August 14 Community Update from President Hanno

Dear Wheaton Community, 

The beginning of the semester is fast-approaching and I can feel the excitement as we make final preparations to welcome students back on campus and in virtual settings. While all of our meetings continue to be online, every single one this week has been focused on the start of the semester and welcoming our community back safely and effectively.

Classes will start in just 10 days (Monday, August 24) and residential students will start moving in gradually between now and then, starting this coming Monday, August 17. We are in the final stages of preparation and will be ready to welcome students back in person and virtually in the coming days. Today’s update will summarize some of the many resources and important action steps that have been communicated this week to our community, especially our students.

Community Commitment

This week, on behalf of the Student Government Association (SGA) and the student members of the Return to Campus Task Force, SGA President Aba Lypps emailed the student body to share a new form of self-governance for the fall semester, the Community Commitment. The commitment details all of the action items that each of us within the Wheaton Community “must abide by in order to keep our campus safe, healthy and open.” Students living on campus or living off-campus and taking classes on campus will be required to read and sign off on the commitment as part of their pre-arrival checklist.

Pre-Arrival Checklist

In addition to virtually signing off on having read the commitment, residential and commuter students will also need to complete a few other tasks prior to their arrival as part of the checklist. Students will need to complete a 15-minute COVID-19 Safety Training webinar to learn more about COVID-19, personal mitigation strategies, and Wheaton’s approach for mitigating the risk of infection on campus. Additionally, students will be required to attest to their compliance with current travel regulations. Students should visit the Fall 2020 Arrival website for more specific information and contact resife@wheatoncollege.edu with any questions on housing and the arrival/move-in process.

Testing and Consent Forms

COVID-19 testing started on campus yesterday for faculty and staff. I was tested yesterday and I will say it was quick and fairly simple – and I have my results back already (negative!). More on the process can be found on our testing page, but the test itself took less than a minute. To expedite your check-in process, be sure to complete the online appointment consent form and have a printout or screenshot of the confirmation email stating that you have successfully completed the form. In addition, please print the testing consent form pdf found on the Return to Campus website. You must complete both of these consent forms prior to testing, but they only need to be completed before this test and no forms will be required for subsequent tests. 

As recommended as part of state guidance, we will start reporting aggregate test numbers next week on the Return to Campus website. Individual test results will be kept private, although others considered close contacts will be notified of their potential exposure as part of the contact tracing process. The college is working with the Norton Board of Health to participate in the Contact Tracing Collaborative. You can contact covidtesting@wheatoncollege.edu with any questions in regards to on-campus testing.

Academic Resources

In regards to academics, Dean of Advising and Academic Success Steve Viveiros emailed students, staff and faculty yesterday in regards to the updated Add/Drop Period, learning resources for hybrid and remote learning and information about support for learning technology. To accommodate the earlier start of the semester, the Add/Drop Period has been moved up and will start on Monday, August 17 at 8:30 a.m. Check out Dean Viveiros’ email for more information, reach out to your Student Success Advisor in Academic Advising or contact advising@wheatoncollege.edu with any questions.

If you have any remaining questions on any aspect of the fall semester, I encourage you to first view the recent Q&A webinars on the Return to Campus website, including the Q&A held this past Tuesday with Dean Irish and other members of the Return to Campus Task Force. Also, please don’t hesitate to reach out to any of our campus departments listed on the website.

In the midst of preparing for this new process of bringing students back to campus, we continue to focus on several other projects. For example, the newly relocated campus bookstore will be opening in Balfour-Hood next week. The totally redesigned accessible entrance to the Office of Admission is approaching completion and looks amazing. And, most importantly, we continue to focus on our campus-wide work to create a more inclusive and anti-racist community, both on campus and off. This week, DEAL announced the appointment of a new co-chair, Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance Stephanie Burlington Daniels ‘97. We are fortunate to have Professor Daniels join DEAL Co-Chairs Raquel Ramos and Shaya Gregory Poku to help engage our entire community in this important work. I look forward to working with them and every member of our community this fall and beyond.

I have taken several walks around campus in recent days to check on the preparations for the return of students and to see how other projects are progressing. It is truly inspiring to see all that has been done over the last several weeks and the great lengths that so many have gone to in order to create the safest possible environment for all here on campus. It also makes me so proud to be part of this community. I am equally inspired and proud to see the work that is being done beyond the preparation for a physical return to campus, such as our work to prepare for virtual learners and to continue conversations on important topics such as racism and social inequity. The bottom line is that this is a place where people really care about other people and seek ways to build an even stronger community for all. I see it every day and feel so blessed to be a part of all the great things happening here at Wheaton.

Have a wonderful weekend. I look forward to seeing you virtually or in person soon.

Dennis Hanno
President
Wheaton College