2020 semester as referenced in President Torrecilha’s March 16, 2020 email. Please review this information in its entirety to ensure an easy checkout process for yourself and other students.

Checkout Process

In order to comply with CDC recommendations for social distancing, students must register for a one-hour checkout time. The University maintains the health and safety of everyone as its primary focus and thus will limit the number of people in the residence halls during checkout. As such, students will not be permitted to checkout at random and should bring no more than two people to assist them in moving out.

  • Checkout Dates: Friday, March 20 through Tuesday, March 24
  • Checkout Times: 9 a.m. through 4 p.m.
  • Registration: Will take place in MyHousing accounts. Students can review the Checkout Registration Guide for the step-by-step process. Students must register no later than Thursday, March 19 at 11:59 p.m.
  • Checking Out: After removing all personal belongings from their room, students will turn in their room key(s) to Residential Engagement staff located at their hall’s front desk.
  • Card Access: Students will only have card access to their residence hall during their registered checkout time.
  • Packing Materials: Staff will have boxes and trash bags available in the residence halls for students to use for packing. A maximum of two boxes per student and unlimited trash bags will be available.
  • Moving Bins/Carts: To prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, the University will not provide moving bins/carts during the checkout process. We encourage you to bring your own moving materials to use during this process.
  • Student Items in Academic Buildings: Students who have academic supplies in, or University property to drop off at, academic buildings such as the Dower Center or Science Center will be able to do so during their checkout time on campus. Look for specific instructions to be sent via email by your college dean.
  • Food Donations: The current health crisis has led to significant need at local food pantries. Please use the identified locations in each residence hall lobby to donate food-related items as you move out and we will deliver them to local organizations.
The Market Place Convenience Store

The Market Place Convenience Store, located in New Hall, will be open to students and their families during all checkout hours.

Remaining in Housing

Due to extraordinary circumstances, a small number of students may need to remain in housing through the end of the spring semester. Approved reasons include housing insecurity, no access to online class content at home, a clinical/internship confirmed by the Registrar’s Office, and international students.

Students requesting to remain in housing must submit the Request to Stay in Housing until May 11 application in their MyHousing account. Requests must be submitted no later than Thursday, March 19 at 11:59 p.m. Only those students approved to remain in housing will have continued access to their residence hall.

Students approved to remain in housing will be expected to relocate to a single room in Davis Hall for the remainder of the spring semester. Moves will take place on Saturday and Sunday, March 28-29. Additional information on the moving process can be found in the Request to Stay in Housing until May 11 application.

We acknowledge the disappointment and frustration many students are feeling, and we thank you for your continued patience and understanding during this challenging time. Please contact us if you have any questions about the information in this email by either responding to the email or calling (413) 572-5402.

Sincerely,

The Departments of Housing Operations

& Residential Engagement

Update: March 16, 2020 

Dear Campus Community:

I write to share the latest developments in Westfield State University’s response to the rapidly evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Given the fluidity of this worldwide emergency, we are learning new information constantly, sometimes by the hour.

I apologize for the many inconveniences caused by this disruption in students’ traditional experience at Westfield State, as we announced and implemented alternate plans for the weeks of March 16 and 23, 2020. Following many breaking updates over the weekend and throughout the day today, we now need to modify our expected plans for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester.   

Collaborating closely with my peer Council of Presidents (presidents of Massachusetts state universities), the following decisions have been made at Westfield State University (and other state universities) for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester:

  1. Provide courses via remote learning;
  2. Residence halls will be closed to the general student population; and
  3. The campus will continue to implement the remote workforce plan and other flexible work arrangements.

It is important to note that there are no reported cases of the Coronavirus on the Westfield State University campus, and no student or employee to our knowledge has been tested or is awaiting test results. We have made this significant decision to move to remote learning and closure of our residence halls for the full semester in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus by supporting preventative social distancing, as prescribed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Details and instructions with a specific schedule for students to remove their belongings from residence halls will be communicated by Westfield State’s Residential Life office within the next two days. Students with prior authorization from Residential Life to remain in housing will be contacted by the staff with specific procedures for continuing the approved exception.

The Council of Presidents and state university chief financial officers will continue to work with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education and the Executive Office of Education to address concerns of student payments made for housing and other impacted services. We understand the importance of this issue to our students and families, and will share more information on this matter as it becomes available.

Given the significance of student academic achievement recognized and celebrated at Westfield State’s commencement ceremonies traditionally held in May, we will work toward rescheduling these events to hopefully take place over the summer months.

Faculty and staff should follow the instructions received through email over the weekend, both from me on Saturday, March 14, 2020, and from the Office of Human Resources, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity on Sunday, March 15, 2020. The facilities team will continue its enhanced protocols to clean and disinfect campus buildings to further protect those employees who need to conduct work on campus.

I realize that this course of action is extraordinary; however, please know that these decisions were made with the safety and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and staff as the paramount consideration during this global emergency.

I want to thank the devoted faculty and staff who have come together to provide their expertise and insight to create adaptable solutions that best serve our students within the current challenges we face.

Stay safe and be well.

Sincerely,

Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D.
President

Update: March 16, 2020

 Dear Faculty and Staff:

As Westfield State University implements its plan to manage its workforce to serve students for next two weeks in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, please note the operating hours and services available to employees working on campus.

Dining Services
Limited meal options will be served in T&J Bistro as TO-GO Only in foam disposable containers. Menus will be posted on the Westfield Dining Services website.

T&J Bistro hours of operation:

  • Breakfast: 8 to 10 a.m.;
  • Lunch: noon to 2 p.m.; and
  • Dinner: 5 to 7 p.m.

Common Goods
The Common Goods Food Pantry, located at the Second Congregational Church on Western Avenue, will be open to receive visitors from the Westfield State student, staff, and faculty community during these times:

  • Monday, March 16:  11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
     

Updates regarding hours and access moving forward will be sent as information becomes available. 

Campus Shuttle and PVTA Bus Transportation
Campus shuttles and the Owl shuttle will not be operating through March 27. PVTA Bus transportation (R10 route) will continue. For a schedule, visit www.pvta.com.

Ely Library
Library materials are available remotely via www.lib.westfield.ma.edu/home.

Staff will be available Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Contact 413.572.5231 oraskus@westfield.ma.edu

Health Services
Health Services staff will be available Monday–Friday, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. For guidance about health-related concerns, contact 413-572-5415. If students experience any symptoms of concern while home, please contact your primary care physicians.

Dunkin’
March 16–27 operating hours: Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Ely ground-level entrance closest to Dunkin’ will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Bookstore
March 16–27 operating hours: Monday–Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Access to Academic and Administrative Buildings
As communicated through University email on Saturday, March 14, 2020, access to academic and administrative buildings will be limited to faculty and staff through March 30, 2020.

Faculty and staff are reminded to carry and make visible their University-issued I.D.s. while on campus. Faculty and staff will continue to have unrestricted access to academic and administrative buildings using their University I.D.s. Employees who are unable to access buildings with their I.D.s should contact Public Safety to assist—call 413.572.5262.

It is important to note that there are no reported cases of the Coronavirus on the Westfield State University campus, and no student or employee to our knowledge has been tested or is awaiting test results. Also, the Facilities team will continue its enhanced protocols to clean and disinfect all campus buildings through March 30.

Your cooperation and understanding is appreciated through the duration of this precautionary measure.

More Information and FAQs

Please refer co-workers or students who have further questions to the University’s Coronavirus Update webpage. This page serves as the repository for accurate and updated information on Westfield State’s response to this public health issue.

Thank you.

Troy Watkins
Communication Specialis

Update: March 15, 2020

Dear Campus Community:

This communication provides information as it relates to COVID-19 Interim Telecommuting Guide for employees who are approved to telecommute. This telecommuting guide is also attached to this email.

COVID-19 Interim Telecommuting Guide

The University is implementing short-term telecommuting as an appropriate option for staff during the current Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation. As mention in President Torrecilha’s announcement on Saturday, March 14, 2020, the University is encouraging employees who can work remotely to do so by working with their supervisor to devise a work plan under the umbrella of maintain campus operations. Where telecommuting may not be possible, the University is encouraging flexibility in work schedules, offering voluntary assignments and the like. In the wake of this pandemic, we need to think differently of ways to perform the work.

It is the University’s goal to be as flexible as possible to ensure everyone’s health and safety as well as carrying out campus operations to meet the needs of our work processes and our student population that remains on campus.

This Telecommuting Guide is to be used only during this public health situation, as defined and communicated by the University.

Essential Personnel

Essential employees are expected to report to work in the event of University closure or other extraordinary circumstances. In extreme circumstances, essential employees may have legitimate reasons for being unable to report to work. These employees should contact the Office of Human Resources, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (OHRIDE) to address their individual needs. OHRIDE can be reached at hr@westfield.ma.edu or by calling Tina Bonés, Benefits Manager at (413) 572- 5274 or Alexa Florita, Administrative Assistant at (413) 572-8730.

Telecommuting

Supervisors will work with their staff to establish a telecommuting work plan as appropriate. If an employee cannot perform their essential tasks remotely, supervisors should contact OHRIDE so we can learn which employees might need different options if available. When establishing a work plan, supervisors are responsible for ensuring that their departments perform critical work to maintain operations. This may mean maintaining minimal staff on campus or intermittent visits to campus as necessary or some combination as the work plan requires. Supervisors should regularly communicate with their staff to keep them apprised of changing business needs.

Expectations for All Staff

Telecommuting staff members are responsible for:

Fulfilling the expectations agreed upon with their supervisor regarding the scope of their telecommuting assignment, such as:

Duties and responsibilities

  • Hours of work (rest/meal breaks, overtime, and other wage and hour requirements that still apply).
  • Hours of availability to communicate regarding University business.
  • Communication of work assignments and personal needs, including reporting absences due to injury, illness, or caring for a family member.
  • The appropriate use of university equipment and materials.
  • Completing their timesheets per university policy.
  • Protecting University information by following the University’s policies governing information security(e.g., remote access policy), software licensing, and data protection; ensuring that unauthorized individuals do not access Westfield State data, either in print or electronically; and not accessing restricted-level information in print or electronically unless approved by the supervisor and protected by policy-compliant encryption and/or physical controls.
  • Maintaining a safe environment in which to work.

Expectations for Supervisors

Supervisors should communicate specific expectations to individual team members based on each person’s circumstances. To ensure that the telecommuting assignment is mutually beneficial for both the University and staff members, planning and communicating expectations of the telecommuting is crucial. Supervisors should remain in regular communication with their staff to address tasks, projects and ongoing needs of the department. If an employee requires an accommodation, the supervisor will direct them to OHRIDE.

General Agreement

Staff members must comply with University rules, policies, practices, and instructions.

Short-term telecommuting in extraordinary circumstances does not change the basic terms and conditions of employment with the University. Telecommuting assignments do not change a staff member's classification, compensation, or benefits. The policies applicable to leave and accrual use shall be applicable to all benefited staff, regardless of telecommuting privileges.  

Staff will be solely responsible for the configuration of, and all expenses associated with, the telecommuting workspace and all services. This includes ensuring and maintaining an ergonomically appropriate and safe telecommuting worksite.

All injuries incurred by staff during the performance of official duties and during working hours must be reported promptly, and applicable Workers’ Compensation laws will apply.  While telecommuting, employees are required to maintain a safe working environment. 

Telecommuting privileges for staff during this limited time period shall be reassessed periodically and not later than 30 days from implementation.  Telecommuting privileges can be canceled at any time and for any reason by the University.

The University has the sole discretion to amend, modify or replace this Telecommuting Guide at any time and for any reason.

Update: March 14, 2020 

Dear Faculty and Staff:

Thank you for your patience as University leadership works through the most immediate operational and communication needs during the unfolding Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Most of the University communication sent to students and employees over the last several days centered on critical decisions to preserve the health, safety, and wellbeing of our full campus community. The type and tone of that communication was necessarily very matter-of-fact. As the COVID-19 situation remains disconcerting, we now concentrate on the next layer of needs for our workforce.

We as a society are digesting what is shaping up to be a generation-defining pandemic. I hear your uneasiness in navigating widespread social disruptions, K-12 school and daycare closings, and other significant changes to daily routines brought on by this crisis. I understand your plight to meet personal responsibilities as parents, family members, and caregivers, while still fulfilling your work responsibilities. I realize that the current state of emergency provides much difficulty for many to complete their job duties in a traditional sense, and we need to think differently to provide remote working opportunities and other flexible work arrangements.

In this unprecedented crisis, Westfield State now aims to implement a workforce plan that:

  1. Limits and avoids exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace;
  2. Encourages employees who can work from home to do so; and
  3. Considers a level of flexibility, fairness, and accountability to meet faculty and staff personal needs, while ensuring effective continuity of operations.

Earlier today, I directed vice presidents to continue conversations with their respective teams to assess employees’ needs. Know that we are here to lead, guide, and support you. Employees who have a need to work remotely or other flexible arrangements should communicate that to their supervisors as soon as possible. Divisions and departments are asked to swiftly devise plans to both accommodate remote working/flexible work arrangements and ensure some on-site staff presence. The Office of Human Resources, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity will provide further guidance through email tomorrow (Sunday, March 15) for those employees who have been granted approval from their supervisors to work remotely.

Should more workplace social distancing become necessary, a larger-scale remote work plan will be implemented. Westfield State University has been collaborating with leaders from peer state universities, as well as the Department of Higher Education to provide uniform management of and common considerations for remote working and other flexible work arrangements. I appreciate the willingness of statewide union leaders from the MSCA-MTA, APA, and AFSCME to find cooperative ways for us to work together in this time of statewide and national emergency.

As I ask for your continued commitment to advance the mission of Westfield State University, I commit to the three stated goals, amid a fluid and unsettling time for our community at Westfield State, across the nation, and around the world.

Stay safe and well.

Sincerely,

Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D.
President

Update: March 14, 2020 

Dear Faculty and Staff:

In the interest of maintaining a clean and safe working environment, Westfield State University will limit access to campus buildings through March 30, 2020.

As a precautionary measure, access to its academic and administrative buildings will be limited to faculty and staff through March 30, 2020. Faculty and staff are reminded to carry and make visible their University-issued I.D.s. while on campus. Faculty and staff will continue to have unrestricted access to academic and administrative buildings using their University I.D.s. Employees who are unable to access buildings with their I.D.s should contact Public Safety to assist—call 413.572.5262.

It is important to note that there are no reported cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the Westfield State University campus, and no student or employee to our knowledge has been tested or is awaiting test results. Also, the Facilities team will continue its enhanced protocols to clean and disinfect all campus buildings through March 30.

Your cooperation and understanding is appreciated through the duration of this precautionary measure.

Thank you.  

Tricia M. Oliver
Chief of Staff
Office of the President

Update: March 13, 2020 

Dear Students:

I write as a follow-up to the March 12, 2020, email from Housing Operations and Residential Engagement regarding temporary access to residence halls for students to pick up essential items from their rooms during specific, designated hours on March 14, 15, and 16, 2020.

Students who meet any of the following criteria are advised not to return to campus for the above purpose:

  1. Students who are sick with flu-like systems or are exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19.  www.cdc.gov/COVID-19-symptoms
     
  2. Students who have tested positive (presumptive or confirmed) for COVID-19.
     
  3. Students who have had direct contact with someone who has tested positive (presumptive or confirmed) for COVID-19.
  4. Students who have returned within the past 14 days from affected international locations where community spread of COVID-19 is occurring. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
  5. Students who have traveled within the past 14 days to locations in the United States where ongoing community spread of COVID-19 has been reported. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html

In addition to your respective residential halls, the mailroom in Parenzo Hall will also be open to you during the same hours for temporary access to the residence halls. Students are advised to access Parenzo Hall from the front entrance during these dates and times:

  • Saturday, March 14, from 2 to 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, March 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Monday, March 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Thank you for your flexibility and patience, and please be well.

Shannon Broderick
Director of Student Affairs

COVID-19 Personnel Guidance

This information is to provide Westfield State University employees with personnel guidance as it relates to personnel handlings relative to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

As noted in President Torrecilha’s March 11, 2020 message to the campus community, Westfield State University operations will continue. Faculty, staff, and administration are expected to fulfill their professional duties.  

As you read the information below, note that “contact with/exposure to COVID-19” should be interpreted as contact with someone who has tested positive (presumptive or confirmed) for COVID-19. Employees should inform the Office of Human Resource, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity by calling (413) 572-8730 or emailing afiorita@westfield.ma.edu if they:

  1. have had contact with someone who has tested positive (presumptive or confirmed),
  2. are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19; or
  3. they have tested positive (presumptive or confirmed) for COVID-19.

And, they are encouraged to fill out the Notification of Travel/Exposure form (which will be maintained in OHRIDE). 

The following protocols shall be followed for a thirty-day (30) time period, which may be lengthened or shortened as circumstances demand. 

When employees call in sick:

When an employee calls in sick, the employee should provide and/or may be asked if they are experiencing influenza-like (flu) symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides that symptoms include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (tiredness), vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults), and/or some combination of these symptoms.

The University regards any voluntary responses as confidential medical information and asks that employees contact the Office of Human Resources, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (OHRIDE) if they are experiencing the symptoms consistent with COVID-19, as identified above. If a supervisor, manager, or department chair receives a call from an employee, who voluntarily discloses information about symptoms, they must notify OHRIDE immediately in a confidential manner. Supervisors, managers, and department chairs are expected to direct employees to contact OHRIDE directly rather than discuss confidential medical information with an employee. OHRIDE strongly encourages employees to contact its office directly at hr@westfield.ma.edu or call Tina Bonés, Benefits Manager at (413) 572-5274 or Alexa Fiorita, Administrative Assistant at (413) 572-8730.

What to do if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms:

  • If an employee is experiencing the symptoms listed above (see section: when employees call in sick), the employee should remain out of the workplace and use their leave accruals to cover their sick leave absence from the workplace.
  • If an employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19, the employee should contact OHRIDE and remain out of the workplace for 14 days, during which time the employee should use accrued leave to be compensated. Employees diagnosed with COVID-19 may not be able to return to the workplace before receiving and providing OHRIDE with the appropriate medical documentation, which provides an assessment of the employee’s fitness for duty. The Fitness for Duty form will be mailed and emailed to the employee.
  • If employees have exhausted all accrued leave, eligible APA and MSCA employees shall be allowed to use the sick leave bank without being required to go off the payroll for five (5) days before access. AFSCME employees without accrued leave are encouraged to apply for an extension of sick leave.

If an employee calls to report they have been exposed to COVID-19 but is not displaying symptoms:

Before reporting to work, all employees are strongly encouraged to contact OHRIDE if they have been exposed to COVID-19 but are not displaying symptoms. OHRIDE will discuss with the employee the cautionary measures being taken by the University and whether alternative work options are available.

When an employee in the workplace presents with symptoms:

When an employee in the workplace presents with symptoms, the employee will be asked to leave the workplace by OHRIDE and use sick leave to cover their absence. Additionally, OHRIDE will ask the employee to inform us if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or have been exposed to COVID-19.

  • If the employee was diagnosed with COVID-19 or was exposed to COVID-19, the University will follow the guidance above (see section: when employees call in sick). In the event the employee indicates that they were not diagnosed or were not exposed to COVID-19 and their symptoms no longer persist, the employee will be permitted to return to the workplace.

Inquiring about travel:

In our efforts to lessen the risk and protect the well-being of our campus community, we ask that all employees who have traveled within the last three (3) weeks, who have traveled over spring break, and who have upcoming travel plans to China, Italy, Japan, Iran, or any other country identified as Level II or higher as provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to report this travel to OHRIDE. Employees should complete the electronic Notification of Travel/Exposure form (which will be maintained in OHRIDE) or may contact Alexa Fiorita, Administrative Assistant at (413) 572-8730 or afiorita@westfield.ma.edu. This information will assist OHRIDE on how to work best with employees who may need to self-isolate.

Search Committees:

Members of search committees should conduct interviews for positions by first conducting conference call interviews and/or virtual interviews for all external candidates. External candidates should not be brought to campus during this thirty (30) day time period. Please contact the Media Services Department for assistance with a conference call set up and virtual capabilities.

Non-benefitted employees:

Consistent with the University practice, non-benefited employees shall be paid only for time worked. Additionally, non-benefited employees (excluding students) who have sick time earned are able to use their sick time for themselves or family sickness.

Student employees:

Under the direction of the area Vice Presidents, each department head should identify its operational needs and assess whether student workers are needed in the office on an exception basis. Department heads should keep in mind that residence halls will not be available for normal housing accommodations during the weeks of March 16 and 23, 2020.

Time Sheet Processing:

The Payroll office will be in contact with impacted employees to assist them with their time sheet reporting.

We realize that many students have posed questions to faculty and staff. Note that the University’s Coronavirus Update page serves as the repository for accurate and updated information on Westfield State’s response to this public health issue. A link to this webpage is also on the top of the University website homepage

 

The Office of Human Resources, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity

Update: March 12, 2020 

Dear students,

As we plan for the next two weeks (March 16–27, 2020) at Westfield State University in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, please review the information below for details about operations and services available.

Communication

Email is the official communication channel for the university. During this time, students are expected to check their university email daily.

University personnel are available during regular work hours. You can reach them via phone or email during regular business hours.
   - Offices and Services Directory www.westfield.ma.edu/offices
   - Faculty/Staff directory www.westfield.ma.edu/people

Advising and Registration

Advising and registration will take place as scheduled. Please check the Registrar’s website for your advising and registration dates www.westfield.ma.edu/offices/registrar/day-division-fall-2020-advising-registration. Students scheduled for advising and registration on dates between March 16 and March 27 should contact their academic advisor to arrange for a phone, email, or virtual advising session and access to your registration PIN.

Teaching and Learning

Coursework

Westfield State has cancelled on-ground academic courses/classes (online courses continue as scheduled) for the week of March 16–20 and will conduct all classes exclusively online for the week of March 23–27. Faculty may use a variety of technology strategies to conduct these remote classes. Westfield State is fortunate to have many online learning resources available to us. PLATO (also known as Blackboard) is just one of these options. Some options are simple and familiar—including using email to send students links, instructions, assignments, etc. Faculty will work in the next week on their remote lessons, and they will provide you with direction.

Specific instructions on how to complete work for your classes will be provided directly to you by the individual instructor for each course. As with any class, students are required to follow the instructions provided by the instructor. Please check-in regularly and stay up-to-date on your coursework. If you are experiencing trouble with online learning, please contact CIT https://cit.westfield.ma.edu/support/.

Academic Support

We will continue to support student academic work via phone, web services, and email. Staff in student support offices can be reached at:

  • Academic Advising 413-572-8152
  • Banacos Academic Center 413-572-8377
  • Graduate and Continuing Education: 413-572-8020
  • Reading and Writing Center 413-572-5569
  • Registrar 413-572-5218, option 3
  • TRiO Student Support Services 413-572-5462
  • Urban Education 413-572-5391
  • Veteran and Military Services 413-572-8370

All students have access to virtual tutoring through the university’s online learning management system (PLATO) http://www.westfield.ma.edu/plato/student-resources/free-online-tutoring-services-wsu/. If you’ve never logged onto PLATO, you can do that here www.westfield.ma.edu/plato/. Appointments for the Center for Reading and Writing are still being taken through their online scheduling system and currently scheduled appointments will be conducted remotely. In addition, STEM Tutoring will offer online appointments during the regular schedule www.westfield.ma.edu/stemtutoring. Please check your email for updates and the links to join the tutoring session.

If you are experiencing academic issues, or have questions about your academic work, please contact your instructor, academic department chair, academic or program advisor, or college dean. We will do our best to address your issues as soon as possible.

  • College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, Dean Emily Todd, Ph.D.
  • College of Education, Health, and Human Services, Dean Juline Mills, Ph.D.
  • College of Graduate and Continuing Education, Dean Stefanie Sanchez, Ed.D.
  • College of Mathematics and Sciences, Dean Jennifer Hanselman, Ph.D.

Campus Shuttle and PVTA Bus Transportation

Campus shuttles and the Owl shuttle will not be operating through March 27. PVTA Bus transportation (R10 route) will continue for those requiring access to local grocery stores, pharmacies, Walmart, etc. For a schedule, visit www.pvta.com.

Career Center

Career Center staff will be available Monday–Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will work with students and alumni via phone conference regarding assistance with career development. Call 413-572-5206.

Counseling Center

In-person counseling sessions scheduled during the weeks of March 16–20 and March 23–27 have been postponed. Staff will be available Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To speak with a counselor during this period, or reschedule your appointment, call 413-572-5790. For information about support offered during this time, visit www.westfield.ma.edu/student-life/counseling-center.

Fitness Center/Wellness Center

The Fitness Center and Wellness Center will not be available for student access during the weeks of March 16–20 and March 23–27.    

College of Graduate and Continuing Education

CGCE staff will be available during our normal operating hours: Monday – Thursday, 8:30am-6pm and Friday 8:30am-4pm.  There will be no in-person services or appointments through March 27, 2020, but we can support you remotely via phone and email.  Summer session registration is scheduled to begin as planned on Monday, March 30, 2020.  Additionally, students may continue to access resources available through our webpage, which includes our online chat feature, or through their myWestfield portal account. If you have any questions, please call 413-572-8020 or email wsucgce@westfield.ma.edu

Health Services

Health Services staff will be available Monday–Friday, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. For guidance about health-related concerns, contact 413-572-5415. If students experience any symptoms of concern while home, please contact your primary care physicians.

Interfaith Services

At this time, services scheduled at the Albert and Amelia Ferst Interfaith Center from March 15–27 will not take place. Alternative services may be provided. To speak with a Chaplain regarding any religious services and updates please contact:

Ely Library

Students can continue to access library materials remotely via www.lib.westfield.ma.edu/home While library staff will be available via phone and email, students will not have access to the building for the weeks of March 16–20 and March 23–27. Library staff will be available Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.– 5 p.m. Contact 413-572-5231 or askus@westfield.ma.edu.

Residential Life

If you have questions following the information you received from Residential Life Thursday, March 12 please call 413-572-5402, or email housing@westfield.ma.edu.

Student Activities/Events/Clubs/Trips

All student activities, events, clubs, trips, and conferences, have been postponed and/or cancelled through Saturday, March 28. We will evaluate any future events as more information is made available.

Student Employees

Only student employees, for operational need only, will be permitted to report to work through Friday, March 27. The University expects that all other student employees will be able to report to work on Monday, March 30. Please contact your direct supervisor for additional information.  

Varsity Athletics and Club Sports

From March 12–30, the MASCAC (Mass. State Collegiate Athletic Conference), which includes Westfield State, will suspend athletic activities, including all athletic events, team meetings, practices and contests, on or off campus, except for those teams currently competing out of state.

Thank you for your flexibility and patience.

Shannon Broderick
Director of Student Affairs

Update: March 12, 2020 

The following information is for all residential students and relates to President Torrecilha’s message earlier yesterday regarding continued concerns about Coronavirus (COVID-19). In our continued focus on the health and safety of our residential students, all students living in the residence halls are expected to remain off campus until Sunday, March 29, 2020. All residence halls expected to reopen for students to return on Sunday, March 29 at Noon.

Residential students will be permitted to pick up essential items from their rooms on the following dates and times:

  • Saturday, March 14 from 2 to 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, March 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Monday, March 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

When picking up items, students should limit trips to campus to a maximum of 60 minutes and then remain off campus until Sunday, March 29 at Noon. Health and Safety inspections will be completed of all residence hall spaces following the pick-up times to verify students have departed from campus.

Students with extraordinary housing circumstances (as outlined below) and requesting to remain in housing must submit the Request to Stay in Housing application in MyHousing. Requests must be submitted no later than Friday, March 13, 2020 at Noon. Extraordinary circumstances are defined as students with academic obligations including clinical placements, internships, and student teaching; international students; and those in Year-Round Housing. Only those students approved to remain will have access to their residence hall.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to respond to this evolving situation.

Sincerely,

The Departments of Housing Operations
& Residential Engagement

Good evening,

As global awareness of the Coronavirus pandemic gradually gives way to a hyper-vigilance, and as government agencies begin ramping up their efforts combat the virus, information sources, such as websites, social media and news outlets find themselves in high demand for accurate information.

This demand, along with a heightened sense of urgency, creates a vulnerability that malicious actors have quickly taken advantage of by spreading a malware disguised as a “Coronavirus map”.   The­­­­­­­ malware that has weaponized coronavirus map applications, is designed to steal credentials such as user names, passwords, credit card numbers and other sensitive information that is stored in the users’ browser. Attackers can use this information for many other purposes, such as selling it on the dark web or for gaining access to bank accounts, social media or other personal or professional accounts.

Please remain vigilant and only utilize links from trusted, secure sources, such as the Center for Disease Control, Massachusetts Department of Public Health or the Coronavirus update page at Westfield State University.

Alan Blair
Chief Information Officer
Chief Information Security Officer

Update: March 11, 2020

Dear Campus Community:

Along with all of you, I have been observing various sources indicating the rapidly changing Coronavirus (COVID-19) status in Massachusetts over the last several days. The other Massachusetts state university presidents and I have been communicating often and coordinating our anticipated responses to this public health issue.

For their efforts at Westfield State, I want to thank our Health Services staff, as well as the Coronavirus Management Team of the University’s Emergency Response Team, for closely monitoring the situation over the last several weeks, and specifically over the last few days, to keep us well informed and on pace with our contingency planning and preparation.

It is important to note that there are no reported cases of the Coronavirus on the Westfield State University campus, and no student or employee to our knowledge has been tested or is awaiting test results.

However, in the interest of maintaining a clean and safe environment for our students and employees, Westfield State University will cancel on-ground academic courses/classes (on-line courses continue as scheduled) for the week of March 16-20, 2020. Additionally, Westfield State will conduct all classes exclusively on-line for the week of March 23-27, 2020. The decision to delay students’ return to campus is in line with that of our peer Massachusetts state universities.

During the weeks of March 16 and 23, 2020 all other University operations will continue. A determination will be made about Athletics and other campus events soon.

Pending further direction from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and his administration, we anticipate resuming on-ground teaching on Monday, March 30, 2020 and re-opening residence halls to coincide with that.

We realize these changes pose many questions and require flexibility from students, faculty, and staff.

Following my message today, more detailed information will follow:

  • Residential Life will be in contact with those resident students with specific and unique housing needs to ensure those needs are met. Further, detailed instruction and information will be sent in a separate email to all residential students on Thursday, March 12 by noon. This communication will contain information on when residence halls will temporarily open for students to obtain their academic materials.
  • Faculty and staff should plan to use the remainder of this week and all of next to continue to plan for the alternate teaching modalities and the continuity of student support services for the week of March 23. Further detailed instruction and information will be sent later today, March 11, to Academic Affairs faculty and staff on this matter.
  • In addition, faculty and staff should expect from Office of Human Resources, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity a comprehensive email by Friday, March 13, on personnel issues related to this plan. Included in that communication will be instructions for returning employees who have traveled over the Spring Break.

The following are guidelines set forth by Gov. Baker yesterday. Westfield State asks for adherence to the following protocols given the current status of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

  1. Work-related travel, both international and domestic, should be discontinued until further notice. Personal international travel is also discouraged.
  2. Conferences, seminars, and other discretionary gatherings, scheduled and hosted by Westfield State involving external parties will be assessed to either be held virtually or cancelled. Internal business meetings should continue, but organizers should consider web or phone-based engagement, if possible.
  3. Faculty and staff should not attend external work-related conferences, seminars, or events in-person, but are asked to participate remotely.
  4. Faculty and staff feeling ill with fever or flu symptoms should not come into work. Also, faculty and staff who are among the highest risk population for COVID-19—older adults and individuals with serious medical conditions—are asked to speak with their supervisors to review possible alternative work assignments.

We will await further guidance from the Baker administration following its re-assessment of these guidelines within 30 days, as mentioned at yesterday’s press conference and noted in the corresponding press release posted on mass.gov.

We appreciate everyone’s cooperation and diligence as we work together on this solution and potentially future measures to ensure the well-being and safety of our students and workforce.

As unsettling as the news of the spread of COVID-19 may be, know that Westfield State University is in close collaboration with local and statewide officials on this important public health matter and will continue to act in the best interest of the students we serve and the faculty and staff we employ.

All updates and current information will continue to be available on Westfield State’s Coronavirus Update webpage.

Be well,

Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D.
President

Update: March 4, 2020

Dear Campus Community:

As our students and others prepare to leave campus for Spring Break, I’d like to share with the entire Westfield State community an update on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the potential impacts it could have on those planning to travel in the coming week, domestically and internationally.

It is important to note there have been no reported cases of the Coronavirus on the Westfield State University campus, and no student or employee to our knowledge has been tested or is awaiting test results. The number of Coronavirus cases in the United States remains relatively small—there have been 80 cases in 13 states reported as of this morning (March 4), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is, however, vital to be prepared in case of more-widespread outbreaks.

In my last update to you, I shared that we have strongly advised students studying abroad in Europe and eastern countries to return to the United States. We understand that students’ efforts to return home following the CDC recommendations relative to the Coronavirus may have resulted in unexpected travel expenses. Given this burden, Westfield State University has offered financial assistance of up to $500 to defray costs incurred beyond the price of the return flight ticket originally purchased by the student. We have instructed these students to not visit the campus for 14 days and to obtain medical clearance before returning to campus if they have exhibited or are exhibiting symptoms synonymous with the Coronavirus.

For those planning to travel during Spring Break, please keep in mind that COVID-19 has been confirmed in more than 40 countries and territories across the world. In addition to the United States, countries including South Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran, Singapore, Macau, and China have confirmed cases. Students, faculty, and staff who plan to travel to these areas should check official information about possible impacts from the sources listed below:

On Westfield State’s campus, health, public safety, and emergency response officials have been closely monitoring the evolving COVID-19 situation and will continue to do so. As the health and well-being of the Westfield State community remains our top priority, emergency protocols and procedures are in place and are reviewed on a daily basis. Our Environmental Services staff continue efforts to clean common areas on campus with disinfectants, as they do each year during flu season, and our University Health Services staff are available to help students as needed.

The University’s Environmental Services Department has both increased the number of hand sanitizers located near campus building entrances/exits and ensured those are filled more regularly. Individual divisions and departments interested in obtaining additional dispensers for their specific work or other areas are advised to handle the ordering through W.B. Mason using departmental budgets.

As a reminder, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Also, keep in mind that Spring Break takes place when the risk of flu remains high. The following are recommended preventative measures:

Frequently wash hands with soap and water, or clean with alcohol-based hand sanitizer;

  • Cough or sneeze into a flexed elbow or tissue. Immediately throw away the tissue and wash your hands;
  • Get a flu shot if you have not yet done so;
  • Do not share drink containers, utensils, makeup, lip balm, cigarettes, vaping pens, or other personal items;
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick or has a fever and cough; and
  • Do not travel if you are sick. If you have a fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing, seek medical care.

Once back from Spring Break, if you develop symptoms of a respiratory infection (such as fever, cough, shortness of breath), contact Westfield State University Health Services at 413-572-5415 or your primary care provider. Health Services staff can discuss your symptoms and determine if you need an office visit as well as any self-treatment options. Westfield State University Health Services is located in the West Wing of Scanlon Hall, back entry.

Resources and information will continue to be regularly provided to the University community by email and through statements posted on the Westfield State’s Coronavirus Update web page.

Please know that the health and safety of our campus community is of paramount importance and we will work with all relevant authorities to keep you informed as the COVID-19 situation evolves.

We wish you safe travels, and hope you have an enjoyable and healthy time away from campus during Spring Break.

Be well,

Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D.
President

Update: March 4, 2020

Dear Campus Community:

Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Diane Prusank has informed students and faculty involved in upcoming study abroad courses in Guatemala, the Netherlands, and Germany that the travel portion of the programs has been cancelled due to the recommendation by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker concerning the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Specifically, these Westfield State courses are:

  • Psychology Service Course in Guatemala
  • Nursing Capstone/Clinical Course in Guatemala
  • Economics/Management Course in the Netherlands and Germany 

The travel cancellations follow today’s announcement from Gov. Baker and his administration that Massachusetts schools are urged to cancel upcoming, organized international trips for the foreseeable future. This directive was first shared yesterday in a Massachusetts Department of Public Health conference call with Massachusetts colleges and universities. Click here for the press release that addresses this and other recommendations and measures of community preparedness set forth by the Baker administration today.

Despite the significant level of investment and planning involved—and the unquestionable learning and teaching value that these trips and experiences provide—the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff need to be the paramount concern, given the worldwide status of the Coronavirus. 

The University will continue to work through processes and logistics related to financial issues and course credits resulting from the travel cancellations. The International Programs Office should serve as the point of contact for any remaining questions. 

Sincerely,

Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D.
President

Update: February 28, 2020

Dear Campus Community:
 
As information about the coronavirus is released by various sources, I wanted to share facts, as well as the University’s response and plans in an effort to ease some concerns among the members of the Westfield State family.
 
There are no known coronavirus reports on the Westfield State University campus. The number of coronavirus cases in the United States remains relatively small – just 60 cases as of this morning, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is, however, vital to be prepared in case of more-widespread outbreaks.
 
The CDC updated its guidance this week regarding the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). Westfield State University health and emergency response officials have been monitoring the situation since the coronavirus was first reported in January. Please be assured that Westfield State has protocols in place and maintains working relationships with appropriate government agencies to remain prepared for any communicable disease or other health issues.
 
We have been in touch this week with our students studying abroad this semester; all report they are in good health. But given the global outbreak—and stemming from an abundance of caution and concern for their health and safety—we have strongly advised those students studying abroad in Europe and eastern countries to make travel plans to return home. Varying online accommodations for their credit-hour completion are in process. We are encouraging our students to be in touch with their family and emergency contacts as they consider their decision, and will assist students with their plans. Out of concern for our campus community, we are asking all students returning from study abroad programs in Europe and eastern countries to refrain from visiting the Westfield State University campus for 14 days after they return home, and to obtain medical clearance if they exhibit any of the symptoms noted by the CDC and noted on the February 5th Coronavirus update on Health Services webpage. 
 
Resources and information will continue to be regularly provided to the University community by email and through statements that may be posted on the University Health Services webpage. We will update that webpage as new information becomes available.
 
We will continue to use guidance from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to monitor the situation and respond to any community concerns.

As a reminder, Westfield State Health Services communicated important information to the campus community over the past several weeks. I encourage you to review it and to please be vigilant about your hygiene, health, and safety. 

Westfield State University Health Services is located in the West Wing of Scanlon Hall, back entry. The phone number is 413-572-5415.
 
For more information and resources, please visit:

Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html 

As we react and respond to this challenge, I ask that we please rely upon the kindness and strength of this caring community and hope that we will collectively lend a supportive ear or hand to those in need.
 
Sincerely,
 
Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D.
President

Update: February 5, 2020

Dear Westfield State University Community,

I am writing to provide an update on the 2019 Novel (New) Coronavirus. Here is what we know at this time:

About the Virus

Recently, a new coronavirus, 2019 Novel (New) Coronavirus, was identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. This virus causes a respiratory (lung) infection with symptoms that may include:

  • fever
  • cough and shortness of breath, and
  • in severe cases, pneumonia.
Confirmed Cases in the United States and Current Risk Level

As of February 4, there were 11 confirmed cases in the United States, and one confirmed case in Massachusetts.

While person-to-person spread among close contacts has been detected with this virus, at this time the virus is NOT currently spreading in the community in the United States, and the risk to residents in Massachusetts remains low.

We will continue to use guidance from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to monitor the situation and respond to any community concerns.

Who Should Contact Health Services?

At this time, we recommend that the following individuals contact Health Services at 413-572-5415 to speak with a clinician:

  • Anyone who has travelled to mainland China in the past 14 days and has symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath;

OR

  • Anyone with close contact with an individual with known 2019nCoV (newly identified coronavirus).

We advise anyone who meets the above criteria to self-isolate until speaking with one of our staff members on the phone. Please do not attend class, go to the dining hall, or go to any other public areas on campus to limit risk of exposure to others.

What Should I Do To Protect Myself From This Virus?

There are currently no vaccines available to protect against the novel coronavirus infection.

Information about how this novel coronavirus spreads is still limited. However, it is believed that transmission of this virus is similar to other respiratory viruses, which are generally spread through respiratory secretions (droplets from coughs and sneezes) of an infected person to another person. Many of the things you do to help prevent colds and the flu can also help protect you against other respiratory viruses. These include:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Staying away from classes, group meetings, work, and common areas if you are sick.
  • Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue and throwing the tissue in the trash.
  • Covering your cough with your elbow or sleeve.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Ongoing Updates and Travel Alerts

Please refer to the CDC website for ongoing updates and travel alerts at:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

As always, please feel free to call Health Services with any questions or concerns. Thank you,

Lisa Brosnan, JD, DNP, FNP-BC

Update: January 28, 2020

Dear Westfield State University Community,

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

Chinese authorities identified the new coronavirus, which has resulted in more than 1,000 confirmed cases in China, including cases outside Wuhan City. Additional cases have been identified in a growing number of other international locations, including the United States, where five cases in travelers from Wuhan have been confirmed in four states (Arizona, California, Illinois, and Washington) as of January 26, 2020.

At this time, the risk to Massachusetts residents is low, but Westfield State University Health Services and Emergency Preparedness are monitoring the situation.

With many students, staff, and faculty spending time over the semester break traveling internationally, the CDC has recommended the following for colleges and universities. Anyone meeting the following criteria should call or stop by Westfield State Health Services as soon as possible:

1. Fever AND symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough, shortness of breath)

  • and in the last 14 days before symptom onset,
  • History of travel from Wuhan City, China  

Or

  • Close contact with a person who is under investigation for 2019-nCOV while that person was ill.

2. Fever OR symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough, shortness of breath)

  • and in the last 14 days before symptom onset,
  • Close contact with an ill, laboratory –confirmed 2019-nCov patient

The above criteria are also available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/clinical-criteria.html. The criteria are intended to serve as guidance for evaluation. If you have any additional questions, please call Health Services at 413-572-5415, or stop in.

Lastly, we remind everyone that it is currently flu and respiratory disease season, and the CDC recommends getting vaccinated for the flu and taking everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs such as: careful and frequent handwashing (for at least for 20 seconds); covering your mouth when sneezing and coughing; avoiding touching your nose, mouth, and eyes; careful disinfecting and cleaning of frequently touched items; and proper rest, nutrition, and hydration.

Thank you,

Lisa Brosnan, JD, DNP, FNP-BC