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Coronavirus Information

Latest News | CARES Act InformationBackground | PreventionResources | Updates | Campus Community Bulletins | Bulletins for Students | Bulletins for Faculty and Staff | FAQs

This page contains news and resources related to the novel coronavirus (referred to as COVID-19) pandemic. We will update this site as new information becomes available.

Click here to read the latest campus notifications.

Latest Developments:
 

  • Click here to read the student repopulation plan (as of Aug. 13).
  • Watch a video discussion about the re-entry plans here.
  • The campus repopulation plan for employees can be found here
  • The university anticipates offering COVID-19 testing the week of August 24 for staff and some student populations, and the week of August 31, testing will be conducted for faculty and students.
  • Students who are traveling from out of state should review this document.
  • The Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference (MASCAC) has suspended the fall 2020 athletic season, including all indoor and outdoor athletic competition. Learn more about the fall plans at Fitchburg State by clicking here.
  • In-person summer orientation has been canceled. There will be online orientation later this summer.
  • The spring commencement ceremonies were postponed and plans are being developed for in-person ceremonies at a later date.
  • All members of the campus community are asked to wear cloth face coverings when social distancing is not possible.
  • University operations continue but the campus is closed to the public.
  • University-related travel, both foreign and domestic, is discontinued until further notice.
  • Large gatherings on campus are being canceled or postponed.
  • Please direct any inquiries about the campus response to COVID-19 to coronavirus@fitchburgstate.edu.

CARES Act Information

CARES Act information, May 26, 2020

Earlier this spring, the federal government passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  One of the provisions of this act included providing relief to college students whose educational experience was disrupted as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.  Through the CARES Act, Fitchburg State University is receiving funds that will be disbursed directly to eligible undergraduate students who were enrolled in the spring 2020 semester.

The CARES Act funding is one of a series of ways Fitchburg State University is addressing the financial needs of students during the global COVID-19 public health crisis. The university’s efforts to assist students have included housing and dining adjustments, continued payment of Federal Work Study wages, and combined with donations to the Student Emergency Relief Fund, is contributing approximately $300,000 toward the creation of the “Falcon CARES Fund” for otherwise ineligible students.

Fitchburg State University will use the $1.9 million it receives in CARES Act funding to directly support eligible students who are facing significant financial challenges due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Through the federal CARES Act funding and the university Falcon CARES Fund, nearly all undergraduate students will be receiving a payment. Approximately 75 percent of Fitchburg State undergraduate students will receive the federal CARES Act funds. Undergraduate students may receive up to $1,000.  Funds will disburse to qualifying students through the normal process via Student Accounts in the coming days.

Students who have expenses that have not been covered already can appeal for an individual review directly to the Office of Student Financial Aid for additional assistance at finaid@fitchburgstate.edu.

CARES Act Update

Fitchburg State University has submitted the certification and agreement form to access Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) and intends to use the funds to provide the mandated amount of $1,955,463 in emergency grants to students.  Fitchburg State University made the decision to award these grants to undergraduate, degree-seeking students, who were eligible to receive Title IV funding based on FAFSA results, who were enrolled in the Spring 2020 semester as of March 16, 2020.

Eligible students were notified of these grants the week of May 18th and funds were released the week of May 25, 2020, by Fitchburg State, to 2284 eligible students.  These funds are to be used to assist with the costs of attendance for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care).

CARES ACT REQUIREMENTS

  • An acknowledgment that the institution signed and returned the certification and agreement form and that the institution has used, or intends to use the funds to provide the mandated amount of at least 50% of the emergency financial aid grants to students.
  • The total amount of funds that the institution will receive, or has received under the HEERF student portion.
  • Of those funds, the total amount that has been distributed to students as of the date of reporting (i.e. the first 30-day deadline, and then every 45 days thereafter).
  • The estimated total number of students at the institution eligible to participate in programs under Section 484 in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and therefore eligible to receive an emergency financial aid grant.
  • The total number of students who have received an emergency financial aid grant.
  • How the institution determined which students did, or will receive emergency financial aid grants and how much funding they did, or will receive.
  • Any instructions, directions, or guidance provided by the institution to students concerning the emergency financial aid grants.

 

Background

According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS, SARS, and now with COVID-19.

Most often, spread from person to person happens among close contacts (about 6 feet). Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It’s currently unclear if a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

Typically, with most respiratory viruses, people are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).

It’s important to note that how easily a virus spreads person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so. There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.

Prevention

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. There are everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

If you develop symptoms of a respiratory infection (such as fever, cough, shortness of breath), contact Student Health Services at 978.665.3643 or your primary care provider. The nurse can discuss your symptoms and determine if you need an office visit as well as any self-treatment options.

Resources

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Governor Baker's Office
 

Campus Updates

Community Bulletins

Study Abroad Announcement, Aug. 13, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

I am writing today with an update regarding our spring 2021 faculty-led study abroad programs.  We have made the very difficult and heartbreaking decision to cancel our four planned programs that would have had faculty and students traveling in either March or May to Europe, Costa Rica and Japan. 

The health and safety of our university community remains a top priority. We believe that given the information available at this time, rescheduling these programs is the most appropriate action to take. Some of the variables that led to this decision include the following:

Current travel restrictions: U.S. citizens are currently restricted from entering into many countries across the globe. There is general uncertainty regarding the timelines for lifting current travel restrictions.  

Timeline for finalizing a student group: Student recruitment for our spring programs would occur this fall with final rosters of students needed by early December. 

Passport processing delays: Passport agencies and centers began a phased reopening on August 3 with priority to customers who need a passport for a life-or-death emergency.  Currently there are over 1 million passports awaiting issuance.

Health and safety: Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. 

Fitchburg State is committed to providing opportunities for our students to study abroad. The staff of the Office of International Education will work with the faculty leading these programs to reschedule them. Our Summer 2021 international programs are still scheduled to occur, though we will be monitoring guidelines and restrictions as those preparations continue.

Study abroad programs are an essential component of our university’s curriculum. Students with international experiences gain a better understanding of the world we live in and a true appreciation of other cultures. 

We know the disappointment this announcement will create, but we are acting in the best interest of the health and safety of our community members, Please know that we remain confident that we will return to a regular schedule of study abroad opportunities for our students. 

Sincerely,

Alberto J.F. Cardelle, PhD, MPH
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Cloth Face Coverings Compliance, May 14, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has issued an executive order that went into effect, May 6, 2020, requiring everyone in the Commonwealth to wear a mask or face coverings in public (indoors and outdoors) and where social distancing is not possible, during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Cloth Face Coverings Compliance

At Fitchburg State University, adherence to this new directive is imperative and the cooperation of faculty, staff, and residential students on campus is appreciated.

Wearing masks or face coverings is an important measure for reducing the transmission of the COVID-19 virus; however, it is NOT a substitute for social distancing, and all students, faculty and staff should continue to keep six feet of distance between themselves and others when reasonably possible.  

As employees begin to enter campus they are asked to report to work with a face covering or mask. If an employee does not have access to a mask or face covering, the university will provide one.  Please contact the Office of Environmental Health and Safety if you are in need of a mask.

It is important to note that employees who work alone in their offices, or those that work at a distance beyond six feet from coworkers, are not required to wear cloth masks when at their desks and/or working at least six feet from coworkers. 

In addition, the order does not apply to individuals with medical conditions who would be negatively affected by the requirement. Employees who meet this criterion should contact Ms. Jessica Murdoch at jmurdoch@fitchburgstate.edu in the Office of Human Resources & Payroll Services, while current residential students who meet this criterion should contact Health Services at 978.665.3643 or 978.665.3894

We strongly encourage employees and students to comply with this measure in order to protect the health and safety of all members of our campus community. Those who do not wear such protective masks or face covers may be asked to leave the building or  premises.

For more information on cloth face coverings, reference the following resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) information:

Compliance with this executive order also applies to contractors and vendors who are on campus for construction projects or business operations.

Contractor/Vendor Access to Campus Buildings

During this period of limited access to campus through June 1, 2020, construction projects that were in process will continue on Fitchburg State’s campus. Other contractors and vendors are also on campus delivering supplies and performing services. These groups follow their respective employers’ COVID-19 policies, and will be asked to follow our safety protocols as well.

Since campus buildings have limited access, contractor and vendor building access needs to be organized through their campus contact.  Vendors/Contractors will be required to notify their Fitchburg State contact upon arrival to campus; the FSU contact will then go to meet them and coordinate building/area access. Office supply and general deliveries will continue to be received by Materials Management at the Service Center, who will then handle distribution throughout campus.  Thank you for your attention to and adherence with this access protocol.

Please be safe and stay well.

Best,

Jessica Murdoch
Associate Vice President, Human Resources & Payroll Services

Update on campus activities, April 28, 2020

To the campus community,

Good morning. I am writing to share some updates as we continue our journey forward. I want to begin by reiterating how proud I am of all of you for the way you have handled these stressful changes. At every level of campus operations, I see people stepping up to do their best work, rightly focused on serving our students. And to our students, let me say how inspiring you have been to all of us. You make this community a special place to be, and we are honored to work with you.

There have been many communications to the campus from various offices over the past several weeks (which are archived on our coronavirus web page), but please allow me to briefly recap recent activity.

  • The university remains open but the campus is closed to the public. The vast majority of our community will continue to work remotely through June 1, but a plan is in process for a gradual return when appropriate.
  • We are awaiting approximately $3.9 million from the federal government through the CARES Act, which includes nearly $2 million in funding that will be sent directly to students to help them navigate these challenging times. 
  • We are still awaiting guidance from state authorities about when we can have large gatherings on the campus, so we do not yet have a date for the spring commencement ceremonies. Again, be assured that we have heard loud and clear from the Class of 2020 that they want a live ceremony, and we want to make that happen as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • Our first virtual Future Falcon Day was a great success last week, where we engaged hundreds of prospective students. My thanks to our hard-working Admissions team and all the other offices who contributed to making this event a vibrant and engaging session that reflects the richness of our campus community.
  • That vitality is reflected in ongoing student development activities, like last week’s virtual Take Back the Night observance and the Student Government Association elections. Students should check their email each week to learn about additional extracurricular opportunities organized by student organizations and the university. These activities can provide a much-deserved break and refresh your spirits.
  • While we were unable to hold the in-person Honors Convocation, last week more than 200 students were recognized for academic achievement. Honorees are receiving certificates by mail with scholarships and awards totaling nearly $200,000. You can read more about the award winners here, and I am sure you join me in congratulating them on their accomplishments.
  • We held a virtual Recognition Ceremony at which 21 individual students and student organizations were honored for their leadership and service.
  • Provost/VP for Academic Affairs Alberto Cardelle and I were delighted to take part in a virtual town hall last Friday afternoon organized by the student-run campus newspaper, The Point. My thanks to the Point staff members for arranging a varied and informative discussion.
  • I have scheduled a virtual forum with staff this Thursday beginning at 3 p.m. Instructions on how to participate (or just listen in) were shared over the weekend via email and will be sent again before Thursday afternoon.
  • Provost Cardelle and I will hold a virtual forum with faculty and librarians at 4 p.m. Friday. Instructions on how to participate (or just listen in) were shared via email over the weekend and will be sent again before Friday afternoon. 
  • Our student support operations continue their robust availability. Counseling, academic support, career counseling and advising, health services and the library, among other offices, are all serving students through remote platforms. These essential services will remain open to all who need them for the remainder of the semester. Click here to see a comprehensive listing of available services.
  • Our Information Technology Department has been on the front line of making this transitional semester so successful. You will recall that we migrated to Google earlier this semester for our email and calendar systems, which proved prescient as we rely on these tools to make remote instruction and operations work. In just the last six weeks, for example, our students, faculty and staff have participated in more than 66,000 Google conferences and video meetings.
  • Members of Finance and Administration continue to do an outstanding job at making sure the campus continues to run smoothly.  Among other things, they were instrumental in making sure refunds for housing, meal plans and parking fees were expedited back to students. 
  • With the assistance of dozens of members of our faculty and staff, our “Falcons Supporting Falcons” program is directly contacting all undergraduate students to make sure they are OK and their needs are being met. The feedback that I and others have received through these calls thus far has been overwhelmingly positive and reflects the great work all are doing every day. 

Like the rest of you, we are looking forward to a return to normalcy, but exactly when that will occur is still unknown. We are moving our first summer session completely online and will be making a decision in the next few weeks whether the second summer session will also be held remotely.

We are also developing new models for our summer orientation sessions to include more virtual content. We anticipate including some face-to-face components, but that call will be made based on the public health conditions of the time.

The biggest question facing us is what form the start of the fall semester will take. This, too, is still up in the air. At present we are preparing for a fully on-campus experience, but again we will be driven by state and federal guidance in an effort to preserve the health and safety of all our campus constituencies. We will, of course, keep you posted as conditions evolve.

Thank you again, and please take care.

Richard S. Lapidus
President

Assisting the Commonwealth's response to pandemic, April 1, 2020

To the campus community,

You may be aware that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been setting up a staging area at Landry Arena on John Fitch Highway as part of the comprehensive response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The site will be used, if necessary, as a short-term staging area for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) for decedents moving from hospitals and other facilities to funeral homes and crematories. It is not active at this time.

The site has been prepared as part of a contingency plan by the state. While there is currently no need for these services, our institution is poised to make space available for an important juncture in the system that delivers people’s loved ones to their final disposition.

The community should know that OCME staff have the medical and operational knowledge to safely contain and handle remains. The staging area poses no risk to university personnel or the public at large.

In the face of an unprecedented crisis, the City of Fitchburg and Fitchburg State University had an opportunity to contribute to the Commonwealth’s response. If these short-term storage services become necessary, we can relieve pressure in our hospitals and provide public health benefits that will save lives here and across Massachusetts.

Thank you.

Richard S. Lapidus
President

Message from the Provost, March 21, 2020

I would like to echo the sentiments of President Lapidus, the level of response, flexibility and creativity demonstrated by our university community has been overwhelming and a testament to the commitment of this community to our mission.

I wanted to reach out as we move towards this new and unprecedented period of having all of courses offered remotely on Monday. Following is some guidance. We know this won’t be a perfectly smooth transition, but we also know that you are all making tremendous efforts and together we will respond as issues arise.

Communicating with students

You have been given access to text your students directly from the SSC platforms, the attachment to this email provides instructions (when students respond it will go to your email).

Remember to contact your students soon, and now that you can text please feel free to communicate with them via text.

Also reach out to the students and inquire if your students feel that they can access Blackboard, Google Hangouts, emails remotely so that they can receive the information you will be sending. Please send the information about students who lack access to your Deans and we will forward to IT.

Student Success

We are proposing an emergency AUC proposal to waive the existing Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory policy and the incomplete policy for the Spring 2020 semester. The temporary changes in policy are aimed at relieving students’ stress but also provide the flexibility to programs that cannot move to that grading scheme. A copy of the changes will be distributed by the end of next week.

Students have been informed that the advising period has been extended by one week until April 17.

Registration has been pushed to the week of April 21 to April 27. So please do not feel rushed to get to your advisees this next weeks. We should focus on getting our courses delivered. We will send out more information next week.

Teaching Remotely

If you are scheduling synchronous sessions please try to schedule them at the same time your course is scheduled. However, remember to record them so students may access it at later date in the event that do not have a consistent WiFi connection.

Please remember to be flexible on assessment due dates as it is possible that other courses students have may require the same timeline. For example, it may be that all of a student’s courses have assignments due Sunday evenings.

Plan to cover the essentials, Consider the essential learning outcomes in your course. There are many ways to provide inclusive, highly engaged learning in the context of an online or remote course.

Please be flexible in the tools that you use. It is okay select a series of mechanisms including some low-tech solutions to accomplish course outcomes (e.g., just using email to exchange files and communications).

Remember to access the tools available at https://www.fitchburgstate.edu/offices-servicesdirectory/ technology/remote-teaching-resources/

Easing Deadlines

In order to provide everyone with more time we are extending the deadlines for proposals to the Faculty Academy until April 3. If you already submitted a proposal and want to work on it some more please, feel free to resubmit. The deadline for Special Projects Grants has been pushed back to May 4, 2020.

A communication will be forthcoming from AUC on new deadlines for proposal submissions.

Over this next week we will be reviewing all University committees and maintain a meeting schedule for

those which can complete the work remotely and/or have time sensitive work.

This is a rapidly changing situation and one which has challenged our sense of community. We will be communicating often to provide both the most recent information and maintain our sense of community.

Alberto

Alberto J.F. Cardelle, PhD, MPH
Fitchburg State University
Provost and Vice-President Academic Affairs
978-665-3295

Message from President Lapidus, March 20, 2020

Good afternoon, I hope this message finds you well.

I’d like to begin by expressing my appreciation for your flexibility and patience as
we work to address the challenges posed by COVID-19.

I’m pleased to reiterate that as of today, there are no known cases of Coronavirus
among the Fitchburg State University community.

We believe that the measures that have been enacted will help to preserve the
health of our campus population.

We have taken seriously the guidance from the CDC, state health officials, and
others, and will continue to be attentive to directives from authoritative sources and
conservative in our decision-making to maximize the protection of our
community.

These last few weeks have put our campus to the test. We’ve all been pushed hard
and the experience has been stressful.

None-the-less, I’m inspired and reassured by the way that all of you across campus
have come together to support each other in a safe, calm and good-spirited manner
as we continue to prepare to meet the challenge of this crisis and assure the
successful delivery of our educational mission.

Faculty are quickly and creatively shifting classes to online and remote formats to
deliver academic content to our students that unfortunately can no longer remain
on campus.

Our facilities crews are working tirelessly to clean our campus thoroughly and
professionally to prevent the potential transmission of viruses from solid surfaces.

Across our campus, staff members are busy working on continuity plans and
addressing the myriad of individual needs and questions that arise with a disruption
of this magnitude.

And, our students are showing incredible understanding and resilience as their
worlds have been upended.

Together, the talent exhibited on our campus, to shift our normal way of operating,
in such a short time, has been nothing less than extraordinary, and I thank you.
As we move into the days ahead, I ask that you continue to follow public health
guidance by practicing social distancing, using good handwashing and cleaning
procedures, reporting concerns about exposure, and self-isolating if you’re feeling
sick.

Together we can protect ourselves and each other.

Perseverance is our campus motto, and I know that however long this epidemic
might last, there is no better campus community up to the challenge.

As long as we stand together, and support each other - even if we are standing six
feet apart - we will succeed, and in the end be stronger for it.

Thank you again for all you do on behalf of our students. I’m always proud to
serve the Fitchburg State University community. I hope you and yours stay healthy, and

I look forward to better times for all of us in the near term.

Thanks for listening.

Richard S. Lapidus
President

A message from the Provost, March 15, 2020

A message from Counseling Services, March 14, 2020

Dear members of the FSU community, 

The Counseling Services staff wanted to reach out to you during this time of elevated stress and disruption.  We understand that receiving messaging from the University and the larger public regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is likely leaving you with a mix of emotions. Please know that you are not alone.  Often, stress and anxiety can peak during times of uncertainty. This means that people can feel more on edge, nervous, helpless, angry, or sad when we have a sense that we are not in control. We’d like to offer some tools and resources for you, if you find you need additional support. As a staff, we have a few thoughts:

  1. Avoid information overload. Staying connected to reputable resources is OK … in moderation. We have access to all sorts of information and opinions, but it is easy to get caught up in it. Pay attention to where you are getting your information and know when to take a break. Here are a few websites that we trust: 

    1. World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus 

    2. Center for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/index.html 

  2. Strategize how to cope with down time, being alone, or changing up your day-to-day. Can you include routine and predictability? In times of uncertainty we tend to grasp towards structure for comfort. Can you give yourself a schedule for meals, social connection, exercise, rest? Even the planning process can provide us some relief in times of stress. 

  3. Consider using your supports. Talk with friends and family about your concerns or fears, but in moderation. You may be tempted to only talk about the current events, but don’t forget the positive news and other areas of your life. Talking to those you care about can help you to not feel alone, but listen to yourself when it feels like too much. Notice your point of saturation, and remember that you can say “no” to talking about the coronavirus. Also keep in mind that other people might need a break from talking about it too, and that’s ok. 

  4. Try to think positively: We are resilient creatures. Recall how you and your loved ones survived past hardships and crisis. Remind yourself that like those hardships in the past, the current situation will pass too. Challenge yourself to change your perspective. Perhaps consider this as an opportunity to show yourself and loved ones care and nurturance. Reflect on gratitude. Maybe this is an opportunity to try out journaling. 

  5. Practice self-care. Give yourself permission to take time to relax. There is still life outside of the current crisis, and it is ok to engage in activities that take your mind off of it. Read the book you have been putting off until summer. Try a new DIY project. Turn up your music and dance!

  6. Show compassion. Fear and anxiety can lead to social stigma. It is important that we counteract stigma and reflect on our assumptions. We must continue to provide social support within our community and beyond, treating others with dignity and respect. 

  7. Don’t completely ignore your email inbox. This is an evolving situation; more information will certainly be forthcoming. Check back for updates in your email and on our website, and at the following website: Fitchburg State University (coronavirus updates):  www.fitchburgstate.edu/coronavirus

In times like these, we become more aware of just how we are connected as a global village.  And...together...we will manage this current set of challenges.  

We know that many students have scheduled appointments with the Counseling Services Office in coming days, and circumstances that will unfold will determine the next steps with respect to these meetings.  Regardless, support is available, and the following are some resources should you need immediate assistance:

  • Counseling Services website: www.fitchburgstate.edu/counseling

  • University Police Department: 978-665-3111

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK

  • Call 2 Talk: 508-532-2255, or text “C2T” to 741741

There’s also a really nice piece recently published by our colleagues at Active Minds that may be worth taking a look at: https://www.activeminds.org/blog/coping-and-staying-emotionally-well-during-covid-19-related-school-closures/

For employees, know that we care about your well-being, also, and remember that our Employee Assistance Program is available to help.  The program is provided through AllOne Health, is generally free of charge, and has a wealth of resources to offer. 

Fitchburg State University Employee Assistance Program: https://www.fitchburgstate.edu/offices-services-directory/human-resources-payroll/employee-assistance-program/

Be well all,

The Counseling Services Team

A message to parents, guardians and friends, March 13, 2020

Dear Parents, Guardians and Friends,

Over the past several weeks and especially in the last few days, Fitchburg State leadership has continued to track and respond to the rapidly evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.  Our highest priority remains the health and welfare of our university community while enabling the continuity of our higher education mission. 

This past Wednesday we announced that spring break will be extended through next week. This eliminates the need for thousands of students, faculty and staff, many of whom have traveled internationally and domestically, to return to campus on Monday. We believe this decision is in their best interests while helping to mitigate the coronavirus spread consistent with CDC guidelines. The changes will allow us time to clean public campus spaces and prepare for the temporary transition of course instruction to remote methods. Our ultimate goal is to guide your student through a successful completion of their semester.

As students learned on Wednesday, residence halls will be closed. Students who want to retrieve academic materials and other personal items from Housing may visit between 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, March 15 and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, March 16. We recommend they plan for at least three weeks. 

Please visit our coronavirus web page regularly for archived messages and updates. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through these challenging times.  

Sincerely,

Richard S. Lapidus
President

Campus update, March 12, 2020

To the campus community,

Over the course of today, a number of members of the campus community indicated concern that they had been exposed to the coronavirus indirectly. None of these individuals is experiencing symptoms, but out of an abundance of caution, they were asked to leave campus and instructed to contact their primary care provider. 

In conversation with a Massachusetts Department of Public Health epidemiologist, based on the scenarios these individuals provided, it was determined that none was considered to be at risk for the coronavirus (COVID-19). They went on to further state that no self-isolation was required.

To date, no member of the Fitchburg State University community has been diagnosed with COVID-19, and no one has reported showing symptoms. 

We are notifying the campus community in the interest of transparency. The health and safety of our campus community and guests are paramount. As always, anyone displaying symptoms should not come to work, and should contact their primary care provider. Anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19 is asked to self-isolate at home for 14 days. This protocol will be in place for any cases that may arise.

When on campus, please practice good public health hygiene:

  • Wash hands

  • Cover coughs

  • Maintain social distancing

Please visit fitchburgstate.edu/coronavirus for updated information on the campus response as well as tips for prevention and other resources.

Best regards,

Richard S. Lapidus, Ph.D.
President

Class cancellation memo, March 11, 2020

To the campus community,

As you are aware, the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve quickly in the U.S. and abroad, with new information and new cases confirmed daily. Late yesterday, Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts based on the evolving conditions. We are continuing to monitor and respond to these developments with guidance from state and federal officials, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

In the face of this rapidly developing global health emergency, our highest priority remains the health and welfare of our students, faculty and staff. While Fitchburg State has received no confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 infection, we need to act now to slow the spread of the virus. To further that goal, we are preparing and planning for the possibility of temporarily delivering course material remotely for all face-to-face courses.

Therefore, we are going to cancel classes until Monday, March 23 (except for accelerated online programs). Students should not return to campus the week of March 16-20.

Residence halls will be closed for that week. Housing and Residential Services will be in contact with resident students about their needs for housing - or access to their residence halls - during the residence hall closure.

The campus will otherwise remain open and all faculty and staff should continue their regular work schedules the week of March 16-20. The break will also allow additional time to clean all frequently touched surfaces and common areas on campus.

Additional communications will be sent in the coming days as the university plans for continuity of operations. Please visit fitchburgstate.edu/coronavirus for updated information.

In addition, the following conditions are in effect for at least 30 days and will be revisited in the coming weeks.

  • We will be surveying students, faculty and staff about their travel over the break.

  • Anyone who has traveled to areas considered at high risk of COVID-19 will be asked to self-isolate before returning to the main campus, and to contact their primary healthcare providers should they develop symptoms (such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath).

  • All work-related travel, both foreign and domestic, is to be discontinued until further notice. Study abroad travels have already been canceled or postponed. For conferences, consider virtual options. Out-of-state visitors, including guest speakers or job candidates, should be moved to online forums.

  • We are canceling or postponing large gatherings on the campus (currently defined as those having 100 or more attendees). We will revisit large gatherings in the coming weeks based on evolving conditions and guidance from state and national authorities.

We do not take these measures lightly, and we wish they were not necessary. Our goal is to keep members of our community safe while ensuring that students can complete their coursework for the semester and the daily operations of the institution can continue.

I assure you that the university’s leadership is closely monitoring developments related to COVID-19 and we are in constant contact with healthcare providers, state government, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

We will continue to provide all of you with details on how we will move forward. We know these decisions are disruptive, but are necessary to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Please visit fitchburgstate.edu/coronavirus to be kept apprised of the latest information, as well as tips on prevention.

Sincerely,

Richard S. Lapidus
President

Cancellation of international travel memo, March 6, 2020

To the campus community, 

In light of guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week and the strong urging of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and Governor Baker’s office, we have decided to cancel our planned international Spring Break programs to Greece and Ireland, and another upcoming trip to Germany has also been canceled.

Our decision is echoed by many of our sister institutions in Massachusetts and across the country who have canceled spring study abroad programs. You are also likely aware that our students who had already been studying in Italy have left the country. We are in touch with other students already abroad or planning to study abroad this spring advising them to consider returning home or, for those who have not yet departed, to consider staying.

We understand these developments are causing great disappointment, but the health of our students and campus population is our top priority and we are heeding the advice of state and national authorities in determining not to go forward with these programs at this time.

In making these determinations we have looked to state and national authorities for guidance, and considered not only the risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus but also the impact of 14-day self-isolation periods following their return. We are also reviewing the impact of these canceled programs on students’ academic plans, and will work with them to assist in keeping their courses of study on track.

The university is also sponsoring several domestic trips over Spring Break. As with international travel, we are monitoring guidance from the CDC and DPH about the spread of COVID-19 within the U.S. to determine the viability of those trips. As of this moment, those are proceeding as scheduled, but planning continues to be dynamic. The campus community will be updated as we receive any new guidance.

Any students returning from Spring Break who report symptoms (such as cough, fever, shortness of breath) should call Health Services for a consultation BEFORE going to the clinic. Evaluations will follow all recommended public health strategies if COVID-19 is suspected. Any staff or faculty with flu-like symptoms should stay home and contact their primary care providers by phone.

The university’s coronavirus response team, spanning numerous campus offices including Student Health Services, Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Human Resources, Capital Planning and Maintenance and other divisions, is in constant discussion as the global situation evolves and new guidance is issued from from state and national health agencies.

In the meantime, keep up to date by visiting fitchburgstate.edu/coronavirus, which has detailed information and links to state and national information resources.

Take care and be well.

Rich

Spring break advisory, Feb. 28, 2020

To the campus community,

This notice is to provide an update about the coronavirus (COVID-19), about which you have likely seen a great deal of news coverage. While we have no confirmed or suspected cases of coronavirus on our campus or in the region, and the risk of infection remains low, we know there are many questions about the illness and its spread. We have created a web page dedicated to providing updated, accurate information on the coronavirus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization also have valuable information.

With students and faculty now overseas or planning international trips in the coming weeks and months, we are in regular communication with our partners abroad. If any international plans are being modified, we will keep the campus informed.

The university is prepared to respond in the unlikely event that COVID-19 affects our campus. In the event of a confirmed case, we will keep the community notified via the Rave Alert system. Please log in to alert.fitchburgstate.edu to make sure your contact information is updated. The alert system is used to notify members of our community about emergencies as well as weather-related closings and other topics.

With Spring Break approaching, we ask that those planning to travel keep in mind that COVID-19 has been confirmed in more than 40 countries and territories across the world. In the past week, countries including South Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran, Singapore, Macau, and Hong Kong have confirmed cases. The U.S. State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued new travel advisories based on the evolving conditions (and the State Department also maintains a page with advice for any student traveling abroad). Students traveling abroad over Spring Break can sign up to get updated information on the State Department website to be mindful of any restrictions that arise during their trips.

In the meantime, there are steps we can all take to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses on our campus:

  • It’s still flu season, and you can still get a flu vaccine at most pharmacies (most insurance plans will pay for it).

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Stay home when you are sick. Do not attend class, team practice, meetings, events, or parties. 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before food preparation and eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (such as doorknobs and counters) using a regular household cleaning spray or wipes.

  • Do not share food, glasses, cigarettes, vapes, Juuls, lip balm or makeup. 

If you develop symptoms of a respiratory infection (such as fever, cough, shortness of breath), contact Student Health Services at 978.665.3643 or your primary care provider. The nurse can discuss your symptoms and determine if you need an office visit as well as any self-treatment options.

Please know that the health and safety of our campus community is of paramount importance, and we will work with all relevant authorities to keep you informed as this situation evolves.

Be well,

Martha Favre, BSN, FNP-BC
Director of Student Health Services
Fitchburg State University

Health advisory, Feb. 4, 2020

To the campus community,

This week it was confirmed that there is one case of the coronavirus infecting a young man who had recently returned from the Wuhan Province in China and attends UMass Boston.  This person sought medical care immediately and is quarantined at home. He did not attend classes on campus.

The risk of the coronavirus in Massachusetts is still low. The seasonal flu, on the other hand, is present and will continue to infect people until April.  If you do develop symptoms that include a fever, difficulty breathing and a cough, please call Student Health Services at 978-665-3643 or contact your primary care provider. We can triage you over the phone and determine whether you need to be examined.

If you or someone you have had contact with has traveled from the Asia-Pacific region within the past 14 days and are experiencing fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, please seek immediate medical care. 

Health Services strongly encourages you to take preventive measures to avoid becoming sick.  These simple actions below will greatly reduce the spread of all respiratory viruses and create a healthier community. 

  • Obtain a flu vaccine. 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If water is not available use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. This is especially important before eating or drinking.

  • Avoid touching your face and eyes. 

  • Cough into your elbow.

  • If you use tissues, throw them in a trash receptacle and wash your hands. 

  • Avoid contact with people if you are sick (stay home). 

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. 

To learn more about the coronavirus, please consult the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Be Well,

Martha Favre, BSN, FNP-BC
Director of Student Health Services 
Fitchburg State University 

 

Bulletins for Students

Residential Dining Modifications to Service, Aug. 14, 2020

Our goal is to serve meal plan participants in a safe and timely manner especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please be aware of these new guidelines, modifications, and enhancements Dining Services is implementing for your safety.

New dining guidelines require maintaining six feet of social distance while picking up food and wearing face coverings at all times unless eating or outside while maintaining proper distancing. Signage, posters and floor decals as recommended by state and federal agencies have been added to all dining locations as reminders of shared expectations for remaining healthy. A “19 Meal Plan” will be substituted for the “Freedom Plan” to better accommodate how, when and where diners can obtain meals in a safe and timely manner.

  • The Holmes Dining Hall indoor seated area will be closed to diners, however meals will continue to be offered on a take-out basis as either pre-packaged items or served in to-go containers with cutlery. Offerings will include hot entrees, pizza and pasta, grill items, sandwiches, salads, daily and weekly specials, sides, desserts, and beverages. Standard portion sizes will be served to accommodate many diners at one time, but extra helpings are always available. There will be a 30 minute dining hall cleaning period between each meal when Holmes will be closed.

As an alternative meal option, Express Meals to go will be available by using the BOOST mobile app for ordering and pick up from multiple campus locations. BOOST menu options will include an assortment of combo meals as well as A La Carte menu options. Note that BOOST orders must be placed during the meal period when you are picking up the meal. Meal period menus will be available on BOOST fifteen minutes prior to the start of the meal period.

Online menus will be enhanced and new daily, weekly and seasonal specials will be available for both the dining hall and other pickup locations. You are encouraged to check the menus to take full advantage of the full selection of offerings.

Find more information, including menus, BOOST app download link, Walkthroughs, How To videos, and Google Meet Q&As at dineoncampus.com/FSU or @FSUEats1 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Express Meal Pickup Locations and Hours:

  • McKay (breakfast and lunch) Mon – Thu | 7 AM – 2 PM Friday | 7 AM – 1 PM
  • Holmes Dining Hall (breakfast, lunch and dinner) Mon – Thu | 7:15 AM – 10:30 PM | 11 – 3 PM | 4 – 7:30 PM Friday | 7:15 AM – 10:30 PM | 11 AM – 3 PM | 4 – 6:30 pm Weekends | 11 AM – 1 PM | 4 – 6:30 PM
  • The North Street Bistro, Hammond Hall (lunch and dinner) Monday – Thursday | 11 AM – 3 PM | 4:30 – 7:30 PM Friday | 11 AM – 3 PM

If you have questions or concerns, or for more information, please contact: Jeff McVoy, Director of Dining Services, at jmcvoy@fitchburgstate.edu or 978.665.3229.

Information for Students Coming/Traveling from High Risk States, Aug. 10, 2020

Fitchburg State Students,

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts published a Travel Order that requires anyone arriving from a higher risk state to have proof of a negative COVID test taken on a date within 72 hours of arrival in Massachusetts OR undertake a 14 day quarantine. Note that this applies to:

  • People who have been living in a higher risk state
  • People who have traveled to a higher risk state within 14 days of coming to Massachusetts

Those arriving from a higher risk state who do not comply with this requirement are subject to a civil fine of $500 per day.  Each person arriving in Massachusetts from a higher risk state must complete the Massachusetts Travel Form. Massachusetts keeps an up-to-date list of the states it considers lower risk.

This Travel Order applies to all students who are coming from or traveling to/from a higher risk state as long as the Order is in effect.

In addition to the process detailed below about arrival for the Fall 2020 semester, this applies to any travel done at all while the Order is in effect. If you travel to a higher risk state later in the semester, you must register again with both Massachusetts and Fitchburg State. Upon your return, you will need to quarantine for 14 days or until a negative COVID-19 test is obtained.

Fitchburg State will be testing all students and employees at the beginning of the academic year. Students coming from higher risk states will be prioritized for a test on Friday, August 28 to demonstrate their COVID status for both the Commonwealth and the University. Keep reading for more information about the Fitchburg State process, which aligns with the Commonwealth’s guidance.

As always, if students or those helping them move to the Fitchburg State Campus or the local community exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, they should remain where they are.

DO NOT COME TO CAMPUS WITH SYMPTOMS.

This process applies to students who have been living in a higher risk state as well as students who have been visiting a higher risk state within 14 days of arriving on campus. 

Note: If an asymptomatic individual assisting a Fitchburg State student moving into their residence on campus or off is entering Massachusetts only to drop off the student and then immediately leaves the campus/city and the state, then they would meet the exemption of transitory travel and not be subject to the 72 hour test or 14 day quarantine. If they are staying overnight, then they are subject to the requirements of the Travel Order. 

Note: People who regularly commute, at least weekly, outside of Massachusetts to a fixed place to attend school or work or any person who regularly commutes, at least weekly into Massachusetts to a fixed place to attend school or work; provided that in either case, this exception applies only to and from the person’s residence and place of work or school. Workers or students who travel to any place that is not their home state for personal or leisure reasons cannot rely on this exemption.

Here is information for all students coming from or traveling from higher risk states at the beginning of the academic year. See below for specifics for residential and commuter students.

All students:

  • Fill out the Massachusetts Travel Form
  • Fill out the Fitchburg State Student Travel Form
  • Fitchburg State is testing every student early in the semester. Students who are coming from higher risk states or who traveled to higher risk states within 14 days of arriving in Fitchburg will arrive on campus and be tested on Friday, August 28. All other residential and commuter students (both new and returning) will be tested during the week of August 31. More detailed directions will be provided as we get closer to the date.
    • If your individual circumstances cannot be arranged to accommodate this date, please be in touch as soon as possible with the Office of Student Affairs 978.665.3130 or studentaffairs@fitchburgstate.edu.

Residential Students arriving from higher risk states and international locations:

  • Do not come to campus if you are exhibiting symptoms.
  • Follow all the guidance above for all students.
  • You will:
    • Between 9 am and noon on Friday, August 28, drop your belongings off in your assigned on campus residence hall room. Make your travel arrangements to accommodate this move-in time.
    • Take at least 14 days worth of belongings with you to your quarantine location. We anticipate receiving the results back within 72 hours or less. However, you should be prepared for the full quarantine period in case of a positive result.
    • Head to the testing location to complete your swab. More detailed information to come.
    • Once you enter your room in your quarantine location, you may not leave the building until a negative result is provided.
    • If a positive result is provided, or if COVID symptoms develop, you will transition to an off-campus location or, if that is not possible because your permanent home/support network is too far away or you are homeless, move into an assigned self-isolation location.
    • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has published tips about quarantining or self-isolating.
  • Food will be provided to you by Chartwells, our food service vendor.
  • You will receive information specific to your living situation in regards to using bathroom spaces. 
  • New students: The Falcon Experience (Fall Orientation) is completely online, so you will be able to participate fully even while quarantining.
  • You will attend class remotely if the test results do not come back prior to the start of classes on Thursday, September 3rd.
  • Any additional items you may need must be delivered to University Police and they will be brought to your residence. 

Commuter Students arriving from higher risk states and international locations:

  • Do not come to campus if you are exhibiting symptoms.
  • Follow all the guidance above for all students.
  • On August 28, you will come to campus at a designated time to be tested for COVID-19. More details to come.
  • You will quarantine in your off campus apartment or residence until a negative result is provided. If a positive result is provided or COVID-19 symptoms develop, remain in self-isolation, contact your Primary Care Physician, and notify the Office of Student Affairs (978.665.3130 or studentaffairs@fitchburgstate.edu).
  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has published tips about quarantining or self-isolating.
  • New students: The Falcon Experience (Fall Orientation) is completely online, so you will be able to participate fully even while quarantining.
  • You will attend class remotely during the quarantine period if the results do not come back prior to the start of classes on Thursday, September 3.

Blackboard Course for all students **REQUIRED**, Aug. 10, 2020

Fitchburg State Students,

We are excited for your return to campus and looking forward to a great – albeit different – fall semester. Along with academic changes, we have also been planning for the out-of-class services, opportunities, relationships, connections, and community that are an essential part of living and learning at Fitchburg State. 

Every student who will be on the campus of Fitchburg State University at any time during the Fall semester must complete a training about expectations and guidelines prior to arrival on campus. This training can be found in Blackboard. The “course” is called “COVID Required Training Modules for Students.”

Please review the materials on the Blackboard site. After you have done so, click on the “Acknowledgement” module. Read the information there and take the quiz. This allows you to attest that you understand and will comply with the expectations, and acknowledge that you understand that there may be consequences for not doing so through the student conduct process.

A few other things:

  • Later today, you will receive information about traveling to Massachusetts from higher risk states. This applies both to students who have been living in one of these states AND to students who may have traveled to one within 14 days of when you arrive in Massachusetts, and applies to both residential and commuter students. If this applies to you, read that email carefully. You must arrive on campus on Friday, August 28 for testing and quarantine.
  • Residential students will receive information about move-in on Thursday, August 13. Note that the move-in experience will be expanded to include drop-off days during the week of August 24. The drop-off days will allow you to reserve a time to drop off belongings in your assigned space. This will de-densify the move-in process for new students on August 31 and returning students on September 1 and  2.

Remember that the web version of the Student Repopulation Plan will contain the most up to date information. The date at the top will alert you to the most recent update.  

From the Registrar: We are here if you need assistance, Aug. 4, 2020

Dear Students,

I hope this email finds you healthy and enjoying your summer.

We know that we are in the mist of uncertain times and that you may have questions about your schedules.  The modalities (e.g. online, hybrid, on-campus, etc...) for classes are still in flux, but we hope to have them all set soon.  If you are looking at your schedule in Web4 you can find the meaning of the modalities by clicking here

The registrar’s office staff is still working remotely, but we assure you, we are prompt with our responses.  The best way to reach us is to email registrar@fitchburgstate.edu.  You want to be sure to include your student ID with your question. If you would rather we call instead of email, you can give us a callback number in your email. If you would like to meet with one of us face-to-face, just let us know and we will send you a google meet, be sure to let us know what day and time works best for you.  All responses will typically be sent within 24-business hours or less.

Unless your class is in person, your faculty should be reaching out to before schools starts to describe to you what their specific class modality means (faculty could be doing things slightly different from each other).

We are here for you.  Please contact us with any questions you may have.  If we can't answer them, we will forward your question to someone who can.

Please be in touch should you have any questions!

Kind regards,

Linda Dupell
University Registrar

Fall semester, June 16, 2020

Dear Students,

I hope you and your families are safe and doing well. I want to provide you with further updates on the plans for the Fall semester. You have already received the communication from the president with regard to changes to the Fall 2020 course schedule. As the president indicated, these changes have been undertaken so that we can offer all students a robust combination of learning environments, while protecting your health and safety, and that of our faculty and staff. The existing, public health guidelines require the university to ensure social distancing protocols. This requires that we spread courses out throughout the day, find larger classrooms, and find innovative ways to teach high-enrollment courses. 

Over the next few weeks, we will be making changes to the schedule in order to meet the health guidelines. We expect to have the schedule finalized by July 1, and you will be emailed once it’s complete. Until then, you will be able to see the schedule changes as they progress if you check the seats list periodically. We encourage you to also check your email throughout the summer as we expect to be sending regular updates.

Please see the ways in which your courses may change below:

ONSYNC

This means that your course will be taught remotely, in one of two ways:

  • The course is taught live (synchronously) during the times specified by the schedule, but you will access the course lectures via Google Hangouts or some other platform your faculty will inform you of.
  • The course is taught through recorded lectures and other activities (asynchronously), but the course times remain to help you plan your day, and you should use that time to complete the required work.

Hybrid

Most other courses will be taught in a hybrid fashion. You will receive information directly from your professors how your class will meet, since these will mainly take three forms:

  • Traditional Hybrid means that all the students in the course will come to the classroom face-to-face (F2F) during one of the class periods. During the other classroom periods, the students either participate live, but through a remote platform, or they may engage in other learning activities. For example, if the class is scheduled Monday and Wednesday, 8:00am - 9:15am, then the class will be held F2F on Monday; but on Wednesday, the students will receive the material remotely.
  • Split Hybrid Daily means that half the students in the course will come to the classroom F2F during one of the class periods, and the other half will watch the lecture live remotely, or they may engage in other learning activities. Then, the next class period, students will switch and the students who received the class material remotely will come to the classroom F2F, and the students that had been in the classroom, will receive the material remotely. For example, if a class of 40 students is scheduled Monday and Wednesday, 8:00am - 9:15am, then on Monday, 20 students will come to class F2F and the other 20 will receive the materials remotely. On Wednesday, the students would switch, and the 20 that were in class F2F on Monday would receive materials remotely, and the students who were remote on Monday, will come to a F2F class on Wednesday.
  • Split Hybrid Weekly means that half the students in the course will come to the classroom F2F during one week, and the other half will watch the lecture live remotely, or they may engage in other learning activities. The following week, students will switch, and the students who received the class material remotely, will come to the classroom F2F, and the students that had been in the classroom F2F, will receive the material remotely.

No Change

Some courses will not have a change because:

  • Classes are small and meet only once a week, or they are off-campus courses, such as internships or practicums.  Or, because of heavy use of hands-on learning activities, such as labs, studios, or production courses.

Stay safe and be well.

Sincerely,

Alberto J.F. Cardelle, Ph.D., MPH
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Fall semester classes, June 11, 2020

Dear Students,

I hope this email finds you well and able to find some time to relax. I wanted to reach out to you and provide some information regarding the university’s plan for the fall 2020 semester as I know there are questions. Currently, it is our intention to reopen campus to students in the fall for on-campus learning. However, please be aware that this decision relies on the trajectory of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts. 

That said, you can expect that the fall semester will look different from what many have come to expect at Fitchburg State. The primary factors in our decision-making must continue to be the health, safety and well-being of students, faculty and staff.  For teaching, this will mean the continued use of some online and remote classes, the addition of more hybrid classes along with our traditional on-campus in-person options.  Classroom assignments and configurations may change, along with meeting times, to help reduce the number of people in our buildings at a given time. Our goal is to offer as much flexibility for students and faculty as possible while reducing density. The combination of course types and numbers are currently being finalized so that we can balance in-class delivery and remote and online teaching.

The wearing of face coverings on campus will also be an essential component of this effort along with sanitizing protocols.  Larger gatherings, until state guidance and health authorities suggest otherwise, will be significantly limited and regulated.  Student support services will remain available as always.  All actions taken, as we move into the semester, will be done in a responsible manner that works to mitigate risk to our entire university community and at the same time maintains the high quality of education one expects from Fitchburg State. 

We understand that for many different reasons, students are wanting greater flexibility and options in how you are going to learn. I want to assure all our students that the course schedule is being designed to provide an enhanced selection of remote, online and innovative hybrid courses, so as to allow you to continue to make progress toward the timely completion of your college degree, a goal that is more important today than ever before. 

More details on these topics will be coming from Academic Affairs in the next few days, so please check your email regularly. 

Please know that we are here to assist you as needed.  Together we will navigate through these challenging times and I look forward to seeing you on campus in the near future.

Sincerely,

Richard S. Lapidus
President

COVID-19 Response, May 5, 2020

Dear Students,

COVID-19 is impacting Fitchburg State University students and students everywhere in significant ways.  Fitchburg State University cares about you and would like to learn more about how you and the learning you have been doing this semester have been affected by COVID-19. We are especially interested in this information to learn how we can support you now and in the future. We would like to know your satisfaction with the University’s response to COVID-19, how the experience of remote learning has been for you, and how COVID-19 is affecting your daily experience.

Please click here to take a short survey:

https://survey.fitchburgstate.edu/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=74LJ8p43#

In appreciation for your time, respondents that complete this survey will be entered into a raffle to win an HP Chromebook x360 with 4GB of memory, 32GB storage, dual speakers and an 11.6" display. Note that your responses to the survey will remain anonymous.

Thank you for participating in this important exercise and be well.

Sincerely,

Richard S. Lapidus
President

Info and Resources from Career Services and Advising, April 30, 2020

Good Afternoon Students.

We hope this email finds you all well. We understand that under these unprecedented times, there are additional pressures that you might be experiencing. We are reaching out to share how our office might be able to support you during this time. In addition to our regular services, we have been working on putting together resources and information for students who are looking for jobs, internships or other ways to continue to build upon your  skills in the upcoming months. We recommend taking advantage of these resources as needed:

Since we had to postpone our career and internship fair until the fall, we are working on creating a resume book for employers who were planning on attending. If you are interested in submitting your resume follow the attached flyer. We will be collecting resumes until May 4th

Our office continues to provide the following services in a virtual capacity. The majority of these services will continue to be available to you over the summer months. 

  • One-on-One Advising Appointments
  • Daily Walk-In Hours (M,W,F 1:00-3:00PM & T,TH 10:00AM-12:00PM) (Link: meet.google.com/wvc-bdxr-syt
  • Mock Interviews
  • Internship/Job Search Support
  • Graduate School Advising 

While we have wrapped up our career workshops for the semester, we have put together some of this information into pre-recorded workshops that you can utilize around the following topics:

Additionally, we wanted to share with you important resources we have been compiling and sharing.  Many of these resources will help connect you with opportunities including remote internships, jobs, job market information, free online courses, skill building opportunities and more. We will continue to update this spreadsheet as we come across additional resources. Please check out these resources and also utilize Handshake, our new career management platform. There you will be able to apply for opportunities and access these resources. 

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us either by email at careercenter@fitchburgstate.edu or by phone at 978-665-3151. 

Career Services & Advising Center

Melisa Alves, Director
Diane Maynard, Administrative Assistant
Lindsay Carpenter Connors, Academic & Career Advisor
Susan Beddes, Academic & Career Advisor

Update for May 2020 Graduates, April 24, 2020

Dear Class of 2020,

We are writing with a few quick commencement updates as we head into the last weeks of the semester.  We hope that you are all doing well and finishing the semester strong.  You are almost there! 

Postponed in-person commencement: We are still planning to reschedule our May commencement but given the current state and CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19, it is too soon for us to know when we can gather in large groups.  We are looking at the university calendar for possibilities and will announce new dates as soon as we are able to do so.

Caps and gowns: Caps and gowns are currently not for sale.  Once we have confirmed commencement dates, we will then let you know when and how you can purchase your caps and gowns.

May celebration: You will still be completing your program requirements and earning your degree in May.  We want to celebrate your accomplishments and you should too!  So, watch your mail for a postcard in May that will direct you to a commencement celebration webpage for video congratulations!  

The Commencement Committee and all of us at Fitchburg State University are extremely proud of the work you have done to reach your graduation milestone.  We will keep in touch with you as we continue plans for commencement exercises.

Take good care of yourselves.

The Commencement Committee at Fitchburg State University

Library Chat Help - Extended Hours, April 23, 2020

Greetings from the Library!

As we approach the end of the semester, the Library wants to make sure you have access to the help you need as you work on final projects. We will be extending our Library Chat hours until 9pm Monday - Thursday, starting on next Monday, 4/27 through Tuesday, 5/12.

Have questions about how to cite something? Not sure how to find a peer reviewed article? Frustrated on how to find sources for an annotated bibliography? Feeling overwhelmed about narrowing down your research paper topic? These are just some of the many questions that the Librarians are happy to help you with over chat.

Just type your question into the chat box on the Library website at library.fitchburgstate.edu.

As always, you can always get help directly from a librarian through a number of ways here: library.fitchburgstate.edu/lets-chat.

Best,

The Amelia V. Gallucci-Cirio Library Staff 

REMINDER - Last day to withdraw from spring 2020 classes, April 15, 2020

Dear Students,

I hope this email finds you in good health and successfully working on completing your spring coursework.

This email is a reminder that the last day to withdraw from a spring 2020 course is this Friday, April 17th.  Undergraduate students, the approval to withdraw needs to come from your academic advisor. 

During these unprecedented times, in an effort to simplify the process, we are asking that you contact your advisor via email if you need to withdraw from a class.  Your advisor will then forward your email with their approval to registrar@fitchburgstate.edu, and we will take care of the withdrawal.

Before you decide to withdraw from a course, please be sure that you consider the pass/fail (S/U) policy that was put into place for the spring 2020 semester for our undergraduate students.  You can find the policy, FAQ's regarding the policy, and the request form here.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Linda Dupell
University Registrar

Library FAQ, April 15, 2020

Greetings from the Library!

With the Library building being closed, you might have questions about what services have changed. To try to help with those questions, we have added a Library FAQ to the Library website.

Click the Library FAQ during COVID-19 Outbreak link under the Quick Links portion of the Library homepage at library.fitchburgstate.edu. You can also submit a question directly to the FAQ and we will respond with an answer.

As always, you can always get help directly from a librarian through a number of ways here: library.fitchburgstate.edu/lets-chat

Best,

The Amelia V. Gallucci-Cirio Library Staff

Summer registration to begin, April 10, 2020

To the Campus Community,

Registration for both summer 2020 A and B terms will open on Tuesday, April 21st.

Graduate and Continuing Education will be offering over 180 online courses this summer.  There are a wide variety of courses to choose from and I encourage students to explore the options by visiting the University Seats List and registering early to secure their seats.

Summer term A runs from May 26th to June 26th.  All courses offered during summer term A will be held 100% online allowing students to continue their academic work while staying safe.

Summer term B runs from July 6th to August 7th.  There are over 50 online courses already scheduled.  The University will decide by early May whether in-person classes will be held during Summer Term B depending on public health guidelines.

Please contact gce@fitchburgstate.edu if you have any questions about summer registration or course offerings.

Sincerely,

Becky Copper-Glenz, Ed.D.

Dean, Graduate and Continuing Education
Graduate and Continuing Education

Commencement update, April 8, 2020

Dear Class of 2020,

Thank you to so many of you that completed the commencement survey.  We received more than 350 responses, with a clear majority of you telling us that you want an in-person commencement ceremony when we can gather again.  We hear you!  And, we are right there with you, looking forward to celebrating this milestone as a community.

The commencement committee prepares for YOUR commencement exercises all year long and is dedicated to giving YOU the celebration that you and your family and guests deserve.  We don’t want to give it up either; so, we won’t. Please know that we are looking at the calendar and working to identify tentative dates for commencement, bearing in mind that we are working around many factors that are beyond our control. We’ll let you know as soon as we have those dates, so you can mark your calendars.  

We are hearing great things from the faculty about your commitment to your courses with the transition to remote instruction. You exemplify the Fitchburg State spirit and truly embody our motto of perseverantia (perseverance). Keep working hard and finish the semester strong.  You can do it, and we’ll celebrate your accomplishments together as soon as we can.

Sincerely,

The Commencement Committee

Free online textbooks available, April 8, 2020

Greetings from the Library!

Did you know that if you do not have access to your class text book or required reading, it may be available online and for free!?!

Check the links below to two different e-textbook providers for access to free textbooks for the rest of the semester:

NOTE:  It is important to follow the instructions for accessing these resources so you are not asked to pay for access. Contact the Library if you have any questions.

If you have any questions about accessing required readings for your class, be sure to contact your instructor, and also feel free to contact the Library at library.fitchburgstate.edu/lets-chat.

Best,

The Amelia V. Gallucci-Cirio Library Staff 

Cloth Face Masks Recommended, April 6, 2020

Dear Students,

Good afternoon. I am writing to share an update from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as we continue our shared response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As you may have heard, the CDC is now advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the coronavirus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (such as grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. 

These cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items or from common materials at low cost and can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure. 

Be advised that cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Also, the recommended cloth face coverings are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance. 

You can find the CDC’s instructions on making your own mask by clicking here

Thank you for your attention, and stay safe.

Sincerely,

Martha Favre

Martha Favre, BSN, FNP-BC
Director of Student Health Services
Fitchburg State University

Get help from the library, April 2, 2020

Greetings FSU Students!

Here at the Library, we wanted to reach out to tell you that we miss seeing all of you in person, but while we may not be in the building, we are still available to help you with any of your information and research needs. In an effort to provide support, we will be sending out periodic emails with library tips and tricks.

In the meantime, please know that the librarians are available to help you with a wide range of questions and challenges, from how to cite something in APA or MLA, to how to find an article, to how to best narrow down a topic.

You can get help from the Library in a number of ways:

• Chat online from the Library website at library.fitchburgstate.edu

  • Monday-Thursday 9:00am-7:00pm
  • Friday 9:00am-5:00pm
  • Saturday 12:00pm-5:00pm
  • Sunday 1:00pm-8:00pm

• Email us at reference@fitchburgstate.edu
• Schedule an online or phone appointment with a librarian at fitchburgstate.libcal.com/appointments/

We hope at this difficult time of transition and uncertainty that you are safe, healthy, and finding the support that you need. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us to be part of that support system.

Best,

The Amelia V. Gallucci-Cirio Library Staff 

How to opt into the S/U grade policy, April 1, 2020

Dear Students,

I hope this email finds you healthy and feeling good about your Spring semester coursework.  I am writing today to let you know that information regarding the spring 2020 only, undergraduate satisfactory/unsatisfactory grade policy is now available to you to view and opt into if you so choose.  The links to the information are listed below.

Please be reminded that you have until 5/13/2020 to decide whether or not you wish to opt for an S/U grade.  Please read the policy and the FAQ's before making your decision. We also recommend you consult your advisor

Click here to read about the satisfactory/unsatisfactory policy for spring 2020.

Click here to review the FAQ's surrounding this policy

Click here to see the current list of courses that are exempt from this policy (more will be added and the list will be complete by April 10, 2020)

Click here to complete the form requesting an S/U grade.

As always, please email me with any questions you may have and please stay safe.

Sincerely,

Linda Dupell
University Registrar
ldupell@fitchburgstate.edu

A message for students transitioning from face-to-face classes, March 31, 2020

Dear Fitchburg State Students,

** This is intended for students who were registered to take face-to-face classes at the Fitchburg State campus. **

Congratulations on making it to the second week of remote learning at Fitchburg State! Your faculty have been working hard to provide you a quality education in a remote format. Your staff have been working hard to continue to provide quality services and engagement opportunities when so few of us are on campus for the rest of the semester.  Other staff are keeping the campus safe and healthy while ensuring a continuity of operations during this uncertain time. We recognize this is a very distressing, confusing, and hectic time for you and your loved ones. 

At the same time, there is evidence of the benefits of life slowing down a bit. There are many great examples of people supporting each other in the Fitchburg State community and beyond. You might enjoy this video where John Krasinski shares “Some Good News:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5pgG1M_h_U&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR3_TNRXeaP5eQmewmW5NWBpBVparbhR6BsWS3owRXI4NtR8haGaQ2RbIK4

Your health and safety are our highest priority, and we are striving to make this sudden transition as smooth as possible for you. Please know that the University will continue to support you. We understand that you are balancing a lot of things in your life at the moment, and that things will change as the situation evolves. Thank you in advance for your flexibility and adaptability. Please extend grace to one another, and give yourself some space to react to what is happening.  

We ask that you continue to monitor your Fitchburg State email for messages from the University, and from your faculty as it relates to your courses. Visit the Fitchburg State Coronavirus web page often for updates and archived messages, as well as frequently asked questions.

Reach out for help as you need it. Contact your individual instructors as it relates to your academic needs, keep communication open, and reach out to the University for support.  You can always reach your Student Affairs Team at studentaffairs@fitchburgstate.edu. In addition, watch for information about how to sign up for “Coffee Conversations with Student Affairs.” We look forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely,

Laura A. Bayless, Vice President for Student Affairs
William Cummings, Dean of Students
Hank Parkinson, Associate Dean of Student Development and Strategic Initiatives
Robert Hynes, Assistant Dean of Student Support Services

Update on advising and revised grading policy, March 27, 2020

Dear Students,

For undergraduate students, advising for the fall 2020 semester is going on now and will run through April 17th.  If your advisor has not reached out to you regarding advising, feel free to reach out to your advisor.

Registration opens for all student groups on April 21, 2020.  Undergraduate students, please click here for complete information regarding advising and registration timelines.

In addition, I am happy to report that yesterday the All University Committee and the President approved a revision to the university’s satisfactory/unsatisfactory (pass/fail) and incomplete grade policy.  The S/U policy will be available to all undergraduate students and will include all but some courses.  The incomplete policy is applicable to all undergraduate and graduate courses. We are currently working to finalize the process by which to request an S/U grade.  We will send out complete information next week. Students will have until May 13 to select this grading option.

As always, please feel free to email any questions you may have.

Sincerely,

Linda Dupell
University Registrar

Update for residential students and families, March 25, 2020

Dear Residential Students and Families,

We hope you and your loved ones are safe during this difficult time and handling this global health crisis as well as possible. The University has been working hard to ensure that we do what is right for our students and their families. We will be issuing prorated adjustments for your housing and meal plan expenses in light of our transition to remote instruction. These adjustments should be completed by mid-April.

In the meantime, we are awaiting guidance from the U.S. Department of Education about whether there will be any impact on federal financial aid and loans. We do not anticipate any impact, but we cannot adjust accounts until that information is clarified.

Because you will still be able to complete your academic credits through the online transition, the university is not going to be issuing refunds for tuition or other fees.

A comprehensive Q and A guide for these credits and account adjustments can be found on the Student Accounts page here

Please contact stuaccnts@fitchburgstate.edu if you have any questions or concerns, and thank you for your patience with this process.

Best Regards,

Heather Ruland
Director of Student Accounts

Commencement update, March 25, 2020

Dear Class of 2020,

I’ve been thinking of you since the coronavirus threat began and wishing that you, your family and friends are well. I hope you are able to maintain your personal connections, even if it is remotely for now. This is not the way we had anticipated returning to class after spring break.

Many of you have asked about our upcoming commencement. We have decided to postpone our May commencement celebrations due to current public health guidance. I am, however, uplifted by the number of you that have written and indicated your willingness to come together at a later date, whether it be on campus or elsewhere, to celebrate your accomplishments. We understand how much commencement means to you and your families, so please know that the university is fully committed to honoring and celebrating the Class of 2020.

As we continue to understand our new reality, we will be investigating all options to recognize your achievement and the arrival of this important milestone in your life. The University Commencement Committee is asking you, as members of the Class of 2020, for your ideas via this survey as to how we can make commencement memorable for you, your family, and friends. 

In the meantime, your degrees will be conferred in May, and you will receive your diplomas by mail by the end of June. 

I want to thank you for your continued understanding and the concern and support that you have shown toward one another. As always, our top priority must be the health and safety of our Fitchburg State community and those around us.  

The Fitchburg State motto is perseverance, and in challenging times throughout history, populations have come together, risen to the occasion, and overcome adversity. You are a talented and well-prepared class and we are immensely proud of you. Know that we are always here to support you. As a Falcon, Fitchburg State University will always be your home.

Sincerely,

Richard S. Lapidus
President

Message from the Library, March 25, 2020

Dear Students-

On behalf of the Fitchburg State library staff, I send you our hopes that you and your families are well.  I wanted to let you know the Fitchburg State University Library facility is closed until further notice to maintain public health due to the COVID-19 virus. 

The library staff is working remotely to meet all of your research needs. Our library is a digital library - accessible from your home or anywhere as long as there is internet access. 

  • Visit the library homepage at https://library.fitchburgstate.edu/ to begin your research. In order to access the library's databases, 300,000+ eBooks, millions of electronic articles, and other online subscription resources, you need to be authenticated as an FSU student, so have your Falcon Key username and password handy. See our DIY: Accessing Library Resources from Off Campus page (https://fitchburgstate.libguides.com/diyoffcampusaccess) for guidance.
  • Remote research assistance is available online: Monday through Thursday from 9am to 7pm, Friday 9am to 5pm, Saturday 12pm to 5pm, Sunday 1pm to 8pm. You can obtain assistance online through Let's Chat.
  • Don’t worry if you currently have materials checked out from the library. All late fees will be waived.

We will miss seeing you in person. As we work remotely, please do not hesitate to connect with us if we can help you in any way

Wishing you good health,

Jackie Kremer
Dean, Amelia V. Gallucci-Cirio Library

Technology Update, March 23, 2020

I know some of you are having challenges with internet access.  Here are three offerings you may not be aware of:

  • WIFI access.  If you are near the campus, we’ve turned on public wifi in the Ross Street parking lot (#11 on the parking map).  This will enable to access the internet from your car to ensure proper social distancing.
  • You may be eligible for free internet access.  A number of telecommunications companies are offering free wifi access for at least the next few months. Click here to see offers that may apply.
  • Additionally, you may discover that there is free wifi in public areas close to your home similar to what the university has made available (many libraries are doing this).

Finally, if you have other technology needs, please communicate that with your professor.  A list of employees and email addresses can be found here.  You can receive technical support via email, chat or a phone call by using the options on our webpage.  You can see specific help dedicated to online learning on our Remote Teaching and Learning Page.

 

Letter from the Provost, March 23, 2020

Dear students,

We understand that many of you embarked on a new way of learning today.   I wanted to let you know that we are working hard to make ensure that this shift has the least amount of  negative impact on your academic experience and academic record.  We are developing a voluntary satisfactory/unsatisfactory (pass/fail), and incomplete grade policy.  The  satisfactory/unsatisfactory policy will be optional, meaning students will be able to opt in if you deem it beneficial for yourself.  Academic Affairs is working closely with the academic departments, and the policy and student affairs committees to have the new policy approved. We hope to have more information by the end of the week. Please keep these things in mind if you are thinking about withdrawing from courses. We want you to stay on track to complete your degree on time.  In addition, the date for withdrawing from a course has been extended to April 17.

Please stay safe.

Alberto J.F. Cardelle, PhD, MPH
Fitchburg State University
Provost and Vice-President
Academic Affairs
978-665-3295

Resources for students, March 19, 2020

Dear Students,

As all of us navigate our new and rapidly changing landscape created by the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), please know that even those of us who have worked in higher education for decades have never encountered circumstances like those we are experiencing now.  We are charting this new course together and together I am confident that we will meet the challenge and finish strong.  What unites us as an institution is our commitment to serving you and making sure that the necessary support is in place so that you will successfully complete the academic journey you started at Fitchburg State. 

Our faculty is moving ahead with vigor to adapt their course material for remote delivery and they are looking forward to resuming their classes with you on Monday, March 23.  Please look for communication from your instructors in the coming days. 

The advising and registration period for summer and fall courses has been extended, so for now focus on getting started with your remote courses. More information on advising and registration will be sent later next week. 

Additionally, the university has put into place a number of important resources designed to assist in making this transitional period as smooth as possible. The following list of resources are available.

Health Services:

We recommend that students consult with their primary care providers for any medical needs. However, Health Services is available for phone consultation with students. We are no longer offering walk-in visits to the clinic. Students who have been given permission to remain on campus may call 978.665.3643 to schedule an appointment between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Disability Services:

Disability Services staff have been in contact with students who receive accommodations. If you have concerns regarding any specific accommodations, email your contact person in the office, who will address your needs.

Counseling Services:

The Counseling Services Office will be moving to a “telehealth” (remote service delivery) model on Monday, March 23.  There are some important differences and requirements when receiving services in this way. The Counseling Services staff will help to guide you through that process. For the time being, appointments will be taken, and students should be prepared for briefer contacts, as staff are prioritizing serving as many students as possible during this very difficult and stressful time. Some of the counseling staff will, unfortunately, not immediately be available to continue with students with whom they have an existing relationship, so students may need to be prepared for some flexibility with respect to their provider. Students wishing to schedule an appointment are encouraged to call the Counseling Services Office at 978.665.3152 or email healthwellness@fitchburgstate.edu with your general availability for upcoming week(s). Please note that neither the office voicemail nor email account are continuously monitored, so turnaround time may be somewhat longer than is typical during normal operations. As always, if you are in crisis, please contact emergency mental health services (e.g., dial 911, or consult with the resources that will be kept available at www.fitchburgstate.edu/counseling).  

Peer Tutoring:

Peer tutors will be accessible remotely. The tutors are there to help you as they were before, please click here for information on how to access peer tutoring.

Student Development and Center for Diversity and Inclusiveness:

The Office of Student Development and Center for Diversity and Inclusiveness will continue to engage students virtually. We are in the process of identifying virtual programming like bingo, game shows, trivia, etc. In addition, resources, how-to videos, and daily tips are forthcoming. Finally, we will be working with our clubs and organizations starting with “hangouts with the staff” next week to answer any questions you have. Look for on-line trainings, how-to guides, and supporting our club and organizations with electronic elections. Please look for the weekly event log starting Monday March 23rd, utilize FalConnect, and join our Facebook page where information will be shared.

Additional Supports:

Many offices such as the Dean of Students, Expanding Horizons, Disability Services, Career and Academic Advising, Registrar, Financial Aid, etc., will all be conducting business using Google platforms such as Google Hangouts. All staff continue to be accessing their Fitchburg State email addresses, and for the moment, that is the best way to be in touch. If you are not sure where to go to get help, email studentaffairs@fitchburgstate.edu, and we will point you in the right direction.

Athletics and Recreation:

Spring athletic seasons have been cancelled and there will be no practices or games for all athletic teams for the remainder of the spring semester.  Athletic facilities, including outdoor fields, remain closed at this time.

Uniforms and equipment will be collected during the closing of the residence halls.  Athletic staff will be available at the Recreation Center from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, March 20, Saturday, March 21, and Sunday, March 22. If you have specific uniform questions please contact Rick Terrio, rterrio1@fitchburgstate.edu

Recreation Services and Intramurals will be offering fitness ideas for all students through our social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram, follow us @fsurec.

Housing:

Information regarding move-out and those with petitions to stay has been distributed to residential students. If you have questions, please email housing@fitchburgstate.edu.

Information Technology:

You will be joining your class remotely in a fashion your instructor chooses. You will be hearing from them soon with the preferred methods of communication and expectations for the remainder of your classes, while remote.

Below you will find links to numerous resources pertaining to the university-supported technology your instructor and class may be using, and how to access each.

If you have specific questions about these tools, please email helpdesk@fitchburgstate.edu (please include contact info in the message) and we will have a trainer contact you directly to help.  You can see all of our help options, including how to contact our call center at https://www.fitchburgstate.edu/offices-services-directory/technology/help/

Alberto Cardelle
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Laura A. Bayless
Vice President for Student Affairs

Housing memo, March 17, 2020

Dear Fitchburg State University Residents,

You have received the correspondence from President Lapidus about proceeding with remote learning for the remainder of the semester. Housing & Residential Services has created a plan to coordinate your on-campus move-out. We appreciate your understanding and flexibility during this unprecedented situation.  

For residents whose petitions were granted to remain in residence: Your approved petition to stay on campus continues through this time, provided your reason for being in Fitchburg remains in effect. Watch for additional communication shortly.

All move out times are from 9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. At the conclusion of the last move-out date, all personal property must be removed from the assigned bed space. The move-out dates are:

  • Friday, March 20, 2020
  • Saturday, March 21, 2020
  • Sunday, March 22, 2020

The following locations will have moving bins to support the removal of items:

  • Aubuchon Hall
  • Cedar Street Apartments
  • Herlihy Hall 
  • Mara 8
  • Russell Towers
  • Simonds Hall

We encourage you to practice social distancing as recommended by Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the CDC while moving out your belongings.

Move-out time Frames:

  • In order to increase social distancing in our largest buildings, residents of Aubuchon Hall and Russell Towers must sign-up for the time block in which they would like to arrive.  Log into Web4 – THD4 – Select move-out time (under your Spring 2020 Room Assignment).  Select your time 24 hours before you are to arrive.  Please note that no sign-ups will be accepted by phone or email. 
  • Residents of ALL OTHER residence halls may remove their belongings on the dates/times permitted above. 

Storage space is not available on-campus for personal items. All items should be completely removed by 7:00 p.m. on Sunday,  March 22nd, unless pre-approval of items to remain in the assigned bed space has been granted by the department. 

Update Permanent Address:

Residents should update their permanent address if it has changed.  Accurate information ensures you receive your mail and packages. To change your permanent address please email registrar@fitchburgstate.edu.

You should not return to the university/residence hall if you show any cold and/or flu-like medical symptoms, or if you have traveled to areas affected by the coronavirus. If you show these symptoms, please call your primary care provider and follow their recommendations. If your primary care provider indicates that you are presumptive positive for COVID-19, please advise us at housing@fitchburgstate.edu

Please continue to visit www.fitchburgstate.edu/coronavirus and monitor your Fitchburg State email for future updates and previous communication. We will communicate regularly with you as the situation evolves. 

Yours in Service,

Christopher L. Medley
Director
978-665-3219
cmedley@fitchburgstate.edu

A message to students, March 13, 2020

Dear Fitchburg State Students,

** This applies to students who take face-to-face classes on the Fitchburg State campus. **

Earlier today, we notified faculty and staff of the intention to move classes away from a face-to-face format for at least the weeks of March 23 and March 30, pending final agreement. Next week, the faculty and staff will be planning how to accomplish this. As the plans develop, information about your individual classes will be forthcoming from your faculty.

This also means that the residence halls will be closed at least through April 5, with the exception of those students who have been granted permission to remain in residence because of exigent circumstances. 

No decisions have been made about the remainder of the semester. We are hopeful that we will be able to bring students back in residence and resume our vibrant campus life. The circumstances of the spread of the coronavirus will determine whether this is possible.

Keep checking back to the Fitchburg State Coronavirus web site for updates and archived messages.

I am so sorry that your college experience is being altered in this way.  Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we join the world in responding to this pandemic.

Sincerely,

Richard S. Lapidus
President

Student travel survey, March 12, 2020

Dear Students,

* This request pertains to all students who visit the Fitchburg State Campus. *

Fitchburg State continues to monitor the spread of the coronavirus and the impact it may have on the university. Fitchburg State has no known cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on campus. 

The Governor declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, and appealed for businesses and schools to be proactive in mitigating the risk of the spread of the virus. We are assessing ways that we can be proactive. We continue to closely monitor developments related to the spread of the coronavirus to ensure the health and well-being of our community, taking guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Students who have traveled during spring break and/or may have been exposed to the coronavirus are being asked to complete an electronic Notification of Travel/Exposure Reporting - Student form. The information provided will assist Student Health Services to identify students who may need to self-isolate and assist us with continuity planning.  Depending upon your travel history, you will be asked to stay home for a period of 14 days from the time you left an area with a widespread or ongoing community exposure. 

It is important that if you are feeling ill with flu-like symptoms and/or experiencing fever, cough and shortness of breath to remain at home and call your primary care physician or Student Health Services BEFORE COMING to the office.   If you are having difficulty breathing and feel you need to seek care immediately at a hospital emergency department (ER) PLEASE CALL BEFORE going to the ER and explain your symptoms and  travel history. The COVID-19 symptoms stated above may appear 2-14 days after exposure. 

Please visit our website at fitchburgstate.edu/coronavirus for more information about recommendations, Fitchburg State University’s ongoing response, and how to protect yourself and others. The COVID-19 planning group will continue the work and planning necessary to maintain a safe and healthy environment. Please continue to follow the CDC’s advice: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. 

  • Stay home when you are sick. 

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash, wash your hands.    

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty. 

As stated by the CDC, “Public health emergencies, such as the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), are stressful times for people and communities. Fear and anxiety about a disease can lead to social stigma toward people, places, or things.” Please treat others with respect and dignity and for more information please find the link to the CDC website regarding Stigma and Resilience. 

We thank you in advance for your cooperation and assistance in maintaining a safe and healthy campus for our many constituents. 

Martha Favre, FNP
Director of Student Health Services
978-665-3344

Housing Memo, March 11, 2020

Dear Residents,

The University released a communication earlier today in regards to the suspension of academic instruction and campus access for the week beginning Monday, March 16. During this time, students will not be allowed to remain in the residence halls. Effective immediately, guests are not allowed in the residence halls. 

Next week, Fitchburg State is planning for the continuity of the rest of the semester. While no final decisions have been made about the method of continuing classes, you have the opportunity to retrieve items. The residence halls will be open for residents to retrieve personal belongings on Sunday, March 15th from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Monday, March 16th from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.  These are the only dates and times permitted for removal of items. We recommend retrieving items that you anticipate needing for up to three weeks. 

You should not return to the university/residence hall if you show any cold and/or flu-like medical symptoms, or if you have traveled to areas affected by the coronavirus. If you show these symptoms, please call Student Health Services at 978.665.3216 or consult with your primary care provider and follow their recommendations. 

The following locations will have moving bins to support the removal of items:

  • Housing & Residential Services - Main Office (right side entrance of Aubuchon Hall)

  • Mara 8

  • Simonds Hall 

Any resident who believes they must remain in the residence hall, please log into Web4 – THD4 – Application - Petition to Stay in the Residence Hall by Friday, March 13, 11:59 p.m.  Please note that no petitions will be accepted by phone or email.

Note that campus activities are suspended. If your Petition to Stay is granted, it is important to note that the on-campus experience will be limited to housing and dining.

We understand that this situation may be stressful and present issues for some of you. This situation will continue to evolve and we will do everything possible to communicate with you in a timely manner, and address issues as they arise. Please continue to visit www.fitchburgstate.edu/coronavirus and monitor your Fitchburg State email for future updates and previous communication. 

Sincerely,

Sean McNalley, Associate Director
Housing & Residential Services
housing@fitchburgstate.edu

 

Bulletins for Faculty and Staff

Welcome Returning Colleagues, Aug. 10, 2020

Dear Fitchburg State Colleagues,

For those returning to work this morning or in the near future, I want to take a moment to welcome you back to campus, briefly share with you the preparations that have been made to ready the campus, outline what the student experience will look like this fall semester and set campus expectations.

As I, and others, have reported to you in prior communications, the safety and well-being of the entire campus community (students, faculty and staff) is our highest priority. We have relied on and followed the best health and safety guidance available and developed reopening plans for the new academic year in compliance with state requirements. We will, of course, continue to monitor new developments as they arise and adapt our plans as needed. I encourage you to reread those plans that outline policies and procedures for the campus regarding cleaning protocols, room capacities, distancing, and personal responsibilities. We take these plans seriously and they are designed to provide a safe working and educational environment for all. 

At the beginning of the semester, COVID-19 testing for all students, staff and faculty will take place. Random sampling surveillance testing will follow weekly thereafter. Plans have also been put into place, in conjunction with both local and state-wide public health authorities, to trace contacts. Arrangements have also been made, should it be necessary, to isolate or quarantine students that are unable to return home if presumed or found to test positive.

As we welcome students back to campus, instruction will be a blend of in-person, hybrid, and fully remote courses. The greatest majority of classes will be either hybrid or fully remote.  Faculty have been working on their courses this summer making extensive use of technology with an eye toward preserving to the greatest extent possible the most important elements of the in-person experience. Classrooms, and all spaces on campus, have been analyzed to comply with distancing requirements and class schedules modified accordingly. Student support services and activities will be available, but modified to conform to current guidelines.  Residence halls have also been de-densified with the majority of the rooms now considered to be singles. Food services will be available at multiple locations and the mobile ordering app will take a more prominent role as a means of reducing wait time in lines and the avoidance of larger congregations of people during peak times. Overall, a much-reduced student population will be on campus on any given day.

Unquestionably, all of our lives are different today than they were a few months ago, and life on campus this fall will be different than it was last fall. We will all need to adapt our personal behaviors to be respectful of the health of others, accept the fact that there will be some inconveniences, and demonstrate flexibility and resilience should conditions change as we are all navigating unknown territory. 

What we do know is that our students greatly value their university experience and we must work together to provide them a safe and positive opportunity to make academic progress toward degree completion. I know that each of you is committed to making this happen, and with a careful and deliberate approach we will be able to deliver on our Fitchburg State University mission. As always, I thank you for what you have done during these extraordinary times and will continue to do on behalf of our students. I look forward to seeing you on campus.

Sincerely, 

Richard S. Lapidus

President

Re-Population of Campus-3rd Phase, Aug. 7, 2020

Good afternoon,

I write to share information with the campus community as our third phase to repopulate campus is Monday, August 10th. Employees that have worked with their supervisor to determine a return to work schedule to campus, either full time or on an alternating schedule will return Monday. The executive team has continued to plan for the return of staff, faculty and students and we are monitoring the daily updates from the Governor's Office.  Our plans are adjusted accordingly as protocols evolve. A repopulation plan was established for students and it has been shared with the student body and was also shared with staff through email.

The Capital Planning and Maintenance team has worked diligently over the last few months to clean, disinfect and establish plans and protocols to maintain the health and safety of the campus. The Office of Environmental Health and Safety continues to assist with the planning efforts, review of space and adherence to standards for operations. Please take a moment to extend your appreciation to these employees for their continued efforts during the pandemic. I would also like to extend our gratitude to the power plant staff and university police for keeping our plant operating and for maintaining safety.

The university has been able to procure COVID-19 testing for all staff, faculty and students. The testing is completely voluntary for staff and faculty, we strongly encourage members of the community to take advantage of testing. The test is a free service.  Employees who voluntarily participate will be required to sign a consent form. We anticipate offering testing the week of August 24 for staff and some student populations, and the week of August 31, testing will be conducted for faculty and students. The administrative team is working on the final logistics and operational aspects of the testing and further information will be forthcoming.  For the remainder of the semester the university will be conducting weekly surveillance testing.  During surveillance testing, staff, faculty and students will be randomly selected to participate in the weekly sample. Again, this is voluntary, staff and faculty are not required to participate in the surveillance testing.

Employees are required to review the training located in Blackboard prior to returning to campus, please make certain to review the information if you have not done so.

Employees returning to campus on Monday, must use the entrance of the building that has the electronic keypad using your one card. The facilities will remain locked for the next few weeks as we prepare for the students' return. 

As staff and faculty return, please be reminded of our new protocols related to symptom monitoring checklist, social distancing, face coverings, travel, illness, isolation and quarantine requirements. Please see the information below as a reminder, specifically on how to place your face covering on and off. I have added a few short videos for review.

The pandemic has impacted people in different ways, and for many there is apprehension on returning to work and being with others. People are concerned about peers and other staff adhering to our new norms. I have been asked how employees can address others in the workforce if they are uncomfortable, if for example a person is not wearing a face covering or is not adhering to social distancing. First, employees should be reminded that others that are briefly passing by you with a face covering in the hallway, office, desks or especially outside present minimal risk. The CDC has stayed consistent that interactions for 15 minutes or longer if not distancing socially may present higher risk. We have placed behavioral markings and signage in all offices to assist with this practice. Managers should assist with reminding staff to wear their face coverings as prescribed in our policy.

Employees can also assist us in role modeling good behavior, setting an example helps establish social norms. Do your part by reminding others “don’t forget your mask” when they are leaving their workspace. These actions will assist with maintaining a healthy and safe environment.

Employees can use 'I statements', which helps to keep the conversation in an assertive tone while keeping the focus on finding a solution. "Things like 'I’m not ready for handshakes yet, but I am so happy to see you' or 'it would really make me feel better if you had your face covering on or if we could continue this conversation at a further distance' are both examples of assertive ways to voice your feelings regarding social distancing." 

Employees can cite our policy to make it less personal, or say “Maybe I’m overreacting, but humor me — I’d rather be safe than sorry.” or “I have a personal rule that I’ll only meet with people when we’re all wearing face coverings so could you put yours on?’”

We want to follow our culture of care and remain non-confrontational. Employees should listen, validate and respond empathically and supportively to all members of the community.

Expectations of Employees

Employees returning to campus will be asked to follow the standards below:

Social distancing. Stay at least six feet apart when able, and be mindful of distancing in enclosed spaces.

Handwashing. Wash hands often.

Face coverings. Face Coverings have been delivered to each department. Employees are expected to follow state guidelines and wear a face covering, see face covering section  

Cleaning. Employees will be responsible for maintaining their personal workspace, including periodic cleaning of frequently used items.

Processes. Continue to identify and digitize processes.

Gatherings. Employees should continue to use technology for meetings and appointments. If necessary to meet in person no more than ten people may gather in one place and must adhere to social distancing requirements. Employees should wear a face covering if social distance cannot occur, until further guidance is provided. 

Symptom Monitoring Checklist Requirement

Staff and faculty who are returning onsite must conduct symptom monitoring every day before reporting to work. Employees must be free of any symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 in order to report to work. Employees will adhere to the COVID-19 Symptom Monitoring ChecklistEmployees experiencing symptoms shall notify their supervisors/chairs that they will not be in attendance, remain home and monitor their symptoms. If symptoms worsen employees should contact their primary care physician and notify HR. Supervisors/Chairs should dialogue with staff and faculty on the importance of this practice as all members of the community have a duty for the wellbeing of the campus community.

Social Distancing

A short video on how to Social Distancing

  • Employees will remain in their respective building locations through August 31; employees shall not enter other buildings.
  • Employees must practice social distancing, by staying at least 6 feet from other people when feasible.
  • Employees should establish appointments with other staff if necessary to meet face to face; employees shall greet the other employee at the appropriate building entrance to let them into the building for the meeting if technology cannot be utilized.
  • Employees should utilize meeting spaces that will allow for social distancing. Staff are prohibited from gathering in groups larger than ten people per state standards and must adhere to social distancing. Technology resources should continue to be utilized for meetings as feasible.
  • Employees shall adhere to physical distancing in small spaces including elevators, hallways, stairwells, and restrooms. When walking in corridors or hallways, stay on the right side according to the direction you are heading in order to distance when passing others.
  • Face coverings must be worn in elevators and restrooms at all times
  • Employees should eat in a location that allows for appropriate physical distancing from peers (e.g. outdoors, in an enclosed or private space, in an office with the door closed, etc.)
  • Supervisors will work with employees to allow for staggered breaks and meal periods to accommodate social distancing.

Face Coverings 

A short video on how to wear your face covering: How to wear a Face Covering and Do's and Don't Face Coverings

  • Employees are expected to follow state guidelines and report to work with a face covering.
  • Everyone on campus is required to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth when indoors. This includes classrooms, public restrooms, open office and common spaces, hallways, meeting rooms, libraries, and other indoor spaces. Face coverings are also required outdoors when six-foot physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Face coverings may be cloth or disposable. Please be reminded to launder cloth face coverings often; disposable face coverings should be discarded daily.
  • Employees must have a face covering with them at all times during the work day.
  • Employees are asked to place their face covering on if others come into a room or space that others are working in alone, even if social distancing can be attained, as many people are concerned for the health and safety in the work environment, this also reflects our Culture of Care.
  • Employees who enter facilities without a face covering will be asked to leave.
  • Employees are not required to wear a face covering in private working spaces such as a single person office or outdoors if alone.
  • Employees may remove face coverings when actively eating or drinking or strenuously exercising.
  • Guests, visitors, vendors, and contractors will be expected to honor these guidelines and provide their own face covering to keep the Fitchburg State community safe.
  • Any employee who comes to work on two occasions without a face covering will be provided a disposable mask.  On the third occurrence, the employee will be asked to leave campus and may be asked to use their own accrued time and return back to work with a face covering. Subsequent violations will result in further action.
  • Some employees may have health issues that do not allow them to wear a face covering. We must be sensitive to these circumstances. The executive order on face coverings as well as other federal governing authorities does not permit the university to ask employees with health issues why they cannot wear a face covering. Individuals who are unable to wear cloth face coverings may be able to wear an alternate face covering, such as a shield, while maintaining a minimum six-foot physical distance at all times. We encourage employees to speak with an HR representative if they are unable to wear a face covering so we may provide support within the work environment. We ask all employees to please be respectful of others as we navigate these new protocols.

Guest Login Procedure 

Departments shall use the electronic FSU Guest Login to login in all guests, students, and staff that enter administrative offices. Staff and faculty who are meeting with individuals are responsible for logging in their visitor. All staff in the department should keep this link on their desktop for easy access. This practice will assist with contract tracing efforts.

Travel

If employees are traveling out of state and return to Massachusetts they should complete the Faculty and Staff Self-Isolation/ Travel Form. Massachusetts residents are also required to complete the state Massachusetts Travel Form as of August 1, 2020, unless they meet the state exemptions. Persons commuting for work or school who regularly commute, at least weekly, outside of Massachusetts to a fixed place to attend school or work or any person who regularly commutes, at least weekly into Massachusetts falls into the exemption and is not required to complete the travel form nor quarantine.

Employees do not need to quarantine for 14 days if they took a test for COVID-19 and have received a negative result prior to their arrival to Massachusetts. The specimen for the test must have been collected no longer than 72 hours before their arrival in Massachusetts, and the testing must be by a method approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Upon request, you must be able to demonstrate proof of the negative test result.

If an employee took a test prior to their arrival to Massachusetts but have not received their negative result, they MUST quarantine until a negative result is received. Employees may obtain a test at their own expense after their arrival in Massachusetts at the Action Community Health Connections, located at 130 Water Street, Fitchburg, MA 01420 (P. (978) 878-810; action-dental@chcfhc.org; (Mon - Fri: 8:00AM - 5:00PM / Sat - Sun: Closed) by appointment.

Employees must quarantine until a negative result is obtained.

People from the following states do not need to quarantine when coming into Massachusetts. Human Resources will monitor and work with employees to determine safe reentry to campus.

Self-Isolation/Quarantine

Employees who feel ill and have any symptoms of COVID-19, should not attend work. Employees should monitor their symptoms and contact their primary care physician to address testing. If a staff or faculty member must isolate, they will complete the Faculty and Staff Self-Isolation/Travel Form. After a staff member completes the self-isolation form, they will be contacted by a Human Resources representative to learn more about their health situation.

Contact Tracing

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has provided contact tracing guidelines for Higher Education, the Fitchburg Board of Health will serve as the lead with contact tracing efforts for the university.

We look forward to your return to campus, if you should have further questions please email hrcovid@fitchburgstate.edu or call 3172.

Best,

Jessica Murdoch
Associate Vice President, Human Resources & Payroll Services/Affirmative Action Officer

Information on the Fall, July 30, 2020

Dear members of the faculty,

Over the last 2 months, the chairs, deans, directors and the leadership in academic affairs, along with the other university divisions, have been working hard to get us ready for what will be a unique Fall semester. You have already received the employee repopulation plan and the repopulation plan for students, as well as letters sent to students about the different modalities. Our latest piece, attached, is an information guide for faculty about what to expect upon your return to the classroom. The piece distills and highlights the issues that are pertinent for instructors as you return to campus. 

I understand that this new information piece arrives at a moment of great uncertainty and apprehension, so I debated how best to frame the message given the challenges we are facing. We all  understand  that the uncertainty of the pandemic, the growing tensions we face as a country due to centuries of racial injustice, and the financial impact of the shutdown on our institution and our personal wellbeing, drain the well of enthusiasm from where we derive our energy at the start of every semester. Nonetheless, we are one month away from beginning a new semester; which similar to the spring will test this enthusiasm and energy.

Then, just this morning, I read the Op-ed piece written by Rep. John Lewis prior to his passing and found that his words serve as a source of inspiration for our depleted reservoirs.

In speaking to today’s generation of activists, Rep. Lewis closes his piece by saying “When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war.” It is institutions like ours where this generation and future generations will “…study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time.”

I hope that as the fall semester nears we remember that our collective work will educate the generations that will make and write the history of our future. 

Sincerely,

Alberto
Alberto J.F. Cardelle, PhD, MPH
Fitchburg State University
Provost and Vice-President
Academic Affairs

Additional Information about Repopulating Campus, July 27, 2020

 

Good afternoon staff and faculty,

I write to share additional information about next steps in repopulating campus. The university will extend our third phased return date to August 10, 2020 for staff able to return to campus. Faculty will return on September 1, per their contractual agreement. 

The Office of Human Resources & Payroll Services is still collecting information related to the needs of our staff, whether it is child care concerns, caring and or living with a person who is vulnerable and for their own health related issues. We are working with supervisors to address schedules and how the offices will be populated. The university has assessed all spaces on campus to ensure that social distancing can be maintained within the work environment. Employees who may require alternate assignments and or accommodations should complete either the Request for Reasonable Accommodation Form or the Request for Alternate Work Option During COVID-19 as soon as possible.

We understand that K-12 school systems, daycares and other care facilities are still addressing their decisions on their reopening, which may result in employees' circumstances changing. If circumstances do change, we ask that you complete the Request for Alternate Work Option During COVID-19 form above. This will provide notification to HR so we may contact the employee and supervisor to address scheduling needs.

We understand that returning to campus can cause apprehension for those who have been remote since March. Our administrative teams have worked very diligently to establish a repopulation plan, processes and procedures, cleaning protocols, behavioral markings and signage to assist us all with our new norms. 

There are reminders to social distance, wear face coverings, wash hands often and mitigate the spread of germs. We must all work together to establish an environment of adherence to new processes and procedures and to be patient with each other.  Employees have been impacted differently during the pandemic; we want to create and sustain a caring and supportive environment.

We are strengthening our policy on face coverings after receiving feedback from our faculty and staff. Face coverings shall be worn in all common spaces, when walking outdoors if you cannot maintain social distancing and to be worn when entering buildings. Students and faculty will wear face coverings in classrooms. Employees are reminded to have a face covering on their person at all times. Employees in office areas should wear face coverings when they are providing services in person. When a staff member is not providing face to face services and social distancing is being adhered to, they may remove their face covering.  Many of our maintenance staff may be working alone or distanced from others; they may remove their face coverings when alone. They will be requested to place their face coverings on when others enter areas they are working. Employees and students who enter facilities without a face covering will be asked to leave. Note that there is no food or beverage allowed in classrooms. Guests, visitors, vendors, and contractors will be expected to honor these guidelines and provide their own face covering to keep the Fitchburg State community safe. Individuals who are unable to wear cloth face coverings due to a medical or behavioral condition or disability may wear an alternate face covering, such as a shield if possible, and maintain a minimum six-foot physical distance at all times. 

We recognize the need to remain flexible. With that said the state is maintaining the 50% occupancy in common work spaces. This standard will require many offices to continue with telework options while establishing staggered rotations so we remain in compliance with the state standard. As standards transition we will send additional information out to staff. Employees with single person offices are not counted in the 50% occupancy.

The university will be welcoming students back to campus. It is our goal that we will have minimum staffing in our offices to assist and provide service to students. Each area supervisor shall work with their staff to create a schedule for their office.  With that said, pending the needs of the staff and space limitations we ask that each area think about how they can provide overall services. 

As we collect schedules we would like to prepare a document as an easy reference guide that can be posted to the website for the campus community. This document will provide details on how services will be offered. Some offices may need to offer services by appointment only pending office space, others may have specified office hours that in person services will be offered, and or both appointments and face to face services. Offices should post this information on their web pages and share these details with HR.

Offices that had capacity concerns have been addressed. A representative from the Office of Environmental and Health Safety has communicated and discussed options with the supervisor. With that said, there have been requests received to transition spaces and or equipment; please be reminded that each space has been reviewed and the offices that did not present concerns with space have been deemed to meet the standards. At this time the university will not adjust those spaces. Employees have a shared responsibility to follow the procedures of wearing face coverings and social distancing when using shared equipment and entering common spaces. As the state continues to open up Massachusetts, the university is in adherence with the state guidelines and we are comfortable that we can repopulate safely.

The university has secured COVID testing kits for students, which will be conducted randomly. We will be addressing the staff and faculty union leadership to determine their interest and participation in random testing. More information will be forthcoming.

Employees will be asked to track visitors, peers and others that visit their offices and have face to face interactions. The login process will assist us with contact tracing in the case of a positive COVID case.  All staff and faculty are responsible for logging in their own visitors using this form FSU Guest Sign In.

Please find the new state travel guidance effective August 1, 2020, https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-travel-order#massachusetts-travel-form- If employees are traveling out of state and return to Massachusetts they should complete the Faculty and Staff Self-Isolation/ Travel Form; travelers arriving in Massachusetts must self-quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72-hours prior to your arrival in Massachusetts. If your COVID-19 test result has not been received prior to arrival, residents must quarantine until they receive a negative test result. Employees traveling recreationally and or non business related will use their own accrued time during the quarantine period, unless they can telework during that period. 

Under the new travel guidelines it provides an exemption to persons Commuting for Work or School. People who regularly commute, at least weekly, outside of Massachusetts to a fixed place to attend school or work or any person who regularly commutes, at least weekly into Massachusetts to a fixed place to attend school or work; provided that in either case, this exception applies only to and from the person’s residence and place of work or school.  Workers or students who travel to any place that is not their home state for personal or leisure reasons cannot rely on this exemption.

People from the following states do not need to quarantine when coming into Massachusetts RI, NH, CT, ME, VT, NY, NJ and HI. If you're visiting these states you are not required to isolate upon your return. Human Resources will monitor and work with employees to determine safe reentry to campus.

The Repopulation Plan will be updated and sent out this week to all staff and faculty, please review the plan. We are working on FAQ's to share as well. We understand that our classrooms and teaching modalities, business services and student life will look different. Together we can continue to offer extraordinary customer service, teaching and student experience to our students, peers and community members. 

On behalf of the executive team we thank you all for your continued efforts and patience as we continue to receive information. If you should have any questions please send them to hrcovid@fitchburgstate.edu. 

Best,

Jessica Murdoch
Associate Vice President, Human Resources & Payroll Services/ Affirmative Action Officer, Fitchburg State University

Campus Repopulation Plan, July 1, 2020

 

Click here to read the latest campus repopulation plan.

 

Campus Budget FY2021, July 1, 2020

Dear Campus Colleagues

I write to you today to provide some insight into the uncharted and ever-changing budget planning territory we find ourselves in due to COVID-19. The challenge in reporting to you sooner has revolved around a number of significant unknowns that would, and in some cases still can, create significant volatility within the budgeting process (state appropriations, debt service on residence halls, and student enrollment) and future campus operations. Compounded with the existing pre-COVID challenges of public demands for student debt minimization and the continual demographic decline in traditional age undergraduate students, particularly in the New England region, we find ourselves in one of the toughest budget cycles in this institution's history.

Over the past few weeks, two pieces of information have helped to provide some clarity and confirmation to our budget planning. The first was work done with the Massachusetts State College Building Authority (MSCBA) to refinance and restructure the debt on our residence halls.  This will significantly reduce the size of our payment to the MSCBA, saving $7 million in FY21. The restructuring will also save an additional $3.6 million in a portion of FY22. The cost of this restructuring to the campus will occur slowly in future time periods.  Please remember that the university doesn’t own the residence halls, or for that matter any of the buildings on campus. Whether the buildings are occupied and generating revenue or not, the university must meet its financial debt obligation each year to the state.  Additionally, the university is responsible for current and deferred maintenance on buildings.

The second, was information provided at a recent Board of Higher Education meeting in which EY-Parthenon, a consulting firm attached to Ernst & Young, one of the big four accounting firms, presented findings associated with a study they conducted on liquidity risk across a portion of the Massachusetts public higher education system (the nine state universities and the 15 community colleges.) The analysis looked at three scenarios which created increasing levels of financial stress to the campuses by changing state appropriation levels and student enrollment levels.  In the worst-case scenario four state universities and four community colleges were not able to meet their financial obligations for one or more months in the upcoming fiscal year.  In their conclusions, EY-Parthenon suggested that financial stress would most likely extend beyond a single year for all campuses and that although the MSCBA debt restructuring is helpful in the short-term, a broad-range of mitigation strategies would be needed for long-term campus viability.

I am pleased to report that Fitchburg State was not one of those campuses identified in the study as having liquidity risk issues under the EY-Parthenon simulation. I have reported to you, on more than one occasion, that because of fiscal conservatism, our campus was in a relatively strong financial position and that was certainly the case in the pre-COVID environment in which our structural deficit was steadily trending down each year.  Unfortunately, in our new environment, we are not, nor are any of our public university campuses, capable of sustaining business as usual. 

As we close the books on this current fiscal year, FY20, the University refunded $3.5 million dollars to students due to the closing of the residence halls and dining facilities. These dollars came from university reserves as our current budget did not anticipate COVID-19. The CARES Act provided some relief, $1.9 million, to offset these costs. However, this budget year, FY21, we are anticipating expenses of at least $2 million due to COVID-19 hygiene, cleaning and personal protective equipment, assorted supplies, information technology, and other associated  costs to enable the University to accommodate residential students on-campus, as well as, deliver hybrid, and online modalities of learning in fall 2020 and beyond.

With a projected decrease in state tax revenue estimated to be as high as $7 billion, a decline in our state appropriation is anticipated. While the amount is still unknown at this time, a 10% reduction equivalent to approximately a $3 million shortfall relative to our FY20 general appropriation is currently being assumed for budgeting purposes.

The continual demographic decline in traditional age undergraduate students was of paramount concern during the past budget cycle, but now has the potential to exacerbate financial pressures with an anticipated further decline in undergraduate enrollments (estimated to be down 15%) which would result in a loss of over $3 million in revenue.  Further, enrollment concerns for both first-time students and returners must assume increased sensitivity this year as students wait to better understand the university’s ability to deliver academic content in their desired modality. Student class schedules are currently being built.

Finally, due to economic and health concerns, we are planning for our dorm occupancy to be intentionally reduced by an additional 27% resulting in a loss of approximately $3 million in revenue. As a means of de-densification, most double rooms will become singles to minimize potential virus outbreaks. Additionally, rooms will be taken offline to provide isolation and quarantine space for those that might need it.

In order to minimize the effects of the above noted revenue disruptions, significant efforts have been made to restrain planned spending in FY2021 and broadly spread reductions across campus operations and personnel. The budget proposed and approved by the Fitchburg State Board of Trustees this week includes the following mitigation actions: elimination of non-essential out-of-state travel; reductions in catered food; tighter control and cancellation of under-enrolled courses; implementation of a hiring freeze on all non-essential positions and attrition of positions through retirement; and consideration of campus-wide furloughs.  It is understood that furloughs will require conversations and have bargaining implications with union leadership. With the implementation of all these measures the projected budget deficit for FY21 is projected to be $4.4 million dollars which will be drawn from university reserves. This represents approximately 20% of available reserves. If the university were to opt to further expend reserves, as opposed to implement broad-based cost reduction strategies, it will be necessary to liquidate longer-term investments. These investments generate revenue, thus we would be compounding losses and further jeopardizing the university’s long-term financial health. 

During this coming year, we will together finalize our next 5-year strategic plan with its focus on  education justice and becoming a student ready university. We will remain committed to our students and the important population they represent and continue to deliver the high quality and life changing education we always have. It will not be easy, but in times of adversity people do extraordinary things. This has already been demonstrated by our campus community time and time again. I am grateful to all our employees who continually contribute so much in support of our mission and the students we serve.  I will be back in touch with you as more information becomes available.  As always, it is my privilege to be able to work with you each day.

Be well,

Richard S. Lapidus
President

Initial Preparation on Campus, June 19, 2020

Dear Campus Colleagues,

As the university continues its work in preparation for both the slow return of staff this summer and the repopulating of our campus in the fall with faculty and students, I wanted to share with you a little about what you might expect to see.  To begin with, signage is now being installed throughout the campus.  As required by the state per its phased reopening requirements and more importantly for the benefit and safety of our campus community, a wide variety of signs will be apparent.  The signs reinforce distancing requirements, the use of face coverings, proper hygiene and disinfecting protocols along with other important instructions.  Examples of some of the signage is attached.  

Over the course of the summer, offices, and other public spaces will be assessed, and if needed, modified to assure that appropriate distancing is maintained.  All spaces have been measured so as to determine the appropriate capacity per recommended distancing requirements.  

You will find hand sanitizing stations around campus and disinfectant bottles in offices, classrooms and other spaces that you can use to wipe down your own work areas as well as areas that might receive more usage.  While the university will provide a schedule for cleaning by the maintainer staff, these materials will allow for additional cleaning as the user deems warranted.

The university has purchased face coverings for employees.  Each person will receive five reusable and washable face coverings to supplement those which you might already have. The use of face coverings will be required on campus when you are not able to interact at a safe distance or when travelling in areas occupied by others.  This requirement must be taken seriously for the protection of our campus community.

Once these and other initial safety requirements are in place the university will complete the state’s COVID-19 attestation documents indicating the required protections are in place for repopulation.  Prior to returning to work on campus, you will need to familiarize yourself with the Fitchburg State University Repopulation Phased Plan and acknowledge completion of the required short information modules soon to be available online.

I will be sharing more with you shortly as our planning and implementation continues to roll-out.  Until then, be well.

Best,

Rich 

Fall Planning Update, June 1, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

I recognize that there is a high interest in better understanding Fitchburg State’s plans for this fall, and with it, much concern about the safety, health and well-being of our community. To date, there have been many conversations with faculty, staff, students and parents, and what is clear is that there are many opinions about how the university should proceed. Additionally, there is ample evidence to suggest that students learn and grow in different ways and that opportunity to experience in-person interactions with their faculty and classmates is desired by many.    

To this end, we have been working hard on a variety of scenarios, through working groups that I have previously shared with you, and we are ready to provide our initial thinking about the fall 2020 semester. While we are far from having all the answers, we did want to begin to outline the major areas of campus operations that will require modification in response to the new reality created by COVID-19. Our campus planning is supported by Governor Baker’s guidance for reopening Massachusetts, which lays out a 4-phase approach to reopening industries across the state. Most recently additional higher education-specific guidance was provided by the Higher Education Working Group, a team of which I am a participant, to the Governor’s Reopening Advisory Board. Further, guidance with greater specificity from the Baker administration is expected in the coming weeks. The university will also continue to work closely with state and local public health officials, peer institutions and Department of Higher Education leadership. What we do know is that we live in unprecedented times, and that our planning must be nimble and adaptive as conditions can change rapidly. Nonetheless, the safety, health and well-being of our campus community will always be primary in our decision-making.

Moving forward, things will look and feel different as we implement the necessary changes to our campus community: 

Returning to the workplace this summer

We will phase in the return of our staff with a focus on health and safety. Decisions about who returns to campus, and when, will be managed centrally in consultation with supervisors. We will strive to be accommodating and make arrangements that strike a fair balance between individual needs and those of the institution, understanding the many realities and challenges you face created by COVID-19. You might initially expect staggered work schedules, alternating schedules, reconfigured work spaces, continued remote work and other accommodations to limit density on campus and maximize safety.  When on campus, all members of our community will be asked to abide by the health and safety standards put in place by the state and university which include: 

  • Social Distancing within the workplace, between employees, and when we reintroduce students, prospective students and/or their families to our campus and other operations between employees and guests. Appropriate signage will be in place to reinforce safe social distancing. Face coverings or masks will be required of all upon arrival to campus. Those without a face mask will be provided one by the university.   
  • Increased Hygiene Protocols for all employees and our facilities, including adequate supplies for frequent handwashing, and regular sanitation of high touch areas. 
  • Staffing and Operations training for students and employees regarding social distancing and hygiene will be provided, as well as strict protocols put in place for keeping sick employees home. Specific return-to-work plans will also be provided. 
  • Cleaning and Disinfecting of the facilities will be put in place in accordance with all required guidelines. This will include cleaning protocols specific to locations identified as being occupied by those active employees diagnosed with COVID-19 should this occur. Additionally, there will be disinfecting of common surfaces at intervals appropriate to the workplace. Department Offices, break rooms and other common use areas will be supplied with disinfectant products that employees can use to supplement cleaning protocols.

Instructional Strategy, Academic Calendar and Classroom Space

While it is our intention to reopen campus to students in the fall for on-campus learning, please be aware that this decision relies on the trajectory of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts. The state’s plan for reopening clearly and rightly states that all reopening activities will be guided by public health data. Should new cases be trending in the wrong direction come late summer, we will need to reassess and adjust our plans to ensure the safety of our community. This may include a transition to fully remote course offerings. Given the current guidance, summer session classes will be delivered primarily in a remote fashion with a few exceptions that require some specialized need. Summer Bridge will also be held remotely. Preparation for summer orientation, to be delivered remotely, is currently underway as larger gatherings continue to be prohibited.  

That said, and given the additional time to prepare, we will be following the approved fall 2020 calendar. While some institutions have proposed an early start and early departure, we feel that as of now, the best option for our campus is to plan for the approved semester and make adjustments if circumstances change. Classroom configurations may be modified to allow for appropriate physical distancing. Informational and directional signage will be used to remind people of best practices and, where possible, assist with the entering and exiting of buildings to reduce congestion. 

Class schedules will be carefully considered to spread class meeting times fully across time blocks and days to reduce the number of people in the buildings at any given time. Course pedagogy will be a combination of traditional classroom instruction, hybrid courses and fully remote. Further, expect that small classes will meet in larger spaces, and larger classes may be split into smaller groups in some fashion, delivered remotely or consist of a combination of both. Our goal is to offer as much flexibility for students and faculty as possible. The combination of course types and numbers are still under consideration with the understanding that certain courses require in-class delivery and conversely reducing the number of people on campus at one time is an important consideration. Additionally, we will continue to work on various ways to deliver the robust array of support services that students both on- and off-campus need and depend on.

Student Activities

Participation in organized co-curricular activities is still under review and we are awaiting guidance from the NCAA and MASCAC as it pertains to organized athletics. While we all understand that socialization and engaged participation are important, we must find creative ways to provide meaningful experiences that disaggregate larger groups that we would typically seek to aggregate. Irrespective of these various considerations, it is critical that our students experience a sense of belonging. We must find ways to engage students and build a sense of community. Many of the techniques learned this past semester have applicability moving forward and can be improved upon in purposeful ways. 

Residence Halls

Residence halls will be open this fall, but all occupancy will be in the form of singles in consideration of density reduction. How best to assign students’ rooms is still being discussed. Some residence hall rooms will be taken off-line, with proper separation, and be used as temporary housing for residential students who test positive for COVID-19 and those exposed to the COVID-19 virus but do not have a confirmed diagnosis. Appropriate cleaning of these spaces will follow each individuals’ departure. 

Dining Services

To assist in reducing density, Holmes Dining Hall will limit occupancy at any one time. Dining tables and chairs will be sanitized regularly. Chartwells is a large professional food service provider and is currently working on alternative ways to creatively and safely deliver meals to our campus.   

Testing, Contact Tracing and Surveillance

Within the Higher Education Working Group appointed by the Governor, a sub-group has been formed to specifically study and develop recommendations for testing protocols for colleges and universities. This group is considering issues revolving around access to testing, flexibility of plans to adjust to the science and technology, and contact tracing, quarantine and isolation procedures. As with all plans and guidelines for higher education institutions, it is expected that minimum guidelines will be established with each individual campus developing a plan that works for their institution.

As we continue to work through the myriad of issues that must be considered, I will continue to communicate with you as plans evolve and greater specificity becomes available. I understand that you have many questions and the level of detail provided is not always what you are looking for. Know that as information becomes available, I will be sharing it with you in a timely fashion. There is going to be change, disruption and inconvenience, but I thank you for your commitment to our institution and your willingness to help build something we can all be proud of in support of our mission and the students we serve.

Be well,

Richard S. Lapidus
President

Operational Intentions, May 14, 2020

Dear Campus Colleagues:
 
Let me begin by once again thanking you for your extraordinary work during this most challenging time. It is because of your commitment to our institution and our students, the pride you take in your work, and your creative thinking that we have been able to continue to deliver high quality academics, support services, and business operations. We have also been able to offer and, in some cases, provide service to our community and the Commonwealth for which we are proud to be a part.
 
While the disruption and anxiety caused by this pandemic both professionally and personally have been significant, the generous and kind character exhibited by our campus community has been admirable. And I thank you for demonstrating yet another important lesson to our students during this unprecedented time. We will finish this spring semester strong and recognize 559 undergraduates and 379 graduate students that have successfully completed their degree requirements.
 

That said, the challenges ahead created by this crisis are going to be complex and will most likely exceed those required to transition to remote formats. It is our intention to gradually return our staff back to campus over the course of the summer months and optimistically plan to hold classes on campus in the fall. In doing so, we will be flexible and considerate of pre-existing health conditions, lack of available child care, and other extenuating factors that might arise.   Summer Session 1 is scheduled to be fully remote and Summer Session 2 is still in review as we await guidance from the Governor on his Reopening Massachusetts plan. We will, of course, fully comply with state and public health guidance to help ensure the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors. 

Over the course of the last few weeks, our attention has shifted to scenario planning and we have begun the study of a myriad of things that must be considered for the return to campus. We must apply innovative thinking about classroom usage, residential occupancy, dining service, athletics, student activities, and all areas of operation that compose campus life. In accordance with public health guidance we will be reviewing a broad range of recommended safety protocols and procedures around social distancing and density reduction, personal protective equipment and cleaning best practices. Rest assured that every aspect of how the university operates is being evaluated in the context of our new reality.  

 As we plan in these uncertain times, we will be guided by the following principles:

  • We will remain true to the Fitchburg State mission and values;
  • Committed to the health and safety of our campus community; and
  • Responsive to opportunities that ensure that our institution is prepared to thrive post-pandemic.

To assist us in navigating our new environment, planning is underway by faculty, staff, union leadership and administrators across the following six working groups: University Academic and Content Delivery; University Social Structure; Personnel Policies and Procedures; Financial Planning; Administration and Operations; and Enrollment Management. As these groups provide their recommendations, you will receive updates with more detailed information.  

I appreciate your patience as we work through a situation that remains fluid with considerable unknowns. As time progresses, we will undoubtedly better understand the possibilities and be capable of making more fully informed decisions. While we look forward to returning to some sense of normalcy and classes on campus in the fall, I hope that each of you has some opportunity to find time to relax and decompress from this unprecedented time in our lives. Again, thank you for your contribution in making Fitchburg State University the outstanding institution that it is. 

Be well,

Richard S. Lapidus
President

Extension of Telework, April 23, 2020

Dear Fitchburg State Community,

The executive team extends their best to all of you, we are thinking of you and your families and hope all are healthy and safe as we continue to navigate our way through this remote working and teaching environment. On Tuesday April 21, 2020, Gov. Charlie Baker cancelled the remainder of the K12 school year  and non-emergency childcare programs through June 29, 2020 due to the continuing spread of COVID-19 in Massachusetts. 

In consultation with the other eight state universities we have decided to extend  teleworking for staff able to perform their job responsibilities remotely through June 1st, 2020.  The University will remain open with restricted access to campus through this time.

With that said there are members of our community that are not able to perform their responsibilities remotely. We are assessing plans on how to reintroduce these staff members to campus so they may perform their roles safely. Further guidance will be shared with these employees no later than May 1, 2020.

In addition, we are discussing the return of staff and faculty after June 1, 2020. We are working diligently to assess strategies that will allow the employees a seamless reentry to campus. Please watch for further information from Human Resources and divisional leaders.

We ask supervisors to continue working with their employees to ensure that all those who can work remotely are doing so while maintaining continuity of business operations.  We want to continue to minimize the number of people on campus as much as we can, so that those who do need to be physically present can practice social distancing.

Due to the length that so many of us are going to be away from campus, it’s important that supervisors stay in regular contact with their employees to ensure that they have work and projects to perform and are feeling included and engaged during this time.  Please review your telework agreements to determine if updates are needed due to the extension.  The telework guidelines and form are attached to this email for easy reference.    

If you have any questions related to your telework plan, please speak with your supervisor directly.  Supervisors needing assistance with telework plans, may contact me at jmurdoch@fitchburgstate.edu or Kim Page at kpage3@fitchburgstate.edu   

Once again, thank you for your continued patience, hard work, and dedication during this time.

Sincerely,

Jessica Murdoch
Associate Vice President, Human Resources & Payroll Services/ Affirmative Action Officer

Career Services & Advising Center Updates and Resources, April 21, 2020

Good Morning FSU Faculty & Staff,

We hope this email finds you all well. We understand that under these unprecedented times, there are additional pressures and strain on you as well as our students. We are reaching out to share how our office might be able to support students during this time. In addition to our regular services, we have been working on putting together resources and information for our students who are looking for jobs, internships or other ways to continue to build upon their skills in the upcoming months. We ask that you consider sharing these with your students as we attempt to reach as many students as possible.  

Our office continues to provide the following services in a virtual capacity. The majority of these services will continue to be available to students over the summer months. 

  • One-on-One Advising Appointments
  • Daily Walk-In Hours (M,W,F 1:00-3:00PM & T,TH 10:00AM-12:00PM) (Link: meet.google.com/wvc-bdxr-syt
  • Mock Interviews
  • Internship/Job Search Support
  • Graduate School Advising 

While we have wrapped up our career workshops for the semester, we have put together some of this information into pre-recorded workshops that students can utilize around the following topics:

Additionally, we wanted to share with you resources we have been compiling and sharing with students, depending on their needs. Many of these resources help connect students with opportunities including remote internships, jobs, job market information, free online courses, skill building opportunities and more. We will continue to update this spreadsheet as we come across additional resources. Please encourage students to check out these resources and also utilize Handshake, our new career management platform. There they will be able to apply for opportunities and access these resources. 

Lastly, since we had to postpone our career and internship fair until the fall, we are working on creating a resume book for employers who were planning on attending. Students who are interested in submitting their resume should follow the steps outlined in the attached flyer. We will be collecting resumes until April 30th. 

If you or your students have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us either by email at careercenter@fitchburgstate.edu or by phone at 978-665-3151. 

Melisa Alves
Director, Career Services and Advising Cente

Health advisory for students reporting COVID-19, April 13, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff, 

I hope you are all staying well and finding healthy ways to adjust to this period of self-isolation.  As the surge of the coronavirus continues you may be hearing from students that they are sick with COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive for coronavirus as we enter the surge phase in Massachusetts. Since the severity of symptoms from COVID-19 vary so significantly, you may find some students have very mild symptoms and are able to attend classes and complete their work without a problem. Others are quite ill with fever, cough and difficulty breathing and would not be able to do their work.  

If you hear from students that they have symptoms or a positive test for COVID-19, first refer them to their own primary care physician (PCP). They should call their PCP’s office for a phone triage and next steps. In addition, share the names of the students with Sara Melanson, Administrative Assistant at  Student Health Services Office at smelans6@fitchburgstate.edu and we will contact them by email or phone.  Presumably, if they had a positive test, their local Board of Health should have been in touch with them and been monitoring their symptoms and recommending self-isolation. If our Student Health Services learns of a student diagnosed with COVID-19, our staff will contact them to check in, ensure they are getting appropriate medical care where they are, and ensure they understand and are following self-isolation recommendations.  

Just as you all are transferring your courses and interactions with students to online environments, we are also adjusting to providing our services remotely. We want you to be aware that Health Services is not seeing students in the clinic. However we are available to all students via telehealth. Thanks to the efforts of our colleagues in Information Technology, we are able to utilize HIPAA-compliant  Google Hangouts for their interactions with students. We are utilizing the same standards of privacy and confidentiality with the telemed sessions that we would utilize in our face to face student encounters within the clinic. 

Health Services can continue to prescribe medications that were previously ordered for the student and we will also prescribe other medications on an as-needed basis.  Please ask the student to contact Health Services directly via phone or email Monday - Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM.  

Follow us on Instagram at fsuhealthservices. We are offering suggestions on staying both physically and mentally healthy during this time, while keeping you informed with up to date information and resources. 

If you encounter students with medical needs, please feel free to direct them our way, and assure them that compassionate, confidential care remains available via the telehealth model.  

Thank you and stay well,

Martha Favre, FNP
Director of Student Health Services

Information on referring students for counseling, April 10, 2020

Colleagues:

We hope all are well, and are effectively managing the demands with our move to remote instruction this semester.  We further hope you grant yourselves the same degree of patience and understanding that you are affording our students; we hear from many of them, and they most definitely appreciate your ongoing commitment to their success.

We’re also seeing that a number of faculty and staff members are receiving e-mails from students, often fairly desperate e-mails, where students share the nature of the challenges they are experiencing presently, and how such is adversely impacting their work in their courses.  In light of this, we just wanted to let you know a few details regarding how our office is continuing to support students, and how you can connect students with us.

  • All students at the University, including those who have a pre-existing relationship with the Counseling Services Office, have been contacted and advised that we are continuing to offer remote (“telehealth”) services during this period of remote instruction. 
  • For several weeks now, we have experienced an increase in the number of students connecting, or reconnecting, with our office, which we appreciate.
  • Students interested in “meeting” with a counselor can initiate such in two ways:
    • Calling the Counseling Services Office (978-665-3152), and leaving a detailed message, with their name and contact information.  Our staff check the office voicemail several times daily.
    • E-mailing healthwellness@fitchburgstate.edu and providing information regarding their availability.  This e-mail account, too, is checked several times daily, and is used as a platform for scheduling presently.
  • Students can trust that the same standards of privacy and confidentiality are in place for “remote” sessions, just as they are for “in-person” sessions.
  • The Counseling Services website (fitchburgstate.edu/counseling) is being remotely updated with scheduling information and resources.
  • In our efforts to “reach students where they’re at,” we now have an Instagram presence at fitchburgstatewellness.  We are doing several self-care oriented live programs weekly, and are maintaining a collection of resources pertaining to wellness during this time.

We appreciate, as always, our partnership with you, in helping our students who are struggling to connect with our campus mental health professionals.  And we’ll look forward to brighter days when we are able to reconnect with you on campus.  In the meantime, be well, and be safe.

Sincerely,

The Counseling Services Staff
Robert Hynes, Ph.D., LMHC
Assistant Dean/Director, Counseling Services

Accommodations in remote instruction, April 9, 2020

Faculty:

As we work through our second week of remote instruction in what promises to be the most atypical semester that any of us have experienced, we wanted to take a few moments to discuss the provision of academic accommodations to our students with documented disabilities.

First though, thank you.  We’ve received numerous reports from so many of our students who are incredibly appreciative of those often-invisible extra efforts you are taking to ensure that they continue to have access to your course curricula.  Your efforts are certainly not going unnoticed by our students, and we’re appreciative of all that you are doing.

In many cases, the transition to remote learning has actually facilitated some academic accommodations.  In a number of cases that we’ve seen, necessity truly is serving as the mother of invention in these times, and in your efforts to translate your course into a remote-learning environment, you’ve included elements of “Universal Design for Learning” that may or may not have been entirely present prior.  Thank you!

In those circumstances where the transition to remote learning is proving more problematic, particularly as it pertains to our students with disabilities, please know that the Disability Services Staff is continuing to work to assist our students, and (as needed or desired) our faculty, as well.  Some specific points worth noting:

  • Even with the dramatic changes to content delivery, the University’s commitment to compliance with legislation supporting students with disabilities (e.g., the Americans with Disabilities Act) must remain as firm as ever.  Accommodations must, and will, continue to be delivered.
  • Our quick exodus from campus meant that many of our materials may have been left behind in offices.  If you are in need of copies of accommodation agreements/letters from the Disability Services Office, staff are able to provide you with such.
  • Please contact Disability Services staff if you have any concerns or questions about ensuring accommodations are supported in new course formats and delivery methods.
  • Please note that, on several occasions, students who have concerns about accommodations in remotely-delivered courses are (first) encouraged to contact you, the faculty member, to resolve such.  Often, this can occur fairly readily without a whole lot of intervention from the Disability Services Office.

Finally, please be sensitive to the fact that for many of our students (with disabilities or without), adapting to remote instruction has been very, very challenging.  We hear numerous stories of students facing immense challenges at home, often significantly compromising what have been historically strong study habits. And, in the case of a number of our students with disabilities, these challenges prove even greater (e.g., some of our students have worked incredibly hard to learn the “structure” of in-person content delivery, and current circumstances can serve as quite an upheaval in their academic lives).  We’d like to ask for whatever patience and understanding you can muster for these students right now; know that such is appreciated.

Please be in touch if we can be of any assistance, and best wishes for a successful completion of the Spring, 2020 semester.

Sincerely,

Julie Maki
Coordinator of the Adaptive Computer Lab

Week Two Update, April 4, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Here is a link to another video update on "things going on."

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1LyF4JHBXpoGIhIr0QiWEj2xX015E2lHd/view?usp=sharing

Information on issues mentioned in video --

FAQs on S/U policy 

https://www.fitchburgstate.edu/uploads/files/Registrar/FAQ%20for%20pass%20fail%20spring%202020.pdf  

Assistance with remote delivery 

https://www.fitchburgstate.edu/offices-services-directory/technology/remote-teaching-resources/

Please continue to stay safe.

Alberto

Alberto J.F. Cardelle, PhD, MPH
Fitchburg State University
Provost and Vice-President
Academic Affairs

Federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Extension of FMLA Act, April 1, 2020

Dear Campus Colleagues,

I write to provide information related to the new federal guidelines that have been implemented to assist employees who are impacted by COVID-19. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was recently signed into law and provides two significant leave provisions.  The FFCRA’s paid leave provisions are effective on April 1, 2020, and apply to leave taken between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.

Specifically, these two leave provisions are:  (1) the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, which extends and expands the protection of the Family and Medical Leave Act for employees who are unable to work because they are caring for children home from school or daycare due to the coronavirus, including requiring paid FMLA leave benefits; and (2) the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, which provides a ten-day new paid sick leave entitlement for certain coronavirus-related absences. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act takes effect on April 1, 2020, and expires on December 31, 2020.    

The leave is to provide relief to employees that are not able to work; if your employer has work for you and one of the COVID-19 qualifying reasons set forth in the FFCRA prevents you from being able to perform that work, either under normal circumstances at your normal worksite or by means of telework. You are eligible for the leave, if work schedules can be assessed and varied and you are allowed to work you are not eligible for the leave. Each case will be reviewed individually to determine eligibility.

To learn more about these new leave entitlements, please read the Employee Rights: Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave under The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Notice – Frequently Asked Questions.

If you would like to request leave under the new act, or have questions about this information, please send an email to humanresources@fitchburgstate.edu or call 978-665-3172 and a staff member from the Office of Human Resources will provide assistance.

We ask for your patience as we implement this leave benefit; the information has just recently been made available. We want to make sure that we provide information correctly, timely and in coordination with union and state agreements as it relates to the current COVID-19 health situation.

Thank you,

Jessica Murdoch

Jessica L. Murdoch
Fitchburg State University
Associate Vice President, Human Resources & Payroll Services
Affirmative Action Officer

Telecommuting extension, April 1, 2020

Good morning to the Fitchburg State Community,
 
The university's administration has determined that an extension to the Telecommuting process is necessary, consistent with the Governor's most recent order and will be in place as of noon, April 1, 2020. This order is a continuation of his previous order issued on March 23, 2020. The campus remains open and will provide services either on campus or remotely as necessary. Faculty will continue to provide teaching and instruction remotely for the remainder of the semester. Under this order, remote work will continue until May 4, 2020. As more information and guidance is shared from state authorities, updates will be provided.
 
The university community will continue to be focused on the many priorities that are integral to the success of the campus and continue to monitor the health and safety of all of our campus constituents during the current health situation. The faculty, staff and administration will continue work on proposals, grants, research projects, teaching and instruction, business operations for the remainder of this academic year, and begin planning for the next academic year. The staff and faculty will continue to provide exemplary support to the students, peers and external constituents we serve. The work being done during this unprecedented time is remarkable; please be reminded to care for yourself and others. 
 
If you should have any questions, please contact the Office of Human Resources at extension x3172, or please visit the Coronavirus website. 
 
Thank you
 
Human Resources/Payroll Services Office

Library memo, March 24, 2020

Colleagues-

The Fitchburg State University Library facility is closed until further notice to maintain public health due to the COVID-19 virus. We will continue to meet the information needs of our university community in multiple ways, including:

Please note since the library building is closed, there is no access to physical course reserve materials, print books, computers and printers.   While the book drop is available, books do not need to be returned until the Library re-opens. Late fees will be waived.

Visit the library homepage at https://library.fitchburgstate.edu/ to begin your research. In order to access the library's databases, 300,000+ eBooks, millions of electronic articles, and other online subscription resources, you need to be authenticated as an FSU student or employee, so have your Falcon Key username and password handy. See our DIY: Accessing Library Resources from Off Campus page (https://fitchburgstate.libguides.com/diyoffcampusaccess) for guidance.

On behalf of the library staff, I want you to know we will miss seeing you in person. As we work remotely, please do not hesitate to connect with us if we can help you in any way

Wishing you good health,

Jacalyn A. Kremer
Amelia V. Gallucci-Cirio Library

Limiting access to campus, March 19, 2020

Dear faculty and staff,

Good afternoon. I write with an important update about keeping our campus community healthy during our response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

As you are aware, we are delivering instruction remotely for the rest of the semester and most employees are currently telecommuting. To better direct our resources for cleaning and maintenance in the interest of limiting the spread of any illnesses, we will be restricting access to most campus buildings effective Saturday, March 21, and continuing as we assess the duration of telecommuting. 

We know some employees are seeking to access their classrooms, laboratories and offices during this unusual semester. Please be advised of the following protocols being enacted:

  • Faculty needing to access a classroom or laboratory for instructional purposes should contact eventmanagement@fitchburgstate.edu. Faculty requiring assistance with using Google products or Blackboard should contact helpdesk@fitchburgstate.edu.
  • The purpose of telecommuting is to limit exposure to pathogens and those efforts are compromised when clean areas are contacted. Effective this Saturday, buildings will be locked 24 hours a day. We also ask that you keep visits brief so we are able to maintain our cleaning regimen for the campus. These policies may be revisited.
    • Faculty members who must access their offices should first notify University Police. 
    • Staff members working remotely must receive approval from their supervisors to access their work space prior to notifying University Police.

We understand that these restrictions will further disrupt an already challenging “new normal,” but we ask for your patience as we work through the semester while trying to preserve the health and safety of our campus community.

Thank you.

Richard S. Lapidus
President

Notice on transition to online instruction, March 15, 2020

Colleagues,

Some updates as we begin this week’s goal of transitioning courses to remote delivery.

The academic leadership will be meeting tomorrow after that time chairs, program directors and Deans will have more information to share. I know many of you have already started this work, and some are going to attend, or watch the trainings to begin the work, and even others are waiting for more information to discuss how to proceed with experiential courses (labs/studios). So, I wanted to give some initial information.

Please communicate with students early this week.

As you form a plan, use email or Blackboard to communicate with your students. Share with your students your general plans and when they should expect to hear from you. Also reach out to the students and inquire if your students feel that they can access blackboard, google hangouts, emails remotely so that they can receive the information you will be sending. Please keep a list of students who identify a problem with their access, and we will be asking for that information, in addition consider what platform to use  based on the student access issues.

Plan to cover the essentials

Consider the essential learning outcomes in your course. There are many ways to provide inclusive, highly engaged learning in the context of an online or remote course. 

Use tools that are familiar to you and your students

Any unexpected shift in instruction creates a lot of stress. Be gentle and flexible with yourself and your students. Introducing too many new tools and approaches may leave even less energy for learning. It is okay to select low-tech solutions to accomplish course outcomes (e.g., just using email to exchange files and communications). If you need to try something new, please utilize University resources and reach out to colleagues for help. 

Resources

In addition to the trainings to be offered this week. The link below provides a series of resources to assist you transition your courses.

https://www.fitchburgstate.edu/offices-services-directory/technology/remote-teaching-resources/

Alberto

Alberto J.F. Cardelle, PhD, MPH
Fitchburg State University
Provost and Vice-President
Academic Affairs

Training for online instruction, March 14, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

I wanted to follow-up from the President's message yesterday about our next steps in academic affairs.

As the President stated, it is our goal to temporarily move course instruction to remote methods as we also plan to resume regular operations at some point.

This is clearly a challenging phase in higher education. Moving the core mode of instruction of the institution to a new modality can cause a sense of uncertainty and apprehension.  However, I know that we as educators understand that we are in an important position in this global emergency. As instructors and mentors we are in a position to provide our students with a sense of continuity and certainty in this time of transience and unpredictability.

I thank you for the patience and cooperation that you have demonstrated, and thank the MSCA leadership for their collaboration. I am certain that working together our university community will successfully confront this current challenge and carry on with our mission of transforming lives.

The University, is offering training opportunities to assist faculty with delivering courses remotely. The training opportunities below will provide information on how to use the University supported products, Google Hangouts Meet and Blackboard for your remote class and how these will assist you in teaching synchronously (delivering content “live”) and asynchronously (using pre-created course material).

  • Faculty and Library Panel: Best Practices for Teaching Remotely

Dates: March 17, 2020, 9:15 a.m.-10:30 a.m. 

Location: Hammond Main Lounge

Description: Experienced faculty and librarians will offer best  practices, resources, and ideas for teaching remotely.

  • Blackboard Training 

Dates: March 17, 2020, 10:45 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.; 12:00 p.m.- 1:00 p.m.

Location: Hammond G02 Ellis White Lecture Hall

Description: We will cover the basics of assignment and test creation, using  the gradebook, communicating with your students, embedding video links into Blackboard and using discussion boards.

  • Google Hangouts Meet Training 

Dates: March 17, 2020, 10:45 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.; 12:00 p.m.- 1:00 p.m.

Location: Science Lecture Hall Rm 211

Description: Introduction to Google Hangouts Meet - a web-based video-conferencing application. Review beginner methods on how to use it for real-time class sessions, advising and other class interactions. 

Faculty can participate in these training opportunities in three different ways - 

1) Come in person, the rooms will be set-up so that groups can practice preventive measures.

2) These will be recorded and available for viewing at a later time. 

3) Listen and watch live -- email Nicole Chelonis (Blackboard) at ncheloni@fitchburgstate.edu or Allison Bunnell (Google hangouts) at abunnell@fitchburgstate.edu with what session you want to  participate and they will add you to a meeting request that will come with a link for you to use to participate synchronously. 

In addition to the trainings academic affairs leadership (Chairs, Deans, and Directors) is meeting on Monday to continue to plan how to monitor and implement this transition.

We will continue to provide updates.

Alberto J.F. Cardelle, PhD, MPH
Fitchburg State University
Provost and Vice-President
Academic Affairs

Remote work and online instruction update, March 13, 2020

Dear Faculty, Staff and Librarians,

I realize it is very important to maintain communications and dialog with you during these uncertain times. This memo is intended to update you on the university’s plan for the next few weeks given the ever-evolving coronavirus situation. 

My discussions with the university’s executive leadership and your union representatives continue to be focused on prioritizing the health and safety of all of our campus constituents. It is our goal to temporarily move course instruction to remote methods as we also plan to resume regular operations at some point.

The following guidelines will be put in place immediately to help keep our operations moving smoothly. We have adopted a tempered, sequential planning approach to build in flexibility to alter our path as new information becomes available or any new situations arise. You will receive subsequent communications shortly with more detailed information. Your patience and cooperation are deeply appreciated.

For the week of March 16:

All faculty and staff will be working remotely from home with the exception of those designated as essential personnel, who will report to campus. Your supervisor will be contacting you by early next week about your work plan. Staff will be focusing on continuity of operations, including ways to deliver services at a distance. Please take your laptop, power cable and any other materials that you may need to work remotely.

For faculty, please note that department and graduate chairs will be meeting on Monday, March 16, to further plan the migration to remote instruction. In addition, the university will offer training sessions next week on Tuesday, March 17. Participation in the trainings and the Monday meeting will be available in-person and remotely. More information (hours and instructions for participation) on both of these activities will be sent as follow-up communications soon.

For the weeks of March 23 and March 30:

Remote course instruction, pending continued conversations with the MSCA, will begin on Monday, March 23 and will continue at least through April 3. However, internships, student teaching and clinicals should continue, as long as the sites remain open. If necessary, faculty and librarians may use campus facilities and services during these two weeks. Students may not return to campus. 

Non-essential staff will continue to work remotely for the week of March 23. This will be re-evaluated by March 27 for the week of March 30.

Again, I appreciate your support and remain available to answer any other questions you may have. I also encourage you to bookmark and revisit the university’s coronavirus web page for archived messages and timely updates.

Best regards,

Richard S. Lapidus
President

Faculty survey, March 11, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

As you are now aware, the disruption associated with the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to grow and has a potential to impact our campus.

As already announced, all classes, other than those associated with our accelerated programs, have been cancelled for next week. Please keep in mind that the cancellation of classes next week is to assist in planning and to limit crowding as we plan, not for any immediate health concern.  This means that all online classes that are not accelerated should be cancelled for next week. However, internships, student teaching and clinicals should continue, as long as the sites remain open. The priority next week is planning, so there will be faculty meetings and trainings on campus to get prepared for delivering class materials remotely, beyond next week. For those purposes, all planned campus community events will be cancelled next week.

The first step to the planning is for you to complete a survey that can be found at the following link, https://forms.gle/dwUo7unR2VXvVTTL6  This survey will allow us to plan for what support is needed in order to deliver course material remotely.

The second step will be a meeting of the Academic Affairs leadership with Department Chairs and Graduate Chairs Monday of next week. We will be asking chairs to be in touch to set up a time and process for your department to meet and plan for remote delivery at the departmental level.

The third step is for you to consider attending a training that will be made available next week--Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday-- to assist you with delivering courses remotely (that schedule will be sent out by the end of the week). This training will be for the delivery of materials synchronously or asynchronously, through Blackboard, Google hangouts, video lectures, emailed exercises, etc.

The ten-question survey seeking information from faculty members as to their ability and the feasibility of delivering course material remotely.

We ask that you respond to these questions assuming a disruption of 1-2 weeks.

The survey is due Friday, March 13, at 4:30 pm.

The information collected is for the sole purpose of planning for the current emergency related to the COVID-19 associated closure of the university.

As I am sure you understand, these are unprecedented circumstances, so we ask for your patience and assistance.  I am certain that there will be questions. If you have any academic questions, please forward those to your dean(s).

Alberto

Alberto J.F. Cardelle, PhD, MPH
Fitchburg State University
Provost and Vice-President
Academic Affairs

Faculty/staff travel survey, March 11, 2020

Memorandum 
TO: Fitchburg State Faculty and Staff 
FROM: Human Resources 
RE: Notification of Travel and Exposure related to COVID-19 

DATE: March 11, 2020 

As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread globally, Fitchburg State continues to monitor the spread of the virus in Massachusetts and the impact it may have to the university. Fitchburg State has no cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on campus. 

In view of the Governor’s state of emergency declaration late yesterday and his appeal for businesses and schools to be proactive in mitigating the risk of the spread of the virus, we are assessing ways that we can be proactive in lessening the spread and impact of this virus. We continue to closely monitor developments related to the spread of the coronavirus, doing everything we can to ensure the health and well-being of our community, taking guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

To lessen risks and for the well-being of our campus community, employees who have traveled over spring break and returned to the U.S. from a region considered by the CDC to be a Level 3 high risk alert for “widespread sustained transmission” or CDC Level 2 alert for "sustained community transmission" are advised to stay home for 14 days, away from the Fitchburg State campus. 

Faculty and staff are being asked to complete an electronic Notification of Travel/Exposure Reporting - Employee if you have traveled during spring break and or may have been exposed to the virus. The information provided will assist Human Resources on how to work best with employees who may need to self-isolate. We will work with the appropriate unions related to employment practices such as the viability to work from home; teaching/instruction for faculty; paid time off and other related employment information. We will communicate with appropriate department heads, deans and or chairs related to impacted employees’ absence to maintain privacy for employees. As this outbreak continues, there may be more countries added to the CDC list, so please stay informed. Employees are urged to contact Human Resources with any questions at 978-665-3172 and speak with Kim Page or Jessica Murdoch. Other communication will be sent to faculty from Academic Affairs regarding continuity of academic programs. 

The university will also request students to complete a Notification of Travel/Exposure Reporting - Student. This information will be sent to Health Services, who will work with the students to make appropriate arrangements. 

It is important if employees are feeling ill with flu-like symptoms and/or experiencing fever, cough and shortness of breath to remain home and contact their primary care physician or local hospital emergency room for further instructions. Employees should adhere to their standard absentee call in procedures as prescribed by their department and union contract, in addition Human Resources needs to be notified to assist in determining next steps. The COVID-19 symptoms stated above may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Students are asked to contact Health Services and or their primary care physician or local hospital emergency room if they develop symptoms. 

Please visit our website at fitchburgstate.edu/coronavirus for more information about recommendations, Fitchburg State University’s ongoing response, and how to protect yourself and others. The COVID-19 planning group will continue the work and planning necessary to maintain a safe and healthy environment. Please continue to follow the CDC’s advice: 

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. 

• Stay home when you are sick. 

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. 

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. 

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty. 

As stated by the CDC, “Public health emergencies, such as the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), are stressful times for people and communities. Fear and anxiety about a disease can lead to social stigma toward people, places, or things.” Please treat others with respect and dignity and for more information please find the link to the CDC website regarding Stigma and Resilience

We thank you in advance for your cooperation and assistance in maintaining a safe and healthy campus for our many constituents. 

 

FAQs

For Students

I don’t have access to a computer and/or internet at home. How can I take my classes remotely and finish the semester?

Please alert your faculty members. We are hoping to be able to provide some assistance on a case by case basis.

Will I receive credit for my internship or clinical if the site is closed?

Please work with your faculty members on the specific details in your situation.

Will I be able to access services like counseling, academic advising, tutoring, etc. while I am away from campus?

Yes. Please see memo to students (dated March 19), posted below, for additional info and links.

Will the IT Help Desk continue to offer assistance? 

If you need help or want to speak with someone in IT, you have a few choices:

  • There are a wide array of self-help videos and summary documentation for many of our products on the IT website. You can view this at fitchburgstate.edu/technology.
  • You can call the IT call center (365x24x7) at 866-830-0518 (toll-free).  The call center can help you use and navigate Blackboard and Gmail. They will create a ticket for more complex issues or for questions they cannot answer.
  • You can email the helpdesk at helpdesk@fitchburgstate.edu.  This will create a ticket and someone from IT will call or email you back.
  • You can chat live with a support rep by clicking here and choosing “Chat live.”

Is Future Falcon Day happening on April 4?

A face-to-face Future Falcon Day is not happening, but we will be celebrating accepted students and answering questions virtually. Watch for more information!

Is graduation happening in May?

We are postponing the 2020 commencement ceremonies in light of public health guidance. The university's Commencement Committee is soliciting input from the Class of 2020 via this survey on how best to proceed with a memorable observance.

Will I receive a refund for the housing and dining I am not using?

Please visit the Student Accounts page for the latest updates on adjustments we are issuing for unused housing and meal expenses.

How can I get my packages and mail since I won’t be back to campus?

Mail and packages will be forwarded to your permanent address. If you need to update your permanent address, email registrar@fitchburgstate.edu with the new information.

Is the spring sports season cancelled?

Yes. The NCAA and MASCAC have cancelled all athletic contests for the remainder of the academic year.

Is the campus bookstore open?

Due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) safety concerns, the Bookstore will be limiting services to phone and on-line orders until further notice.

  • For immediate assistance, please email us at 0163mgr@follett.com. We will be monitoring this email account daily to resolve any issues you may have in a timely manner.
  • Students can look up their textbook information and place orders 24/7 on our website: www.fitchburgstateshop.com. The Bookstore is extending FREE Ground Shipping to all students. The Bookstore has partnered with select publishers to offer no-cost eBook access to students and instructors on campus. Students and instructors can visit redshelf.com to search for eligible materials and may borrow up to 7 eBooks through May 25. Users must register with a valid “fitchburgstate.edu” email address in order to gain free access. If you have any issues, please email the Bookstore at 0163mgr@follett.com.
  • For those with outstanding rental books: Students should have received an email from Follett with details concerning rental returns and instructions on printing a free shipping label. Students must log in to their rental account to print out their free shipping label.

For Faculty/Staff

Fitchburg State continues to place the highest priority on the health, safety and wellbeing of our community, while protecting the continuity of academic programs and essential functions.  The following FAQs are intended to address issues concerning the exigent circumstances that are arising due to the COVID-19 situation. If you have any questions, please contact Human Resources at 978-665-3172 or humanresources@fitchburgstate.edu.

During this time we understand that emotions may run high, with employees experiencing stress from their personal circumstances, in addition to anxiety from the disruption to normal routines.  Employees have access to the Employee Assistance Program, they may contact AllOne Health for confidential assistance at  800-451-1834 or the Employee Assistance Program website for multiple resources.

Once logged in at MyLifeExpert on either your desktop or mobile device:

  1. Enter the access code to get started: access code is Fitchburg.
  2. ​Follow instructions in the activation email.

COVID-19

What should I do if I am experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (fever, a cough or shortness of breath or a combination of these symptoms)?

Contact your healthcare provider. Follow your regular department procedures to report your absence from work, remain at home and follow your providers instructions. You would use your accrued time (SIC code). Also contact Human Resources.

What if I am diagnosed with COVID-19? 

Follow your regular department procedures to report your absence from work and remain at home. Based on the recommendation from the CDC, employees are required to remain out of the workplace for 14 days, during which time employees will use their accrued time (SIC code).  Also contact Human Resources.

What if I am exposed to COVID-19, but not displaying symptoms?

Contact your healthcare provider.  Employees must notify Human Resources if they have potentially been exposed to COVID-19 as defined by the CDC.  The term “exposed” (close contact) is defined by the CDC as:

  • being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time; close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing healthcare waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case or
  • having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on)

Based on the information from your  healthcare provider and the details of the situation, employees may be asked to remain out of the workplace for 14 days. Employees would utilize their accrued sick (use the SIC code for self) or other accrued time. Telecommuting may be an option if viable.   

What if I am asked to self-isolate by Fitchburg State due to potential exposure to an infected person?

If the university asks an employee to remain out of work, employees will be asked to work remotely if viable or placed on paid leave.  If during this time employees are diagnosed with COVID-19 or if the healthcare provider recommends an employee to remain out of work employees would utilize their accrued time (use the SIC code for self).

Can the university send an employee home if they have symptoms of COVID-19?

Yes. The decision to send an employee home who is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough or shortness of breath) will be made on a case-by-case basis.  Human Resources will work with the impacted employee to gather information to determine next steps. An employee sent home shall remain in pay status for the remainder of the day. If the university deems that they need to self isolate they will be placed on paid leave. If a healthcare provider recommends self isolation or if an employee chooses to remain out, they would use accrued time. 

If an employee discloses to me that they have been exposed to COVID-19 or has COVID-19.  What should I do? 

Remind your coworker about the University’s guidelines to self isolate and that they should contact their health care provider and notify Human Resources immediately.   Supervisors/employees should not ask health related questions due to confidentiality and privacy laws. All medical information should be handled by Human Resources.

What if a co-worker becomes ill with COVID-19?  Will other employees still be required to come to work?

The university will consult with the Department of Public Health to assess the situation and determine the best course of action.

What should secondary contacts do if they have been in the proximity of someone who is self-isolating as a precaution (a precaution means the person does not have symptoms and was asked to self-isolate because of their potential exposure to a COVID-19 case)?

Being a secondary contact does not require you to self-isolate. You would only self-isolate if you are a close contact of a presumptive or COVID-19 case. You should continue to monitor yourself for symptoms. If you develop symptoms and feel that you need to be medically evaluated contact your healthcare provider, remain home, and notify Human Resources.

What signs and symptoms may indicate that an employee has become ill with COVID-19?

The CDC reports that COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. At present, the CDC also includes epidemiological risk factors such as a history of travel from affected geographic areas within 14 days of symptom onset, as well as close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days of symptom onset, as criteria for health care professionals to identify individuals as patients under investigation (PUI). Refer to the most current CDC guidance because criteria will likely change as further information becomes available.

What should I do if I am an employee who falls into the high risk category for COVID-19? 

Employees 60 and older, pregnant employees, and employees who have serious chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or lung disease may be more susceptible to serious illness and should consult with their healthcare provider. 

What precautions can employees take to remain healthy when sharing a workspace?

The CDC has recommended many steps employees can take to minimize contact and guard against illness (social distance, cover your cough or sneeze, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, clean & disinfect frequently touch objects & surfaces, stay home when sick, & wash your hand often for 20 seconds).

If staff and faculty are on campus for work, can they bring their children or elderly family members?

No. Employees may not bring children or elders to work with them, even if they are well. If there is a need to care for a family member or child, employees should utilize accrued paid time e.g. sick, vacation or personal. AFSCME may also use compensatory time.

Caring for Family Member

What do I do if  my child’s school or childcare provider is closed?

If you are not able to work on campus or remotely, employees will need to use their accrued vacation or personal time. AFSCME may also use their compensatory time. Employees may speak with a supervisor to address flexible scheduling or other alternatives if viable.

What if I care for a person that may be at higher risk, such as an elderly family member or have a family member with a chronic medical condition?

Employees should communicate with their supervisor and Human Resources.

  • AFSCME employees will follow Family Leave (Article 11, section 9) as appropriate per the contract terms to care for family members.
  • APA employees will follow the Sick Leave Use (Article VII, Sick Leave Usage) as appropriate per the contract terms to care for family members.

Leave Information

I requested to use accrued time which was approved prior to the initial remote work period and will be taken during the remote period.  How do I record my time?

If you take paid time off, please record in SSTA/HRCMS the week you will be utilizing paid time. If you choose to work instead, notify your supervisor that you are withdrawing the request and record time worked. 

I am an essential employee and unable to come to work due to illness, what do I do?  

If you are an essential staff member and are not able to come to work due to illness, please call in your absence as normal and record leave in SSTA. If an employee needs to remain out of work longer than 24 hours, they must contact their supervisor and Human Resources to discuss leave options.

What if I am sick with COVID-19 and have exhausted all of my accrued paid leave/ or I am a new employee that has no accrued time?

AFSCME employees without accrued leave available should apply for an extension of sick leave per the terms of the contract.  The five day waiting period is suspended during this public health situation. 

Eligible APA/MSCA employees without accrued leave available shall be allowed to use the sick leave bank. The five day waiting period is suspended during this public health situation.  

Remote Work

What decisions about staff working remotely have been made?

Fitchburg State has instituted an interim remote work period beginning Monday, March 16 through Wednesday, April 8.  Further guidance will be provided as to what happens beyond April 8.

Supervisors will work with their employees regarding the viability of working remotely.  Supervisors will establish expectations regarding availability during work hours, communication methods, work deliverables and outcomes.  

How will I know my responsibilities while working remotely?

Your manager will be in direct contact with you to establish a Work Plan. 

What if I need something from my office while working remotely?

The purpose of telecommuting is to limit exposure to pathogens and those efforts are compromised when clean areas are contacted. Effective Saturday, March 21, 2020, buildings will be locked 24 hours a day. We also ask that you keep visits brief so we are able to maintain our cleaning regimen for campus. These policies may be revisited.

  • Faculty members who must access their offices should first notify University Police.
  • Staff members working remotely must receive approval from their supervisors to access their work space prior to notifying University Police.

If the nature of my work or circumstances makes it impossible for me to work remotely, will I still be compensated during this remote working period?

Yes. We are asking all supervisors to determine the needs of their department. The supervisor may assign other work or projects that can be performed remotely. If it is not viable for you to work remotely, you  still must enter your time using your standard working hours in SSTA/HRCMS. If you are not able to enter your time please notify your supervisor. 

Are there any changes to the deadlines for payroll or time cards?

No, all payroll and timecard deadlines will continue as normal. You can view the deadlines on the Payroll Calendar here.

If I am working remotely, how should I report my time?

You should report your time as you normally would (i.e. regular hours worked).

Is HR/Payroll available to support operations?

Yes. The main line will be answered and HR/Payroll staff will be available via email, Google Hangout or phone. Contact information below:

Human Resources - 978-665-3172 - humanresources@fitchburgstate.edu

Payroll Services - 978-665-3177 - payhelp@fitchburgstate.edu

What if I am working with a bank that needs employment verification?

Have the bank scan the information to payhelp@fitchburgstate.edu so it can be processed.

I am a manager and have a question about the initial remote work period that wasn’t addressed.  Where do I go?

For additional guidance, please contact Human Resources.

I am a staff member and have a question about the initial remote work period that wasn’t addressed.  Where do I go?

For guidance, please speak with your manager.

Working on Campus

What are the recommendations for those employees who will continue to work on campus?

Those who will continue to work on campus are advised to maintain social distance from others of at least 6 feet, wash their hands often, use hand sanitizer, avoid touching your face, eyes and nose and use phone and technology resources to communicate with others when possible.