An update to students from Laurel Kennedy (April 29, 2020)
For the most up-to-date information, please see Denison’s primary COVID-19 Coronavirus information page.
We are into the last few days of classes in this most historic of semesters. Congratulations on your perseverance and grit in the face of truly challenging circumstances.
I am writing with updates on four important subjects:
- Move out plans
- Refunds and 529 Plans
- Emergency financial support
- A new counseling support service, ProtoCall
We know it seems like opening up for move-out should be simple (“Just open the doors!”) but, we promise, it isn’t. Managing your safety, our staff’s safety, differing logistical and financial abilities to come to campus, and evolving state and public health guidelines have all made it anything but simple.
But we have a plan! And it’s pretty detailed. In order that it not be overwhelming, we’re going to roll it out in three messages that will be sent by Student Housing this week to students who have not yet completed their move-out. (The 800+ students who have completed move-out will not receive these three email messages.) Those messages will address three different ways of being reunited with your belongings, so that you can focus on the one that aligns with your situation. Here we go:
Come and get it.
Lots of you want to come, pack your stuff and take it away. You’ll be able to do that, from May 4 through May 31. To make this a safe process, we’ll need you to schedule your visit, enabling us to make sure you are the only student on your floor moving in that particular time slot. We’ll offer you a contact-free move-out, while we’ll ask you to support by bringing masks and gloves to wear when in common spaces (hallways and bathrooms). And we’ll ask you to take all your stuff. The first email will provide details on this process.
Boxed and labeled? Store it.
Some of you did the very thing we asked: you boxed your stuff and labeled it clearly with your name. Our second message this week is for this group, and will explain the procedure for having Denison staff go into your rooms, get those pre-boxed items, and store them for you until the residence halls fully re-open. Email message #2 will emphatically make these three additional points:
- Storage will be on campus in places like a campus warehouse and Moon Hall, which are being outfitted with shelving for this purpose.
- Once stored, you will not be able to retrieve your items until we fully re-open—so you’ll want to be sure you want this option.
- We will not store any upholstered furniture, including mattresses, couches/futons or other soft furnishings, in an effort to prevent any nasties (like bed bugs) from jumping from one person’s stuff to another.
I’d like someone else to handle it, please.
Some of you are unable, for a range of reasons, to come and get your stuff—matters of distance, health, personal safety, or finances. Please recall that you can always identify a friend who can serve as your proxy, who can Come and Get It (see above). Alternatively, you can hire someone to do this. The third message this week will provide information about a company with whom Denison has contracted to offer packing at very favorable hourly rates.These commercial packers will come to campus and pack your belongings for shipping or for on-campus storage. This message will also provide information about shipping methods for those who wish to have their boxed items shipped to them. Finally, we will provide information about financial assistance for packing for students who have moderate to very high financial need and who are unable to come to campus.
We are excited and relieved to be moving forward with this. Thank you for your patience, and thanks for your understanding that this is going to continue to be a complicated process. Watch for the three emails regarding process. Whew.
REFUNDS AND 529 PLANS
We are grateful to several parents who have alerted us to a requirement facing families that paid for room and board with 529 savings plans and encouraged us to share this information:
If your Denison refund for room and board reimbursed you for expenses that you paid with a 529 savings plan, you must re-contribute the refund to your 529 within 60 days of the refund date or you may be subject to a penalty and income taxes.
Here is an article that explains this further. Please consult with your financial advisor or your 529 Plan provider for additional information.
EMERGENCY FINANCIAL SUPPORT
Denison’s Financial Wellness Coach, Sam Smith, and the Office of Financial Aid continue to partner on making financial resources available to students facing unusual needs as a result of COVID-19. Our tremendous good fortune in having the Red Thread Fund and an Emergency Assistance Fund has allowed us to support travel, technology support and remote learning needs, as well as make small grants for general, basic needs, like groceries.
Because the continuing impacts of the pandemic are unpredictable and uneven—some are feeling the greatest impact now, and others may feel an impact later—we are looking across all available resources to assist as much as we can. Please reach out to Sam Smith if you are facing financial needs as we move through the final weeks of the semester. The Financial Wellness Office will continue to offer one-on-one coaching throughout the summer. Appointments are available to schedule at your convenience.
NEW COUNSELING SUPPORT SERVICE: PROTOCALL
Denison’s counseling staff have continued to provide direct support to students during remote learning, but have been limited in the care they could provide by legal and licensing restrictions on counseling across state lines. Through a new partnership with ProtoCall, all students will have access to prompt and effective mental health support, assessment and referrals—in any state, after hours, on weekends, during academic breaks, and in the summer.
ProtoCall is a service used by colleges and universities throughout the United States, including many of Denison’s peers. ProtoCall counselors work in direct partnership with Denison Student Wellness Center. More information about how the service operates can be found on MyDenison by clicking the Student Wellness tile.
To access a mental health provider after hours, on weekends, and during academic breaks, students will call 740-587-6647 to receive immediate support from a licensed mental health clinician. All calls are free and confidential.
Please stay tuned for more information about move-out, and we’ll continue to stay in touch with other updates about all-things-Denison. We miss you, and we hope you are staying safe and healthy.