Community Update on COVID-19 (March 12, 2020)
For the most up-to-date information, please see Denison’s primary COVID-19 Coronavirus information page.
March 12, 2020
As students prepare for break and beyond, we are doing the best we can to provide information and support. We are grateful for your questions and feedback, as well as your sense of community and personal resilience.
As many of you know, yesterday the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Colleges and universities are being asked by public health officials to do our part to help. In particular, public health officials are working to flatten the curve of the spread — we found this article helpful in understanding why this is so important. To help flatten the curve, state, federal and international health organizations have called for universities to adopt a strategy of social distancing. This article is helpful in understanding the necessity of social distancing in slowing the spread of the virus and ensuring it doesn’t reach a level that overwhelms our medical community’s capacity to respond.
Many of our peer colleges are moving to remote learning for the rest of the semester. We are not ready to make that decision. At this point, we are moving to remote learning through April 3. It is my hope that we will be able to resume classes on campus in April. But there is too much uncertainty at this moment to make that decision.
We believe that we will have much better information over the next 10-14 days. As we gain more clarity, we will make determinations about the best way to complete the semester. To make these determinations, we will be guided by: the facts as we understand them; the guidance we are receiving from federal, state and local public health and governmental authorities; and issues specific to our campus. The next few days, weeks and months are important. What we do and don’t do will have large impacts on how COVID-19 spreads and the impacts that occur. We will continue to communicate regularly over the next two weeks and will have clear direction by March 25 about whether we can return to face-to-face instruction on April 6.
We realize how disruptive and hard this is for students and how much you value your education, your friendships and the experiences you were having this semester.
Below are answers and information. We will continue to keep you updated via email and via our COVID-19 webpage. Please continue to send questions to COVID19@Denison.edu.
Adam Weinberg, President
Kim Coplin, Provost
Laurel Kennedy, Vice President for Student Development
We want to reiterate the message from yesterday, we are asking students to take all materials they need to continue their studies. While we hope to return to campus in April, the duration of remote learning could be extended so we strongly encourage students to take as much as they may need for a longer duration and as much as they reasonably can. We recognize many students will not be able to take all of their belongings but for those who can we encourage doing so.
If we have to extend remote learning and students are not able to return to campus this semester, we will develop a process to reunite students with their belongings including making dates available when students can come to campus to pick up belongings they have left behind. We will help with supplies and are developing suggestions for packing. Boxes are now available in Huffman Computer Lab and Curtis Den. They are being offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Residence halls will stay open until Monday at 5 pm to provide extra time for those who want or need it.
Those with exceptional circumstances including international students and those for whom going home is not an option at this time, can request to remain via this form until 3 pm today, Thursday. Students must apply, using this form, to remain on campus even if they previously were approved for Spring Break Housing. Please note that students who leave campus for Spring Break should plan not to return to stay on campus until we fully re-open.
Students are being asked to return their room keys (in a key drop box at P1, Doane quad side porch or Curtis Community Center) prior to departing campus. Returning your key helps us identify who has left campus. We’ll keep it safe for you while you’re away so you can avoid a lost key charge. SHOP and Residential Communities will arrange key pick-up for students returning to campus if in-person classes resume or in the event we have to schedule days for students and families to return to campus to pick up belongings.
Housing and Meal Reimbursement
For students who will leave campus due to guidance related to COVID-19, we will provide refunds for the pro-rata portion of comprehensive fee payments made to the College related to room and board for the time that students are away. Since we do not yet know how long students will be away from campus, we do not know the amount of this reimbursement. We will communicate and process these refunds as soon as possible once the duration is known.
Beginning March 23, we will begin remote learning. Faculty will be in touch and provide clear communication by March 23 about coursework expectations for the first week of remote learning and be in regular communication with students throughout the entire remote learning period. We will adhere to current class times during remote learning but faculty will be considerate of and will work to provide accommodations for students in West Coast time zones and time zones outside the US. This page provides detailed information about technology support for remote learning.
If you do not have a computing device available for use for course work while you are away from campus, please complete the Student Chromebook/Laptop Request Form. Information Technology Services (ITS) is preparing loaner devices for students who have demonstrated need. Once the form has been completed and received by ITS, students who are approved for a loaner device will be contacted with instructions for pickup. We plan to have devices ready for distribution Friday, March 13, from 12 to 5PM in Fellows 100.
ITS has also increased Service Desk call center hours to 24/7 to be available to answer any technology questions from students, faculty or staff.
Many library resources are available remotely. You can find information here.
We recognize this decision is especially trying for our senior students who are looking forward to graduation in May. It is still too early to make any decisions regarding commencement at this time but we can commit to considering that we will hold a ceremony, even if it has to be scheduled for a later date.
We know that asking students to leave campus means some are having to make travel plans on short notice which might create undue financial hardship. For students who need to make new or alternative arrangements, we are hopeful that those arrangements can be made with minimal or no incremental financial burden. Many carriers have adopted more lenient policies in recent weeks to accommodate changes in travel plans.
However, we know some travel changes or new arrangements may be cost prohibitive. We do not want finances to be a barrier to your ability to leave campus. If you need financial assistance, please visit the financial aid office.
Some of you have expressed concerns about what these events might mean for our staff and staff compensation. We are not closing the College, and we will work to retain continuous employment during this period to continue to provide the full range of services and support to students and faculty that we always do, albeit via different means and methods in some cases.
We ask that students pick up all mail and packages prior to leaving campus. If you ordered something that will arrive after you have left, we will hold it in the package room. In the event that on campus classes do not resume we will forward all USPS mail and packages and work with students to get UPS/FedEx/Amazon packages to them. We’ll provide more information if that situation arises.
Students should be sure to change their address on all orders during this time as the package room will have limited staff. For students remaining on campus, packages and mail will be processed as quickly as possible and there will be limited hours in the package room. The hours will be updated by Friday, March 13.
SHARE will be refunding any student who scheduled a shuttle for Sunday, March 22. When a return date has been determined SHARE will post new dates and times. If you need a shuttle to the airport or Greyhound bus station on Sunday or Monday please contact Amy Hannahs at email@example.com. For the students remaining on campus, there will be an updated shuttle schedule to assist these students in getting things they may need. Students should check for availability online.
If a student still needs textbooks, print or digital, they can still be ordered online. Students can use Denison Dollars and Book Grants online. If a student rented textbooks, those books are not due back until the end of the semester. If students do not return to campus this semester the bookstore will extend the rental return date to allow students time to mail/ship the books back. These students will be notified of the new return date.