On March 7, 2020, Vermont Department of Health officials reported the first confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the southern region of the state. We are not aware of any cases at Norwich University, however we are taking every precaution to ensure the health and well-being of our entire university community. The staff of Facilities and Operations has conducted a thorough cleaning of all public surfaces—counter tops, door handles, railings, etc.—and will continue to focus attention on these areas when we return to normal operations.
Norwich is actively planning for the possibility of a coronavirus case on our campus; the University administration has assembled a leadership team to monitor the situation daily. We are in touch with the state health officials as well as colleagues across the field of higher education. After lengthy deliberations, I have decided to extend the Spring Break for one week. Students should plan to return to campus after noon on Sunday, March 22, 2020. Delaying students’ return enables the university to best prepare for the remainder of the spring semester in consultation and with guidance from government officials.
What does an Extended Spring Break mean?
Students are on break through March 22, 2020. Students are not permitted to return to the residence halls or barracks and instruction will not take place. As with any Spring Break, students must receive special permission to return to campus. Students who are already on campus are to remain on campus.
Faculty will return to campus on Monday, March 16. They will receive technical support and instruction, enabling them to transition to online teaching. This support will be provided via a series of workshops, webinars, and electronic resources. The Provost’s Office will communicate promptly with deans, faculty, and academic staff regarding the next steps.
Any member of the Norwich community who has traveled to the following countries—China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, or Japan—or who are recently returning from a cruise must self-quarantine for 14 days at home and present a medical clearance from a doctor to Norwich University before they will be permitted to return to campus. The Vermont Department of Health also requests that you report to the epidemiology and infectious disease staff at (802) 863-7240 to discuss monitoring with them.
Will classes resume after the extended Spring Break?
It is our expectation that students return to campus on Sunday, March 22, 2020 and that classes will resume on Monday, March 23, 2020.
In the event that Norwich University is required to prohibit the return of students to campus, all instruction will be conducted in a distance learning format (i.e. online) until further notice. Students will be notified via email and text message if and as that decision is made by the administration.
Will Norwich University cancel any of their events that are open to the public?
With the exception of athletic events, Norwich University will reschedule university events which were scheduled to occur prior to March 23, 2020.
What should I do if I do not feel comfortable returning to campus?
There is no directive from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or the Vermont Department of Health which indicates that healthy persons should suspend their everyday activities, including going to school or work. Norwich University is taking this extraordinary measure in order to prepare for any potential cancellation of classes and in the abundance of caution as more specific information becomes available from the CDC and Vermont Department of Health in the days ahead.
The only individuals who should not return to campus after the extended Spring Break are those who are required to self-quarantine, those who suspect they have been exposed, or those who would not otherwise go to work or attend class.
An employee who is immunocompromised, has a household member living with them who is immunocompromised, or who has been directed by medical or public health authority to self-isolate or quarantine should contact Human Resources at (802) 485-2075 to discuss working remotely. HR will contact the employee’s supervisor and if the supervisor agrees and is able to provide suitable work options for the employee, then the employee may be authorized to work temporarily from home and be paid per normal payroll procedures. However, if the employee is not able to work remotely, then Sick Time must be used to ensure pay continuity and normal call out procedures must be followed.
I am a student who has to self-quarantine beyond the Extended Spring Break. What should I do?
In conclusion - The health and safety of every member of the Norwich community is important to me. We will continue to monitor the situation and communicate new information as it becomes available. For now, I ask that we work together as a community to follow the CDC guidelines on how to stay healthy to ensure that we minimize the risk of exposure and spread of the virus. This requires that we monitor the local news, check our emails and text messages, and when necessary self-report and self-isolate or self-quarantine if warranted.
Thank you for the care and concern demonstrated by everyone, and the hard work of the university leadership to educate and prepare our campus towards the good of our students and to one another.
- President Richard W. Schneider