In memo, President Mark C. Anarumo discusses return dates, health protocols for new term
Norwich University President Mark C. Anarumo spent his last Update from the Hill memo looking ahead to the Spring 2021 semester and what the community will need to do to remain healthy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In the Dec. 22 memo, Anarumo, who’s beginning his first full calendar year as president, cited news reports of a rapid national increase in COVID-19-positive cases and the emergence of a new, more contagious, strain of the coronavirus. For these reasons, and for the campus’s collective safety, he said, mask-wearing, physical distancing and handwashing will need to continue.
“While Vermont continues to be one of the safest states in our nation, and the COVID-19 vaccination plan is now underway nationally, we are not immune to the virus’ challenges as we bring together students, faculty and staff to campus,” he wrote. “The health and well-being of our university family, and the central Vermont community, will depend on each and every one of us and our shared responsibility and commitment.”
Student arrivals are planned for Jan. 15 through Jan. 18. As during the fall semester, the campus will continue to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Vermont Health Department mandates to keep gatherings small.
Home quarantine requirement: All students, residential and commuter, must quarantine at home for two weeks before returning to campus for the spring semester. This home quarantine is in addition to a campus quarantine all residential students will follow upon arrival.
Student arrival, modified room and campus quarantine: Following Vermont and CDC guidelines, Norwich will restrict arrival days as in the fall. Students should arrive to campus with no more than two adults, although one is encouraged. Families may not tour campus or help students move belongings into rooms.
Arrival checklist and prescheduling arrival date: Students will be able to preschedule arrival dates and times through a Banner SSB checklist system. Arrivals will run in two-hour blocks — 10 a.m. to noon; noon to 2 p.m., and 2 to 4 p.m. — on the arrival days. Students will receive checklist-system instructions by email.
Arrival and COVID-19 testing: Testing will run 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 15 through Jan. 18 in Plumley Armory. Students who don’t arrive on campus and test by 4 p.m. Jan. 18 will be required to quarantine off-campus in Vermont at their own expense for eight to 10 days.
— Access points: Arriving students will enter campus through a single access point from Vermont Route 12 as directed by road signs. On-campus signs will direct students to their assigned barracks, residence halls or parking lot for unloading. University staff will check students in and distribute room keys.
— Unloading: Parents or family members may help students unload belongings curbside but may not enter campus buildings. Parents should say farewell to their students, return to their cars and depart campus, guided by university staff. Self-drive students will be directed to student parking lots. Portable toilets will be stationed behind Kreitzberg Library along University Drive for parent and family use.
— Testing: Immediately after parking and residential building check-in, students must walk to Plumley Armory for an arrival screening and COVID-19 test during their preselected two-hour arrival time. Students must wear their face masks and head to their rooms after testing to follow modified room quarantine, which will last until Jan. 20.
— Retesting: Students will be scheduled to retest for COVID-19 on their seventh day on campus. Students who test positive will be placed into quarantine or isolation housing based on a health care professional’s recommendations; they may also choose to return home until a health professional clears them. (These students’ campus rooms will be saved.)
— Residential students modified room quarantine: Under the modified initial room quarantine, students will remain in their rooms except to use restrooms and pick up meals. The university will monitor the state of the virus closely and adjust policy as possible. After the modified initial room quarantine, students will be required to remain on campus (referred to as campus quarantine), but will be allowed to move about campus more freely.
Note: Students will be restricted to their own residential buildings and may not visit others. Students may participate in outdoor and indoor physical activities and student events with some restrictions to keep residential groups separate.
In a Dec. 16 town hall for faculty and staff, Anarumo cited Norwich’s efforts to detect and prevent the pandemic through more than 16,800 tests and the Wastewater-Based Epidemiology Initiative. During the fall semester, he said, Norwich logged 16 COVID-19-positive positive cases and registered one-fortieth of Washington County’s positive cases; spread was zero.
The wastewater initiative, which checks for genetic markers of the virus in campus wastewater, involved engineering, biology and communications students and involved interdisciplinary faculty and help from facilities operations. The evolving initiative will be the campus’ fourth form of coronavirus testing redundancy, he said, joining testing, temperature sensors and symptom trackers.
“That is such an incredible story of what Norwich University is going to do,” he said. “Fully collaborative, fully immersive … working together, solving a complex problem.
“With that quadruple (testing/surveillance) redundancy, I feel very confident that we’re going to keep campus safe,” he added. “We’ll be data-driven, we’ll be unemotional … and always err on the side of safety.”
For coronavirus protocol updates, visit norwich.edu/psa
Spring semester webinars
Several webinars will explain COVID-19 procedures to simplify students’ transition to the Spring 2021 semester, which starts Jan. 11. (Online study will run Jan. 11 through Feb. 2, whether students are at home or on campus.)
Students will receive webinar invitations by email.
- Students who studied remotely in Fall 2020, 1 to 2 p.m. Jan. 12
- Returning students, 1 to 2 p.m. Jan. 19.
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