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General Questions

When will Commencement for the Class of 2021 be held? (added 3/30/21)

WPI is excited to hold Commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2021 the week of May 19-22. A schedule of events and deadlines for ordering regalia was emailed to students and families; information is available here. Additional details are being worked out in accordance with state and public health guidelines.

Can I travel off campus for spring break? (Added 2/25/21)

Given the continued risk of infection, we are discouraging travel off campus. If a student must travel, all state guidelines (for Massachusetts and any other state the student travels to/through) must be followed.

All students are required to continue their twice-weekly testing protocol and assigned testing days during break. 

If I’ve been remote, can I return to campus now that WPI is in TechFlex on Campus? (Updated 3/1/21)

Any students who decided to be remote for C Term must stay remote until D Term. Late comers to the community risk adding infection to campus. For this reason, students had to arrive at the start of C Term.

If I decided to take all my courses remotely and not return to campus in C Term, can I come back for D Term? (Added 1/11/21)

Yes; your decisions for C Term do not affect D Term. An Intentions Survey for D Term will be sent later in the spring. If you have on-campus housing, your room will be held for D Term. Please note housing and dining contracts are binding; there are no refunds.

 

Residential Life

Do I still need to follow safety protocols? (Updated 3/1/21)

Yes—it is especially important during Stay in Place as our campus repopulates for C Term/Spring semester.  While the university is taking all necessary measures and precautions to protect the WPI community, we will rely on every student, faculty member, and staff member to support and foster, through peer influence, our safe campus environment.  Ultimately, it is every person’s responsibility to keep our campus community safe.

As a reminder, all students are expected to also clean their spaces (restrooms, door handles, kitchen areas, etc.) before and after use.  

Do I still need to wear a face covering when I am on campus? What about in my own residential room? (Updated 3/1/21)
Yes. Everyone is required to wear face coverings at all times on campus (gaiters and masks with vents are not permitted) and to practice social distancing.
While you don’t need to wear face coverings when alone in your own room, students are expected to practice social distancing and wear face coverings any time they are in common areas, such as hallways or restrooms. It’s also important to keep your face covering on between bites while eating in the dining halls.

Can I have visitors in my residence hall room? (Updated 3/1/21)

Students are allowed one visitor per resident per living unit (as long as six feet of social distancing is possible), not to exceed 10 total people in a space at one time. Visitors must live in the same residence hall. Students in residence halls should not gather with others in rooms, common areas, or outdoors. Social distancing is a critical part of our efforts to reduce the spread of virus.

What happens if someone on my floor or apartment tests positive?

Please see the Health & Safety section for information.

Student Life & Dining on Campus

Can I continue to work at my off-campus job? (Updated 1/15/21)

Yes, students who have off-campus jobs may continue to work.

I have an on-campus job; will I be able to continue to work? (Updated 1/15/21)

Students should speak directly with their supervisors to discuss specifics regarding on-campus jobs, including work hours.

Will technology support be available? (Updated 1/15/21)

Yes; contact the Academic Technology Center for support from 8 am to 5 pm..

What health and counseling services will be available during this stage? (Updated 1/15/21)

All COVID support services will continue. All students who are on or off campus in Worcester are expected to have onboarding testing and begin their routine COVID-19 testing schedule at Harrington Auditorium.

The Health Center will not be conducting routine, non-emergency health visits, but will be concentrating on managing and supporting students impacted by COVID. The Counseling Center will be open with virtual appointments available, Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm. Emergency health services and counseling will be available.

I really need to exercise; what can I do? (Updated 3/1/21)

Access to the Sports & Recreation Center has expanded to allow general use by students by appointment. Students may use the outdoor track for individual exercise as long as they wear a face covering and maintain social distancing.

Here is a list of some other great resources for free or inexpensive ways to exercise in your residence to help keep you healthy.

Are student clubs and organizations active now? (Added 3/1/21)

Clubs, organizations, recreation programs, table sitting, events and meetings are permitted in-person but participants must adhere to strict capacities based on state capacity guidelines and university event guidelines.

The calendar of student events can be found both on Campus Labs and on the University Calendar.

Are the various student service departments open on campus? (Updated 3/1/21)

All campus departments and offices are fully open, staffed, and their services available, most virtually. Students can find information on hours of operation and how to schedule an appointment on each office’s respective website, many of which can be found on the Student Experience page.  

Health & Safety

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19 symptoms?  (Updated 3/1/21)

If you are experiencing severe symptoms or a medical emergency while on campus, call 508-831-5555 for WPI Police, or call 911. Anyone with COVID-19–like symptoms should stay home or in their residence hall room and self-quarantine immediately. Symptoms should also be immediately reported via the Symptom Tracker. 

If you have any symptoms at all, do not come to campus. Do not go to Harrington Auditorium for testing. Doing so risks spreading the virus.

Faculty, staff, and contract workers should contact their personal physician to see whether symptomatic COVID-19 testing is needed. They should also contact their supervisor to note that they are ill and discuss taking time off or working from home if well enough. Students should contact Health Services at 508-831-5520 to arrange for follow-up assessment, which may include symptomatic COVID testing. 

Testing, Isolation & Quarantine

Should I continue to get my COVID-19 tests now that we’re back in TechFlex on Campus? (Updated 3/1/21)

Yes. Any students or employees who will be on campus must follow their scheduled testing appointments.

Anyone who has been vaccinated against COVID-19 must still continue with the testing program.

What about students who live off campus—do they need to be tested? (Updated 3/1/21)

Yes. Students who live off campus in the area and plan to be on campus are expected to continue their routine testing.

What’s the difference between isolation and quarantine? (Updated 1/15/21)

The terms “isolation” and “quarantine” are not interchangeable and refer to two distinct processes that are used to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.  You can find an explanation here.

If I'm driving to Harrington Auditorium for testing, can I park in the Park Avenue garage without a permit? (Added 2/15/21) 

Yes, the WPI community may use the Park Avenue garage for up to 30 minutes when coming to campus for testing; no permit is required for this brief use.

 

Vaccines

Will WPI be vaccinating students, faculty, and staff? (Updated 3/29/21)

  • While WPI was able to provide vaccine to a number of community members in the early phases of the state’s vaccination rollout, we do not currently have any additional vaccine available at this time.
  • We strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible at any of the public vaccination sites in Massachusetts.  The best vaccine is the first one you can get.
  • You can preregister for a vaccine at one of Massachusetts’ seven mass vaccination sites at any time.
    • This is the only way to sign up for a vaccination at the mass vaccination sites.
    • After you’ve pre-registered, the Commonwealth will contact you when you're eligible and there is a slot open at one of these sites. 
  • Once you are eligible, you also can sign up for a vaccination at certain pharmacies, community health centers, and health care providers in Massachusetts. You can search by zip code for these vaccination locations.

Should I try to get vaccinated somewhere else? (Updated 3/29/21)

Yes; we are encouraging everyone in the WPI community to be vaccinated as soon as you can. The best vaccine is the first one you can get. 

If you have an opportunity to be vaccinated somewhere else sooner, please take advantage of that opportunity. Please check the Massachusetts Vaccination website or the vaccination website for the state where you are currently located.

Is a COVID-19 vaccination mandatory? (Added 3/1/21)

No, WPI is not mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for employees or students at this time. Anyone who has been vaccinated against COVID-19 must still continue with WPI’s testing program and all health and safety protocols.

Will people who get the vaccine be exempt from required COVID-19 testing? (Updated 3/1/21)

No. At this time, people who get the vaccine must continue with their required COVID-19 testing and all health and safety protocols.

If people are being vaccinated, do I still need to wear a face covering and socially distance? (Updated 3/1/21)

YES! For most of us, the vaccine is still some weeks or even months away. We also don’t yet have data that shows whether people who have been vaccinated can still transmit the virus to others. Thus it is critical that we all continue to abide by our safety protocols—wear a mask, keep your distance, reduce close contacts, and avoid gatherings.

Where can I get the most up-to-date information on whether WPI will be able to offer vaccinations? (Added 3/1/21)

Please check WeAreWPI for information about our COVID-19 response. We will communicate there promptly as our plans to vaccinate our community continue to develop. If you have any questions not answered here, please email wearewpi@wpi.edu.

I have a medical question about vaccination. Who should I talk to? (Added 2/11/21)

Employees with specific medical questions about vaccination should consult with their personal physician; students should contact WPI Health Services. You can also review the FAQs about the COVID vaccine available from Massachusetts and the CDC.

Events

Is WPI allowing any on-campus events during TechFlex on Campus? (Updated 3/1/21)

WPI is permitting and planning events and meetings to be held on campus through March 21st in accordance with all federal, state, and local guidelines. This does not include any on-campus events for external groups nor is it allowing external guests/attendees.

We recommend that organizers reimagine their events as virtual events when possible.  Please read the COVID Events Guidelines provided by the Events Office for more details.

Can I plan an on-campus event for D-Term 2021 and beyond? 

The Events Office is not currently accepting event requests beyond March 21st. Communications will go out when later dates become available.

Global Studies

Can I continue my IQP/MQP while WPI in TechFlex on Campus?  (Updated 3/15/21)

Yes. Students should work directly with their project advisors to develop options for continuing their IQPs and MQPs.

If I’m not on campus for C Term, can I complete my project remotely with my team?  Will this affect my project grade?  (Updated 3/1/21)

Yes, you can participate in your project remotely; there will be no impact on project grading for students who do so. Your project grade will not be affected by your status as remote or on-campus. All students should consider the required workload of a full-term, off-campus project and make a commitment to continuing this level of work throughout their project term(s), no matter where they are physically located. 

Will I still receive the Global Scholarship towards Global Projects Program projects? (Updated 2/19/2021)
The Global Scholarship of up to $5,000 is awarded to offset the direct billing costs to students of completing an off-campus project. The scholarship is subject to reduction and/or revocation in instances when WPI is unable to offer such off-campus experiences (due to the ongoing pandemic or for other compelling reasons). 

Due to the ongoing pandemic, WPI students were not be allowed to travel in A, B, C and D Terms for off-campus projects during the 20-21 academic year. Because there were no direct costs charged to the student’s account for off-campus projects, the students on A, B, C and D term projects will receive a $1,000 Global Scholarship. Students may be eligible to apply the balance (up to $4,000) towards future global project experiences via the Global Projects Program (subject to approval from the Global Experience Office).

Athletics

Is the Sports & Recreation Center open? (Updated 3/1/21)
Access to the Sports and Recreation Center has expanded to allow general use by students by appointment, in addition to use for Physical Education courses and athletic teams, varsity and club sports.

All varsity and club teams will follow carefully prepared plans and phases provided by their coaches. Intramurals will remain virtual. 

WPI varsity athletics will continue to follow the guidelines set by the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), CDC, ACHA, Massachusetts governor and our conference, NEWMAC (New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference).

International Students

Who at WPI should I contact about my specific travel situation? (Added 1/15/21)

Please contact IH@wpi.edu to let the Office of International Student Life know about any travel questions or updated arrival information. IH advisors host virtual walk-in hours Monday through Friday from 3 to 4 p.m., and Wednesday from 9 to 10 a.m. Zoom links are available on the IH webpage.  If you will be traveling internationally, please fill out the International House Travel Reporting Form.

How will international students be notified about any status changes WPI or the state of Massachusetts makes? (Updated 1/15/21)

WPI will keep all students apprised of university and state policy changes that impact our community. All updates will be made available on the WeAreWPI website. Students are also encouraged to reach out to the International House for information

How will international students be notified about any F-1 or J-1 visa or US travel related changes? (Updated 1/15/21)

Colleen Callahan-Panday from the Office of International Student Life will email all international students on F-1 and J-1 visas to notify students of any US immigration or travel related changes or policies.

Financial Aid

What is the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) HIgher Education Emergency Relief II (HEERF II)?  (Updated 3/11/21)

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 included additional COVID-19 relief through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSAA) Act. This new COVID stimulus bill included $23 billion for higher education institutions and students, using the same Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) model established in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Unlike the CARES Act, the CRRSAA does not require that 50% of an institution's funds be spent on student grants. It does, however, require that institutions spend at least the same dollar amount on student grants as they were required to spend under the CARES Act. 

WPI has received approximately $1.4 million in emergency financial aid for eligible students. All students who met the eligibility criteria had an opportunity to apply for an emergency financial aid grant and were notified when the form was opened Wednesday, February 24, 2021. The application is now closed, and no further applications will be accepted. 

The funding is limited; therefore, not every applicant will receive funding. Unlike the CARES Act, the CRRSAA requires that institutions prioritize students with exceptional need, such as students who receive Federal Pell Grants, in awarding financial aid grants to students. However, students do not need to be only Pell recipients or students who are eligible for  Federal Pell Grants. In addition, the CRRSAA explicitly provides that financial aid grants to students may be provided to students exclusively enrolled in distance education.

Click here for more information. 

If I choose to take classes remotely for C or D Term, will my financial aid be affected? (Updated 3/1/21)

Scholarship and financial aid are not affected by a student's decision to take courses remotely. However, a student’s financial aid may be impacted if their living arrangement changes from on-campus resident to living at home, or vice versa. Please contact the Office of Student Aid & Financial Literacy at finaid@wpi.edu or 508-831-5469 with any questions.

Admissions

How does the change in the university’s status to TechFlex on Campus affect the application process? Will deadlines change? (Updated 3/22/21)
The university’s status has no impact on the application process for students, whether undergraduate or graduate. Deadlines will remain the same. The Admissions staff are able to work remotely to continue to serve applicants and their families.

We are planning small group tours for accepted students to the undergraduate Class of 2025, as well as virtual activities, to help you learn more about WPI. Learn more here.

Graduate admissions is offering virtual office hours for prospective and admitted students to help navigate the application and enrollment process for graduate students. Learn more here.

Research

Can I continue my research while the university is in this phase? (Added 1/15/21)

Any research that can be conducted remotely should be conducted off campus for this period. Only researchers who have previously been approved to be on campus at this time will have lab access; there will be no research involving human subjects conducted in person.

I’m a Research Assistant. Will I still get paid if I can’t conduct my work remotely during this phase? (Added 1/15/21)

Please consult with your research advisor. WPI cannot pay RAs on federal grants if they cannot conduct research. PIs must certify that an RA is conducting work remotely in order for the RA to be paid.  International students should consult with the International House regarding any related questions about Visa status.

I’m an undergraduate; will I be able to do research for my MQP? (Added 1/15/21)

Students should work with their faculty advisors on options for continuing and completing their project work during this time.

Travel

Are there any changes to WPI’s travel policies? (Updated 3/5/21)
The university has made no changes to its current travel policies: All WPI-sponsored domestic and international travel remains suspended until further notice, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. WPI considers all WPI-sponsored travel to be high-risk at this time.

WPI strongly discourages personal travel to destinations outside of Massachusetts, especially personal travel to states not included in Massachusetts’ list of COVID-19 lower-risk states.

What is considered “WPI-sponsored travel”?  (Updated 3/5/21)
WPI-sponsored travel is all travel by WPI students, faculty, and staff that is part of academic, scholarly, or business work in which the traveler is representing WPI, that is funded, in whole or in part by WPI funds (regardless of purpose) or by a grant, foundation, company, or other university. Such travel may include, but is not limited to travel for: teaching, research, academic study, attendance at a conference, official global project programs, internships, volunteer or work programs and other experiential learning, field studies, performances, athletic contests, or trips abroad in connection with a WPI-recognized student organization, academic or administrative unit.

What is not considered “WPI-sponsored travel”? (Updated 3/5/21)
Personal travel is not considered WPI-sponsored travel.  However, WPI strongly discourages personal travel to destinations outside of Massachusetts, especially personal travel to states not included in Massachusetts’ list of COVID-19 lower-risk states.

Any off-campus travel, even to visit nearby family, poses additional risk of spreading COVID-19 among the community by widening a person’s circle of close contacts and their risk of exposure.


Are there any exceptions that would allow me to proceed with WPI-sponsored travel? (Updated 3/5/21)
There may be extremely limited case-by-case exceptions to the current suspension of WPI-sponsored travel for essential business or academic travel or student organization and club or varsity sports travel that cannot be deferred or conducted through virtual means.

Below are guidelines for what may constitute essential business or academic travel:

  • Travel that is critical to WPI’s mission, such as travel that is critical to continuing a program or to avoid a major program disruption.
  • Travel that is urgent such that suspension or delay in travel will result in a regulatory, compliance, or safety issue; the loss of grant funding or failure to meet grant deadlines; breach of a contract; or loss of a significant academic or institutional opportunity that is unlikely to occur in the foreseeable future.
  • Travel for academic credit that is necessary for a student to meet a graduation requirement and cannot be postponed and cannot be accomplished through virtual means.


What is the process for requesting an exception for WPI-sponsored travel? (Updated 3/5/21)

 Deans, Department Heads, and Division Heads are responsible for ensuring that students, faculty and staff are aware of and adhere to the required approval process.

For faculty or staff traveling without students:

Limited case-by-case exceptions may be granted for faculty and staff engaging in essential business or academic travel pursuant to the following process:

  1. Traveler must discuss the planned travel with their Department Head (for faculty) or Division Head (for staff).
  2. The Department/Division Head must consider the criteria listed above for what may constitute essential business or academic travel and whether the destination is not included on Massachusetts’ list of COVID-19 lower-risk states. If the Department/Division Head concludes that the traveler’s planned travel is essential business or academic travel they must document that decision and submit the decision to the Global Experience Office (globaltravel@wpi.edu) for recordkeeping purposes.
  3. Before travel, the traveler must:

           a. Complete the Acknowledgement and Release for WPI-Sponsored Travel.

           b. Register travel that involves at least one overnight on the WPI MyTrips Travel Registry.

           c. Complete a spend authorization in Workday, if expenses are expected to exceed $1,000.

For students:
Limited case-by-case exceptions may be granted for students engaging in essential academic travel pursuant to the following process:

  1. The student must discuss their planned travel with their faculty advisor.
  2. Their faculty advisor must consider the criteria listed above for what may constitute essential academic travel and whether the destination is not included on Massachusetts’ list of COVID-19 lower-risk states. If the faculty advisor concludes that the student’s planned travel is essential academic travel, they must document and submit the decision to their Department Head. 
  3. The Department Head must agree with the student’s faculty advisor that the planned travel constitutes essential academic travel.  The Department Head must document and submit the decision to the Global Experience Office (globaltravel@wpi.edu ) for recordkeeping purposes.
  4. For international travel only:

           a. Complete a High-Risk Travel Exception Petition provided by the Global Experience Office at least 4 weeks before the student’s planned international travel. For international travel involving more than one student, the student leader or the students’ faculty advisor must submit the Travel Petition.

           b. The Global Travel Review and Response Team will determine whether it is appropriate to grant a limited case-by-case exception for this student’s international travel and will meet with the student and/or the faculty advisor (as applicable) to discuss the planned international travel.

           c. The Global Travel Review and Response Team must approve the student’s international travel.

  1. Before travel, the traveler must:

           a. Complete an Acknowledgement and Release for WPI-Sponsored Travel.

           b. Register travel that involves at least one overnight on the WPI MyTrips Travel Registry.

For guidelines on essential student organization or club sports travel, please contact Student Activities Office or Physical Education Recreation and Athletics (PERA), as applicable.

 

What steps will I be required to take upon returning to WPI after engaging in travel? (Updated 4/8/21)

Travelers should review the CDC’s Returning from International Travel guidelines and Massachusetts’ COVID-19 Travel Advisory.

Travelers must follow federal and state guidelines on quarantining upon return from WPI-sponsored international or domestic travel. For WPI-sponsored travel,

WPI may impose additional requirements depending on the nature of the travel and the current risk of COVID-19 during travel.

For faculty or staff only: When submitting a request for payment/reimbursement of expenses through Workday, please attach your Department/Division head approval.

Before accessing campus, all students and employees who have traveled outside Massachusetts for more than 24 hours must:

  • Receive a negative result from a PCR test that was administered 72 hours or less prior to arriving in Massachusetts. Results from antibody (serology) tests are not sufficient to meet this requirement.

-or-

  • Get tested immediately upon return to Massachusetts or to WPI and quarantine until you get a negative PCR test result. If you choose not to get a COVID test, you must quarantine for 10 days.

Students and employees may temporarily leave travel quarantine to receive medical care, such as COVID-19 testing. Students and employees receiving testing during their travel period must remain in travel quarantine while awaiting their test results.

  • Exemptions to these return-from-travel guidelines:
  • If (domestic) travel lasted less than 24 hours, these guidelines do not apply.
  • Fully vaccinated individuals are also exempt from travel-related testing and quarantine.
    • Note: The CDC recommends that fully vaccinated individuals should get tested 3-5 days after all international travel
  • Individuals who are COVID-19-recovered, meaning they have tested positive more than 10 but less than 90 days ago and who do not have symptoms, do not need to quarantine after return from travel.

Visitors & Vendors

Is WPI allowing visitors and vendors on campus? (Added 3/1/21)

Visitors and vendors will continue to be strictly limited to those deemed “essential”—those who need to physically access equipment and/or spaces on campus to support services that are critical to WPI’s mission, those who are essential for operational business continuity, or those who have a direct academic purpose.