Working from home can present its own unique challenges and security vulnerabilities. The bad guys are counting on us to lower our guard and have lax information security practices while we work from home. While more and more Norwich faculty and staff, and even students, will be teleworking, we need to ensure that we do not lax our information security practices.
As an educational institution, we have three overarching obligations to our community: to provide the educational opportunities Norwich is known for, to do so in a safe, healthy environment, and to live up to our social responsibility by doing all we can to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
The rapidly developing circumstances of the novel coronavirus now require extraordinary changes to our usual practices to fulfill those commitments. We are announcing these changes today to enable our students, faculty and staff to fully prepare for classes on March 23 using digital technologies. All your academic studies will be online through the entire spring semester.
We know that this news is disappointing, and that you were looking forward to the many spring events and activities scheduled. That is why we will consult with health authorities at the end of March to thoughtfully and appropriately refine our response plan to include a decision whether to resume a residential campus-based spring semester of activities effective April 5. Please note that if we do so, your academic studies will remain online.
The university will remain open and all employees will be expected to report to work to continue our support of critically important services and activities, such as our student support and administrative functions, etc.
University services and facilities including the Wise Campus Center Dining Hall, Kreitzberg Library, Sullivan Museum and History Center, Uniform Store, Plumley Armory, Kreitzberg Arena and Shapiro Fieldhouse will be available only to the Norwich community. These facilities will not be available to the general public until further notice. While on campus, please follow CDC guidelines to ensure your safety and that of our community.
All students will be able to complete their academic requirements remotely, whether Corps, civilian or commuter student. The Department of Education is relaxing regulations to enable colleges and universities to meet academic standards more flexibly as is the Department of Defense with respect to ROTC training and Veterans Affairs benefits. We are committed to delivering a meaningful learning experience and appreciate your flexibility as we adapt to new circumstances.
Following the Extended Spring Break, students will be expected to remain at home, resume classes and core educational activities remotely on March 23. We will re-evaluate this new procedure in the weeks ahead and communicate any changes to you no later than March 31. We are developing a policy on a refund and/or reimbursement and will keep you updated as information unfolds.
We will provide technology support and training to all students to learn how to succeed in online classes. Preparation for this training is expected to begin by midweek next week. Services from the Academic Achievement Center, the Counseling Center and the Career and Internship Center will be available to you online to ensure your continued success. More details relating to student services will be available in the week ahead.
To help support our students through this transition, the barracks and residential halls will be open beginning Saturday, March 14 for students to retrieve their belongings. Your key cards will enable access to your building. Student Life staff will be available from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 14 and Sunday, March 15, and during regular business hours from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, beginning Monday, March 16. Students who wish to return to campus for their belongings from March 16 forward must coordinate with their respective housing office, their company mentor, or Public Safety to attain access to their building.
If you do not plan to return this semester after retrieving your belongings, Corps and civilian students need to bring your room and mail key to the Guard Shack in Jackman Hall before you depart. Failure to return your keys could result in a replacement charge on your student bill.
WHILE YOU ARE ON CAMPUS PLEASE FOLLOW THESE GUIDELINES TO ENSURE YOUR SAFETY AS WELL AS THE SAFETY OF OTHERS:
If you cannot return to campus to retrieve your belongings or choose not to because you or your family members are immunocompromised, we understand that many of you may need textbooks, notes, medications, or other essential items. We will be happy to mail these items to you. Please fill out the Essential Items Request Form to authorize the Student Life staff to enter your room, locate the items with your written guidance and mail them to the address you provide. All items will be shipped and packed to the best of our ability. We will not be responsible for any damage that occurs while your package is in transit.
AS A REMINDER, ANYONE WHO IS SYMPTOMATIC (FEVER OR RESPIRATORY ILLNESS), WAS ON A CRUISE, OR TRAVELED TO CHINA, ITALY, SOUTH KOREA, JAPAN, OR IRAN CANNOT RETURN TO CAMPUS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
We understand that these changes will have special challenges for our Norwich international student population at Norwich in terms of travel as well as on visa status. The International Center will be in touch with each student to provide you with guidance and help you navigate your individual circumstances.
Yesterday, the NCAA Board of Governors canceled all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships. This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, their ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given educational institutions’ decisions to shift to remote instruction. In keeping with the NCAA decision, and a similar decision by the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) conference, Norwich is suspending all winter and spring athletic activities, including practices and home and away games.
Group gatherings on campus will be limited to facilitate the social distancing recommended to slow the spread of COVID-19. Many Norwich events have been canceled, as well as events hosted by Norwich.
With respect to Junior Ring Weekend, Commencement and Commissioning and their importance to our students and their families respectively, we will continue to monitor the situation, prioritizing the health and welfare of the entire Norwich community and our central Vermont neighbors. A decision on rescheduling the Ring Ceremony will be made in the weeks ahead. A decision on graduation ceremonies will be made no later than April 15 and we will continue to work with the ROTC departments on individual branch commissioning and the Joint Commissioning Ceremony.
For an up-to-date listing on the status of campus events and off-campus university-sponsored events, please visit https://www.norwich.edu/news/psa.
To our faculty and staff, we are navigating this uncharted course together and will need your flexibility and support. Remote work policies are already in place for those who may be able to work from home. For those who have health risks, or have family members with risk factors, please know that we will work with you to provide necessary support as best we are able.
Now is the time for each of us to shine and to step up to help one another and our communities in a safe and informed way. Captain Partridge would expect nothing less from us than to protect our republic and citizens in a time of crisis.
While you are at home, please consider how you can safely volunteer to make a difference in your community. Please respect and follow the CDC guidelines and encourage others to do so. Remember the importance of social distancing and to not meet in large groups. If you live our Norwich value of service to nation and others before yourself, I know you will make us all proud.
My hope and prayer is that you can return to campus as soon as the crisis has passed.
— President Richard W. Schneider