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Updates on Preparations for Opening

Updated August 26, 2020

Good afternoon,

As we approach the start of classes, we wanted to update you on some things you will need to know as the campus begins to repopulate with students.

Plexiglass:

It is possible that not all the ordered plexiglass will be available on the first day of classes.  Remember that masking, social distancing, and hand washing are your primary means of defense, and request a face shield if you wish additional protection.  However, for the 18 classrooms where trifolds were ordered because of social distancing concerns, we have enough portable screening to cover those rooms for the start of classes.  As soon as the plexiglass arrives it will be installed. 

Face Shields:

Since face masks versus face shields remain a concern, we want to issue the following clarifications and guidance:

  • University policy is that with limited exceptions (e.g., when eating while socially distant, students in their dorm rooms or at home, or faculty/staff in isolated work space/private offices), everyone must wear a face covering that covers the nose, mouth, and chin at all times.

  • Since face shields do not snugly cover the nose, mouth, and chin, however, they are not indicated for use unless they are WNE-issued face shields with attached cloth droplet guards worn for the purpose of presenting in a classroom setting or when staff are interacting with students. Otherwise, faculty and staff are expected to wear cloth masks that cover the nose, mouth, and chin.

  • While face shields are not proven to have the same efficacy as masks, CDC guidance recognizes the need in situations where seeing faces is important or for people who cannot wear masks.  In those cases, the CDC recommends that shields wrap around the face and extend below the chin – consistent with the shields designed for the University.

Testing:

As of today, there have been no positive test results reported back to the campus for those tested thus far.  The dashboard will be available by the start of classes and updated regularly.  It can include average time within which results are being received.  Test results are currently being received from Mako labs within the 48-72 hour defined window. 

Classrooms:

While we cannot provide a schematic layout for the classrooms, seats and tables have been marked with, “do not sit here” stickers, furniture has been removed, and/or rearranged depending on the room.  If a faculty member has a concern about a particular classroom, we suggest they visit the space prior to the start of classes.  Spaces were measured to ensure that heads would be six feet apart.  If building access is a problem, Dick Wagner would be happy to escort you. Please note that desks are likely to move throughout the semester. Faculty should instruct students not to move furniture, sit only in authorized spaces, and to move seats six feet apart prior to the start of class if they enter a classroom where the chairs have been moved. 

See Something, Say Something:

Everyone is responsible for reporting infractions, including our off-campus neighbors around student houses.  Community members can expect to be informed if students are sanctioned under the policy.  You can confidentially report any concerns to the relevant and various Vice Presidents. 

Replenishments:

Classrooms will be stockpiled with essential ‘Care Kits’ on Friday. August 28th.  For the first two weeks of classes we have established a single point of contact for requesting any missing items or replenishments.  Please direct all calls to Carla Lussier in Facilities at X1737 (413-782-1737). DO NOT email and DO NOT submit a work order.  Staff will be immediately available to deliver supplies if needed.

A successful first two weeks of classes is important to our ability to stay open.  Modeling good behavior, politely reminding our students and colleagues about what good behavior means, and behaving as one community are all essential to that goal. 

The complete ‘WNE Plan to Reopen’ may be found at the following link:  https://www1.wne.edu/coronavirus/

Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions.  We will respond as quickly as feasible.  Best, dw

Richard A. Wagner, Ph.D. (dw)