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Return to TechFlex Green, Vaccines Update, Town Hall Link

DEPARTMENT(S): 
February 26, 2021

This message was sent to all employees.

 

I’m writing as a follow-up to this week’s Employee Virtual Town Hall and to share some highlights and updates. 

Thanks to this community’s unwavering commitment and careful attention to safety guidelines, WPI will move back fully to TechFlex on Campus/Alert Level Green status as of Monday, March 1. I am so incredibly proud and grateful to all of you and to our students. We shared this news with them on Wednesday. You can read the message to students here. I know they are looking forward to more in-person learning, activities, and contact in general—and I have confidence they, and all of us, will continue to adhere to safety protocols. While this pandemic has made the need for human connection very clear, it has also shown the importance of minimizing our number of close contacts; we do this by limiting contact and avoiding being within 6 feet for 15 cumulative minutes or more—even if everyone is wearing face coverings. As more vaccines become available and more people are protected, we can expect to get back to more of a sense of normalcy, especially as we look ahead to next year.

Vaccinations Update
I’m pleased to share that our faculty, staff, and students who are eligible as a part of Phase 2, Group 2 were able to receive their first doses on campus yesterday, and they will get their second doses here in March. Remember that even after you receive a vaccination, at WPI or elsewhere, you are still required to participate in WPI’s COVID-19 testing program to have access to campus. 

Although we are working hard to secure vaccines for future phases, the state has just announced a change in their approach for distributing doses: specifically, employers (which they consider WPI to be) will not be receiving additional first doses of the vaccine for the foreseeable future. Again, anyone who received a vaccine yesterday WILL get their second dose at WPI. This late change in strategy by the state is a disappointing one, and we will continue to work to make the case that higher education institutions can and should play an important role in moving the Commonwealth toward herd immunity by being a part of the vaccination program. Until we are able to secure more first doses, we urge anyone who is eligible to seek vaccination at other locations using the Massachusetts Vaccination site. We will keep you apprised of changes as the situation unfolds.

Coronavirus Emergency Response Team (CERT) Going Strong
At the Town Hall, we reminded everyone of the excellent work of CERT, which continues to oversee our pandemic response. If your office has a question regarding COVID response or an initiative you are looking to implement, you should contact the representative most closely aligned to your issue and they will work with you to bring it forward for review. CERT is co-chaired by Philip Clay and Jeff Solomon, and Ron Bashista runs CERT operations. The current CERT team is comprised of: Lisa Pearlman, who represents Health Services, and Rachel LeBlanc, who oversees unit leads representing campus operations, including:

  • Business Operations: Patty Patria, Cheryl Martunas, Eric Beattie
  • Academics: Reeta Rao, Kris Billiar
  • Student Life: Casey Wall, Emily Perlow
  • Summer Activities: Sue Sontgerath, Amy Beth Laythe
  • Talent & Inclusion: Kristan Coffey
  • Communications: Eileen Brangan Mell
  • Legal/Intel: Amy Fabiano

We covered additional topics at Town Hall that you may find of interest. You can watch here.

This is a dynamic time for our world and for WPI. The greatness within this university—indeed within all of you—makes all the difference. We will continue our work together, guided by science and data, and ready to adjust based upon factors both within and beyond our control. The intelligence, passion, and commitment of this community will fuel our successes. I continue to have great confidence in us, and I sincerely appreciate your continued commitment and support.  Please continue to watch email for important messages and check the We Are WPI website regularly. 

Be well,
Laurie