Changes to operations

Dear members of the Wheaton community:

As the health and safety of all members of our campus community are our highest priorities, officials across the college have been closely monitoring the ongoing developments regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) and planning for appropriate action.

While there are no known cases of COVID-19 at Wheaton, cases continue to rise in Massachusetts, in the United States and around the world. We have been prepared to take action steps based on guidance and recommendations from city, state and federal officials, and a state of emergency was declared in Massachusetts yesterday. Based on this guidance, we know that now is the best time to take action to slow the spread of the virus, mitigate its possible effects and protect our entire community. Thus, we will be altering our operations and enacting new policies and protocols based upon the concept of social distancing.

Wheaton will extend spring break through Sunday, March 22, with classes during this time being canceled, and will move to remote course instruction and student operations for the remainder of the spring semester, beginning on Monday, March 23.

In addition, the college is implementing the following measures:

Classes and Housing

  • Virtual instruction for all courses and course-related activities will begin on Monday, March 23, so students can complete their coursework off campus.
  • All students are expected to leave campus by Sunday, March 22, at 5 p.m., and not return to campus, until further notice. Our offices will be developing a financial policy to address this disruption in room and board and more specific information will be communicated soon.
  • Students who are away from campus and are able to, should pick up their belongings by Sunday, March 22. Students not currently on campus are only permitted to return to campus for the purposes of retrieving their belongings.
  • After Sunday, March 22, students will not have access to the residence halls and will need to contact Residence Life to coordinate pickup. We will keep your items until the end of the semester, but belongings will have to be scheduled to be picked up by the semester close on Saturday, May 9.
  • Students who do not have any other options for housing due to life or travel restrictions need to submit a housing petition by Wednesday, March 18, at 1 p.m. Only extenuating circumstances will be approved. If approved, it is important to note that the on-campus experience will be limited to housing and dining.

For students remaining on campus:

  • Dining will be offered on a limited basis with heightened hygiene protocols, including limiting self-service options, in Emerson Dining Hall; all other dining locations will be closed.
  • There will be no social programming during this time.
  • All non-Wheaton guests are prohibited from visiting residence halls and campus buildings.
  • Students on campus seeking services from Health Services, Public Safety and Residence Life staff should call first.
  • Wheaton will continue its heightened cleaning protocols and will be conducting deep cleaning in all areas after move-out on March 22.

Campus Events and Staffing

  • Decisions on the continuation of varsity athletic events for the remainder of the spring semester will be made in coordination with our athletic conference (NEWMAC) and the NCAA. Any information on changes or adjustments related to the athletic schedule will be communicated directly from Athletics.
  • At present, the college and all offices remain open and all staff are expected to continue to report to work unless they are feeling sick. Given the state of emergency, if circumstances warrant and a decision is later made to adjust our staffing operations, we will provide additional information at that time about work expectations for staff. In the meantime, we encourage department heads to work with their staff immediately to develop plans for continuing work and providing services in ways that are consistent with social distancing and that provide for working remotely where possible or other alternatives. Additional information will be shared by Human Resources.
  • All on-campus and off-campus college events are suspended, until further notice. Event and program organizers should explore the use of remote technology to deliver programming virtually. No decision has been made yet in regards to end-of-semester activities such as Senior Week, Reunion and Commencement.
  • All college-sponsored travel has been suspended, until further notice. Please cancel any tickets and reservations you currently have.

As you are aware, this situation is evolving rapidly so please continue checking our COVID-19 information page for further guidance and stay alert to ongoing updates from the college.

A reminder that, based on official guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anyone returning from China, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea or any country or region designated in the future as a Level 2 or Level 3 Travel Advisory is instructed to stay home for a period of 14 days and take the steps recommended by the CDC to monitor their health and practice social distancing.

It is difficult to have to take these measures. We know these decisions pose real and significant challenges for all of us and we will work with each of you to best move forward and ensure academic continuity. As I have seen firsthand, I know our faculty and staff will be creative and innovative in supporting our students and I know our entire community will work together collaboratively through this unprecedented time. Please continue to check the college website and your email as all departments work through this and share additional details.

Thank you for your understanding and partnership as we collectively work together to coordinate an effective and compassionate response to this global challenge.

Dennis Hanno