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Update for Facilities Team

Note: This is dated information and may not reflect the current policies in place on campus. Please refer to We Are WPI for the latest information.

March 23, 2020

To all members of the Facilities’ Operations, Customer Service, Environmental Health & Safety, Design and Construction, and Events Team:

In light of the Governor’s announcement today and the rapidly changing information regarding Covid19, I wanted to take this opportunity to communicate Facilities’ role during this situation.  WPI remains open for business even though most aspects of the University are now happening remotely.  During D-term students are taking all classes on-line and most offices on campus will be working remotely.

Several essential functions, however, will remain physically operating on campus.  These essential services are supporting the remaining students still on campus, keeping our buildings safe, ensuring critical business functions like payroll continue, supporting Information Technology and essential research, and other key functions.  The Facilities group is an important part of maintaining the campus during Covid19, and your work is greatly appreciated.

Members of our custodial, trades, grounds, environmental health & safety, and capital projects groups have received an emergency responder card that identified your role as critical to the University.  Governor Baker’s recent communication supports this exemption by allowing University staff to perform essential student support functions while operating under the rules for social distancing.

While we all have an important role to support campus operations, we all also have a responsibility to protect each other by following safe work practices.  The Environmental Health and Safety team has provided enhanced training to the custodial staff to create awareness about best practices for protecting against the virus.  Similar training will be conducted for trades, grounds, and other staff.

Frequently asked questions about the Covid19 crisis as it relates to WPI are found in the following links and

Some other questions have come up in our group and I wanted to take the opportunity to address them:

Will I have direct contact to known Covid19 cases on campus?
No. WPI facilities employees will not be asked to address an active Covid19 related issue. Although there are no current Covid19 cases on campus, any positive cases would be cleaned with an appropriate response from our EH&S group or a contracted vendor. 

Why are some vendors and deliveries still on campus?
Some essential functions are supported by vendors.  A list of critical vendors has been developed and each company will be vetted to ensure they have a Covid19 plan and are not sending sick people to campus.  Vendor work will have a mitigation plan to control their work and make sure they are following best practices for social distancing.  For example, fogging can be used in the area a vendor worked to mitigate risk.

How do we know where the remaining students are living on campus and which buildings they have access to?
The remaining students will have access to their residence hall, Campus Police, East Hall lobby, and the wedge for dining services during dining hours.  We have a list of where students are living and will use that list to help plan work in residence halls.  Efforts to maintain social distancing and to mitigate exposure risk are being planned if work is needed in student living areas.

I expect you may have more questions and we are committed to getting answers for them.  If you do have a question please refer to the links provided in this e-mail to see if there is already an answer.  If not, please communicate questions and concerns to your supervisor.

Most of all, we want you to be safe. Please continue to follow the guidelines for hand washing and social distancing.  Thank you for everything you are doing to support ongoing operations at WPI.  I look forward to seeing you all soon.

With greatest respect and admiration

Eric Beattie
Vice President for Campus Planning and Facilities Management