May 19, 2020: Governor’s Report on Reopening Colleges and Universities

From: Michael S. Roth and Nicole Stanton

Subject: Governor’s Report on Reopening Colleges and Universities

Date: May 19, 2020

To the Wesleyan community,

As you may know, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has announced a plan for a phased reopening of some Connecticut businesses and offices, which would include some university research labs, for Wednesday, May 20.

Wesleyan is making plans for faculty and staff to return to work including reopening research labs in accordance with state guidelines. We expect this to occur in phases, beginning with a resumption of research activities by some faculty and graduate students, followed later by a return to campus of undergraduate student researchers living in Connecticut who don’t require University housing. Undergraduates already remaining in campus housing are also permitted to participate in the first phase of research activities. The precise dates of these phases have not yet been determined. Detailed information regarding research labs reopening is forthcoming from Joe Knee, dean of Division III.

Faculty and staff who are currently working from home should continue to do so. Access to some buildings remain restricted until the University can ensure compliance with the State’s guidelines including cleaning, signage and furniture spacing. Additional information about offices and departments is forthcoming.

In an effort to comply with the new State guidelines and protect our community, please complete an online form to register with Public Safety and inform your supervisor if you need to return to campus as the University is required to log employees who are on the premises.

Individuals with a need to visit an office or lab should review these guidelines before doing so.

In addition, last week, the Governor’s office received a detailed higher education task force report recommending a possible return to residential models of higher education in the fall. The report suggests that such a return will depend on a set of conditions related to metrics on new Covid-19 cases and the rate of decline, as well as ensuring that institutions have an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) and diagnostic tests, and sufficient contact tracing capacity. The report recommends that the State will need to provide, among other things, specific guidelines for facemasks and social distancing in dorms, dining facilities, and classrooms. There also must be adequate capacity in local community health facilities to handle a surge of new cases.

We are confident that Wesleyan can satisfy these conditions for reopening, and we very much hope that the University will be fully residential in the fall. We will only open the campus if it is safe to do so, and so we continue to closely monitor the trajectory of this pandemic, planning for multiple scenarios depending on public health conditions. These plans include various degrees of remote educational programming, should that be necessary. We will make a decision on what the fall semester will look like by early July.

Michael S. Roth

Nicole Stanton
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs