There have been several guidelines and memos distributed from multiple university sources over the past week. Despite these communications, rumors are spreading on several issues. Please read this memo carefully for a consolidated factual update, and please help me control dissemination of inaccurate information by referring students, parents, and members of the Norwich community to the facts below.
1. There are two current COVID-19 positive cases in the Norwich community; one staff member at home and one student on campus who has followed isolation protocols perfectly and is under medical evaluation. All contact tracing has been accomplished. That brings our cumulative total number of cases to 11 since 3 Aug 20, with one additional case at a “study away” location. This low case number is the result of more than 15,400 tests administered this semester, with over 1,500 of those tests administered since Thursday 12 November.
2. Because of the surge in cases in the area and region, eligible employees are being directed to work from home to reduce the number of people on campus. This will minimize risk of exposure or potential of any future transmission.
3. Regarding classes, faculty have been empowered to change their teaching modality from in- person or hybrid to online at their discretion. Faculty are communicating adjustments to their students directly. The administration has not mandated a transition to 100% online because some courses require additional sessions at some level of personal instruction, for example nursing practicums and labs. Professors are moving to online instruction if their courses permit them to do so.
4. If students would like to depart before 25 November, we are supporting them in doing so and encouraging them to communicate with their parents and families. All students should have a negative test within 10 days of departure. We have asked all students to work with their academic advisors, professors, company mentors, ROTC staffs if applicable, and civilian resident life staff if they would like to depart. We are ensuring each student leaves with the appropriate level of support. Students are tasked with boxing and labeling their belongings prior to their departure; boxes are provided to them to accomplish this effort.
5. We are honoring our commitment to stay open until 25 November. Students who desire to stay on campus until 25 November can stay and will have full access to take out dining and other support services. No student is being forced to leave early, we are simply enabling the choice.
6. Rooks are permitted to leave any time after 15 November. The Commandant and Cadre used the 14-15 November time frame to complete events necessary for Rooks to earn their training ribbon. Recognition will not happen in the Fall 2020 semester, thus Rooks who choose to depart before 25 November will not miss additional ceremonies.
7. The dining facility has transitioned to takeout meals only. This is the only way we can ensure all students have full access to dining services while mitigating the risks inherent to group dining. The Pick Five option is still available for students in addition to the dining hall food lines.
8. Every student regardless of lifestyle must have a negative test before departing. We have increased testing to meet demand so we can provide our students and families with the maximum amount of flexibility for departure options. We are requiring the negative test as part of our commitment to keeping our students’ homes and destination communities safe.
9. Finally, we need all members of our community to follow safety protocols to keep everyone safe. Wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, proper hand hygiene, reporting symptoms, committing to self-quarantine, and reducing the number of people present in one area are all key to reducing the spread of the virus. We will continue to adhere to updated guidelines from the Governor’s office, including published rules on campus households and limiting gatherings. In accordance with current guidelines, previously planned on campus events such as the holiday meal have been canceled.
We have enjoyed tremendous success this semester. We must not stumble as we approach the finish line. How we end the semester will dictate how we can deliver an in-person spring semester experience starting in January 2021. Please, as a community, let’s all finish strong and safe.
The final town hall of the semester will be held live at 5 p.m. on Thursday 19 November. If you have questions or information to share, you will be able to do so live at the town hall. Please register here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1717113217544391182 for the event.
Thank you all for doing your part in sharing accurate information, keeping calm, trusting us to do things right, treating each other well, and encouraging the behaviors that will allow us to end the fall 2020 term, the most challenging in memory, on a positive note.
Norwich Together, Norwich Forever!
Mark C. Anarumo, PhD
Col, USAF (ret) President