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Important Message from Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Hamakawa

Updated January 22, 2021

Dear Members of the University Community:

Welcome back to the continuation of the 2020-21 academic year and best wishes for a successful spring term!  Given the ongoing pandemic, this semester will be in many respects as challenging as the last.  Still, I am confident that with everyone’s unrelenting commitment to mask up, maintain social distance, and practice good personal hygiene, we will prevail.  Last semester our mask game was as strong as anywhere and this fact combined with strict social distancing in classrooms resulted in ZERO known classroom transmissions of Covid-19 at WNE.  News reporting indicates that infections attributable to in-class transmission were virtually nil in all of higher education, which evidences the high efficacy of masks + distancing.

We can and we must, however, do an even better job of social distancing outside the classroom, including when traversing to and from classes, while in the library, University Commons, Caprio AHLC, etc., and especially when gathering with friends, colleagues, roommates, teammates, and acquaintances.  In this regard, I urge everyone to be a safety ambassador for and to each other by promoting and reinforcing the tried and true safety protocols.  The only way that we will be able to achieve a repeat performance of having relatively few Covid-19 cases on campus is to unfailingly replicate our behavior from last fall.  Of course, it goes without saying that if you are feeling sick, you should not attend class or come to campus during your period of illness.

We are following the same classroom building protocols that were in place last fall, with arrows/signs to direct pedestrian traffic in, out, and through buildings, and stickers indicating “unavailable” classroom desks/chairs to ensure that students are seated at least six feet apart.  Should there be a need for PPE, cleaning supplies, or replacement of signage/stickers in classrooms, please call Carla Lussier in Facilities Management at x1737 (782-1737).  Also, please be reminded that consumption of food or drink is strictly prohibited in the classroom during instructional sessions, and one should exit the classroom should this be necessary.

As was done last fall, all members of the University community are being screen tested for Covid-19 at the start of the spring semester.  On the first day of classes, I urge faculty to remind students who have not yet been screened to report to Health Services for testing at the earliest opportunity.  In addition, weekly surveillance testing will be conducted throughout the semester and I ask that faculty remind students that if notified for testing (via email on Friday and text message the following Monday), they must report as instructed on Tuesday.  Barring extenuating circumstances, a student’s failure to report for surveillance testing as instructed will result in access to their Kodiak account being denied.  Remember that during these extraordinary times, we need everyone’s cooperation in order to optimize the health and safety of the Golden Bear community.

Throughout the semester, it is likely that there will be instances where students (and possibly faculty as well) are unable to attend class for Covid-19-related reasons.  As in the case of students who are unable to attend class due to illness, surgery, family emergency, or the like, I ask that faculty accommodate and support students to the greatest extent possible to ensure that they are able to continue their course progression.  This deeply embedded culture of care and concern is what Western New England University is known for, and deservedly so!

I cannot thank you enough for what each of you brings to our community of learners, and I look forward to seeing you back on campus in the coming weeks and months.

Kind regards,

Curt Hamakawa
Interim Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs