This message was sent to students.
I’m writing to share very good news. Your hard work and attention to safety guidelines as we returned to campus for C-Term have paid off. COVID cases on campus are at a manageable level. As a result of all you’ve done, WPI will move fully into TechFlex on Campus/Alert Level Green status as of Monday, March 1. You should be proud of yourselves—I know I am proud of you!
Below I’ll remind you what full TechFlex (green) status means, but first we need to pause to mark an important milestone in the pandemic. This week our nation surpassed 500,000 deaths as a result of COVID-19. You may have lost a loved one; I know several WPI colleagues who have. These lost lives and their heartbroken families offer a stark reminder that even as we move ahead and are working to bring a return to normalcy as vaccines become available, we cannot yet let down our guard. If you, your family, or your friends have lost someone to COVID, please know that you have my deepest sympathies, and that our entire community is here to support you. I ask you each to take a moment of silence to reflect on those who have lost their lives to COVID.
What Returning to full TechFlex on Campus/Alert Level Green Means for You:
As always, WPI will keep the health and safety of this community as our top priority, and your continued vigilance is essential. While TechFlex on Campus allows for many “normal” campus activities, it also maintains practices that prevent large outbreaks. TechFlex means you may go to class, you may go to the dining halls, you may see some friends—but you must do it following safety protocols and in ways that minimize the number of close contacts you have.
- Follow the WPI Together Pledge.
- Wear face coverings, wash/sanitize hands frequently, AND keep socially distanced.
- Continue with your COVID testing schedule and use the Symptom Tracker daily.
- Undergraduate students will continue testing twice a week for the foreseeable future.
- Respect quarantine and isolation procedures.
- Stay home and contact the WPI Health Team if you don’t feel well.
- Access to campus facilities is allowed only for students participating in WPI’s COVID testing program.
- Students who are remote in C-Term must remain remote; there can be no onboarding until D-Term.
- Sports and Recreation Center access will expand to allow general use by students by appointment, in addition to use for Physical Education courses and practices for athletic teams. All teams will follow carefully prepared plans and phases provided by their coaches.
- Dining halls will offer socially distanced small-group seating.
- Student project teams may now meet on campus in person.
- MQP students will work directly with their advisors on project plans.
- International and off-campus project travel remains suspended for the academic year.
- Music and theatre courses and classes may meet if they comply with social distancing and WPI guidelines.
- Group singing or playing of brass/wind instruments is only permitted outdoors at this time.
- Individual singing or playing of brass/wind instruments is permitted indoors in individual practice spaces (one person per room, door closed, cleaning of high-touch surfaces before and after use—with one-hour ventilation time between uses) or outdoors.
- Visitors are still not allowed on campus.
- Clubs, organizations, recreation programs—and all events—may meet in person within the rules for gatherings that were established for this academic year.
NOTE: The Student Code of Conduct COVID Addendum includes helpful details and guidelines.
Balancing Connection with Caution:
The pandemic has made the need for human connection very clear—we all miss the level of closeness we’ve had with friends and family in the past. TechFlex gives us more chances for social and academic interaction, but the most important thing to think about when doing so is minimizing the number of close contacts you have—most specifically, we need to limit our contact with individuals and avoid being within 6 feet for 15 cumulative minutes or more (even if everyone is wearing face coverings). Think of it this way: if tomorrow you found out you tested positive, how many close contacts would you have had in the past 48 hours? We hope and expect that number is a single digit for everyone! Here are some realistic ideas for finding the right balance:
- Form a small group of friends—a “pod” of fewer than 10 people—who share your approach to prevention. Keep this group as small as possible: your roommate or suitemate, your partner, your teammate. This helps minimize close contacts, and when everyone carefully follows similar health and safety protocols, spending time together becomes like spending time with family.
- If you need a quick hug, ask your friend if it’s OK with them. If so, then it’s best to do so outside—and only if both of you are asymptomatic, have tested negative, and are wearing face coverings. Of course, elbow bumps and waves are even safer, and hand washing or sanitizing after touching someone else will still be important.
- Beyond your pod, social gatherings should either be outside and distanced, or inside, with limited numbers, distanced, and with faces covered. When eating with non-pod friends, keep a safe distance and keep your face covered when not eating.
Staying Connected—In Every Way:
Making connections and maintaining your physical and mental health and wellbeing is critical, so here are some more suggestions
- Outside of your classes, participate in safe, sanctioned social activities—in person and virtually.
- Exercise to help reduce stress and stay active and healthy; outside workouts are best, especially while the weather is good (that time is coming … I promise!).
- Check in with each other via a text or a call; if you’re lonely, chances are someone else is, too.
- Connect with the many resources WPI offers, including the Student Development and Counseling Center (SDCC) for mental health concerns: 508-831-5540 or firstname.lastname@example.org
As I’ve said many times, the only way through this pandemic is together. Navigating our way through the remainder of the academic year will require that we remain resilient, dedicated, committed, compliant, compassionate, and kind to one another. As more vaccines are 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. I continue to have great confidence in this community and will continue to lead guided by science and data—ready to adjust based upon factors both within and beyond our control.
Thank you for all of your continued support. Please continue to watch email for important messages and check the We Are WPI website regularly.
P.S. - Don’t forget to take the D-Term student intentions survey, which can be found here.