On Thursday evening, July 30, 2020, Springfield College president Mary-Beth Cooper held a Zoom forum with students and their families to give them an opportunity to ask questions as well as for her to provide updates on our progress with plans to reopen for the fall. More than 300 members of our community, including new and returning parents and families, joined us for hour-long conversation.

Questions raised included:

Testing

When and where will testing take place?

When and where will testing take place? 

Testing will be set up outside of the Health Center and all students arriving will start their move-in process there. Our current protocol for testing includes an anterior nasal swab. This method involves a swab into the entrance of your nose and is very different from a nasopharyngeal swab. The person having the test actually performs their own swabbing, under guidance of the health center staff.

Does this apply to commuter students, too?

Does this apply to commuter students, too?

Yes, all students will be tested upon arrival at Springfield College. Commuter students will be tested at the Health Center the week of August 31st. Students will be notified of their scheduled test date and time.

What kind of test is required for students from outside the “safe states?” PCR or rapid? Is this a blood test?

What kind of test is required for students from outside the “safe states?” PCR or rapid? Is this a blood test?

PCR testing is the recommended test. Blood testing is for antibody testing, which if positive indicates possible past exposure to the virus. The CDC does not currently recommend antibody testing for the diagnosis of COVID-19.

My roommate is from a higher risk state? Can we stay in the same room?

My roommate is from a higher risk state? Can we stay in the same room?

Students from higher risk states are required to present a negative test result from a test within 72 hours of their arrival on campus, and we will test all students upon arrival. Should a student test positive at any time once they are on campus, we have designated isolation space for that student and contact tracing in place to test those who are known to have been exposed to the student, so that additional testing can be done.

Which states need testing?

Which states need testing? 

Right now the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has identified a small set of states. The best advice I can give you is to keep track the Commonwealth of Massachusetts web site: MA Travel Info Details.

Students traveling from “safe states” do not need testing at all before traveling?

Students traveling from “safe states” do not need testing at all before traveling? 

This question is related to the new travel guidelines released by the Governor of Massachusetts last Friday now includes two important items: Once again, the best source of information is the Commonwealth site: MA Travel Info Details.

I'm concerned that waiving testing from ANY area is reckless.

I'm concerned that waiving testing from ANY area is reckless.

We are following the guidance provided by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Our testing protocol, both the on arrival testing and the surveillance testing, will allow us to have an earlier notification should students unknowingly bring the virus with them to campus. We are taking testing seriously and appreciate students from all states following good health and safety procedures before they arrive at Springfield College.

Do students need to pay for testing?

Do students need to pay for testing?

All arrival and surveillance testing will be conducted through Broad Institute at the expense of the College. If a student is symptomatic or identified as having had direct contact with someone who is sick, testing will be processed through a local lab and therefore students’ private insurance. All testing will be coordinated on campus.

I'm concerned about COVID testing time - most states are running behind and cannot get rapid test results.

I'm concerned about COVID testing time - most states are running behind and cannot get rapid test results.​​​​​​

I hear you on this and I don’t have a good answer. Testing across the country is a challenge. We encourage you to be in touch with your student’s health care provider as soon as possible so testing can be scheduled within the 72 hour timeframe.

General

Are you confident that Springfield College will be able to open in the fall as planned?

Are you confident that Springfield College will be able to open in the fall as planned?

We are as confident as we can be today. The circumstances around COVID are changing regularly. I am grateful for the on-going involvement and expertise of our public health faculty who have been instrumental in helping us to develop a plan for the fall that is science-based. That said, though, the experience of COVID changes nearly daily and we are responding to new information as it is presented.

Will there be a discount on tuition or room and board this fall?

Will there be a discount on tuition or room and board this fall?

We are reducing residence hall and meal plan costs by 20 percent to align with their reduced availability.  We are not reducing tuition charges at this point in time. Even though we are not 100% in person, our faculty and staff continue to provide a quintessentially Springfield College experience. The wide swath of student support services that are supported by tuition dollars are still available virtually, student programming is moving online, and the commitment of our faculty to provide engaging, relevant, and rigorous courses is unchanged.

What will the campus environment be like in the fall?

What will the campus environment be like in the fall?

Staff across campus are working to make the campus environment as vibrant and active as possible given the restrictions we are working within. While it may not be what we have experienced in the past, we will retain the distinctively Springfield College experience, even if some of that has to be done virtually. I’m looking forward to having some of our classes held outside in tents and to the ways that our student activities staff and residence life staff will bring our traditions to life in new ways.

What is your tolerance for the number of cases on campus? What is your threshold for making a decision to move to all online/remote?

What is your tolerance for the number of cases on campus? What is your threshold for making a decision to move to all online/remote?

This is a common question and one that I don’t have a definitive answer to. We are monitoring the situation daily and, while we don’t have a threshold of a specific number of cases, we will be prepared to make a decision when and if it becomes necessary. Our faculty are preparing for this possibility and we have good experience from the spring about moving our entire operation remotely if needed.

Will we be making Springfield College masks for sale?

Will we be making Springfield College masks for sale?

Springfield College will not be providing logoed masks.

What will it be like without sports?

What will it be like without sports?

This certainly will be a fall unlike any other at Springfield College - and many campuses around the country. While we will not be competing against other institutions, they will be practicing, working with the strength and conditioning coaches, and hosting inter-squad competitions. The last piece is particularly important to us because it will provide our student-athletes with a competitive outlet, will allow them to keep that competitive mindset, and allow for spectators - socially distanced on campus and streaming for family and friends who are away from campus. Feedback from our fall coaches indicates that while student athletes are disappointed by the loss of intercollegiate play, they are still very much looking forward to practices and being a part of their team.

Cleaning protocols

Will there be sufficient cleaning and sanitizing of all classrooms, residence hall bathrooms, common area spaces, etc throughout the semester?

Will there be sufficient cleaning and sanitizing of all classrooms, residence hall bathrooms, common area spaces, etc throughout the semester?

Yes, Staff will be using a combination of EPA approved cleaning and disinfecting chemicals to sanitize. Bathrooms cleaning schedules will be posted in each Res hall. High touch areas will be made a high priority.

Will extra cleaning be provided in "hotspot" areas if positive cases are known?

Will extra cleaning be provided in "hotspot" areas if positive cases are known?

Areas that have an outbreak will be cleaned using UV disinfection lighting and traditional cleaning methods. Springfield College has also partnered with a commercial cleaning company who specializes in Electrostatic Sanitizing Services to do regular disinfection as needed. 

Will cleaning products be provided for student use during off hours when custodians aren't in the buildings - nights and weekends?

Will cleaning products be provided for student use during off hours when custodians aren't in the buildings - nights and weekends?

We have appropriate cleaning supplies and they will be made available in common areas.

Are the ventilation systems in classroom buildings and residence halls being upgraded or at least tested and cleaned to ensure proper ventilation?

Are the ventilation systems in classroom buildings and residence halls being upgraded or at least tested and cleaned to ensure proper ventilation?

Ventilation systems have been assessed, filters replaced, and reasonable maintenance performed. The few classrooms we have that would require substantial work in order to meet expectations have been taken off line. We also have the option in many classrooms to open windows and we’ll have signage to that effect in those spaces.

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Personal Protective Equipment

Who will enforce the requirement of mask wearing?

Who will enforce the requirement of mask wearing?

It's everyone, but there are also policies added to the Student Handbook that will hold students accountable for adhering to requirements.

Will disposable masks be available anywhere on campus if a student forgets or loses theirs?

Will disposable masks be available anywhere on campus if a student forgets or loses theirs?

We plan to have set of masks available in key locations, like the Learning Commons, and the Campus Union.

Leaving campus

Will there be any restrictions for returning to campus if I have a job off campus, student teach in the public schools, or just want to go home?

Will there be any restrictions for returning to campus if I have a job off campus, student teach in the public schools, or just want to go home?

As we strive to minimize not only our students' potential exposure to the virus, but to also protect those outside our campus community from exposure, we are strongly encouraging students to leave campus only when necessary. That said, we know students may have occasional commitments at home or elsewhere off campus and we will not be restricting them from leaving campus.

If I get sick with COVID-19 symptoms or test positive, will I be able to go home?

If I get sick with COVID-19 symptoms or test positive, will I be able to go home?

Should a student become ill, they will be advised to move into a supported isolation/quarantine space on our campus where their health will be monitored by our Health Center staff, they can continue their academic work from their room and meals will be delivered. Even though that support exists on campus, students may also choose to go home, as long as it is safe for them to do so and they utilize private transportation. This may be recommended for students who live within driving distance and would be discouraged for those who would need to fly home. Students who decide to go home will remain in communication with our Health Center to plan for their return to campus. Each student's situation is unique and we will work with them and their families to develop the best plan for their needs.

Do I need to move all my stuff out in November or can I leave things in my room over the semester break?

Do I need to move all my stuff out in November or can I leave things in my room over the semester break?

Yes.

Will I be able to stay on campus to finish my student teaching/internship/clinical rotations after the college shuts down on Nov. 20th?

Will I be able to stay on campus to finish my student teaching/internship/clinical rotations after the college shuts down on Nov. 20th?

Yes.

What about international students?

What about international students?

Yes. As we did in the spring semester, international students who are unable to travel home will be permitted to stay on campus.

Building capacity

Will there be limits to how many people can be in buildings such as the Learning Commons, Wellness Center, Campus Union, Cheney Hall?

Will there be limits to how many people can be in buildings such as the Learning Commons, Wellness Center, Campus Union, Cheney Hall?

The restrictions for access to campus buildings will be driven by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts guidelines. Right now, those guidelines restrict access to 50% of capacity.

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Availability of services

Will students have access to counseling, tutoring and other academic assistance, career services, etc.?

Will students have access to counseling, tutoring and other academic assistance, career services, etc.?

Yes, all support resources and services are available; most will continue to be delivered in an online format.

Commuting/remote classes

Can I stay home and take my fall classes remotely?

Can I stay home and take my fall classes remotely?

Possibly, depending on the courses you are registered for. Many classes can be taken remotely, but not all. Information about which courses will be taught remotely will be available in the next few weeks. Connect with Erin Eighan in the Academic Success Center for guidance in making that decision. 

If you decide to study remotely, you should contact the Office of Residence Life as soon as possible to cancel your housing.

How will my financial aid be affected if I decide to stay home?

How will my financial aid be affected if I decide to stay home?

As each student's financial aid awards vary, I recommend contacting the Financial Aid Office directly to learn how your aid could be impacted by staying at home.

Can I change from a resident to a commuter without a financial penalty?

Can I change from a resident to a commuter without a financial penalty?

Yes, as long as housing is cancelled before the scheduled move-in date.

Is there any specific guidance for commuter students?

Is there any specific guidance for commuter students?

Commuter students will be required to be tested at the start of the semester at the Health Center.  Commuter students are also encouraged to abide by guidelines for mask wearing and social distancing when not on campus.

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International students

What will happen to international students if classes have to transfer to online?

What will happen to international students if classes have to transfer to online?

Our activities in this area will be dependent on the guidance of the federal government. We will do all that we can within the boundaries of that guidance to support our international students.

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