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Checking in and Updates

Dear all,

I am writing to check in and provide some updates. This is an unprecedented time for all of us, and I know the stress can be substantial. As everyone is struggling to adapt to our new reality, it can be difficult to take care of ourselves, so let’s remind each other to do just that—take care of ourselves and each other.

Throughout the College, we are taking proactive measures so we can continue classes online while also minimizing the chance of spreading the coronavirus on campus and in the larger community. We have prioritized protecting the most vulnerable among us and believe that we have a set of policies and procedures to meet our mission in a safe, healthy environment.

We are giving great thought and care to new workplace procedures that help us keep the college functioning, while creating flexibility to help employees stay healthy. These include our new Telework program and a plan for rotating employees through modified shifts, so that we will have fewer employees required to be on campus every day.

Here are our latest updates:

  • Gathering size: The county guidelines limit gatherings to a maximum of 20 people, which we will implement effective immediately.
  • Dining: In light of the new county guidelines closing dining facilities except for take-out, all dining will be “grab & go” style.
  • Building closures: Details on which buildings will be open are subject to change. Please check the individual websites or our coronavirus updates page for the most up-to-date information; however, consistent with county guidelines, we have closed the athletic and fitness center (AFC), Walker Field House (including pool), and Kenyon Gym. The Libraries will close at 4:30pm and the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at 5:00pm on Friday March 20 until further notice.
  • Social-distancing: We all know we should be doing it, but what does it really mean?
    • Maintain at least six feet between you and other people.
    • Do not be in a group of more than 20 people.
    • Enjoy the outside. With the weather getting warmer and the campus looking like spring, this is the perfect time to go for a walk, a run, or a bike ride. But do this alone or with a small group, and keep six feet between you and the next person.
    • Give and receive love. Social distancing should not mean isolation. Humans are programmed to need each other, particularly in times of stress. While this is not the time for a group hug, remember you are cared for, that you are valued, and that you are loved. As social scientists know, even imagining a warm embrace can make a positive difference.
  • Distance Life Fitness Program. At this time, the Athletics Department is working to make access to a selection of Life Fitness classes available online. The department is also exploring other third-party platform options to bring to the community. Please stay tuned to the Athletics website and our coronavirus updates page for more information.
  • Returning Students. Some students have been allowed to stay on campus due to significant financial or other hardship associated with leaving (e.g., do not have a safe home to go to). Students who will be on campus as of March 23 are required to complete online surveys ahead of time to report where they have traveled, any exposures to COVID-19 they have had, and any current symptoms. Any students who have symptoms or have been exposed to confirmed cases of COVID-19 will be registered with Health Services and Residential Life and will be self-isolated—which means confined to a private room with private bath when possible with food delivered, and without physical contact with or presence of others. They may walk outside but may not interact with others. We understand these procedures to be consistent with the most current county health department guidance. Additionally, all students on campus will be asked to self-monitor daily for fever, cough, and shortness of breath and to seek immediate medical attention for any such symptoms.
  • Employees Who Have Symptoms or Have Been Exposed: If you are not feeling well or have been exposed to a possible or confirmed case of COVID-19, please contact a physician, and do not come to campus.
  • Telework. We have a Telework program that can facilitate you working off campus. You can request this through your supervisor. For more information, visit https://humanresources.vassar.edu/covid-19/
  • Coronavirus Updates Website. For up-to-the-minute updates please check our coronavirus website regularly https://www.vassar.edu/coronavirus-updates/
  • Volunteer opportunities in the community. Over time, volunteer opportunities to help in Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County are likely to become available. We will keep you posted on these, which may include distributing food, providing transportation, or if trained, working with the medical reserve corps. More on this in the future.

The senior team and I have been in non-stop meetings—researching and developing responses to the threat of COVID-19 and anticipating the implications for our educational mission and institutional integrity. Throughout this time, we have remarked again and again at what exceptional employees Vassar has supporting this community. And we know too that so many of us are dealing with dramatic changes in our personal lives at the same time as trying to adapt to changes in our workflow.

I am profoundly grateful to everyone, particularly those whose job requires them to remain on campus. The College could not function without you.

Thank you so very much for your support as we address the challenges ahead. I know we will get through this, as Vassar is a creative, resilient and courageous community. Let’s take care of each other.

Please reach out to me if you have questions or concerns (ebradley@vassar.edu).

With best wishes,

Betsy

Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
Vassar College
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604
@EHBVassar