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TOWN HALL ON FALL 2020

44 questions and answers as captured from the Faculty and Staff Town Hall Meeting with President Anarumo on July 15, 2020.


Q. How often will the recurrent testing be done?

A. Following the initial employee and student testing in August, the University population will be divided into thirds, and one group will be tested weekly. This frequency my increase or decrease as trends change or as required by Vermont Department of Health.

Q. Would we be able to put names and pronouns on masks for identification reasons?

A. There has been no plan for that, especially with the requirement that the facing coverings be washable. Suggestions for how to do it should be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Q. If a staff member has permission to work from home, will they still be required to go through the testing?

A. All employees are required to be tested except those who work 100% remotely all the time and would not be on campus (CGCS or residential campus) and would not interact in person with any other employee who may be on campus at any time.

Q. For students who quarantine in their room (either due to COVID-19 positive or simply being ill and cautious) will they be able to get meals delivered? How will cleaning of the dorms be handled given that those will be the places students quarantine?

A. Meal delivery processes for quarantined students is being finalized with Sodexo and Facilities Operations has established processes for cleaning rooms of symptomatic or exposed students.

Q. How authorized vs unauthorized visitors to campus buildings be identified? An honor-system is all well-and-good but not likely to be effective. Human nature will probably allow "tailgating" simply out of politeness. Some sort of badging system may be required.

A. The University will work with local community leaders to communicate its expectations that only visitors with university business come on the campus, but as an open campus, the University does not have the resources to prevent persons from being on campus property.

Q. Where will students have space to work online for those section periods online? You are used to them all being in class, but now 50%-66% will be elsewhere at any given time and need space to do their work (if synchronous). Otherwise they have to do it asynchronously later, adding to their time burden/time management issues.

A. In addition to their rooms, students will continue to have access to all previous areas of campus, but with a lesser density.

Q. Apologies if you already covered this...If a student tests positive and was recently in class does that mean the instructor then needs to shift to online teaching?

A. If a positive COVID-19 occurs, the ordering physician in Green Mountain Family Practice will notify the patient (student or employee) and the Vermont Department of Health. The DOH will then work with University officials regarding contact tracing, quarantining, or other actions.

Q. Are faculty and staff being supplied w/two black cloth masks (as promised students) prior to the start?

A. Two black cloth face coverings have been ordered for each student and each employee.

Q. What are the plans to allow for fresh air in classrooms, student accommodations, and offices in the VT winter?

A. Ventilation in all buildings has been maximized at present and will remain at these levels even when the building is heated.

Q. If an instructor tests positive will all students they recently taught face-to-face be quarantined?

A. If a positive COVID-19 occurs, the ordering physician in Green Mountain Family Practice will notify the patient (student or employee) and the Vermont Department of Health. The DOH will then work with University officials regarding contact tracing, quarantining, or other actions, which may include quarantine of students from their classes.

Q. Will faculty/staff who vacation in a state with a low incident rate (e.g. New Hampshire, at present) be required to quarantine, or will the planned COVID-19 test be sufficient?

A. Employees who vacation or travel out of state are required to follow VT guidelines about the need to quarantine or not. A COVID-19 test after 7 days of quarantine and with a negative result may be used to end the 14-day quarantine.

Q. Who do we inform about being away for a planned/paid-for vacation that conflicts w/the scheduled testing?

A. Contact HR and you will be provided with an alternate day for testing. If you need to quarantine, the testing must be 7 or more days after you start the quarantine.

Q. Will NU partner with Washington County Mental Health for best practices around supporting students who have COVID-related anxiety/stress?

A. When students arrive we should have two additional Mental Health Counselors in the Counseling & Wellness Center to provide more in-person and online counseling services for students.

Q. Will faculty who have special concerns about their own health or the health of family members, going through HR, be able to teach all their classes online/remotely?

A. Employees who wish to work remotely should speak with their own supervisor first. Remote work may be authorized to reduce campus density while supporting student learning. Faculty remote work may be approved by the Chair/Director, Dean, and Provost; staff remote work may be approved by the Supervisor, Director, and Chief Officer/Vice President. Remote work authorization is not contingent upon an employee's health, household members, or childcare issues.

Q. My apologies if this has already been discussed as the audio is going in and out. The full coverage for Covid 19 testing and related issues expires with Cigna at the end of this month. Is the University working with Cigna to extend the coverage? Thanks and Welcome to Norwich President Anarumo!

A. Cigna has waived patient payment of co-pays until July 31, but coverage for testing and treatment of COVID will continue. There has been no announcement from Cigna if it will continue to waive co-pays after the 31st.

Q. Follow up on this question re Cigna, it is not just the testing, but that's great taken care, it also according to Cigna is if we get sick with Covid 19 the full coverage expires at the end of the month.

A. Cigna has waived patient payment of co-pays until July 31, but coverage for testing and treatment of COVID will continue. There has been no announcement from Cigna if it will continue to waive co-pays after the 31st.

Q. Have there been any new updates from the campus DEI committee addressing social injustice and direct actions we are trying to take as a University to be better and more inclusive to our entire student population?

A. The Provost has assembled a team of University leaders to prepare various DEI initiatives for the coming academic year and to assist with the incorporation of DEI content into academic and training opportunities throughout the campus. In addition, the President has authorized the hiring of an executive-level person to lead DEI initiatives throughout the Norwich system.

Q. Are we addressing diversity equity and inclusion at Norwich and what is our plan moving forward?

A. The Provost has assembled a team of University leaders to prepare various DEI initiatives for the coming academic year and to assist with the incorporation of DEI content into academic and training opportunities throughout the campus. In addition, the President has authorized the hiring of an executive-level person to lead DEI initiatives throughout the Norwich system.

Q. Are commuter students and "not to return to campus" students eligible to participate in on campus activities (i.e. athletic events) or are they to remain off campus completely?

A. There is no prohibition against commuter students being on campus and they will be part of the regular COVID testing groups.

Q. Does Return to Work procedures differ for CGCS staff members since the CGCS office is generally devoid of students/crowds of students?

A. CGCS return to work processes are the same as the residential campus, including continuation of remote work to the extent approved by CGCS leaders.

Q. Will mental health services be extended to staff at this time?

A. The Counseling & Wellness Center has had a difficult time keeping up with student demand, but this will be alleviated by the hiring of two new Counselors. Employee mental health services are available through our regular Cigna medical plan and with the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offered by the University.

Q. Is testing for CGCS staff members the same for campus staff members?

A. All employees are required to be tested except those who work 100% remotely all the time and would not be on campus (CGCS or residential campus) and would not interact in person with any other employee who may be on campus at any time.

Q. Will commuter students be attending this fall - if so, do we have a plan in place for their screening?

A. Commuter students are tested on Aug 28 and will be part of the ongoing testing after student arrival.

Q. Will students be allowed to leave campus to participate in in-person internships, practicums, and clinicals? If so, on what date could they do this?

A. These opportunities will be administered by the appropriate academic or student affairs group in compliance with Vermont health and safety requirements in place at that time.

Q. What if a staff member has vacation planned on 8/5. Should they reschedule?

A. Take your vacation…your testing can be done later during student arrival times. Contact HR to coordinate that.

Q. I have another question if it's not been asked. What are the plans for making sure students are truthful in their daily health assessment to negate any perceived stigma of being sick (of any type) or perceived effects on their military contracts or those pursuing.

A. We rely on the honesty of every student and employee to be truthful about their health and acting responsibly to remain home or in their room and seek medical assistance as needed.

Q. Will students quarantine longer than the 24-48 in dorm as suggested if test results are delayed, as been happening at many commercial labs.

A. Student quarantine is for 14 days unless the student has a negative COVID test after 7 days of quarantine.

Q. Will there be contact tracing in place for staff?

A. Will be requested but is not required for employees or students.

Q. Will the tuition benefit for children of faculty and staff be extended to children (at some future time) of anyone who passes away this year, due to COVID-19?

A. This can be reviewed.

Q. Is the number of students who were invited to lean online reflective of the numbers of quads and triples the governor does not want us to fill this year?

A. Yes, we have calculated our bed capacity based on no more than 2 students in any room.

Q. Do we have a feel yet for how many students are arriving this Fall?

A. The overall numbers look promising for new or returning students. We actually have more students wanting to be on campus than we have bed capacity, so some students will be informed that they will not be able to return to campus for the fall semester.

Q. If an office can work completely remotely will that be looked at as being bad if it is in the best interest of the student and small staff?

A. This is OK, but the office leader must thoroughly assess any potential impact on customer service if there is no physical presence on campus.

Q. How are we going to handle students going to in-person internships off-campus in Vermont. Will they be able to do off-campus internships and will they need to get special permission?

A. These opportunities will be administered by the appropriate academic or student affairs group in compliance with Vermont health and safety requirements in place at that time.

Q. Are students who have been tested upon coming to campus allowed to eat in chow prior to getting their results? I have heard two different answers to this.

A. Students will be permitted to move about campus upon arrival unless they have a fever or are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 exposure, in which case they are moved to isolation. Different meal options are being prepared that permit physical distancing in addition to Grab & Go meals.

Q. If a staff member is not working on campus do they also need to test?

A. All employees are required to be tested except those who work 100% remotely all the time and would not be on campus (CGCS or residential campus) and would not interact in person with any other employee who may be on campus at any time.

Q. Will there be a way (such as colored wristbands) for instructors to visually confirm that students are in compliance with the testing regime?

A. Employees or students who do not comply with the testing protocol will not be permitted on campus.

Q. Is the campus open for the community to walk? Are outside area's considered open to the public?

A. In order to promote the safest possible environment for our students and for the larger Northfield community, we are going to begin with campus being closed to the public, including Paine Mountain trails, at least at first. We will re-evaluate that after the first round of completed testing sometime in September and communicate to the town via the selectboard and the Northfield News.

Q. Will staff testing for COVID 19 be done at the infirmary or do we have to be tested at one of the pop up sites?

A. Testing will be done at sites on campus, though unusual circumstances may require an employee to be tested at the Green Mountain Family Practice (such as staff member on vacation during scheduled testing time).

Q. Will staff be tested after each group of student arrivals?

A. Two tests are part of the "arrival" protocol, 7 days apart. Staff testing is Aug 5 & 12; Faculty testing is Aug 26 or 27 and then Sep 2 or 3; an appointment process for time and location will be established at a later time.

Q. If a staff member has a student in public school that moves to on-line learning, will that be covered by sick leave.

A. Just as during the spring term, the university will establish at that time what process we will use to track lost work hours and employee pay.

Will non-uniformed faculty and staff be able to obtain official name tags to wear around campus if they don't yet have them?

A. It is difficult to recognize faces when they are covered by masks and our goal is to be as welcoming to students and guests as possible while enabling ease of interacting at proper distances. Departments should continue to purchase name badges for their employees.

Q. Is there a legal liability for Norwich if student contracts COVID-19 from another student and/or staff member?

A. There is legislation at both the national and state levels that address this, but nothing in place at this time.

Q. What happens if an employee refuses to test for covid-19

A. Employees or students who do not comply with the testing protocol will not be permitted on campus.

Q. I believe you said faculty will be tested only a couple of days prior to classes starting. Would it be possible to get tested at least a week prior to returning so we have time to prepare, should we test positive.

A. Please contact HR for possible scheduling during student testing days.

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