By The Springfield Student Staff
On Friday, Oct. 30, Springfield College announced to the campus community that they will begin a shelter-in-place period as a result of continuing surges in positive coronavirus cases on campus.
The official shelter-in-place begins immediately and will run until Monday, Nov. 9.
The news came via an e-mail that was sent to the campus community at 12:03 p.m. The e-mail stated:
Despite our best efforts, the recent increase in COVID-19 cases and contacts has exceeded our structure for managing the virus. Our quarantine and isolation spaces are at maximum capacity. With the uncertainty of future cases and our commitment to maintain the safety of our campus, we have made the decision to accelerate our planned switch to remote learning now through the end of the semester and establish a one week shelter-in-place protocol for students on campus.
Also in the e-mail, President Mary-Beth Cooper offered some initial thoughts to the campus community.
“This is not what we wanted. There is no one to blame for our current situation. Everyone has worked so hard to remain on campus and to reach our November 20 goal. The reality, though, is that we need to take the actions to avoid undue risk for members of our community. We need to act quickly and decisively to de-densify our campus to stop any further spread of the virus within our community,” she wrote.
“The fall semester has brought a great many challenges, but I have been consistently heartened by the connections that you have made with each other and with the faculty and staff who are so committed to your success. It is the very best of Springfield College.”
Students now have a decision before them. If they choose to remain on campus they will be required to remain in their residence halls and continue following social distancing and mask guidelines.
No dining will be allowed in Cheney, only grab and go meals will be available. Scheduled testing will continue at the Health Center. The Learning Commons first and second floor will stay open as 24-hour study spaces.
If students stay on campus, they may still go outside to exercise, but they may not do so in groups larger than two people.
All classes will be remote (with the exception of pre-approved labs), athletics are suspended until further notice and and co-curricular activities will also be on hold. Students may leave campus for medical emergencies, student teaching, clinicals and off-campus work.
Should a student opt to return home, they will not be allowed to return to campus until the spring semester starts in January. If students intend to move out and bring all of their belongings home, they will have until Sunday, Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. to notify Residence Life if they wish to leave, and they must return home by Monday, Nov. 2 the latest.
The move-out process will be staggered, similar to as it was in August for move-in period. The e-mail also included important details regarding what happens if a student moves out.
“If you remove all of your belongings from your residence hall room (even if you have returned home already for quarantine or isolation), the College will provide a pro-rated refund (three weeks) for paid room and board charges. Adjustments will also be made to non-merit based financial aid to account for the reduced time on campus. We will guarantee you housing for the spring, as near as possible to your current space. The pro-rated refund is offered only to students who move all of their belongings out as we may consolidate students who remain on campus and will use the vacated rooms. No refunds will be given if you leave belongings in your room, if you do not notify Residence Life of your intention before 6 PM on November 1, or if you do not move out by the end of the day on November 2.”
Another important note is that class registration for the spring has been pushed back to the week of Nov. 9, rather than the initial date of Nov. 2.
Vice President for Student Affairs Patrick Love also shared some additional comments to The Student.
“We are hoping, our intention here, for the safety of the community. is to arrest the spread of this virus. So, basically shutting down, and trying to have as little contact amongst students on an intensely populated campus as we can have, knowing that over the next several days, there will be an increase numbers of positives, because the virus is already out there, we’re testing people, we’re going to find it,” Love said.
“The hope is that after five or six days, we’ll start to see the decline, because of students being in less contact with each other, and with a less densely populated campus assuming that there will be a number of students that choose to go home. We’ll make a decision, later next week,” he added.
The situation remains ongoing and The Student will update with more details as they become available.
Photo Courtesy of Joe Arruda