We are in the final weeks of in-person instruction on campus. What we have accomplished this Fall is nothing short of remarkable, and I thank each of you for your role in keeping us all safe and supporting our in-person college experience. Students will soon be departing for the Thanksgiving holiday, the online conclusion of the fall semester, and winter break.
Our faculty have delivered their courses at an exceptional level of excellence this semester, something we should all applaud. In-person academic instruction, in addition to other residential training and learning opportunities, was possible only because we have treated the current public health threat seriously. As your President, I must continue to ensure the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and entire community. It is in this spirit, and for the reasons cited below, we must return to a more restrictive environment for the remainder of the fall term.
Over the past several days, Vermont has reported a rise in new COVID-19 cases, including in Washington County. There have been outbreaks at colleges in nearby Chittenden County, as well as local retail and recreational establishments frequented by Norwich students and employees. At Norwich, two positive cases were reported on 7 November of commuter students who are now following protocols off campus. None of this should be surprising given national statistics, CDC predictions, and COVID fatigue, but we must remain vigilant to avoid an outbreak on our campus before the end of the semester.
Finally, although in general the campus student community has done very well following distancing, masking, and curfew rules, an increasing number of students are no longer conducting themselves in a way conducive to a safe campus environment. Significant and very disappointing conduct violations have occurred over the past two weekends. We cannot ignore the fact these events have occurred, or the risks they have introduced into our community.
Effective 1700 hours 10 November, for the reasons outlined above, please review and adhere to the following:
- All Norwich students studying in-person must stay on campus unless prior approval has been granted to be off campus for medical, military orders, or required academic events.
- Students who have sought, and received, approval to be off campus for any other reasons in the weeks ahead should contact their company mentor or the Residential Life staff (specifically the Dean of Students, Director of Residential Life, and the Community Coordinator) to review current approvals.
- Supervised ROTC training, including FTX, is approved to continue at the discretion of ROTC leadership on Norwich property.
- Personal physical fitness activities that originate and terminate on campus, such as running individually or in groups, will still be permitted. Please return directly to campus without stops in the local community if you are running or marching along any off campus route.
- Outdoor recreation on Norwich University property is encouraged, with physical distancing from others.
- Ordering takeout meals or food delivery services is encouraged during this campus quarantine period. Please continue to ensure food delivery personnel do not enter dormitories, barracks, or other campus buildings.
Staying on campus now is critical to reducing exposure to COVID-19. We must continue to follow the health and safety measures that have worked thus far to prevent and contain potential spread of the virus. This includes wearing face coverings, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and quarantine if symptoms are present.
It is still possible to connect with small groups of friends and have fun even as we follow strict health and safety protocols. The Campus Activities Board will continue to host activities on campus that follow the guidelines that have kept our community healthy and safe.
As a reminder, 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. Now more than ever, we must take responsibility for our actions and honor our Maroon and Gold Behavioral Contract and adhere to the No Campus Visitor policy.
I ask that you remain both vigilant and compassionate in the final weeks of this semester so we can “finish strong” and stay healthy. I want you all to be able to enjoy the holiday season with family and friends.
We must also remember that how we finish this term will dictate how we can open in the spring. A strong finish with no spread of the virus will enable us to have a spring term with more students on campus, more activities, and a generally more enjoyable winter and spring seasons.
Please do your part to help us reach those goals. So we can continue to be….
Norwich Together, Norwich Forever!
Mark C. Anarumo, PhD
Col, USAF (Ret) President