WCSU Returns to Normal, Reopening Information and Covid-19 Updates

Reopening WCSU

Faculty & Staff Information

We thank you for your commitment to helping students learn during the pandemic. The administration has worked since early last year to create guidelines so that everyone on campus remains healthy and safe while we teach, work and learn. All procedures follow guidelines established by the state of Connecticut and the federal Centers for Disease Control.

To read a comprehensive plan on how we reopened for the spring semester, click here.

Additional information below outlines answers to many of the questions that have been raised about a reopening of campus. If you have concerns or further questions, please contact Fred Cratty, Chief Human Resources Officer, at Crattyf@wcsu.edu or Missy Alexander, Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs at Alexanderm@wcsu.edu.

 

Dear University Community,

For the past year, you have done incredible work to adapt to a new normal and ensured our students received the highest quality instruction and services both on campus and remotely. Now, with the significant improvements in our state’s public health outlook and expected widespread vaccine distribution on the horizon, we are planning as a University for full operations to resume this fall. In the coming weeks, we will outline plans that start the process of repopulating our campus offices beginning on June 1. This repopulation will occur in two stages as follows:

 

June 1

We will continue with our current model of offices being populated on a voluntary basis.  However, there will no longer be a 50% capacity limitation, thus the total number of employees permitted to work in an office at the same time will increase to 100% capacity.

 

July 1 – August 2

All employees who have been teleworking during the pandemic will begin transitioning to returning to work, full-time and in person in their campus offices.  The expectation is that by August 2 everyone will be working on campus as they did prior to the beginning of the pandemic.  It will be up to the Vice President for each division to determine the specific date within this timeframe when each office will be fully reopened in person on campus.

 

The above timeframe is contingent upon everyone who would like to receive a COVID-19 vaccine having a reasonable opportunity to do so.  If the current vaccine rollout continues as it has over the last several weeks, it appears that should be accomplished.  If for some reason the current vaccine rollout changes, we will re-evaluate the above timeframe.

The transition will aim to expand campus-based services over the course of the summer so that we are fully operational for the first day of fall semester classes. By increasing the staffing of departments and offices by early summer, we can begin to provide more on-ground services and classes to better serve our students while ensuring our staff and faculty have a smooth transition back to in-person work.

In conjunction with the System Office, we have been meeting regularly with representatives from the Department of Public Health (DPH) to share our planning efforts and to ask for their feedback. Our plan during this transition period will be to maintain the current six feet of social distancing and to continue mask wearing in all public spaces. This will allow us to provide student and administrative services daily on campus, acclimate employees to working on ground, and to address office space constraints and the need for technology updates.

At the same time, based on feedback from DPH, our University is preparing for 100% repopulation of our offices and three feet of social distance in classrooms for the fall semester. This updated social distancing guidance allows us to make better use of our classrooms and other campus spaces and offer more classes on ground. Our planning will also include scenarios to fully repopulate classrooms if public health guidance allows as well as plans if conditions worsen to return to remote operations. The key is being flexible as we learn more about conditions for the fall.

Fortunately, throughout the pandemic, our University has demonstrated that we are a safe and low-risk place to work and learn. I am confident that you can continue to maintain a safe and healthy environment. We will keep significant COVID-19 protocols in place and continue to update you as the public health guidance evolves over the coming months.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding returning to work in person, on campus, please feel free to contact Fred Cratty, Chief Human Resouorces Officer at 203-837-8665 or via email at crattyf@wcsu.edu.

Thank you for all of your hard work and your flexibility during this very unique year. I’m sure we are all looking forward to a more “normal” Fall semester.

 

Sincerely,

Dr. John B. Clark

President

 

Working on campus

Anyone who is over 65 or who has preexisting health conditions is advised to continue to work from home. The reopening of the campus for the Spring is detailed here.

Buildings will mostly be open to the public although we will continue to follow social distancing rules and require everyone on campus to wear a mask, including in-between buildings as you walk on campus.

All employees engaged in on-campus work will be asked to confirm that they have no COVID-19 symptoms prior to arriving at work each day.  COVID-19 symptoms, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are as follows:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If, at any time, you suspect that you have contracted COVID-19, we ask that you consult your doctor, get tested, and if that diagnosis is confirmed, inform us via the COVID-19 reporting link https://wcsu.edu/covid-report/. Following receipt of your self-report, you will be contacted by Fred Cratty with further instructions.

Please also practice the following:

  • Continue to wash your hands frequently, and try to remember not to touch your face, eyes, nose or mouth. If you are unable to wash your hands with soap and water, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Please refrain from activities such as washing lunch containers or brushing teeth in bathrooms.
  • Sanitizer dispensers have been installed throughout both campuses.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of the elbow.
  • Clear plastic barriers have been installed in places where there might be unscheduled interactions between people (registrar, cashier, reception desks, etc.).
  • Concerns have been raised about bathrooms and the ventilation system. Bathrooms will be cleaned regularly with EPA-registered disinfectants, and handwashing will mitigate any issues pertaining to high-touch areas. The ventilation systems are regularly maintained and have been operating normally even when campus offices and classrooms were closed, meaning no additional hazards like mold have taken hold in vents or ductwork. Guidelines provided by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers indicate that well-maintained heating and air conditioning systems reduces the airborne spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Courses will be conducted both in-person and online. Some will be a combination. Our description of the types of course offerings can be found here.

For classes that will occur on campus, we have matched schedules with room capacities. Room capacity is determined with social distancing standards in place.

As room assignments were completed, we considered any building-flow issues to avoid long lines in hallways, etc.

Employee break rooms will remain open. Please continue to follow guidelines on social distancing, cleaning, and masks in these areas.

Water fountains have been shut off for the foreseeable future, but drinking water is available at the following areas for faculty and staff:

Midtown campus

Berkshire Hall

Second Floor near the front entrance of the gym

 

Haas Library

Rooms 311 and 121

 

Higgins Hall

First floor lounge

 

Irfan Kathwari Honors House

First floor kitchen

 

Old Main

Lounges on the first and third floors

 

Science Building

Room 322 lounge

 

University Hall

Lower level lounge

 

Westside campus

O’Neill Center

Kitchen off the Room 202B conference room

 

Westside Classroom Building

Fourth floor in the back room of the Robert S. Young Library

 

Westside Campus Center

Suite 300 in the Career Success Center

 

Visual and Performing Arts Center

Room 141, also known as the Green Room;

Third floor in the hall outside the Master of Fine Arts work area