Upon our decision to deliver an in-person student experience for Fall 2020, I committed to reviewing our policies and potentially loosening restrictions once we had some data to review and no later than 15 September. Given our current situation of zero positive cases, adherence to behavioral standards by the vast majority of our students, and low prevalence of the virus in the local area, we will begin loosening restrictions according to the guidelines contained in this memo.
Clearly this semester has been like no other. The reopening of campus has gone extremely well, but we must continue to be vigilant. I am proud of our students, faculty, and staff who have kept our Norwich and Central Vermont community healthy and safe. Thank you for your compliance with the essential practices of physical distancing, wearing masks/face coverings, practicing hand hygiene, limiting gathering sizes, staying in your room or off-campus residence if sick, completing the daily health screening, remaining on campus at all times, and observing our no-visitor policy. We are in a position to proceed to Phase 2 because of how attentive and conscientious students and employees have been in complying with the health and safety mandates of Phase 1.
We recognize the importance of social interaction, outdoor recreation, and exercise on and off campus for physical well-being and mental health. A significant part of the Norwich experience is engagement with the wider community, patronizing local restaurant and businesses, and taking advantage of the many outdoor activities in the mountains, valleys, rivers, and lakes of Vermont.
To leverage these opportunities and enhance the mental health of our community, we will start to deliberately open opportunities to patronize local restaurants and visit shops and businesses in Washington and Orange Counties, provided the facilities follow both Vermont and university guidelines.
Students can now also participate in local outdoor recreational activities in Washington and Orange Counties while following State and University guidelines. These activities may include hiking, running, climbing, bicycling, paddling, fishing, and golfing.
Residential students may have other residential on-campus students in their rooms equal to the room capacity so long as masks are worn and physical distancing is maintained. Please limit group size to no more than 15 people for outdoor gatherings on campus.
As we transition into this new stage, we must continue to respect others and consider the health and safety of the entire campus and central Vermont community. You have all seen how other schools are failing across the country; nationally we have seen that this is the phase where the hard work of a college or university community to keep itself and its neighbors healthy is most likely to be reversed. Please remember, we continue to live in a time of risk, despite our current position of safety. It will take all our efforts to continue in a safe environment.
As Norwich, we must take responsibility for our actions and honor our Maroon and Gold Behavioral Contract and remember to adhere to the No Campus Visitor policy.
In the new phase starting on 16 September 2020, the following rules apply*:
- Students must request permission to leave campus. Corps students need to receive permission from their Company Mentors. Civilian students receive permission from the Residential Life staff, specifically the Dean of Students, Director of Residential Life, and Community Coordinator.
- No more than 30% of the residential campus students may be off campus at one time. This percentage will be monitored by the Dean of Students and Commandant’s office.
- The Maroon and Gold Behavioral Contract that all students signed will remain in effect. As stated in this Contract, disregarding the stated safety precautions places the entire Norwich community at risk. If students do not comply with the safety rules annotated in this memo, they will be subject to discipline, up to and including a removal from campus and transition to remote learning.
- Company Mentors and Resident Life staff may set return times for all students permitted off campus. All students who depart campus MUST RETURN by midnight.
- Running off campus is now permitted and does not require approval, just please start and end on campus without prolonged stops off campus.
*These rules are in effect immediately. We will continually review surveillance testing results and student behavior. Depending on that data we will make decisions on increasing or decreasing the percentage of students allowed off campus at once, adjust the curfew, and evaluate a larger geographic area for student access.
Again, wearing face coverings, keeping proper physical distance, and frequent hand washing/sanitizing are critical public health measures that reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. We cannot stress this enough. The risk of exposure to this virus increases when you are in close contact with another person, when you are in indoor spaces, and when you are in larger group gatherings.
As we loosen restrictions, we trust that Norwich students will take the responsibilities we all have to one another very seriously. Our top priority is the collective health and well-being as we strive to complete the fall semester united as the Norwich family.
Thank you for your continued commitment as we navigate the challenges of this pandemic.