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University announces operational changes in response to COVID spike

Posted 11/12/20

Fitchburg State University will close its residence halls and switch to remote delivery of most courses later this month in response to a spike of COVID-19 cases in the city.

“These steps are being taken as a direct result of a steep rise in COVID-19 infections in the city of Fitchburg and the surrounding areas,” President Lapidus said in a memo to the campus community on Thursday morning. “This increase in infection rate has begun to impact our campus. The state’s ‘Stop the Spread’ program will soon be implemented in Fitchburg as a means of working toward curtailing new infections.”

The changes were announced after consultation with local officials and public health professionals. The university will switch to remote instruction – with the exception of a small number of pre-approved face-to-face classes – no later than Saturday, Nov. 21.

In addition to a growing number of positive test results from on- and off-campus testing in the past two weeks, the university has seen an even steeper rise in members of the campus community in quarantine either on- or off-campus since Nov. 6.

Residence halls will close for the semester at midnight Sunday, Nov. 22. Students in preapproved face-to-face classes and those approved due to extenuating circumstances may remain in the residence halls. Additional information was being shared with residential students, including adjustments to housing and dining charges.

The university is continuing its weekly COVID-19 testing protocol and invited students to take advantage of testing prior to any Thanksgiving-related travel.

The spring semester will start one week later than originally planned, with classes beginning Monday, Jan. 25. The spring recess scheduled for March has been cancelled, though four “wellness days” have been added to the academic schedule.

In his memo to the campus, President Lapidus praised the university community’s response.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, while challenging and stressful for all, has also demonstrated the outstanding character and caring nature of our campus community,” Lapidus said. “People have shown compassion, empathy, and a heightened sense of responsibility for the well-being of others. I am proud that so many members of our community have stepped-up and acted in a safe and responsible manner this semester.

“Though every positive COVID-19 case is one too many, because of your efforts, we have been able to keep the number of positive cases on campus small among our students, faculty, and staff,” Lapidus continued. “By further de-densifying our campus, we are better able to preserve the health and safety of all.”  

Full text of memo shared with the Fitchburg State community on Thursday, Nov. 12.

To the campus community,

I write to you today to announce a series of changes to our instructional delivery model for the remainder of the fall semester. These steps are being taken as a direct result of a steep rise in COVID-19 infections in the city of Fitchburg and the surrounding areas. This increase in infection rate has begun to impact our campus. The state’s “Stop the Spread” program will soon be implemented in Fitchburg as a means of working toward curtailing new infections.

After discussions with local officials and public health professionals, we have decided that courses will move to remote instruction no later than Saturday, November 21, with the exception of a limited number of pre-approved face-to-face classes. These classes will continue face-to-face through the end of the semester. Students in these classes will be notified by their faculty by this Friday, November 13.

Our residence halls will close for the semester effective at midnight, Sunday, November 22. Only students who are in pre-approved face-to-face classes and those approved due to extenuating circumstances may remain in residence. Additional information about the residence halls, as well as any adjustments to housing and dining charges, will be detailed soon through future messages to residential students.

With a limited number of students remaining in residence halls and in face-to-face classes, all offices will continue to adhere to their current schedules and provide services for the remainder of the semester.

Regularly-scheduled COVID-19 testing will take place for all members of the campus community the week of November 16. Please take advantage of this prior to departing campus or before any Thanksgiving holiday travel. The test schedule is Wednesday, November 18, and Thursday, November 19, from 9 am-12:15 pm and 1-4 pm. You may make an appointment for testing at: https://fsuitscheduling.as.me/MillerCovidTest.  For students remaining on campus, testing will continue for the remainder of the fall semester.

We will plan on a return to face-to-face, hybrid, and fully-online instruction options when the spring semester begins Monday, January 25, 2021. This date is one week later than originally published on the 2020-21 Academic Calendar.  Recently, the All University Committee governance process voted to begin the Spring 2021 semester a week later, remove Spring Break, and instead add four Wellness Days throughout the term. The new academic calendar can be found here.

The COVID-19 pandemic, while challenging and stressful for all, has also demonstrated the outstanding character and caring nature of our campus community. People have shown compassion, empathy, and a heightened sense of responsibility for the well-being of others. I am proud that so many members of our community have stepped-up and acted in a safe and responsible manner this semester. Though every positive COVID-19 case is one too many, because of your efforts, we have been able to keep the number of positive cases on campus small among our students, faculty, and staff.  By further de-densifying our campus, we are better able to preserve the health and safety of all.  

Thank you,

Richard S. Lapidus
President

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