*Please note that this was a live event and some of the information shared may have changed, been updated, or corrected.
President Cooper ‑‑ Open Forum
Thursday, July 30, 2020
7:00 ‑ 8:00 P.M. EST
CART CAPTIONING PROVIDED BY:
ALTERNATIVE COMMUNICATION SERVICES, LLC
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Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) captioning is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility. CART captioning and this realtime file may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.
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>>Dr. Cooper: Good evening, everybody. This is Dr. Cooper. It is almost 7:00. And we see our participants are coming in. So I'm going to wait just a few more minutes and let everybody come into the room.
>>Dr. Cooper: Okay. Good evening, everybody. It's 7:00, according to my clock. And so I'm going to go ahead and start, understanding that more people may be coming in. So as they come in, we'll let them join us. And we'll go ahead and get started.
This is our first ever open forum with students and parents and family. This came together ‑‑ again, for those of you I haven't had a chance to meet, my name is Mary‑Beth Cooper and I'm president of Springfield College. I am Zooming to you tonight from my kitchen on Alden Street. A very quiet campus. It's been a quiet campus for a number of months. I can't tell you how excited I am to welcome our community back to campus. Living on the street all alone makes for a quiet place. I thought this would be helpful, as we sent out our planning information last week ‑‑ we sent that out on July 23. We knew it was dense. And the COVID website is dense and there are lots of questions. And so as we sent that information out, I suggested to my terrific leadership team ‑‑ I work with a great group of people here on campus that are helping us to get ready for reopening ‑‑ or "repopulating" the campus, as we call it. I had a chance to talk with them and said Why don't we do an open forum? Our work force is about 50 percent on campus. We're getting back to everyone we can as quickly as possible, but I thought this might be the most efficient way for us to go ahead and reach out to you and make it a little bit more personal. Okay.
So we've got one question that's come up.
So we sent out the information last week. And since that time, about 70 of you have written ‑‑ not necessarily those that are on the forum tonight ‑‑ about 70 of you have written to us with specific questions. So I am going to go through some of the frequently asked questions and answer some of them right off the bat.
So give me about 20 minutes to run through some of those. And you can continue to populate the Q&A on your Zoom. Again, two of you, three of you have already done that. And the chief of staff at the college, Dr. Kathy Martin, is with me tonight. And she is going to help take a look at the questions. And then she's going to send them back to me, aggregate them so that we can answer them in the most efficient way.
If we are unable to get to all the questions tonight, you can use this function, or you can use the Office of the President email. And we'll put that up as well so you have that. So if you don't get your questions answered tonight, we will make sure that you get them answered in the next 24 to 48 hours. Okay?
And this is a webinar. So I can't see all 252 of you. And you can only see me. And so it's difficult for me to receive feedback, except through the Q&A. Again, Kathy is going to be shooting me information about what I should pay attention to.
So let's start.
First question is: Are we confident that Springfield College will be able to open this fall as planned? And we are as confident as we can be today. The circumstances around COVID are changing regularly. I will tell you in the last four months every day brings new information. We are closely monitoring what we're learning from the CDC, what we're learning from the Governor's Office in Massachusetts. Every morning we get information. And our leadership team is meeting and planning. And, again, making sure that all this information is informing us. It's as science‑based as we can be.
Second question. Will there be a discount on tuition on room and board this fall? The answer to that is no. At least right now it is no. Even though we are not 100% in person, our faculty and staff have been working really long hours in the spring and this fall, getting ready to make sure that the Springfield College experience is what you expect it to be.
The student services are supporting that ‑‑ whether it be online support, the advising, counseling center ‑‑ all the programs are being provided. And so at this point all fees will remain as is.
One of the questions is Why has it taken so long for us to get this information out? And I'd like to suggest that we were out there ‑‑ we were one of the very first schools out there in June saying that we planned to reopen in the fall. So we've been trying to get information out, either through videos from me or information from me through newsletters and emails. And so I believe that we are ahead of schedule. It is certainly fluid. We're watching the cases in Massachusetts. And we're also watching what the governor is saying.
I'm going to pause here, because there are about 26 questions that have come up. And so... Kathy, if you want to help me?
>>Kathy Martin: Sure. I'm happy to. Good evening, everyone. I'm going to do my best to try and batch some of the similar questions. So I may not be reciting your particular question exactly, but I hope that I will get to the theme of what many of you are asking.
Dr. Cooper, several of the questions are related to the campus experience. Can you talk a little bit about what the plan is as it relates to club sports? The access to the wellness center? Some of recreational activities on campus?
>>Dr. Cooper: Sure. Many of you may know that we reluctantly, last Friday, canceled our sports season for the fall semester. And that was done in concert with the NEWMAC league. We looked at everything available to us that was safe. Really, our guiding light has been the safety and welfare of our students. That doesn't mean our sports teams and intramurals will stop. We will be having strength and conditioning, there will be intersquad competition. They will be prepared to play in the spring, if all goes as planned.
There will be activities. We have been working on the environment on campus. Very similar to the world you are living in right now. There will be 6‑feet separators. We've been putting up barriers. We will be asking students and faculty and staff to wear masks. Putting up shields. There will be social distancing that will be required. Students will live on campus in residence halls. We'll talk about testing in a minute. But in terms of the campus, you will find it similar to the environment you're living in right now. All the protocols in place will be in an attempt to keep students six feet from each other. We're hoping students will comply. We've asked students to sign a waiver. We'll be talking to them about that prior to coming to campus and reinforcing that each and every day. Hoping that each one of our community will hold each one and each other accountable and encourage others to wear masks. We have gone into the wellness center and put distances between all of the equipment so people can exercise safely. We'll be asking people to wear masks in the wellness center. Our outdoor track is open. Community members are using it as well as faculty and staff here in the summer and have been walking and running on the track. We encourage people to get out, to exercise, to move; but to do so very safely.
>>Kathy Martin: Thank you. Knowing the lively level of activity that is not only on our campus but the lives that our students have off campus as well, can you talk a little bit more about any restrictions that might be in place for students coming to and from campus? Will they be allowed to go home on a weekend? Can they leave campus to go to a job in the local community or at home? How are we planning to control traffic in and out of campus?
>>Dr. Cooper: That's probably the most difficult piece. I mean, for those of you that are familiar with our campus ‑‑ again, not knowing how many of the almost 300 people on this Zoom meeting are new students ‑‑ about 93% of our students are on campus. We are staggering the move onto campus. You'll be receiving information directly from the Office of Residence Life, talking about how we bring people onto campus and what that may look like. That will be different, especially for upperclass students that are used to a different move in. We'll be staggering the move in. We're going to ask that we do that with as few people as possible and families. In terms of guests to campus, we are going to do our very best to restrict guests from coming to campus. All of this is really going to be up to the community. We won't know exactly who is a guest or a student during the first couple weeks. A few weeks into it we'll have a better sense of that. But we'll restrict that and encourage students to stay here once they come here.
We've changed the academic schedule. We've moved it forward a week. Students will be moving in a week earlier ‑‑ actually 10 to 14 days earlier than otherwise ‑‑ and we're going to have students be on campus. They will be leaving the week of Thanksgiving.
Another question is will they be required to take their belongings with them when they move home at Thanksgiving? The answer to that is yes. We're going to ask students to move home. We're hoping there is not another surge, but we want to make sure students have their belongings and everything they need to continue their studies online, not only for the two weeks following Thanksgiving but also during the final period. As well as there's a J term we're offering so students can catch up and get ahead online in December. There will be more information about that. As well as starting their spring semester if they need to online at home.
>>Kathy Martin: Thank you. A number of questions are coming in about how the academic calendar is going to be structured this fall.
When can parents and students expect to hear more about what classes will be conducted face‑to‑face? What classes will be held remotely? And are there any criteria for students to select one or the other? Another part of that question is How are we helping to prevent students from having a 100% online experience?
>>Dr. Cooper: Well, I think we're not preventing students from having a 100% online experience. If there are students who want to have a 100% online experience, they need to talk with their academic adviser. A number of students have said they want to stay home and take courses online. That is not the majority. The majority ‑‑ I think we have about 622 incoming students that are coming to us in the next few weeks ‑‑ many of them want an in‑person experience. About a third of the courses will be online. They will have that information in the next 10 days to 14 days from their academic advisers, and they will have an opportunity to look at their schedule. Some of our faculty have requested the opportunity because of their own ADA and their own personal situation, the opportunity to teach online. We'll offer those courses. We will be making sure that each and every student has the courses that fit their needs. Again, about a third of the courses will be offered online.
>>Kathy Martin: Great. Thank you.
Testing is a common question. Particularly around the governor's new recommendations ‑‑ or guidelines, rather ‑‑ about traveling to the state of Massachusetts. And, of course, we are expected to abide by those guidelines, as our guidelines that we set. But can you share a little bit more about the expectation? For example, a family coming from New York. Are they expected to test 72 hours beforehand and again when they arrive? What about parents and families coming from those outside, so‑called lower risk states?
>>Dr. Cooper: As I understand it, as of earlier this morning there are eight states that the governor of Massachusetts and his team have determined are safe states, or not hot spot states. New York is one of those eight states. If you're coming from New York in that particular situation, you are not going to have to test 72 hours in advance.
What I would point you to is the website on the governor's office. We can post that as well so you have that information. But if you're coming from a state that the governor has deemed to be unsafe, you're going to need to present a negative test 72 hours in advance of coming to campus.
We will be testing all students once they arrive on campus. But if you, again, are arriving from one of those eight states that is considered to be unsafe, you will be required to take a test 72 hours in advance.
You will be able to get the test in your area. But I would point you to ‑‑ I'd Google it in your area. Maybe it is one of your CVSs or a pop‑up testing site or urgent care in your area that might be providing the test. Again, look at your move‑in schedule and circle that back about 72 hours.
>>Kathy Martin: One of the questions related to that question was Does it really need to be 72 hours? Or is an earlier test acceptable? And that would be, really, it's based on the guidelines of the Commonwealth ‑‑ which ‑‑ (audio dropped.)
>>Dr. Cooper: We're working with a great deal of residents ‑‑ there's an association called Association of Universities and Colleges of Massachusetts. We've been working with the Broad Institute out of MIT and Harvard. That's where we're purchasing our tests and having our test results being gathered there and being sent back to us. As a result of working with a number of other colleges, we got the tests at a reduction in cost. We will be testing here and sending the information up to the Boston area. And the results will come back to us. And 72 hours is the guideline right now. It, again, is the most affordable test we can provide our students. We'll be testing about 1/3 of our population every week. So our students can expect to get tested on a regular basis.
>>Kathy Martin: Thank you. Several questions have come up about whether we are recording this session. We are not. We have a number of people helping to take good notes of the questions being asked and the answers, so we can post all of the information that is being exchanged tonight on our COVID site on the FAQ page available there. Rather than having a recording, we're opting to make more information available on the website, which will hopefully give you a quick and easy resource rather than trying to listen through an hour‑long conversation and try to remember where a question was asked.
Please feel free to look at that website later on this evening.
>>Dr. Cooper: That will be posted within the hour. And so many of the things I've already said, and some of the questions that I see popping up on the Q&A, will be addressed. And so you'll see the questions and you'll see the answers posted right there.
A question came up about the dining hall. We are working with our very new food service partner, Harvest Table. And they have refigured ‑‑ again, what you're experiencing if you happen to go to restaurants, if your state allows in dining, there will be opportunities for the students to pick up food and carry out. Once students come back we will walk them through what that process looks like. I've been really pleased with our new partner, Harvest Table. They've done a wonderful job. They've set up at Cheney Hall, at the bottom of the Union. Students can grab and go and eat their food outside and again bring it back to their room. You'll see lot of tents we've put up and will be putting up. Those spaces will be used for a variety of not only teaching and instruction, but also other activities like dining. Students will be able to eat outside.
I apologize. That's my dog outside. I can't mute myself. That's Jack. For those of you who know, I have a chocolate lab. It was inevitable that he was going to come in for a drink of water.
>>Kathy Martin: We've talked a lot about student preparation for coming to campus. How are faculty and staff being prepared? Particularly, are they being tested? How is the facility staff in particular going to be protected as they are responsible for cleaning our wonderful campus?
>>Dr. Cooper: We have about 40 people that are working on two different planning groups that are doing cleaning and extensive ‑‑ again, all the barriers that I talked about. And all the precautions that have been put in place. Our custodial team has been cleaning and deep cleaning actually since our students left in March. Again, as we're getting ready for students and staff to come back, deep cleaning continues.
Our faculty, we've been talking with them all summer. Faculty Senate and I have had lots of conversation as well as all faculty talking about what their classrooms are going to look like. We've gone in and de‑densified the classrooms. Again, putting up tents. Making sure the classes are safe. You can imagine our faculty has concerns as well. Although I'm deeply concerned about our students. But I also want our faculty to feel safe enough to return to campus and teach. Again, those who have ADA compliance issues, we'll be teaching you remotely. Again, I'm optimistic. I believe we'll be able to get through this fall and get on the other side of it. Again, depending on what happens with the virus and what we see in terms of spikes
>>Kathy Martin: Great. Next question is related. If a roommate or a suite mate tests positive for the virus, what happens then? Can you talk about the contact tracing process?
>>Dr. Cooper: Sure. We will ‑‑ if a student tests positive, we have rooms that have been set up for isolation and also quarantine. We've got two different types of rooms set up on campus to make sure we can take the affected party and put that individual in isolation until they are able to test negative. Contact tracing. We've hired a team to do that. Where the person has been, who they have been in contact with. Again, working with the Broad Institute and others, we've set up protocols. All of that information is on the website. You'll be able to read that there. Those precautions are in place.
>>Kathy Martin: Do you have a threshold of number of cases before you will decide to close the campus?
>>Dr. Cooper: We don't. That's a great question. We have been talking about that all summer. You know. There's not a trigger or a number that tells us that it is unsafe to continue. But we'll know. As we go through it. Again, there is a room set up and a series of spaces. If it looks like we'll be at capacity there and we need to make that decision, we'll make it as quickly as possible. Our faculty is able to go online. We hope we can make it to Thanksgiving. If we do not, we'll communicate it as quickly and effectively as we can to not only our students but also faculty and families.
>>Kathy Martin: Thank you. Will there be a curfew?
SPEAKER 1: No. We have not talked about a curfew ‑‑ yet. That's an interesting question. There is not a curfew. If we are able to get compliance with masks and social distancing, I'll be grateful. Clearly, some of the gatherings we've had in the past won't happen this year. Sports alone not taking place on campus reduces the density of groups gathering. When we think about other activities on the Union and our intramurals, we will be doing it in the safest way possible. Curfew is not something we've looked at at this point. I think the virus does not know time of day.
>>Kathy Martin: One of questions that has come in has been about student athletes who are missing their fall tryouts for a spring season. Do we have a plan in place for what will happen in those circumstances?
>>Dr. Cooper: Well, we're going to gather ‑‑ I've been talking to the coaches regularly. We meet once a month or every two weeks to talk about what the fall will look like. Again, we'll have strength and conditioning and practices. As student athletes come back they'll be working with their coaches and grad assistants and be preparing for the season. Whether or not we'll have football in the spring will be dependent on how the virus is. And if the conference is willing to play us. For those of you that know me, I am committed to sports. But we won't do it until it is safe to play.
>>Kathy Martin: Thank you. What about the library? How will we manage traffic flow in and out of the learning commons?
>>Dr. Cooper: That is going to be set up as well with a 6‑foot distance requirement. Luckily, for those of you who have been in the learning commons, you know it's a very large space with lots of seating. And so we will see how the traffic looks like when we go in there. There's enough, again, distancing that I think that won't be a problem in terms of study spaces. We will look ‑‑ a number of years ago when the learning commons wasn't open, we opened up other spaces for students to gather and study in small groups. We'll need to take a look at that again to see if we can make some of those spaces available so students have adequate space to study, especially after hours. We want to make sure they have a safe place to go to and is well lit. I'm not concerned about the learning commons, given the wide open spaces and the spacing between all of the study spaces as it sits today.
>>Kathy Martin: Thank you. A lot of questions about testing continue to come in. Many of them are very specific about what does a particular state need or not. Again, I think the best location or source of that information is at the Commonwealth of Massachusetts website. But one of the questions is about the cost of testing. Will there be a fee for students to be tested through the Broad Institute program?
>>Dr. Cooper: No. We will be covering that. Your first test, for those of you in the hot spots or not part of the eight states, will be covered by insurance ‑‑ likely. I can't guaranty that. Everybody has different insurance plans. But those of you traveling to us from a distance, you will be required to take that test. The rest of the test, the college has covered. We've set aside funds from an endowment so students come back safely. We've made a commitment to doing not only the testing but a great deal of equipment. PPE. Masks. We will have masks on campus. So if a student is going into the learning commons or goes into a classroom and has forgotten their mask ‑‑ this has been a learning curve for all of us. I mean, all of us, again, have forgotten our mask as we're going out to the store or wherever you're going to and you have forgotten your mask. We'll provide some but not all. My hope is that when students come to us at the end of August, students will have multiple masks. I know I do. You've got them in your car, backpack, purse. I encourage your students to bring as many of their masks with them as possible.
>>Kathy Martin: Will the surveillance testing and the incoming student testing apply to students who are living off campus? Graduate students who may be living on campus? Commuter students?
>>Dr. Cooper: Yes. We'll be doing testing of commuter students as well. They are an important part of our community. They will be tested as well.
>>Kathy Martin: Do parents bringing their students to Springfield College need to be tested?
>>Dr. Cooper: No. We will not be testing parents at this time ‑‑ unless you are part of the eight states that are not covered. Then you're going to need to have a test to come into the state of Massachusetts. And there's a travel form. That also is on the Commonwealth's website. That is effective as of Saturday. And so you either need to isolate or have proof of a negative COVID test. And so if you're coming in from one of those other states, I would make sure you get your testing done before you come in.
>>Kathy Martin: Part of the Springfield College experience, especially for new students, is meeting other students. How will that happen in our new COVID environment? What are the organized activities going to be like for new students during the beginning of the academic year?
>>Dr. Cooper: They'll be very similar to the past. Annie and her student leadership team, they do a wonderful job in making that experience with heightened activity, high touch ‑‑ well, that's going to now look a little different. But it looks different in everything we do. But I assure you even over the summer, Annie and her team have been working on it.
Those of you who were in orientation ‑‑ the sessions with BINGO and things that can be done safely ‑‑ we will be do our very best to make sure that a humanics philosophy will be embedded in our students. You understand the mission of Springfield College. And we will get past this. Understand that we are very aware cognizant of the risks involved and we're doing everything we can to keep students safe.
>>Kathy Martin: Thank you. What about some of the classes you can't take online? Like music and the gym and the pool, is another question.
>>Dr. Cooper: We just talked about that earlier today. You know. For those of you that might belong to a Y or recreation center, we're talking with our staff and recreation center to look at reservations. Do we look at de‑densifying the wellness center? Should we have people sign up? All of that is in the plans. The pool will be open. The wellness center will be open. The gym will be open. But we ask students to be masked if they can't socially distance. We're talking about ways to have all members of our community to hold each other accountable to wearing those masks. And I was on a Zoom earlier today. And they were talking about a mask brigade at one of the institutions where they had students really sign up to help make sure that the community is safe and tell people to mask up and make sure that humanics is alive and well. The longer people comply, the longer we can be here face‑to‑face. If we have people that don't comply and we get loose, I'm concerned we will be looking at a situation where people have to go home and have the rest of their semester online.
>>Kathy Martin: I think some of the questions about the campus experience and what is testing going to be like, I think it's really reflecting that this is a whole new world for everybody. And everybody is trying to get as much as information as possible so they can be best prepared for coming in this fall.
In the event that students need to be quarantined, how is that regulated? How will those students get their meals? How will they engage academically? Is there medical staff onsite?
>>Dr. Cooper: We will be ‑‑ we'll be taking care of that. We have a set up for that. Students will have food delivered to them. And so they will be taken care of. Patrick Glove and his team and our staff in the health center ‑‑ those students will be monitored and not left alone. We'll make sure they get everything they need at that time.
>>Kathy Martin: What about study abroad, not only this semester but next semester?
>>Dr. Cooper: It's not occurring this semester, as you can imagine. We're having conversations about the spring as well. There's a great likelihood it won't be approved for the spring. Once that becomes confirmed we will let you know that. But you can imagine that traveling out of the country is probably not a very good idea at this time. And a lot of countries are not accepting students, much less any travelers. And so I think that study abroad looks to be one of those programs that is at risk.
>>Kathy Martin: Thank you.
Going back to testing. You've mentioned that there are eight states that are in that low‑risk category, the New England states. Hawaii. New York. New Jersey. I think that's all of them. Anyways, what if you're in a location that's particularly rural and you can't get a rapid test done? What's the risk of coming to campus without a test within 72 hours?
>>Dr. Cooper: You'll be ‑‑ you know. All the testing will happen at our testing center. If ‑‑ at the check in ‑‑ and I'm speaking off the cuff, because we haven't talked exactly about that, but if you come to campus without a record of a test, you'll be tested onsite. The reality probably will be that you won't be able to move in. For the next 72 hours, until the test comes back to us, you will be required to be off campus for that period of time. I don't have my director of health center here, but I suggest that is the answer to that question.
Again, if you have problems with that, I would Google your area. Or check CVS. You'll find more and more pop‑up testing sites that are happening. I traveled in from New Jersey and saw them on the New Jersey thruway. So there are some opportunities that are happening all the time. Because testing is a question that a number of people are asking
>>Kathy Martin: And I would add to that that the 72‑hour window is, again, mandated by the Commonwealth. So an additional risk of not having that test done before you begin to make your journey to Springfield College is if you happen to get stopped and are unable to produce those results, there may be a fine associated with that.
What are the ‑‑ what's the process if a student decides they want to live at home and not in the residence halls? Can that decision be made? And how long do families have to make that decision?
>>Dr. Cooper: They have up to the point they move in to make that decision. If you feel safer at home and don't want to be on campus, you need to reach out to Residents Life and make your plan known. We honor that. We understand this is a very personal issue. People have older family members, have people that may be at risk in terms of health issues. We encourage you to make that decision before you start the process of moving onto campus.
I do want to correct an answer, one of the very first questions in terms of tuition and room and board. We are reducing room and board by about 20%, understanding that students will be leaving after Thanksgiving. So there is a reduction in the housing and food cost. Because, again, after Thanksgiving students will be going home for that three‑week period. So we have reduced bills by that amount. And you may ask the question, if you happen to have a student that is a student teacher or has an internship, we will allow those students who are doing student teaching or have internships to remain on campus during that period of time. Typically because of their work schedule and internship they are not enrolled in dining plans. There will not be regular dining during that period of time. But we will allow them to remain on campus.
>>Kathy Martin: A couple of questions asking for clarification about the November date and whether or not we are asking the students to completely move out of their residence hall rooms. And the answer to that is yes.
>>Dr. Cooper: The answer to that is yes. Last year ‑‑ and for those of you that have upperclass students ‑‑ we made the decision last spring to allow people to leave their belongings on campus. And they went home. And then it became quite a challenge to get people back here to get their ‑‑ to get their belongings. And so it is much more efficient for you and your student to take your belongings with you at Thanksgiving. I know it is a hassle. So much of this is inconvenient. For that I apologize. I wish it were different. I wish we were having a normal fall semester more than you know. But we want to make sure that you have your belongings and our students have everything they need when they get home in terms of books, laptops, everything that they brought. And make sure it's with them when they return home.
>>Kathy Martin: Should students plan to have the same dorm room and roommate in the second semester?
>>Dr. Cooper: Yes.
>>Kathy Martin: A question moving back to academics. Can you talk a little bit about how the decisions were made about what courses went online? What courses are on ground or face‑to‑face, and what that process was like?
>>Dr. Cooper: Sure. So a lot of decisions around what was taught, will be taught remotely or online were the courses that were able to easily transition in that area. And so some of our courses that are not lab courses. Lab courses are hands‑on courses. Those are more difficult to do remotely. I know you know that, based on your student's experience and just thinking about that. But there are courses that are easier to transition. Another component is faculty that are teaching some of those courses. If they have ADA requirements, that was a driver as well. The classes that were taught successfully and with ease are courses we offered in that area.
>>Kathy Martin: So if students decide they are not comfortable taking their courses in a face‑to‑face format, how do they go about moving to online and find out what classes are online and what classes are onground?
>>Dr. Cooper: We'll work with every student individually. They should work with their adviser and the academic advising center and sign up for the courses that fit their needs. If you have a student concerned about that, I would encourage them to reach out in the next few days to their academic adviser. We're trying to be as responsive as we can.
>>Kathy Martin: What will the campus experience be like for commuters? Will their movement around campus be restricted as well?
>>Dr. Cooper: Their movement will not be restricted. Just like everybody else, they will be masked. We'll ask them to social distance. There won't be as much activity in and out of the residence halls. Students will have complete access to the Union, learning commons, to Cheney. Students will have access to all those. But pertaining to the residential experience, we want to keep that as contained as possible and limited to as few guests as possible.
>>Kathy Martin: How will students be able to have access to their advisers with all of those restrictions around COVID‑19?
>>Dr. Cooper: They should all be available by email. The support center and faculty have been very responsive to email. That's the best place to start. The Office of the President is another email you can use if need be. We'll redirect you to ensure you get the response that you need.
>>Kathy Martin: What about leaving in November? Will students be tested again as they depart?
>>Dr. Cooper: Not as they depart, but as they return.
The surveillance process will be taking place as well during the semester. But my guess is that the surveillance testing will happen ‑‑ but, again, as the community stays closer, it stays intact, hopefully that will prevent, you know a great deal of activity for the virus to grow and to spread
>>Kathy Martin: How is the testing being scheduled? Do students need to sign up? Where is the testing happening on campus?
>>Dr. Cooper: It's happening outside the health center. It will be the point of return for our students as they come back in the fall. Again, as they stagger with the move in, the information will be given to them directly in terms of when you arrive on campus, where to arrive. It will be very specific about those details. That's where the center is being set up.
You know. Tonight's session was really set up to give you a broad view of how we are planning for the opening. More details will be forthcoming in next two to three weeks. But I didn't want to wait until August 15 or 16 to reach out to you and let you know that all this planning is underway.
>>Kathy Martin: What about off‑campus social events? In the absence of the ability to enforce social distancing and masks when students are off campus, how do you begin to get your arms around that?
>>Dr. Cooper: Well, I worry about that. Again, for those of you that know, we have 93% of our students on campus. There are off campus houses. The City will monitor that as well in terms of large gatherings. We encourage our upperclass students ‑‑ we'll be discouraging them from large events. But we will not be monitoring that. The off‑campus housing is not college property. We're hoping students will be smart about their activities. Understanding we've got a group of young people. You know them. They're living with you. How they're operating today is not going to be very different to how they operate when they come to us. However, there will be people that will be monitoring them once they're on campus. Role modeling about wearing masks and social distancing. Washing hands. Cleaning products. Products will be available to faculty and staff to clean spaces available to them on a daily basis. We're trying to put all that in place.
>>Kathy Martin: How do you keep parents and families informed about the status of COVID‑19 on campus? Will you be sharing summary results of testing with the campus community?
>>Dr. Cooper: We've been asked that question by faculty and staff. We're looking at a dashboard in terms of how many tests have been positive on campus. Once we know more about what we'll be sharing, I'll let you know that. That website, up since March 17, is really your best resource for updated information. We've been dogged about keeping it up to speed. The questions and answers from tonight will be there as well. If you haven't visited the website, there's a banner at the top of it regarding COVID information. Keep your eye on that.
>>Kathy Martin: This question is somewhat related to testing again. If a student from a low‑risk state is rooming with a student from a high‑risk state, how are we ensuring that there isn't sharing of the virus earlier on?
>>Dr. Cooper: So the high‑risk state will have a test 72 hours before they come to campus. They'll be tested again when they come to campus. And so that's our best chance of, you know, capturing whether or not the student is coming in with a virus.
>>Kathy Martin: It helps that all students are being tested when they arrive.
>>Dr. Cooper: Yes. All students.
>>Kathy Martin: When families arrive on move‑in day, can parents help their students move into their residence halls?
>>Dr. Cooper: They can. I mean, there will be details about that from Residence Life. But we would ask that you restrict ‑‑ in the past we've had lots of siblings and aunts and uncles and dogs and cats and everybody else come. It will look different this year. Unfortunately, our new students ‑‑ I don't know many of our over 300 participants on the call tonight, how many are new students ‑‑ we've had upperclass students assist bringing in stuff and helping each other out. But to reduce contact and reduce the density of individuals, that will not be in place this year. My apologies in advance for that.
>>Kathy Martin: Two family members per student that can go up in the residence halls.
>>Dr. Cooper: Correct. Bring your two strongest family members.
>>Kathy Martin: If you're asking all students to move out in November, does that mean you're predicting something about January?
>>Dr. Cooper: I wish I could predict something about January. I wish I could predict something about September 1st. But I don't have ‑‑ you know. I'm following the news just as closely as you are. But there is some ‑‑ you know. Again, this is about the best science available to us. There is some belief that there might be a surge with the flu and cold season in late November. Many schools are following the same academic model that we've put in place that, after Thanksgiving, to reduce the risk of students going home and bringing back the virus to campus, having people go home and stay home. That's probably the very best opportunity for us to contain anyone that may have the virus and get through that period and return ‑‑ again, usually it's about the third week of January. Hopefully we can start the spring semester off and bring people back. We haven't talked about testing for the spring. But if we're still in this scenario, my guess is that there will be testing on the way back in. We'll take a look at what the hot states are and what the governor or Commonwealth suggest or dictate we do. We'll keep you informed on what the protocol there is and the directive is.
>>Kathy Martin: Question about masks. Any requirement about the type of mask that the student brings to Springfield College? Would a bandanna be appropriate?
>>Dr. Cooper: I'm not the mask person. The director of the Health Center is. We're asking people to wear masks. There are people that wear bandannas. Some of the reading that I've done and I'm sure others have seen, it's not ap adequate face covering. If it's something where that's all they have available, it's better than nothing. We're certainly expecting them to use a face covering that covers your nose and mouth and that is close to the face so it is contained. That is our hope. Again, our bookstore is selling them. I've seen them online. And so there are plenty of them out there and available.
>>Kathy Martin: For students who have internships planned, student teaching, rotations ‑‑ how is that being managed with all the restrictions?
>>Dr. Cooper: Each environment has their own set of regulations. They'll need to comply with whatever school they're going into internship and then will be part of our surveillance testing once they come back to campus.
>>Kathy Martin: What will be the plan for isolation and contact tracing? Who is conducting the contact tracing? Is that trained staff for Springfield College? Are we contracting with a company to do that?
>>Dr. Cooper: We are contracting with a company to do that. Same with our testing. Providing the tests and getting the results. They'll be administered through our health center. I'm very confident in our health center staff, with the work they've been doing. We've been working very closely with a number of agencies. The contact tracing is a very skilled task. They will be trained. We want to be sure we can contain the virus.
>>Kathy Martin: In the event that a student tests positive for COVID‑19, will they be allowed to go home?
>>Dr. Cooper: We haven't talked about that. You know. Again, we're providing isolation for them. If they can be driven home, I think that's possible. What I've been reading a little bit about today ‑‑ we had a seminar on that with another group of presidents. The thinking was if they were able to drive themselves home or have a family member come and take them home, that would be ideal. Certainly, not flying. We're trying to make that as safe as possible in terms of transporting the student home. That would be ideal, I imagine. So they're as comfortable as they can be.
>>Kathy Martin: In the community agreement, at the very end of the community agreement, this is going back to the balance of online and face‑to‑face classes, the end of the community agreement says that we may not be able to accommodate all students who want to study remotely.
Can you talk a little bit more about why we included that particular language?
>>Dr. Cooper: Just in case if, you know, 70% of our incoming students decided at the last minute they wanted to be online. It would be difficult for us to accommodate that. We are ‑‑ you know. We put that in place to ensure that ‑‑ we can't guaranty ‑‑ and I apologize for my ambiguity; although we are living in ambiguity every day in terms of what we're able to provide. But if every one of our students wanted an online experience, that would be difficult for us to deliver. We will know more, I promise you, in the next few weeks about what courses will be offered, what our students' interests are. Again, now students are filling out their registration and talking with us. In many different scenarios, the desire to come back and have classes face‑to‑face is the predominant choice.
>>Kathy Martin: What about behavior in residence halls, when students are not as well supervised? How do we control some of the behaviors that might be risky in a pandemic?
>>Dr. Cooper: We're going to require ‑‑ you know. We haven't put a group of people together to be in charge of mask wearing and mask accountability, except we're asking everybody to do it. You know. We're looking at putting together a campaign and having people really monitor each other to ensure ‑‑ I mean, again, the more that we comply, the more our students comply, the greater likelihood that we're going to be able to keep this community together on campus. When we have pockets of people not complying, it will be problematic. If we do have an individual or two or three or four or 15 that refuse to wear masks, we'll take them through the student conduct and go through the student conduct process for noncompliance. Because that behavior is putting other students at risk. And so we are going to have to address that. I remind ‑‑ and, again, I certainly don't want to be naive about this. And so please don't misinterpret it. We have students that don't walk on the grass at Springfield College. Not knowing how many of the 300 of you are new to this community, we have a pretty traditional community that takes great respect for the community, the spaces on community, and we seem to have no problem confronting each other. And so I think in this scenario you can expect that through the new student orientation that there will be lots of conversation from our upperclass students about the peer influence about wearing masks and the social distancing and what they need to do to be a good citizen and a good member of this residential community.
>>Kathy Martin: We have many students who have work study jobs on campus. Will our preparations and response to COVID‑19 limit those positions at all?
>>Dr. Cooper: Well, certainly, you know, we will honor our work study students and their needs for hours of. Been talking about that this week on my leadership team. Making those jobs available. There will be a reduction ‑‑ as you can imagine. As I said earlier, about 50% of our work force is back as mandated by the state. We have people working remotely. We're going to try to honor those hours. You can imagine, for example, the wellness center ‑‑ this has not been decided yet. Right now it's 6:30 to 11:00 at night. It might not have those same hours. So as soon as we make a decision about that, we will get that information out to students and faculty and staff. Especially those that use that facility. And then what those jobs are that are in that space.
>>Kathy Martin: Thank you. We've talked a lot about what we are planning to do if a student gets infected. What about faculty member or staff member?
>>Dr. Cooper: Same thing. We'll do contact tracing. They'll isolate at home, not on campus. Until they have a negative test. And then they'll be tested again before they return to campus.
>>Kathy Martin: In the event it's a faculty member who's teaching a class, are there backups planned for a faculty member?
>>Dr. Cooper: We can talk certainly to ‑‑ we have backup plans for all kinds of illnesses. There are some courses more difficult to have backups for than others, but we will respond accordingly.
>>Kathy Martin: If a student decides to stay home in the fall semester and study remotely, will that student be able to keep the same residence hall assignment for the spring?
>>Dr. Cooper: If that space has not been taken. I don't know ‑‑ I don't have the residence hall information right in front of me about what our density is. But if they assigned a first space, they may be assigned another space. I can't guaranty ‑‑ unless they paid that in the fall ‑‑ that the same spot will be available in the spring. If they come in spring, I'm pretty confident they can come back. Maybe not in the same exact room. But we will try to house them with other freshmen students. I think that's a very important part of collegiate experience.
>>Kathy Martin: A lot of questions coming in again about controlling parties on campus. We've all seen videos of super spreader events. We're real concerned about how we're going to be able to manage that.
>>Dr. Cooper: Well, we're talking about it. This environment is different than some of the bar and beach environments you've seen, that I've seen on TV. And I think it will be easier for us to monitor that. We're talking to RAs about it. We'll be talking about that with those who govern procedures in residence halls. There have been parties behind the townhouses, for example. One of our residence halls on campus. Those won't happen in the fall. And so that will be distinctly absent. And I'm sure our upperclass students will be disappointed. But the density behind the townhouses to have students gather would make that impossible. So there are some decisions we've already made about spaces that gatherings cannot happen. So we're going to need to follow the commonwealth of Massachusetts.
>>Kathy Martin: Can students travel between residence halls on campus? Or are they confined to their own residence hall.
>>Dr. Cooper: They can travel between I think. The community will be open. They just need to be masked.
>>Kathy Martin: A lot of questions about the release of course information for the fall, when that will be made available. Again, we've said that's within the next couple of weeks?
>>Dr. Cooper: Yes.
>>Kathy Martin: Understand that that's a great interest to families.
>>Dr. Cooper: I understand that. And I appreciate that. It's good to know that's on your mind. Our provost is on the call as well. This will inform us what questions are on your mind. And I appreciate your patience and understanding, and we are moving as quickly as we can in terms of making these decisions. And so we will ‑‑ we'll be working day and night between now and when our students return to get that information out to you and your families.
>>Kathy Martin: Thank you. We have about four or five minutes left in the hour. A lot of questions coming in about students leaving campus to go to the grocery store. They will not be tested when they return from one of those outings. Correct?
>>Dr. Cooper: They will not be. I mean, students will be able to come and go. We will not be testing them once they return to campus. We just don't have that capability to do that. They need to follow safe practices when they go to the store and wear the masks. Just like they're doing from your house. We just don't have the capacity to test everybody of we're not a gated community. And so people coming and going ‑‑ they'll have a little more flexibility than they might coming from your house.
I don't necessarily want to cut anybody off, but I'm seeing that we're getting some repetition. And that's good. I was happy to be in front of you. I know that you are concerned about your sons and daughters. I am, too. I wanted to get in front of you. I would be in front of you at an open house in the spring. In front of you at convocation. In front of you four years from now when your students are crossing the stage. I want you to know our team, the faculty and staff, are doing everything we can to return safely. We're making hard decisions every day to have your students come back and be safe and continue on and get a Springfield College experience. I feel it's the best collegiate experience you can get. I hope you feel the same way too.
Again, you'll see all these questions and answers on the web page. Go to that within the hour. If you have additional questions, please write to the Office of the President. And we will gather that information and put it ‑‑ if we don't respond to you directly, we'll put the answer to that on the Webpage. Because if you have that question, there's a good chance that others have that question as well.
And so I'm going to close.
I want to thank you all. I can't see you. I want to thank you all for coming in tonight and being a part of this conversation and joining me in my kitchen at Alden Street. I'm looking forward to greeting you when you come in a few weeks. If you have, again, specific questions for me or if there's anything else you need, you know where to find me.
So I'm going to sign off. I want you all to be well. Travel here safely. Enjoy August. Take good care of yourselves. Take good care of each other. And I look forward to welcoming you to Springfield College.
So I'll see you soon.
End session, 8:00 p.m.