Coronavirus Information Archive 2021-22

Learn about Fitchburg State's ongoing efforts to keep the campus community safe.

General information and news is below. Click the following links to read communications directed to specific segments of the campus community:

Note: This page reflects news and information for the 2021-22 academic year. To learn about the university's response in 2020-21, and to see an archive of communications and data related to the first 18 months of the pandemic, please visit our earlier COVID information archive.

Poster illustrating COVID vaccination

Latest Developments

Last updated Friday, July 8, 2022:

  • Rapid testing only will be offered to members of the campus community from 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays in Room 116 of the Antonucci Science Complex. Those getting tested should plan to wait in the testing area for 15 minutes to receive results. Walk-ins will be accepted or appointments may be made online.

  • In light of updated state and federal guidance, indoor masking will be required only in classrooms, laboratories, the library, and on shuttle buses (per federal and state guidance).

    • Employees with approved exemptions to the vaccine requirement should continue to wear masks, as outlined in agreements with the university's collective bargaining units.

  • Students and employees must be vaccinated with an approved vaccine unless granted medical or religious exemptions. Booster shots will be required as members of the campus community become eligible
  • See the university's COVID-19 testing results and vaccination rates on this dashboard, that is updated weekly.
  • The state has created a webpage listing COVID-19 vaccination locations. Local options include:
  • In addition to testing administered on campus each week, CHC also offers testing.
  • Visitors to on-campus events are asked to complete this attestation form to show they are asymptomatic and have not been exposed to COVID-19.
  • Read a matrix of definitions and procedures describing the university's management of COVID cases this semester.
  • Read the details about the university's dissemination of Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) Assistance.
  • Please direct any inquiries about the campus response to COVID-19 to coronavirus@fitchburgstate.edu.

Resources

Bulletins for Campus Community

Good Afternoon,

We are writing to update you on the COVID-19 testing schedule for the week of May 30.  Testing will continue to be available to all members of the campus community.  When you test, please plan to wait at the testing area for 15 minutes to receive your result.  Below is the schedule for the week of May 30 only.

Days/Times:

  • Tuesday, May 31: 1:00pm-5:00pm
  • Thursday, June 2: 9:00am-1:00pm

Location: Antonucci Science Complex, SCI 216

Feel free to walk in during testing hours.

If you have any questions, please contact me.

Sincerely,

Mary S. O'Friel
COVID Testing Manager

We are writing to update you on the COVID-19 testing schedule beginning the week of May 23.  Testing will continue to be available to all members of the campus community.  When you test, please plan to wait at the testing area for 15 minutes to receive your result.  Below is the new schedule.

Days/Times:

Mondays: 1:00pm-5:00pm

Thursdays: 9:00am-1:00pm

Location: Hammond Hall G01B

Feel free to walk in during testing hours.

If you have any questions, please contact me.

Sincerely,

Mary S. O'Friel
COVID Testing Manager

Good Afternoon,

We are writing to update you on the COVID-19 testing schedule for the summer.  Testing will continue to be available to all members of the campus community.

Beginning the week of May 16, the University will replace the current PCR testing with rapid testing.  When you test, please plan to wait at the testing area for 15 minutes to receive your result.  Below is the new schedule.

Days/Times:

  • Monday: 1:00pm-5:00pm
  • Thursday: 9:00am-1:00pm

Location: Hammond Hall G01

Feel free to walk in during testing hours.

If you have any questions, please contact me.

Mary S. O'Friel
COVID Testing Manager
Fitchburg State University

Fitchburg State Community:

With the beautiful onset of spring, we experience the less-than-beautiful onset of seasonal allergies. Unfortunately, we also may be experiencing the onset of colds and COVID as well. Just a reminder to do a quick rapid COVID test if you are exhibiting any symptoms like a runny nose, cough, or shortness of breath, even if you think you know the cause. If you do have any symptoms, be sure to wear a mask to protect others in case you are contagious. If you are not fully vaccinated and boosted, quarantine yourself until you know whether or not your symptoms are COVID-related. 

We do not provide symptomatic testing at our testing center. However, rapid tests are widely available at pharmacies and other retail outlets (and insurance will reimburse you for the cost). If you haven’t already gotten your two sets delivered to you by the US Postal Service from the federal government, you can order tests at https://www.covid.gov/tests.

For your convenience, we have a supply of rapid COVID tests at the Hammond Information Desk. Stop by and grab a box today! We are also distributing rapid COVID tests to each residential student by Thursday of this week. 

Thank you for your active support of our community by following these public health guidelines.

Laura A. Bayless, PhD
Vice President for Student Affairs

Dear Fitchburg State Community,

Fitchburg State and Community Health Connections are pleased to offer a series of COVID Booster Vaccination Clinics in Spring 2022. These clinics will occur on campus and are open to any university community member aged 18 or older. No one under the age of 18 is eligible to participate.

Any university community member eligible for a booster must provide documentation of having received the booster within 30 days of becoming eligible. Failure to do so will result in job action or being unenrolled.

Before each clinic, an invitation will be sent out for you to reserve a specific time and provide us with your requested booster and demographic information. No walk-ins will be accommodated.

Here is the link to the invitation survey for April 19, which will be in the Main Lounge of Hammond Hall from 1:30 - 3:30 pm.

Be sure to click the final link at the end to select a time.

Thank you for your commitment to the health of our community. Vaccinations and boosters, in conjunction with mask wearing and hand washing, remain the most effective tools to reduce negative effects of COVID-19.

Be well.

Laura A. Bayless, PhD
Vice President for Student Affairs, Fitchburg State University

To the campus community,

I am reaching out to you today to update our COVID mitigation strategies for the remainder of the semester. As you are likely aware, campuses across the commonwealth and the nation are reviewing their protocols in light of rapidly decreasing case numbers and revised guidance from state and federal agencies.

To better understand the feelings of our own community members about how best to proceed, we recently conducted a survey of students, faculty, librarians, and staff. The survey showed overwhelming interest - from more than 77% of the over 1,470 respondents - in revisiting our masking and testing protocols on campus.

Given the new state and federal guidance, the local and regional trends, and feedback from campus constituencies, as of Monday, March 21, indoor masking will be required only in classrooms, laboratories, the library, and on shuttle buses (per federal and state guidance). Masking will otherwise be an individual decision on campus regardless of vaccination status.

As we transition to a mask-flexible environment, we ask our community to be respectful of each other’s choices. Anyone choosing to wear a mask may do so; individuals may request others to wear a mask in their immediate workspace. Employees shall post this request in their immediate workspace to notify visitors. This means that you will need to keep a mask in your pocket or book bag so that you have one available if needed. In addition, the university reserves the right to require mask-wearing at any large, high-density, indoor events at its discretion on a case-by-case basis.

Also, to continue the posture of vigilance that has kept our community safe throughout the pandemic, weekly testing will continue to be mandated through the end of the semester for students and employees with qualified exemptions to our vaccination and booster requirements. Voluntary testing will continue to be made available for other members of our campus community.

These amendments to our mitigation strategies are in keeping with many of our state sister schools. They are also in line with recommendations from the Secretary of Education and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, both of whom have urged colleges and universities to “accelerate their efforts to transition back to ‘near normal’ conditions,” especially for highly vaccinated and boosted populations like ours.

Be advised the university will revisit these strategies should conditions on campus or in the surrounding community warrant. 

We understand the topic of masking and testing continues to arouse strong feelings from all sides. This was also demonstrated in our survey, with passionate appeals for easing (or eliminating) restrictions as well as continuing to stringently enforce them. 

As we have throughout the pandemic, we will navigate this next chapter by working together and in consideration of all our community members. 

Thank you.

Richard S. Lapidus
President

Good Morning,

We are writing to update you on the schedule for on-campus COVID-19 testing.  

Below is the schedule for spring break.

Days/Times:

  • Monday, March 7: 1:00pm-5:00pm
  • Wednesday, March 9: 9:00am-1:00pm
  • Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: closed

Location: Hammond Hall G01

The University is strongly encouraging everyone to take a COVID-19 test upon returning to campus after spring break.  There will be two days of rapid testing on Monday and Tuesday, to facilitate testing for everyone returning to campus.  If you test on these days, please plan on spending at least 15 minutes at the testing center to test and wait for the result.

Below is the schedule for the week of March 14. 

Days/Times:

  • Monday, March 14: 10:00am-noon; 1:00pm-6:00pm (rapid testing only)
  • Tuesday, March 15: 10:00am-noon; 1:00pm-6:00pm (rapid testing only)
  • Wednesday, March 16: 1:00pm-6:00pm 

(PCR test only. This is the test usually offered at the testing center.)

  • Thursday and Friday: closed

Location: Hammond Hall G01

Feel free to walk in during testing hours.

If you have any questions, please contact me.

Sincerely,

Mary S. O'Friel
COVID Testing Manager

Dear Fitchburg State Community,

Fitchburg State and Community Health Connections are pleased to offer a series of COVID Booster Vaccination Clinics in Spring 2022. These clinics will occur on campus and are open to any university community member aged 18 or older. No one under the age of 18 is eligible to participate.

Any university community member eligible for a booster must provide documentation of having received the booster within 30 days of becoming eligible. Failure to do so will result in job action or being unenrolled.

Before each clinic, an invitation will be sent out for you to reserve a specific time and provide us with your requested booster and demographic information. No walk-ins will be accommodated.

The dates are as follows:

  • March 24
  • April 19

Here is the link to the invitation survey for March 24, which will be in the President's Hall in the Mazzaferro Center from 9 am - noon and 12:30 - 3:30 pm.

Be sure to click the final link at the end to select a time.

Thank you for your commitment to the health of our community. Vaccinations and boosters, in conjunction with mask wearing and hand washing, remain the most effective tools to reduce negative effects of COVID-19.

Be well.

Laura A. Bayless, PhD
Vice President for Student Affairs

 

To the campus community,

Good afternoon. As you are likely aware, COVID positivity rates are on the decline. This has prompted widespread revisiting of mitigation protocols, including mask mandates, at the state and local level.

Our shared vigilance has kept the campus community safe through these challenging times. As has been published on our updated dashboard, our COVID positivity rate has been under 5% since the start of the semester (and under 2% the last two weeks). Our on-campus vaccination rate is over 90%, and more than 100 appointments were made for the booster clinic held Tuesday in Presidents’ Hall. 

In light of our progress, we are reviewing our on-campus measures concerning face coverings (though our vaccine and booster requirement is not being changed). As we consider our path forward, we have created a short survey to collect input from members of our own community. I ask that you take a few moments to complete this anonymous survey by Friday, March 4.

Thank you for your continued attention to our community’s well-being.

Richard S. Lapidus
President

Dear Fitchburg State Community,

Fitchburg State and Community Health Connections are pleased to offer a series of COVID Booster Vaccination Clinics in Spring 2022. These clinics will occur on campus and are open to any university community member aged 18 or older. No one under the age of 18 is eligible to participate.

Any university community member eligible for a booster must provide documentation of having received the booster within 30 days of becoming eligible. Failure to do so will result in job action or being unenrolled.

Before each clinic, an invitation will be sent out for you to reserve a specific time and provide us with your requested booster and demographic information. No walk-ins will be accommodated.

The dates are as follows:

  • February 22
  • March 24
  • April 19

Here is the link to the invitation survey for February 22, which will be in the President's Hall in the Mazzaferro Center from 9 am - noon and 12:30 - 3:30 pm.

Thank you for your commitment to the health of our community. Vaccinations and boosters, in conjunction with mask wearing and hand washing, remain the most effective tools to reduce negative effects of COVID-19.

Be well.

Laura A. Bayless, PhD
Vice President for Student Affairs

To the campus community,

This is a notice to update the campus on our plans for next week. Because of the forecast of significant snow on Monday, Jan. 17, we will be delaying residential student move-in to Tuesday, Jan. 18. Classes will be canceled Tuesday to allow for COVID-testing of students. All other university offices will be closed Tuesday.

  • Residential students will be rapid-tested as part of check-in at the Athletics and Recreation Center on Tuesday, Jan. 18. As previously announced, residential students who test positive will be asked to return home to isolate, though we will accommodate students who cannot do so.
  • Commuter students taking classes on campus must make appointments to be tested at Hammond Hall during the first week of classes. If you choose to receive a PCR test off campus, submit your results to studentaffairs@fitchburgstate.edu no later than noon on Friday, Jan. 21.
  • Testing appointments already scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 18 through Friday, Jan. 21 will continue as planned.  
  • Remote classes will follow their regular schedules on Wednesday, Jan. 19 through Friday, Jan. 21. In-person classes are scheduled to begin Monday, Jan. 24.
  • Employees are also strongly encouraged to make appointments for testing next week before in-person classes begin.

Thank you.

Richard S. Lapidus
President

To the campus community,

As we embark on the Spring 2022 semester, I want to make sure you have COVID safety practices and expectations in mind. Preserving the health and safety of our campus community is our paramount concern, and we must continue to be vigilant and flexible as we respond to changing conditions. With more than 90% of our campus community vaccinated against the virus, and with on-campus booster clinics scheduled for the coming weeks and months, we are in a strong position to navigate these challenges.

Out of an abundance of caution, we are making the following modifications to our start-of-semester plans:

  • We will begin the semester with remote classes. Classes will begin on Tuesday, Jan. 18, following their original scheduled times but running fully online through Friday, Jan. 21 to accommodate testing. Additional details on remote courses will be shared from Academic Affairs. In-person classes are scheduled to resume on Monday, Jan. 24. 

  • All students will be COVID-tested to start the semester. We ask that all students be tested the week of Jan. 17 so that we can receive the results prior to resuming face-to-face classes. All employees are strongly encouraged to do so as well.

    • Residential students will be COVID-tested on Monday, Jan. 17 as part of check-in using a rapid test. Those who test positive will be asked to return home for the five- to 10-day isolation period recommended by the CDC. Housing and Residential Services will work with students who test positive but are unable to return home to isolate. Additional detail will be forthcoming to residential students.

    • Commuter students taking on-campus classes must also be tested the first week of classes. Testing for commuter students (as well as university faculty and staff) will be available by appointment in Hammond Hall room G01 Tuesday, Jan. 18 through Friday, Jan. 21.

  • Consider getting tested in advance. As indicated earlier, all students must get tested upon return to campus, regardless of vaccination status. Because students who test positive will not be allowed to remain on campus, we encourage testing in advance, either at home or on-campus. Early on-campus testing will be available by appointment only the week of Jan. 10.

  • Staff members should continue to follow their regular work schedules.

  • Face coverings will be required in all public indoor spaces. The university will once again be providing disposable face coverings to members of the campus community. The CDC recommends face coverings that have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric. The face covering must completely cover the nose and mouth and fit snugly against the sides of the face without gaps. A nose wire will prevent air from leaking out of the top.

  • Get boosted. As previously announced, all members of the Fitchburg State community who have not been granted exemptions must provide documentation of a COVID booster shot within 30 days of becoming eligible. Booster clinics have been scheduled throughout the semester:

    • Wednesday, Jan. 19 (still a few appointments left by signing up with this form)

    • Tuesday, Feb. 22 (a link to the form will be published closer to the clinic)

    • Thursday, March 24 (a link to the form will be published closer to the clinic)

    • Tuesday, April 19 (a link to the form will be published closer to the clinic)

  • Isolation and quarantine guidelines. The CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health have adopted new guidelines for the duration of isolation and quarantine for those exposed to COVID-19.

    • Isolation: Those who test positive may end isolation after five full days if they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and other symptoms have improved. They should continue to wear a well-fitting face covering around others at home and in public for five additional days. 

    • Quarantine: Those who have been exposed may end quarantine after five full days following their last contact with a person who has COVID-19, unless symptoms develop. Those who develop symptoms should get tested immediately off-campus. Those who do not develop symptoms should get tested at least five days after their last close contact with someone with COVID-19. If they test negative, continue to wear a well-fitting face covering around others until 10 days after last contact. Those who test positive must follow the isolation guidance.

As always, we appreciate your support of our shared objective to preserve our community’s health while maintaining the collegiate experience we all desire.

Sincerely,

Richard S. Lapidus
President

To the campus community,

Good morning. Please let me begin by wishing all of you a happy new year, and I hope you have enjoyed some well-deserved quiet time since the end of the fall semester.

We are gearing up in earnest for the start of the spring semester, with classes beginning Tuesday, Jan. 18. As you are all aware, COVID-19 is still with us and continues to affect our daily operations, and our plans are subject to change based on evolving public health guidance. With that in mind, I wanted to share with all of you some of the steps we are taking to keep our community safe.

  • As previously announced, our vaccination requirement for students, faculty, staff, and administrators mandates booster shots within 30 days of eligibility.
  • We will continue to require face-coverings in all indoor public spaces.
  • All students taking on-campus classes must be tested for COVID-19 during the first week of classes and are encouraged to be tested in advance (see schedule below).
  • Testing will be offered five days a week throughout the semester, with required weekly testing for members of the campus community who have received medical or religious exemptions to our vaccination requirement, along with other identified populations.
  • All faculty, librarians, staff and administrators are strongly encouraged to get tested before the start of classes and to participate in on-campus testing throughout the semester.

Testing in advance of the spring semester will be available in Hammond Hall, room G01 on the following dates for students and employees :

  • 12 to 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 10
  • 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12
  • 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 13
  • 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14

Please note that on-campus students who get tested before the start of the semester must still be tested during the first week of classes.

In light of the booster requirements, and knowing that vaccination is the best defense we have against the spread of COVID-19 and its variants, we have arranged on-campus clinics in collaboration with Community Health Connections. These clinics will be open by appointment only to any members of the university community aged 18 or older. 

  • Wednesday, Jan. 19 (to reserve a slot for this clinic, which will run from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Hammond Main Lounge)
  • Tuesday, Feb. 22
  • Thursday, March 24
  • Tuesday, April 19

Additional details on how to reserve spots at the remaining on-campus clinics will be sent in the coming weeks.

I thank all of the members of our campus community for supporting our shared health objectives. Because of your efforts, our year-to-date numbers have been low and we have been able to maintain an in-person college experience for our students, faculty and staff. Our continued vigilance will allow us to look ahead with confidence and optimism. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Richard S. Lapidus
President

Dear Fitchburg State community,

As we prepare for the coming semester, I wanted to advise you of the university’s plans for continued vigilance regarding COVID-19. The pandemic is still very much with us, as the Commonwealth and the country experience a resurgence in cases. 

Next semester, we will continue to require face coverings indoors, mandate weekly testing for members of the campus community who have received medical or religious exemptions to our vaccine requirement, and we are also organizing clinics for vaccination and booster shots to be held on campus.

We remain committed to full participation in classes and on-campus activities for members of our campus community who have received qualified exemptions to our vaccine requirement. However, there will be restrictions for unvaccinated individuals looking to take part in off-campus activities, including - but not necessarily limited to - university-sponsored travel and placement at internship and clinical sites that have their own rules and regulations surrounding vaccinations.  

As always with COVID, things continue to evolve. We will continue to work with state and local public health authorities and monitor the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Thank you, once again, for contributing to the health and safety of our campus community. Vaccines remain the most effective strategy to combat the virus and lessen its impact. 

Best wishes as we approach the final days of the semester.

Richard S. Lapidus
President

Fitchburg State Community,

Earlier today, the following email was sent individually to students who have not yet resolved the COVID vaccination mandate. There is a change in the consequences for non-compliance. I'm passing it along to you because we wanted to be sure the Fitchburg State community members know.

Laura Bayless

As you are aware, a COVID-19 vaccination is required for all students and employees on our campus. You are receiving this message because our records show you have not provided proof of COVID-19 vaccination nor applied for an exemption.

If we do not receive this information from you by Friday, Oct. 15, you will be disenrolled from Fitchburg State University and barred from the campus effective Monday, Oct. 18. Failure to comply with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct. No refunds of any type are issued when students are removed from campus for disciplinary reasons.

We do not take this step lightly. Vaccination is our best defense against the spread of COVID-19 and it is imperative we act to preserve the health and safety of our community. With the support of our employee unions, all of our faculty, librarians and staff members have also been required to submit proof of vaccination or apply for a religious or medical exemption as a condition of their continued employment.

Please provide an electronic copy of your CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card to immunizations@fitchburgstate.edu immediately, and be sure to include your student ID number.

  • Students seeking a religious exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine should make a personal attestation, including your student ID number and date of birth, dated and signed by the student to immunizations@fitchburgstate.edu

  • Students seeking a medical exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine should send information dated and signed by your medical provider, including your student ID number and birth date, to immunizations@fitchburgstate.edu.

These actions are crucial to protecting the health of our community and preserving the on-campus experience we value. 

Laura Bayless
Vice President for Student Affairs

Good Afternoon,

We are writing to let you know that on-campus COVID-19 testing continues to be available for all members of our campus community. While in accordance with CDC guidelines, Fitchburg State University no longer requires testing for individuals who are fully vaccinated, you are welcome to continue to test if you are fully vaccinated. (Individuals who are not fully vaccinated or have an exemption are required to continue to test each week.) There is no fee for this service.  

Below is the updated testing schedule for the next two weeks. Please note changes for location and hours.

Week of August 30

Special testing hours have been scheduled for the week of August 30 to accommodate students returning to campus. Below are the locations and hours.

Landry Arena

  • Tuesday, August 31, noon-4:30pm
  • Wednesday, September 1, 8:00am-5:00pm
  • Testing is walk-in on these days.  You do not need an appointment.  

Hammond Hall G01

This will be the new site for testing.  (Testing will no longer take place in the Antonucci Science Complex or the Rec Center.)

  • Thursday, September 2, 10:00am-noon; 1:00pm-6:00pm

feel free to walk in during testing hours.  

Week of September 6 

Below is our new fall schedule, beginning the week of September 6. Please note that we will be closed Monday, September 6 for Labor Day.

Days/Times: Mondays through Thursdays 10:00am-noon; 1:00pm-6:00pm

Fridays, 10:00am-noon; 1:00pm-3:00pm

Location: Hammond Hall G01

If you have any questions, please contact me.

Sincerely,

Mary S. O'Friel
COVID Testing Manager

Bulletins for Students

To all students,

We hope that all students have a safe and restful Spring Break; it is well deserved. The purpose of this letter is to inform you of the COVID-19 testing options available to you upon your return to campus after the break.

The university is strongly encouraging you to receive a COVID-19 test upon your return to campus. In order to facilitate that for those of you who choose to test, rapid tests will be offered on the following dates and times  at Hammond G01. Please plan on at least 15 minutes for the administration of the rapid tests and results. 

  • Sunday, March 13: 4pm-6pm 
  • Monday, March 14: 10am-noon; 1pm-6pm 
  • Tuesday, March 15: 10am-noon: 1pm-6pm 

PCR testing, the type of testing usually available at the testing center, will also be offered on Wednesday, March 16 at Hammond G01, 1pm-6pm.

Other testing notes:

Students who are normally required to test will not be required to test over break.  Required testing will begin again immediately the week of March 14. Please refer to the schedule above for dates, times and location. The rapid tests on March 13 - 15 will fulfill testing requirements. 

For students who wish to test over spring break, PCR testing will be available at Hammond G01 on the following dates and times:

  • Monday, March 7: 1pm-5pm
  • Wednesday, March 9: 9am-1pm

There will be a reduced testing schedule for the remainder of the semester because of the low numbers\participating in testing.. Please pay attention to forthcoming announcements regarding the new schedule. 

Enjoy your break, we look forward to seeing you back on campus!

Dear Fitchburg State Community,

Happy New Year!

Fitchburg State and Community Health Connections are pleased to offer a series of COVID Booster Vaccination Clinics in Spring 2022. These clinics will occur on campus and are open to any university community member aged 18 or older. No one under the age of 18 is eligible to participate.

Any university community member eligible for a booster must provide documentation of having received the booster within 30 days of becoming eligible. Failure to do so will result in job action or being unenrolled.

Before each clinic, an invitation will be sent out for you to reserve a specific time and provide us with your requested booster and demographic information. No walk-ins will be accommodated.

The dates are as follows:

  • January 19
  • February 22
  • March 24
  • April 19

Here is the link to the invitation survey for January 19, which will be in the Hammond Main Lounge from 9 am - noon and 12:30 - 3:30 pm.

Thank you for your commitment to the health of our community. Vaccinations and boosters, in conjunction with mask wearing and hand washing, remain the most effective tools to reduce negative effects of COVID-19.

Be well.

Dear students,

We hope this note finds you well and enjoying some much-needed time for rest and relaxation following another busy semester.

We are writing today to advise you that, in conjunction with the other state universities in Massachusetts, Fitchburg State will be requiring students to receive a booster shot of an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine. This is consistent with the requirement for university staff, faculty, librarians and administrators.

We are requiring that students who have not yet received booster shots receive them within 30 days of becoming eligible (which is generally six months following their second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, or two months following the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine), and submit an electronic copy (picture) of their CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card to https://forms.gle/1fztCq1sZWEigJY76

Failure to provide documentation of a booster shot no later than 30 days after eligibility will jeopardize your status as a student. For those of you who are eligible for a booster prior to the first day of classes on January 18, 2022, you must provide us with the documentation prior to coming to campus.

The university will continue to recognize medical and religious exemptions to the vaccination requirement. New students are expected to submit proof of vaccination or apply for a qualified exemption.

Because of our collective efforts, we have had a positivity rate of under 2% since the start of the academic year, with 90% of students and 95% of staff fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The continuing transmission of the Delta variant and the emergence of the Omicron variant require us to aggressively continue our posture of vigilance as we prepare to continue in-person learning in the spring semester.

In addition to requiring booster shots for the spring, we will continue to operationalize our CDC-recommended COVID health and safety protocols. We will continue to require face coverings in all campus buildings and will offer testing throughout the semester and enhanced cleaning and sanitizing of campus buildings and residence halls. While conditions related to COVID may require operational changes, we plan to continue to offer a traditional schedule of in-person classes in addition to online and hybrid options for both residential and commuter student populations.

Thank you for contributing to the health and safety of our community.

Sincerely,

Office of Student Affairs

Dear students,

Good morning. I want to thank all of you for your attention to supporting our COVID vaccine compliance efforts. Protecting the health of our community continues to be a group effort that is shared among each and every one of us.

As you are aware, we issued a requirement this fall that all members of our community had to be vaccinated against COVID or else file valid medical or religious exemptions. The deadline for students to submit proof of vaccination or attest to a qualifying exemption was last Friday. 

As the deadline neared, a number of administrators made repeated contact with the small number of students who had failed to comply with the requirement. Despite repeated appeals for them to submit their information, several students failed to comply and were unenrolled from Fitchburg State as of yesterday morning. We have informed the students, their professors and their academic advisors, and we have restricted their access to the campus and its resources.

These students have also been advised they may be able to resume their studies in the spring semester provided they comply with the requirements that have been laid out for every other member of the campus community.

We took these steps because of our commitment to preserving the health of our university community members, and we will continue to exercise vigilance and enforce the requirements that have been recommended by public health experts.

Thank you for your continued support of these critical safety measures.

Sincerely,

Richard S. Lapidus
President

Dear students,

I hope that you are having a good summer, staying safe, and are looking forward to coming to campus this fall with some sense of normalcy, even as our global community continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. I write to you today to share our current plans for safe campus operations in the coming semester. Our approach is focused on best meeting our educational mission while at the same time instituting strategies designed to mitigate viral spread.  

With all aspects of an in-person experience as a priority, it will be necessary that all members of our campus community receive a COVID-19 vaccine (except those individuals with valid medical or religious exemptions) as has been previously communicated. Our health provider Community Health Connections stands ready to provide vaccinations to all members of our community on a walk-in basis at no charge at their Nichols Road location. In addition, they will be conducting COVID-19 vaccination clinics on campus: 

  • Monday, Aug. 30, for new residential students, as part of move-in;
  • Wednesday, Sept. 1, for returning residential students;
  • Tuesday, Sept. 7, for all students and employees.

There will be a follow-up clinic at the end of September for those receiving their second vaccine doses.

Further, we will continue to provide a layered viral mitigation strategy of face covering, testing, cleaning, contact tracing, and dedicating space on campus for residential students who need to isolate and quarantine as necessary in order to achieve the healthy and robust experience that we all desire. 

As you are likely aware, in recent weeks the U.S. has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious Delta variant. The data indicates that individuals who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 can still transmit it and become infected. The data also shows that COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in reducing serious illness and death. It is therefore important to emphasize that despite our health and safety precautions, the complete elimination of the virus in our community will not be possible. I cannot stress enough that health and safety is everyone’s responsibility and that compliance with policies and protocols are a necessity to safeguarding the wellbeing of our campus community. I am proud of the way our campus responded last year to the pandemic. Because of our collective vigilance, we concluded the academic year with a positivity rate of approximately 0.5%, even as the region surrounding campus in the same time frame hovered near 14%. We know the protocols work if everyone does their part.

With the above considerations as context, we will begin the fall semester with the following policies and protocols in place. We will, of course, be vigilant with our monitoring and responsive in the adjustment of our policies and protocols as circumstances dictate both on our campus and with guidance from appropriate public health agencies. Changes to our policies will be communicated to the campus in a timely fashion via university email and posted online at fitchburgstate.edu/coronavirus.  

Face Coverings:

Effective Monday, Aug. 23, face coverings will be required indoors. This is consistent with the CDC’s recommendation and the City of Fitchburg and its Board of Health mandate that face coverings be worn by all in municipal buildings, including all K-12 schools. Face coverings will not be required in a private space (such as a residence hall room or individualized workspace) or when you are actively eating or drinking. All guests visiting campus will be subject to university policy. Face coverings will be available at designated locations for those that need one. At this time, face coverings will not be required outdoors or in outdoor athletic practices and competitions. This policy will be reviewed after the first few weeks of school to assess prevailing conditions at the time.  

Testing:  

All individuals not vaccinated will be required to test once per week. This process will begin at check-in for all residential students. All other students will begin testing during the first full week of the semester. Arrangements have been made for testing five days a week, including some evening hours, to accommodate varying schedules. For those identified to be tested, this is not optional, and failure to comply will be addressed through our student conduct protocols. Testing will continue to use the PCR process that is considered the “gold standard.” Similar to last academic year, the Broad Institute will be processing our samples, typically producing test results in 24 hours or less. Results are sent directly to the individual electronically and remain confidential unless a positive result is identified at which time the tracing process must be initiated. All individuals that live off-campus that are experiencing or suspecting COVID-19 symptoms should contact their health provider immediately for diagnosis. Do not come to campus if you are not feeling well.

Tracing:

Those identified as testing positive will be asked to provide information regarding close contacts to facilitate and expedite notification to others. The university has contracted with additional personnel to manage contact tracing and COVID case management. This is a critical part of the mitigation plan and cooperation is expected from all individuals involved.

Isolation and Quarantine:

Residential students found to have contracted COVID-19, or deemed to have been in close contact with someone who has, will have the opportunity to either be housed in a separate designated area on campus or return home. The Office of Student Affairs will assist with notifying the faculty of these student absences. Chartwells, our dining services partner, will be the sole provider of meals to individuals in isolation or quarantine on campus. 

Cleaning:

Over the last 18 months it has been established that COVID-19 is transmitted through the air rather than hard surfaces. The university will reestablish its standard cleaning protocols although higher touch areas will still remain a focus. Hand sanitizing stations will remain throughout campus. Bathrooms will continue to use paper towels rather than air dryers.

Dining Services:

Normal dining will resume with self-serve options, salad bar, and multiple stations available for customized meals. Students will be required to wear face coverings in dining areas except for when actively eating or drinking. Chartwells will also have a take-out option. Reusable containers will be available so that food options can be selected and transported outside the dining hall. Containers may be purchased for $5, and upon return of the container, a clean one will be provided for the next meal at no additional cost.

Athletics:

We are planning for a full athletic season, with schedules built and opposing teams ready and eager to play this fall. Protocols for indoor athletic practices and competitions will be communicated in advance based on Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference and NCAA guidance and other appropriate state and federal guidelines.

Day-to-Day Experiences/Operations 

All common areas will be open, consistent with policies and practices prior to COVID-19. It is our expectation that students will be able to participate fully in on-campus activities, but the university reserves the right to amend and adjust these policies and operations if the situation changes. 

Although the year ahead is sure to present some unforeseen challenges, I am excited to welcome our students back to campus for a much more traditional collegiate experience. Students with questions or concerns should contact the Office of Student Affairs at 978-665-3130.

We are confident these measures, and the collective commitment to shared responsibility and compliance, will let us achieve the experience we all desire for the coming academic year. I look forward to seeing you on campus in a few short weeks.

Best,

Richard S. Lapidus
President

Bulletins for Faculty and Staff

Good afternoon,

I write to provide a clarification to the COVID mitigation memorandum that was sent out earlier today. Employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement must adhere to their specific bargained memorandum of agreement. In each of the unions' vaccination memoranda, employees who are exempted from the vaccination due to a medical or religious belief will continue to be required to wear a mask indoors in all locations.

Thank you for your attention to this revision.

Human Resources/Payroll Services Office

Dear Fitchburg State Community,

Fitchburg State and Community Health Connections are pleased to offer a series of COVID Booster Vaccination Clinics in Spring 2022. These clinics will occur on campus and are open to any university community member aged 18 or older. No one under the age of 18 is eligible to participate.

Any university staff and faculty members eligible for a booster must provide documentation of having received the booster within 30 days of becoming eligible to Human Resources. Employees who have had COVID-19 and have been told by their physician that they must wait to receive their booster shot, are asked to provide a medical note to Human Resources stating the date they become eligible for the booster shot if it must be delayed. 

Employees that have approved vaccination exemptions remain exempt from the booster requirements; all other employees are required unless there is a medical situation related to receiving the booster. In these circumstances, the employee should contact Human Resources at 3172.

Employees are required to receive the booster per the union's negotiations related to the vaccine requirements. If an employee does not comply a job action may be taken related to their employment. 

Please complete the form once you have received your booster shot and upload your updated vaccination card. Fitchburg State Booster Vaccination Form

Before each clinic, an invitation will be sent out for you to reserve a specific time and provide us with your requested booster and demographic information. No walk-ins will be accommodated.

The dates are as follows:

  • January 19
  • February 22
  • March 24
  • April 19

Here is the link to the invitation survey for January 19, which will be in the Hammond Main Lounge from 9 am - noon and 12:30 - 3:30 pm.

Our original message regarding the booster shot requested that employees receive their booster shot by the start of classes on Jan. 18, due to the upcoming clinic we will extend that date to January 21, 2022. Employees should continue to get their booster shots during this period of time off campus if they are able to do so. The clinic is first come first serve, please be reminded that you need to sign up for the booster shot.

Thank you for your commitment to the health of our community. Vaccinations and boosters, in conjunction with mask wearing and hand washing, remain the most effective tools to reduce negative effects of COVID-19.

Best wishes to all and Happy New Year!

Jessica Murdoch

Good morning,

The Office of Human Resources & Payroll Services has created an electronic COVID-19 Booster Vaccination form. The form is for employees to provide their booster shot information per the Vaccine Memorandum of Agreements for our unionized staff and to meet university policy for non unionized staff. Employees are asked to upload their updated vaccination card with their booster shot information.

Employees who have not yet received boosters are requested to receive them within 30 days of becoming eligible (which is generally six months following their second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, or two months following the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine). Please find the online form here for completion.

The university will continue to recognize approved medical and religious exemptions to the vaccination requirement. Employees who have been vaccinated are not exempted from receiving a booster shot unless there is a medical reason that exempts them from receiving the booster. A physician statement would be required to determine if an exemption applies. All new employees are expected to submit proof of vaccination and booster information and or apply for a qualified exemption.

Employees who are eligible to receive their booster are requested to upload their vaccination card prior to the first day of classes, Jan. 18, 2022. As employees become eligible during the spring semester, we ask employees to complete the online booster vaccination form and attach their updated vaccination card. The form can be found on the Human Resources webpage under COVID forms.

Employees who have emailed their updated booster vaccination cards to Human Resources are asked to complete the attached form so we may collect all the information in one format.

We thank you in advance for your cooperation and attention to this matter.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

Best regards,

Jessica Murdoch
Associate Vice President, Human Resources & Payroll Services

Dear faculty, staff and librarians,

We hope this note finds you well and enjoying some much-needed time for rest and relaxation following another busy semester.

We are writing today to advise you that, in conjunction with the other state universities in Massachusetts, Fitchburg State will be requiring booster shots of an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine for the coming semester. 

As described in the memoranda of agreement signed by our bargaining units this fall, and for our non-unionized staff, our vaccination requirement for employees includes booster shots. We will be requiring employees who have not yet received boosters to receive them within 30 days of becoming eligible (which is generally six months following their second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, or two months following the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine), and complete the online form corresponding to their union on the Human Resources website. The forms will be available on the website for completion by Thursday, Dec. 30.

The university will continue to recognize approved medical and religious exemptions to the vaccination requirement. New employees are expected to submit proof of vaccination or apply for a qualified exemption.

Employees who are eligible must receive their booster and upload their vaccination card prior to the first day of classes on Jan. 18, 2022. As employees become eligible during the spring semester, we ask employees to complete the online booster vaccination form and attach their updated vaccination card.

Because of our collective efforts, we have had a positivity rate of under 2% since the start of the academic year, with 90% of students and 95% of staff fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The continuing transmission of the Delta variant and the emergence of the Omicron variant require us to aggressively continue our posture of vigilance as we prepare to continue in-person learning in the spring semester. Students are also being asked to provide proof of receiving booster shots at their time of eligibility. 

In addition to requiring booster shots for the spring, we will continue to operationalize our CDC-recommended COVID health and safety protocols, such as mask-wearing policies, COVID testing for students and employees, and enhanced cleaning and sanitizing of campus buildings and residence halls. We will continue to offer a traditional schedule of in-person classes in addition to online and hybrid options for both residential and commuter student populations.

Thank you for contributing to the health and safety of our community.

Sincerely,

Jessica Murdoch
Human Resources & Payroll Services

 

Good afternoon to the Campus Community,

The fall semester is quickly passing and with the change of weather brings us the cold and flu season in addition to the COVID-19 virus. 

As a continued safety measure we require all staff, faculty and students to wear a mask while indoors. Please be reminded that masks should cover your nose and mouth. Employees should have their masks on their face when they are with other staff or campus partners at all times and when walking through the buildings. 

All visitors and guests should be notified that they are required to adhere to our face covering policy. Departments may wish to share this information in their correspondence with visitors, guests and or vendors they work with. The CDC guidelines does state that unvaccinated people should wear a face covering indoors and outdoors. Staff and faculty may remind these campus visitors about our policy and share that we are following CDC guidance related to unvaccinated people and they should wear the face coverings on campus in all spaces.

The university will have masks available in Human Resources for employees should your mask be damaged, lost or forgotten. If an employee or student may need a mask, each department on campus has also received disposable masks. Please provide a mask to anyone requesting or needing a mask

We ask everyone to practice good hygiene, disinfecting and sanitizing practices. Please wash your hands often with warm water and soap for 20 seconds and or use hand sanitizer if you are not able to wash your hands. 

Staff and faculty who are exhibiting cold, flu and or COVID-19 symptoms should stay at home. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 have been revised as follows removing congestion and runny nose.

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

If you are experiencing symptoms you should contact a medical provider. 

Please be reminded that each of the collective bargaining agreements afford paid sick time for benefitted employees. If staff are going to be absent, they should contact their departmental supervisor and follow the departmental attendance process. Employees that are non unionized, part time are provided up to forty hours of sick time per the Earned Sick Time policy.

Faculty members who are absent from their on-campus classes because of unforeseen circumstances or illness must immediately notify their department chair and the Hammond Hall Information Desk at 978-665-INFO (4636). Students who are registered for your classes will be notified via text and email that you are absent. As a reminder per the MOA Vaccination, faculty who are ill with COVID may teach remotely while in quarantine or isolation if they are feeling well enough to do so. If a faculty is ill with a cold or flu they may discuss with their chair if this is a viable option while they are absent or may use technology to provide course content for the class while the faculty is absent. 

Please be reminded that members of the campus who test positive for COVID-19 should notify their supervisors and contact Human Resources. Employees may be contacted by our contact tracers and or COVID case manager as it relates to quarantine and or isolation procedures.

I would like to extend my appreciation to all of you for your continued support and patience during these times. Please contact Human Resources with any questions at hrcovid@fitchburgstate.edu.

Best regards,

Jessica Murdoch
Associate Vice President, Human Resources & Payroll Services

Dear faculty, librarians and staff,

Good morning. I want to thank all of you for your attention to supporting our COVID vaccine compliance efforts. Protecting the health of our community continues to be a group effort that is shared among each and every one of us.

As you are aware, we issued a requirement this fall that all members of our community had to be vaccinated against COVID or else file valid medical or religious exemptions. The deadline for student compliance was last Friday. 

As the deadline neared, a number of administrators made repeated contact with the students who had failed to comply with the requirement. Through their efforts, the number of students who had not complied - either by sharing proof of vaccination or else attesting to a qualifying exemption - was greatly reduced over the past two weeks.

Despite the exhaustive outreach, a small number of students failed to comply and were unenrolled from the university as of yesterday morning. They have all been informed, as have their faculty and academic advisors, and we have restricted their access to the campus and its resources.

These students have also been advised they may be able to resume their studies in the spring semester provided they comply with the requirements that have been laid out for every other member of the campus community.

We took these steps because of our commitment to preserving the health of our university community members, and we will continue to exercise vigilance and enforce the requirements that have been recommended by public health experts.

Thank you for your continued support of these critical safety measures.

Sincerely,

Richard S. Lapidus
President

Good morning,
 
Please find attached to this email the Fitchburg State University Covid-19 Campus Guide for review. The guide provides information related to vaccinations, masks, Covid Testing, quarantine and isolation procedures and more.
 
The guide will be placed on the website at Coronavirus Information 2021 - 22 under Latest Developments.
 
If you should have any questions please contact Human Resources or the appropriate Covid Team Member as noted in the guide. Thank you to the campus community for your continued efforts to maintain a healthy and safe campus environment.
 
Sincerely,
 
Jessica Murdoch
Associate Vice President, Human Resources and Payroll Services

Good afternoon to the Campus Community,

We are so excited for the fall semester to begin, and to welcome faculty and students back to campus. Our administrative and academic offices have been busy preparing for the opening of the 2021- 2022 academic year. As we prepare for the start of classes, I have information to share as it relates to our fall opening.

The university continues to monitor the health and safety of our campus and we have prepared an Employer Guide: Transitioning back to Campus. The guide was shared in June with staff and will be sent out with updates included in this notice next week. The guide includes our policies and guidelines related to face coverings, hygiene, disinfecting and sanitizing, etc. as well as what to do if you or a family member is ill. The document will be updated as necessary.

We ask all staff and faculty who are exhibiting COVID symptoms to stay at home and contact a medical provider. Members of the campus who test positive should notify their supervisors and contact Human Resources. Employees may be contacted by our contact tracers and or COVID case manager as it relates to quarantine and or isolation procedures. 

The university will require all students to wear a face covering indoors; new signage will be placed on the entrance doors of campus and residential buildings with this requirement. All APA, Non-Unit full time, part time non-benefited, DGCE faculty and MSCA employees are also required to wear a face covering indoors. If an employee is in a private office or space they may remove their face covering, however, if another person enters that space the employee must put their face covering on.

All visitors and guests should be notified that they are required to adhere to our face covering policy. Departments may wish to share this information in their correspondence with visitors, guests and or vendors they work with. The CDC guidelines does state that unvaccinated people should wear a face covering indoors and outdoors. Staff and faculty may remind these campus visitors about our policy and share that we are following CDC guidance related to unvaccinated people and they should wear the face coverings on campus in all spaces.

Staff and faculty in the APA and MSCA unions have been notified by their union leadership that they have reached an agreement related to face coverings and vaccination requirements. Each respective union has a signed Memorandum of Agreement. All students are required to be vaccinated.

The university will have masks available in Human Resources for employees should your mask be damaged, lost or forgotten. We will designate other locations where employees can get a mask if needed, we will send further notice of the locations in email next week.

The AFSCME union will begin their conversations related to face coverings and vaccinations in the coming week, unit members are not required to wear face coverings but are strongly encouraged to wear them indoors. 

MSCA

Faculty, librarians and part time day adjunct faculty must complete the vaccination attestation form found here by September 1, 2021. If you have not been vaccinated you must have your first dose of a vaccination by September 1, 2021. The second dose, if required as part of the vaccine regimen, must be completed by October 1, 2021. Please attach a copy of your vaccination card to the attestation. Members of the MSCA who may require an exemption for either medical or religious beliefs will complete the same attestation form and complete the appropriate section. A medical note from a medical professional should accompany the request for a medical exemption, or if requesting a religious exemption, a statement due to a sincerely religious belief must attest that the vaccination conflicts with such belief.

APA

Employees in the APA union must complete the vaccination attestation form found here by September 7, 2021. If you have not been vaccinated you must have your first dose of a vaccination by September 7, 2021. The second dose, if required as part of the vaccine regimen, must be completed within four weeks of the first dose. Please attach a copy of your vaccination card to the attestation. Members of the APA who may require an exemption for either medical or religious beliefs will complete the same attestation form and complete the appropriate section. A medical note from a medical professional should accompany the request for a medical exemption, or if requesting a religious exemption, a statement due to a sincerely religious belief must attest that the vaccination conflicts with such belief.

Non-Unit & Part Time non-benefited

Non-Unit and part time non-benefited employees are reminded to complete the vaccination attestation form found here by September 7, 2021. If you have not been vaccinated you must have your first dose of a vaccination by September 7, 2021. The second dose, if required as part of the vaccine regimen, must be completed within four weeks of the first dose. Please attach a copy of your vaccination card to the attestation. Employees who may require an exemption for either medical or religious beliefs will complete the same attestation form and complete the appropriate section. A medical note from a medical professional should accompany the request for a medical exemption, or if requesting a religious exemption, a statement due to a sincerely religious belief must attest that the vaccination conflicts with such belief. If you have completed the non-unit attestation form already, you may submit a new attestation form and or send a copy of  your vaccination card to hrcovid@fitchburgstate.edu. For employees who have requested a religious belief exemption, please resubmit the attestation with a statement due to a sincerely religious belief attesting that the vaccination conflicts with such belief.

Employees that completed the Non-Unit attestation form that are covered by the APA and MSCA union contracts, please complete the attestation form specific to your union status.

Employees who are approved for an exemption, will be required to be tested for COVID-19 weekly and are required to wear a face covering in all campus spaces (indoors and outdoors). Employees may be tested on campus, if tested on campus, weekly results will be provided to Human Resource for compliance review. If an employee is tested outside of the campus they must provide the test results obtained within the previous 48 hours of arrival to campus. Employees who do not adhere to these requirements will not be permitted to work or have access to the campus facilities. Employees may be placed on unpaid leave as prescribed in the respective Memorandum of Agreements and or discharged from their position. Please refer to the MOA’s for full language. The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) documents for both requirements are posted on the APA website.  Click here for the mask mandate and here for the vaccine mandate.  Please find the MOA’s for MSCA attached to this communication.

I would like to extend my appreciation to all of you for your continued support and patience during these times. Please contact Human Resources with any questions at hrcovid@fitchburgstate.edu.

Best regards,

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

Dear colleagues,

I hope that you are having a good summer, staying safe, and are looking forward to returning back to campus this fall with some sense of normalcy even as our global community continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. I write to you today to share our current plans for safe campus operations in the coming semester. Our approach is focused on best meeting our educational mission while at the same time instituting strategies designed to mitigate viral spread.  

With all aspects of an in-person experience as a priority, it will be necessary that all members of our campus community receive a COVID-19 vaccine (except those individuals with valid medical or religious exemptions) as has been previously communicated. Our health provider Community Health Connections stands ready to provide vaccinations to all members of our community on a walk-in basis at no charge at their Nichols Road location. In addition, they will be conducting COVID-19 vaccination clinics on campus:

  • Monday, Aug. 30, for new residential students, as part of move-in;
  • Wednesday, Sept. 1, for returning residential students;
  • Tuesday, Sept. 7, for all students and employees.

There will be a follow-up clinic at the end of September for those receiving their second vaccine doses.

Further, we will continue to provide a layered viral mitigation strategy of face covering, testing, cleaning, contact tracing, and student isolating and quarantining spaces for residential students as necessary in order to achieve the healthy and robust experience that we all desire. 

All non-unit members have been required to be vaccinated and must wear face coverings indoors effective Monday, Aug. 23. We are currently in discussion with our three unions about extending those masking and vaccination requirements to all employees. Consequently, compliance on these issues will not be enforced until resolved. However, for the safety of all members of our campus community, I strongly encourage everyone to wear a face covering indoors while on campus and to become fully vaccinated if you have not already done so. 

As you are likely aware, in recent weeks the U.S. has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious Delta variant. The data indicates that individuals who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 can still transmit it and become infected. The data also shows that COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in reducing serious illness and death. It is therefore important to emphasize that despite our health and safety precautions, the complete elimination of the virus in our community will not be possible. I cannot stress enough that health and safety is everyone’s responsibility and that compliance with policies and protocols are a necessity to safeguarding the wellbeing of our campus community. I am proud of the way our campus responded last year to the pandemic. Because of our collective vigilance, we concluded the academic year with a positivity rate of approximately 0.5%, even as the region surrounding campus in the same time frame hovered near 14%. We know the protocols work if everyone does their part.

With the above considerations as context, we will begin the fall semester with the following policies and protocols in place. We will, of course, be vigilant with our monitoring and responsive in the adjustment of our policies and protocols as circumstances dictate both on our campus and with guidance from appropriate public health agencies. Changes to our policies will be communicated to the campus in a timely fashion via university email and posted online at fitchburgstate.edu/coronavirus.  

Face Coverings:

Effective Monday, Aug. 23, all non-unit members of the campus community are to wear face coverings indoors. This is consistent with the CDC’s recommendation and the City of Fitchburg and its Board of Health mandate that face coverings be worn by all in municipal buildings, including all K-12 schools. Face coverings will not be required in private spaces or when you are actively eating or drinking. All guests and contractors visiting campus will be subject to university policy. Face coverings will be available at designated locations for those that need one. This policy will be reviewed after the first few weeks of school to assess prevailing conditions at the time.  

Testing:  

All individuals not vaccinated for any reason will be required to test once per week.  This process will begin at check-in for all residential students. All other students will begin testing during the first full week of the semester. Pending the outcome of union discussions/negotiations it is strongly encouraged for faculty and staff not vaccinated to test weekly for your safety and that of the community. Arrangements have been made for testing five days a week, including some evening hours, to accommodate varying schedules. For those identified to be tested, this is not optional and failure to comply may lead to disciplinary action. Testing will continue to use the PCR process that is considered to be the “gold standard.” Similar to last academic year, the Broad Institute will be processing our samples, typically producing test results in 24 hours or less. Results are sent directly to the individual electronically and remain confidential unless a positive result is identified at which time the tracing process must be initiated. All individuals experiencing or suspecting COVID-19 symptoms must not come to campus, and it is recommended that they visit their doctor immediately for diagnosis.  

Tracing:

Those identified as testing positive will be asked to provide information regarding close contacts to facilitate and expedite notification to others. The university has contracted with additional personnel to manage contact tracing and COVID case management. This is a critical part of the mitigation plan and cooperation is expected from all individuals involved. 

Isolation and Quarantine:

Residential students found to have contracted COVID-19, or deemed to have been in close contact with someone who has, will have the opportunity to either be housed in a separate designated area on campus or return home. The Office of Student Affairs will assist with notifying the faculty of these student absences. Chartwells, our dining services partner, will be the sole provider of meals to students in isolation or quarantine on campus. Employees who may have symptoms and or test positive for COVID-19 should contact Human Resources, contact their medical provider and remain home.

Cleaning:

Over the last 18 months it has been established that COVID-19 is transmitted through the air rather than hard surfaces. The university will reestablish its standard cleaning protocols although higher touch areas will still remain a focus. Hand sanitizing stations will remain throughout campus. Bathrooms will continue to use paper towels rather than air dryers. For those offices wishing to do their own additional cleaning, supplies are available by contacting Capital Planning and Maintenance.   

Dining Services:

Normal dining will resume with self-serve options, salad bar, and multiple stations available for customized meals. Students will be required to wear face coverings in dining areas except for when actively eating or drinking. Chartwells will also have a take-out option. Reusable containers will be available so that food options can be selected and transported outside the dining hall. Containers may be purchased for $5, and upon return of the container, a clean one will be provided for the next meal at no additional cost.

Athletics:

We are planning for a full athletic season, with schedules built and opposing teams ready and eager to play this fall. Protocols for indoor athletic practices and competitions will be communicated in advance based on Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference and NCAA guidance and other appropriate state and federal guidelines.

Day-to-Day Experiences/Operations 

All common areas will be open, consistent with policies and practices prior to COVID-19. It is our expectation that all members of our campus community will be able to participate fully in on-campus activities, but the university reserves the right to amend and adjust these policies and operations if the situation changes. 

Although the year ahead is sure to present some unforeseen challenges, I am excited to welcome our students back to campus for a much more traditional collegiate experience. Faculty or staff with questions should contact Human Resources at 978-665-3172.

I look forward to seeing you on campus in a few short weeks.

Best,

Richard S. Lapidus
President

HEERF Funding Information

This section contains information about Fitchburg State's dissemination of Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) assistance.

 

 

Read the prior CRRSSA Quarterly Budget and Expenditure Report for Sept. 30, 2021

Read the prior CRRSSA Quarterly Budget and Expenditure Report for June 30, 2021.

Read the prior quarterly budget and expenditure report covering the quarter ending March 31, 2021.

Read the ARP: American Rescue Plan (HEERF III) updated July 8, 2022.

Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA)

Emergency Financial Aid Grant for Students under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA)

On December 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) was signed into law.  Section 3144(a)(1) of the CRRSAA and (a)(4) of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, Pub. L. No. 116-260 (December 27, 2020), provided an additional $22.7 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF).  The Department of Education has disbursed these funds to the Universities and as a result, Fitchburg State University has been allocated $4,899,039.  Of this allocation, Fitchburg State is required to award $1,955,463 in direct student aid to students.

Fitchburg State University is committed to getting funds to students as quickly as possible.  The University has decided to award block grants to students in order to expedite the process.

As of March 31, 2021, Fitchburg State University has paid $1,756,679 to 2791 registered undergraduate students for the Spring 2021 semester (as of 2/23/21) in the form of Block Grants under the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. Additionally another $205,050 to 294 registered undergraduate students for the Spring 2021 semester were paid. For a total of $1,935,750 to 2799 UG students for the Spring 2021 semester.

Block Grants

Undergraduate students will receive the following block grants based on the following priority of exceptional need and criteria; prior receipt of federal CARES Act funding (or institutional funding if deemed ineligible for CARES monies), Federal Pell Grant recipient, non Pell recipient, Full-time, and part-time status.

Students will receive block grants according to the following breakdown: 

  • Prior Receipt of Federal Cares Act Funding (or Institutional funding)
  • Pell recipient (full time 12+ credits)= $700 
  • Pell recipient (part time 6-11credits= $225
  • Non Pell recipient (full time 12+ credits)= $450
  • Non Pell recipient (part time 6-11credits)= $125
  • No prior federal CAREs Act (or Institutional funding)
  • Pell recipient (full time 12+ credits)= $1,700 
  • Pell recipient (part time 6-11credits= $1,025
  • Non Pell recipient (full time 12+ credits)= $950
  • Non Pell recipient (part time 6-11credits)= $525

Read the Quarterly Budget and Expenditure report covering the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2020.

Read the Quarterly Budget and Expenditure report covering the quarter ending Sept. 30, 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.