Updates on Campus Operations and D-Term: Message from President Leshin & the Coronavirus Emergency Response Team

DEPARTMENT(S): 
March 18, 2020

Dear WPI Community,

This has been a challenging few weeks - both around the world and here at WPI.  We know that students miss their friends and being in the dynamic learning environment on campus. It is also clear that, despite these unprecedented circumstances, faculty and staff are working incredibly hard to be able to deliver WPI’s education to our students, and to keep our campus operating.

We are all doing our best to keep WPI safe and healthy, and to protect the health of our families and communities in this time of great uncertainty. Whether you are moving your class on-line, ensuring our campus is cleaner than it has ever been, or working remotely to help slow the spread of COVID-19, we greatly appreciate the contributions of all members of the WPI community to help mitigate this crisis. Thank you.

As the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak becomes more evident, and based on the best advice of public health professionals, it is clear that WPI must take additional steps to help mitigate the potential spread of the virus by minimizing interpersonal interactions on campus. 

No Reported Coronavirus Cases in Our Community

We know of no member of our community who has tested positive for the virus.  One test has come back negative, and one is pending. The individual with the pending test has not been on the campus since March 6.        

D-term and Spring Semester Courses

While we had very much hoped to be able to re-open the campus for classes later in D-term, it is now clear that it will not happen.   Therefore:

  • All courses will be offered in remote status for the entirety of D-term and the remainder of Spring Semester.  D-Term starts on 3/25 and ends on 5/13 – these dates are unchanged from prior messages.
  • For residential students who have already left campus but have not fully moved out, please do not return to campus at this time. You will not have access to your residence hall. We understand that this decision will raise a number of questions.  You will receive more information from Residential Services in the coming week on plans for you to collect your belongings.  Please give Residential Services time to communicate with you prior to reaching out.  If, after receiving further communication, you still have questions, please email coronavirusquestions@wpi.edu.
  • For students who have previously received permission to remain in the residence halls, we ask that you make every effort to return to your home or permanent residence, taking all of your belongings with you. You will receive specific instructions from Residential Services directly.
  • For students who are unable to depart the campus, more information for you on living and dining will be sent by Residential Services.
  • Residential students not staying on campus will receive a refund for D-term housing and dining. Further details will be shared with you in the coming week.


Commencement

We have not made a final decision on how best to handle Commencement. Given the current situation, though, it is highly likely to be delayed and thus we would not recommend making any travel arrangements at this time. A final decision will be made by the end of March.  We know how important this is for our community and the decision will be taken with great care.

Campus Operations/Remote Work

 The physical WPI campus remains open, but with limited on-site operations.  All WPI employees who can work remotely should do so.  This includes all faculty, staff, research assistants, graduate assistants, and student workers. We greatly appreciate the cooperation we are seeing in response to this guidance, and we know that WPI employees are remarkably resourceful and committed.  Effective immediately and until we notify the community otherwise:

  • All of our employees, including our student workers, will be paid as usual for the rest of the academic year. In the unlikely event that this crisis extends far beyond the end of the academic year, we will be in touch with additional plans as they are made. Know that we are committed to doing all we can to ensure that our faculty, staff, and students come through this crisis together.
  • All events through D-term are cancelled and all meetings should be conducted remotely.
  • No visitors are permitted on campus. Deliveries of essential goods will be permitted.
  • All active academic and staff hiring will be paused with the exception of positions with offers made as of yesterday, March 17th. No further offers of employment should be made at this time. 

 While the above information is current as of this memo, the time to prepare for more severe restrictions on campus operations is now.  We strongly recommend that all employees prepare now for a situation of extended remote work with strict limitations on access to campus.  Although we are not yet there, in the extreme case only emergency personnel with specific credentials and a charge to keep the campus safe and secure will be allowed on campus.

Finally, please take the responsibility each of us has helping to mitigate the impact of this virus seriously. We expect all members of our community to follow CDC guidelinesThis includes contacting your doctor if you have symptoms, engaging in frequent hand washing, maintaining appropriate social distancing, and if warranted, choosing to self-quarantine. Employees who are sick should stay home.  Supervisors should ask sick employees to stay home.

We are regularly updating our coronavirus website, and we ask that you keep referring to the Frequently Asked Questions section. Anyone with additional questions should send those to CoronavirusQuestions@wpi.edu.

These are uncharted waters, but this community is strong.  We are problem solvers and together we will weather this storm. Thanks for all you do for WPI.

President Leshin and
The Coronavirus Emergency Response Team