Friday, March 27 Community Update from Wheaton College

Dear Wheaton Community,

It has certainly been an unprecedented period of transition for all of us as we conclude our first full week of remote operations and learning here at Wheaton. No matter how hard I try, even while getting things done, it doesn’t feel “normal” to me and I’m sure it never will. We all have had to make significant sacrifices and adjustments and I recognize how strange – how very difficult – this has been for everyone. Thank you all for your incredible patience, your amazing support for each other and your resilience as we all confront this current reality together.

Wheaton continues to act quickly to provide support in any way we can, whether that be unprecedented policy changes or virtual support resources from all departments. I realize that these changes mean that communications from across campus are coming at you fast and furious. All parts of campus are working to curate communications and resources on the COVID-19 page for all audiences. Also, targeted resources for students, faculty and staff are consolidated on insideWheaton. Be sure to check these often since so much is changing and so many communications are coming your way.

In response to student concerns about the impact of this crisis on continued academic success, the faculty swiftly developed a pass-fail policy for Spring 2020 that addresses those concerns. Our priority is to ensure that students can finish the semester with the appropriate learning outcomes and academic credits. We realize it has been a stressful time for everyone and we hope this temporary and flexible grading system is helpful to students during these unprecedented times.

Here on campus, there are still no reported positive cases of COVID-19, but the local area is seeing an increase in reported cases. Norton now has three confirmed cases, Bristol County has 90 and Massachusetts has 2,417. As we see cases and deaths rising across the U.S. and the world, my thoughts continue to be with each of you and your families during this difficult time.

Locally and on campus, Norton Medical Center has now been resourced to act as a triage for those experiencing symptoms and will refer any patients to Sturdy Memorial Hospital for formal COVID-19 testing, which is being conducted at the South Attleboro Urgent Care. We have been in almost daily contact with our local hospital to provide any support we can. Our donation of unused protective gear from our labs was most welcome and we have developed a plan with them to host medical staff here on campus if the need arises.

My emails are intended to keep the lines of communication open and I hope you all are doing that with each other, with your families and with your friends. As we settle more into this remote mode of operations, look for continued ways to engage with other members of the Wheaton community through the opportunities for connection that are being offered.

While the last couple weeks may have felt like a couple years, I am extremely grateful for the care and support the entire Wheaton community is providing to each other. This has always been a hallmark of Wheaton, but it has never been more important than now.

Wishing safety and health to you and your loved ones,

Dennis Hanno
Wheaton College