Campus Planning - March 11

March 11, 2020

RE: Important update about COVID-19 impact on STCC

Dear Students, Staff and Faculty,

The Emergency Response Team has been working with President Cook to review local, national, and international developments regarding coronavirus/COVID-19. These developments, including the recent declaration by Governor Charlie Baker, of a state of emergency in Massachusetts, signals the increasing need for STCC to accelerate our preparedness in response to the spread of COVID-19. 

As of today, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19/coronavirus on campus. It remains the highest priority by the college to protect the well-being of our students, faculty and staff, and to take informed, proactive steps, to ensure the continued safety of our community.  Related, efforts to ensure continuity to instruction are also ongoing, with proactive faculty engagement part of an effort to discuss contingencies if campus may not be accessible for a portion of the Spring Semester.

Commissioner of Higher Education, Dr. Carlos Santiago, has asked college and university presidents in Massachusetts to implement precautionary measures in-line with the State of Emergency announcement by Gov. Baker.  The following decisions outlined below were not easy to make, and STCC is not alone in taking preventative and proactive actions. Our decisions are informed by public health guidance, and in consultation with colleagues across higher education, who are facing the same need to protect their communities, and limit the spread of COVID-19.

We recognize that decisions will be disruptive to many aspects of campus life. As of right now however, the STCC campus remains open, and we will continue to do our best to mitigate disruptions, focusing first on ensuring continuity of students’ academic experience.  Measures cited below will be revisited in 30 days, or sooner, as circumstances dictate.

Updates regarding the campus response to COVID-19 can be found at stcc.edu/coronavirus.

Travel Restrictions

Effective immediately, no STCC-funded out-of-state or international travel will be permitted for the remainder of the spring semester (May 31st).  Individuals who had travel arrangements have been notified of this decision. 

Events

The college is exploring which events to limit, cancel, or postpone for the remainder of the Spring Semester.  The multitude of on-campus events and gatherings are being examined by administrators, with cancellation decisions to be clearly communicated.  For example, the Majors and Career Fair scheduled for April 8th in the STCC Gym is a large gathering we will likely need to postpone.  Again, more specifics on event cancellations will be forthcoming, and please speak with any Vice President if you have questions.  

Academic Continuity

At present, STCC will continue to hold all classes as scheduled.  The college is having earnest, albeit informal, conversations with faculty on alternative possibilities, and the college has taken one formal step which is to ensure every section has an available Blackboard shell for discretionary use by faculty.

Time has been yielded to the originally planned NECHE/accreditation Standards Committee meetings set for Friday, March 13 during the college hour.  This will allow for an informational session for faculty, with Academic Affairs, regarding continuity of instruction in response to COVID-19.  Supports available to faculty will be discussed in detail.

For non-faculty committee members involved with the NECHE/accreditation process, our next meeting is scheduled for April 6th.  Please stay in contact with your Committee Co-Chairs, and we encourage engagement on this essential process using the existing Blackboard forums.  With gratitude for all the research, reflection, and care you have given the NECHE self-study process, your continued support is greatly appreciated.

Student Supports

To assist students who may not have access to an off-campus computer or the internet, the college will add to existing computer/hotspot options with the purchase of an additional 200 chrombooks and mobile hotspots.  More information on distribution and availability will be forthcoming.

Spring Break

The Coronavirus/COVID-19 risk to the STCC community remains low.  STCC Spring Break, which is next week (3/16 – 20), will help to minimize the risk of infection, and provides a natural opportunity for social distancing, a term used to describe a way to limit the spread of infection. The college strongly discourages international or out-of-state travel by students, staff and faculty during Spring Break.  If traveling, the CDC offers the following recommendations:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Clean your hands often by washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60%–95% alcohol.
  • If traveling on an airplane, try to avoid contact with sick passengers and wash your hands often. The CDC notes most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on airplanes because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes.

Visit the CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about Travel for more information.

STCC Health & Wellness Center

Jonathan Miller, our Coordinator of Health Services, will be off-campus from March 16-27.  In his absence, the college has hired medical professionals who will be onsite to answer any health concerns individuals might have, and augment our staffing and presence in the Health & Wellness Center.  Please contact the Health & Wellness Center at (413) 755-4230 if you have any questions or concerns.

Please follow simple steps to prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses (including flu) and promote a healthier campus community:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a waterless hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Sneeze and cough into a tissue or your sleeve
  • If you use a tissue to sneeze or wipe your nose, throw it away and immediately wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

Massachusetts Department of Public Health 

World Health Organization 

As always, please contact Joe DaSilva, VP of Administration/CFO, and Chair of the STCC Emergency Response Team with any questions or concerns at (413) 755-4889.


Joseph DaSilva
Vice President of Administration/CFO