Reactivating Campus in Fall 2020, July 8

From: Michael S. Roth <announcement@wesleyan.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, July 8, 2020 11:02 AM
To: Renee Johnson Thornton <rjohnson01@wesleyan.edu>
Subject: Reactivating Campus in Fall

Dear friends,

As promised in my June message, I am writing now with more specificity concerning our plans to reactivate campus in late August. Since our first priority is the health and safety of our community members, these plans may have to be adjusted in response to changing public health conditions. Whatever these challenging conditions may be, we intend to provide an excellent educational experience (on campus or remotely).

We have developed a robust set of resources on our website about our campus reactivation, including information on instruction and campus lifehealth and safety, and returning to work on campus. Here are some highlights:

We will begin fall classes on August 31 (one week earlier than initially scheduled), with the possibility of finishing the semester online after Thanksgiving (there will be no traditional fall break). Students will be asked to avoid large gatherings in the weeks before coming to campus and to take increasing precautions, in addition to wearing masks and social distancing. Students who are able to get tested will be encouraged to determine that they are negative for Covid-19 within 48 hours of traveling to campus. Everyone on campus will be tested shortly after arrival, and there will be frequent testing on a regular basis thereafter. Those on campus who test positive for Covid-19 will be provided with supportive isolation until they are no longer contagious. Students who test positive will be able to continue their coursework remotely.

Faculty have been given the choice as to whether they will teach their classes in person, remotely, or in some combination. It is likely that many students will have a portion of their instruction online, whether they return to campus or not. While some staff members will continue to work remotely, there will be a presence of staff on campus.  Apart from the commuting of employees (who will be tested for the virus), we expect little travel to campus.  There will be no program of intercollegiate sports or club sports, but we do plan to have safe athletic training on campus.

Despite the economic challenges we are all contending with, Wesleyan remains firmly committed to both enrolling a socio-economically diverse student body and meeting the full demonstrated need of our financial aid students. Given new regulations from Washington, Wesleyan is particularly concerned about our international students, and we are committed to doing all we can to ensure that they can continue to make academic progress in Fall 2020.

Please consult the website for detailed information most relevant to your own circumstances, and feel free to reach out to the appropriate department with your questions. We will continually update this site with more information as it becomes available. We will send out another community message in August, or sooner depending on the public health trajectory. Obviously, we are very concerned about the recent surge in cases in the South and West and are monitoring the situation closely. Our plans may have to change.

We believe in the value of an on-campus education, and the basic steps we need to take are clear. The simple act of wearing a mask consistently reduces the likelihood of transmission. Masks combined with rigorous testing, tracing and supportive isolation will make our campus safer. I look forward to a fall semester in which we take good care of one another and continue to excel in learning together.

Sincerely,

Michael S. Roth

President

Fall Housing Information 5_29_2020

From: Renee Johnson Thornton <rjohnson01@wesleyan.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, July 7, 2020 10:23 AM
To: jr_deanofc <jr_deanofc@lyris.wesleyan.edu>
Subject: Fw: important Fall housing information for juniors Dear 2022’ers – I hope you are safe and healthy. with the high volume of emails, I am receiving I am reserving half of my lunch hour to be available by Zoom. Please stop in anytime between 12 pm – 12:30 pm, this week (Tuesday – Friday) for general Q&A. You may signup using my calendar link for individual appointments (early morning for GMT or afternoon for EST). For now, please find below important information concerning campus housing this fall.
Sincerely, Dean Thornton

Renee Johnson-Thornton, PhD         Dean for the Class of 2022    Class of 2022 blog           

Sign up for Appointments using my Google calendar link to meet in my virtual office located at https://wesleyan.zoom.us/j/7551160784
Learn about our plans for reactivating the campus this fall.


From: Fran Koerting <fkoerting@wesleyan.edu>
Sent: Monday, June 29, 2020 5:38 PM
To: Renee Johnson Thornton <rjohnson01@wesleyan.edu>
Subject: important Fall housing information for juniors
Dear Members of the Class of 2022,

I hope this email finds you safe and healthy. We recognize that these difficult circumstances will impact the ability of some of our students to be on campus for the fall semester.  In the past, we have randomly assigned a student who does not yet have housing to vacancies as they develop.  This year, in hopes of creating a win-win situation for all students involved, we will give you the opportunity to request that a particular student fill the vacancy, if the member of your housing unit notifies their class dean by July 17 that they are planning to take a leave of absence or study remotely for the fall semester.  After that date, there will not be enough time to accommodate such requests, and ResLife will assign someone to it.  Therefore, please encourage your friends to notify their class dean as soon as possible.  Simply email reslife@wesleyan.edu with your request and copy the student you would like to pull in.  Please note that the person you pull into your unit must be class appropriate and not already committed to a program house or community based living program.

In addition, we plan to release a number of juniors and seniors to off campus status for the 2020-21 academic year.  Students who are released will receive a credit of 60% of the Residential Comprehensive Fee.  The balance covers meals and student fees.  If you are interested in being put on the waitlist for off campus, please submit this form.  Priority will be given to individuals whose entire housing unit is interested over those who would leave a partially vacant unit, and to those who do not yet have a housing assignment.  Offers will be made on a rolling basis, beginning July 6, and you will have an opportunity to secure off campus housing before being removed from your housing assignment, if you already selected one.

Should you have any questions, please email me at fkoerting@wesleyan.edu

Stay safe,

Fran Koerting
Director of Residential Life

Greetings continuing and new members of Class of 2022

Dear members of the Class of 2022!

I hope you are managing your health and wellness with a steady dose of gentle self-care while supporting  others. Big welcome! to the newest cohorts of students transferring into the Classes of 2022 or 2023! Please keep a watch for future opportunities to meet, greet, and support each other.

I was encouraged by President Roth’s recent announcement that the university will return to a model of residential campus living and learning on August 31, 2020 and I appreciate the level of leniency you have (and I hope will continue) to exercise to me, as your class dean and to others associated with the university as we do our best to support your academic and personal health, development, and goals.

Now, I know that most folks remain uncertain about their Fall plans to return to physical campus. Please rest assure that President Roth’s recent request to submit an intention form is non-binding and should be approached as a way for us to estimate (roughly) the level of residential and instructional spaces will must reserve to align with CT state and local COVID-19 mitigation mandates. So, if you have not already submitted the form, please do so now with the assurance that no formal action will be taken unless you follow up with submission of a Leave of Absence form.

Thank you! to the countless members of the Class of 2022 who are taking gentle care of yourselves, family/friends, and each other, while also doing the difficult and intentional work to self-educate and/or advocate for elimination of racism and bigotry, viruses like COVID-19, that harms us all.

I miss you all and invite you to stop-by for an open group gathering today, Thursday, June 18 from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EST using: https://wesleyan.zoom.us/j/98280688055;

As always, please feel free to sign up using my calendar link for an individual meeting.

Sending positive vibes and encouragement your way for continued good health and safety,

Dean Thornton

Move Out Deadline for Housing 5/30/2020

From: All Students on campus <all_studenton-l@wesleyan.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, May 19, 2020 4:25 PM
To: All Students on campus <all_studenton-l@wesleyan.edu>
Subject: Reminder- Move Out Deadline for Housing 5/30

Good Afternoon,

During inspections of residential spaces on campus, we found a significant number of spaces that appeared to still have belongings left behind. We have already assigned a date/time to return to campus for those students who have been in contact with us in order to complete their move outs and retrieve their belongings.

If you have not yet received an assigned date from ResLife to complete your move out: you need to email reslife@wesleyan.edu regarding availability to return to campus between May 22nd and May 30th to complete the move-out process.

Do not plan to return to campus without an approved date/time from ResLife.

If you show up to campus outside of your approved date/time, you may experience a significant delay in being provided access to your housing assignment and will be assessed a judicial point for non-compliance.

If you have not yet received an assigned date, but do not need to physically return to campus due to coordinating with other students, family, or a moving company to retrieve your belongings on your behalf- please let us know by emailing reslife@wesleyan.edu if you have not already done so.

Items and belongings not approved to remain in residential spaces past the extended move out deadline of May 30th will be discarded.  If you left belongings that you would like to be discarded/donated, please let us know by emailing reslife@wesleyan.edu.

As a reminder, guidelines and expectations for the move-out process can be found on the ResLife website:https://www.wesleyan.edu/reslife/_internal/Move%20Out%20Guidlines%20.html

Best,

Kieran

Kieran J. Duffy ( He, Him pronouns)
Assistant Director of Residential Life
Wesleyan University
237 High Street
Middletown, CT 06459
(860) 685-3429

Wesleyan Public Health Update 5_20_2020

From: Tom McLarney, MD <announcement@wesleyan.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, May 20, 2020 9:30 AM
To: Renee Johnson Thornton <rjohnson01@wesleyan.edu>
Subject: Public Health Update

To the Wesleyan Community,

Ask any driver about what irritates them, and you are likely to hear about other drivers who drive too slowly, and those who drive too fast. These tend to be subjective observations, but speed limits do give us objective guidance as to the appropriate speed of travel.

Unfortunately, there are no posted speed limits or minimum speeds listed for reopening a state. This week in Connecticut, Governor Ned Lamont has announced a phased-in reopening beginning today, May 20. I would like to discuss this from a public health perspective.

As some offices, retail businesses, restaurants, and other establishments begin to re-open, my take-home message to you all is: proceed with caution. If at all possible, continue to stay home. I urge continued self-isolation even more strongly for anyone over 65 years of age, or those who have medical conditions that place them at high risk.

At Wesleyan, the majority of faculty and staff will continue to work from home for the time being. In his announcement, Governor Lamont has permitted university research labs to reopen. As with the other sectors, this is not a mandate to reopen. Wesleyan is making plans for faculty and staff to return to work including reopening research labs in accordance with state guidelines, and detailed information is forthcoming.

On its website, the state has posted rules for each sector of the economy on reopening. General guidelines for all sectors include:

  • Promote social distancing by placing tables, chairs, etc. 6 feet or more apart.
  • Many facilities will have a 50 percent capacity limit, and no waiting areas.
  • When applicable to the business, service by appointment only.
  • Employees and patrons will be required to wear face coverings (which may be removed if eating or drinking).
  • Employees will be required to stay home when ill.
  • Staggered shifts for employees.
  • Employees should work at home if possible.
  • Touch-free appliances (soap and paper towel dispensers, automatic doors, etc.).
  • Meticulous sanitizing between customers/patrons.
  • Businesses to log employee shifts and whereabouts to help with contact tracing, if needed.

It’s important to remember that even if a business is complying with all the reopening recommendations, there is no guarantee of how safe it is to visit. It may be prudent to wait two or three weeks before going to a shop or restaurant, for example, to see if there is a spike in Covid-19 cases after the reopening. If there is, then we would suspect safety measures aren’t working.

If you do go out, do your best to maintain a 6-foot distance (imagine an inflated inner tube around your waist), don’t touch your face, and try not to touch things such as paper towel dispensers, sinks, door handles, etc. Take the stairs rather than the elevator, when possible, and never enter a crowded elevator. In a business setting, don’t use any shared equipment (phones, keyboards, etc.) when possible, or at least disinfect between users. Follow the instructions on the state’s website, follow your gut, and err on the side of caution.

From a public health perspective, it is anticipated that any re-opening in our state will result in an increase of Covid-19 cases. These need to be kept at a minimum and preparations must be in place to address increased cases. Once again, I urge you to proceed with caution and to consider staying home if at all possible, especially if you have added risk factors.

In closing, I wish you all health and safety. We are all suffering from “pandemic fatigue,” but try to embrace the positives, such as more time with family and the beautiful spring weather. I also want to congratulate all the members of the Class of 2020.  As you wrap up your time at Wesleyan, you deserve extra recognition for your strength, flexibility, and resilience these past few months.  Best wishes for success in your future endeavors!

Tom McLarney, MD

Wesleyan Public Health Update 5_7_20

Thu 5/7/2020 4:03 PM
To the Wesleyan Community,

Once again, I hope this note finds you all safe and well. My thoughts go out to all of you who have been personally affected by Covid-19.

As we continue to follow the course of this pandemic, we see parts of our country (and the world) start the process of reopening while other areas brace for possible increased cases of Covid-19. As of this week, Connecticut has over 30,000 confirmed cases and over 2,000 deaths, but has seen an overall significant decline in hospitalizations over the past two weeks. Governor Lamont is looking at criteria for beginning to re-open the state, including 14 days of decreased hospitalizations; adequate testing, personal protective equipment (PPE), and healthcare capacity; substantial contact tracing; and protection of high-risk populations. If these goals are met, we may see a partial re-opening by May 20.

What is new?

In my last update, I briefly mentioned that the drug Remdesivir was being evaluated in clinical trials. Since last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved this anti-viral medication to treat Covid-19 following a clinical trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) showing efficacy. This study was a randomized, double-blind study (meaning neither the provider nor the patient knew who was receiving Remdesivir or the placebo; this helps eliminate bias in a clinical study) with over a thousand patients enrolled. Efficacy was demonstrated in 50 percent of the patients receiving Remdesivir. The patients who received the medication improved by day 10 and 11 (depending on whether the medication was administered for five or 10 days) compared with the placebo group, which improved at 15 days on average. The death rate was 8 percent for those receiving Remdesivir and 11.6 percent for those receiving placebo. (This, however, did not meet the criteria for being statistically significant).

Remdesivir has a good track record showing safety in humans when trialed a few years back during the Ebola outbreak. It works by mimicking the amino acid adenosine in the virus’s RNA, which causes it not to be able to replicate or infect. (It’s kind of like replacing the fuel injector in your car with the wrong part. Your car is not going to run.) Of course, this is only one study and more research is needed. A prior study conducted in Wuhan with over 200 patients and published in The Lancet was inconclusive. If Remdesivir is ultimately able to decrease hospital stays, it will reduce the chance of hospitals becoming overwhelmed.

Progress is also being made on antibody testing. The FDA has approved a number of tests under the EUA (Emergency Use Authorization Act). At this time, we do not know how sensitive or specific these tests are. Nor do we know if a test showing past exposure to Covid-19 means that a person has protective immunity. Further research and time will tell.

Last week I discussed potential issues with Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors and Angiotensin Receptor Blockers for patients with Covid-19. The New England Journal of Medicine published the results of three observational studies that, when taken together, seem to indicate that Covid is not worsened by these medications. Thanks to the parent who shared an article with me that theorizes these medications may actually help with recovery from Covid by increasing the ACE-2 receptor that is free floating in our blood, which traps the virus. If found to be true through further studies, that would be great news.

Researches are also looking for other, less invasive ways to test for active Covid-19. Anyone who has had the nasal swab performed will tell you it is about a millimeter shy of a brain biopsy. Thanks to another parent who shared a paper noting that a saliva test out of Rutgers University’s Human Genetics Institute has been approved by the FDA (under the EUA). There are also some initial studies being done in California looking at swabbing the cheek. At this time though the nasal swab still remains the gold standard.

Please continue to send me questions, comments, and other information you think might be useful to share with the community.

As we move forward, common sense and reason will be our best allies. Be safe. I truly believe our researchers and scientists will get us to where we need to be. Yes, the future is uncertain, but we all have each other and will get through this together.

Tom McLarney, MD

Updated Move Out Timeline: Retrieving Belongings

From: All Students on campus <all_studenton-l@wesleyan.edu>
Sent: Monday, May 4, 2020 4:12 PM
To: All Students on campus <all_studenton-l@wesleyan.edu>
Subject: Updated Move Out Timeline: Retrieving Belongings

Good Afternoon!

I’m reaching out today to provide some updates regarding the move-out process for those students who still have belongings on campus.  If you have already completed your move out, returned your key, and don’t have any belongings left on campus, please disregard this message.

If you have belongings left on campus:

If you have been approved for an extension to the move out timeline or have other extenuating circumstances that resulted in belongings being left on campus, you need to collect your belongings by May 30th.  We are planning to facilitate access for students to return to campus to retrieve their belongings between May 22nd – May 30th.  Due to the ongoing public health crisis, the move out process is more restrictive than usual.  You should use the form linked below to indicate your availability to complete the remainder of your move out.  We will use this information to assign you a date within the 5/22 – 5/30 range, based on your availability, during which we will be able to provide access to your room.

Move Out Form

Please complete and submit the form by Thursday, May 7th at 12:00 PM.

You should take a moment to review the overview of the move out process and guidelines found on the ResLife page here: Move Out Guidelines and FAQ’s

If you have any questions that are not already covered in the guidelines and FAQ’s page, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at reslife@wesleyan.edu!

Best,

Kieran

Kieran J. Duffy ( He, Him pronouns)
Assistant Director of Residential Life
Wesleyan University
237 High Street
Middletown, CT 06459
(860) 685-3429

Wes COVID-19 Public Health Update 4_15_2020

From: Tom McLarney, MD <announcement@wesleyan.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2020 4:56 PM
To: Renee Johnson Thornton <rjohnson01@wesleyan.edu>
Subject: Public Health Update

To the Wesleyan Community,

I trust this note finds everyone in good health. I write today with another public health update on the coronavirus pandemic.

Since my last update, the CDC has announced that there will be antibody testing available within the next few weeks, which will measure two antibodies: Immunoglobulin M (IgM) and Immunoglobulin G (IgG).

Let me offer a quick Immunology 101 lesson: When we are exposed to an illness, our body produces IgM to fight it. During our recovery period, we produce IgG, which in many instances (but not all) gives us lifetime protection against the illness.  If a person is IgM negative and IgG positive, this suggests they had the disease and are now recovered with hopefully long-term protection.  If one is IgM positive and IgG negative, this suggests that they have the active disease and have not yet produced the protective antibody. If one is IgG and IgM negative, this suggests they have never been exposed to the disease or are incapable of producing antibodies. If one is both IgG and IgM positive, they may be early in the recovery phase or one of the tests is a false positive. What does all this mean? In theory, from a societal point of view, if one is IgM negative and IgG positive for COVID-19, they may be able to return to work without fear of contracting COVID-19. If one is IgG negative, they remain at risk for contracting COVID-19 and need to avoid exposure.

While this testing offers important information for the eventual re-opening of society and return to “business as usual,” there are still many critical questions left to answer. What are the sensitivity and specificity of these tests? In other words, what is the chance of getting a false positive or negative? Does a positive IgG correlate with lifetime immunity (as we see in chicken pox, measles, mumps, etc.) or will we be at risk for reinfection (such as influenza or strep throat)? When a vaccine is available and is given to those who are IgG negative, how long will it take after the injection for the full effect? And what is the percent of people who will be fully protected from the vaccine?

Fortunately, we have many bright scientists working to answer all these questions.  In many cases, it is a matter of time.

On another note, I had the pleasure of speaking with Father Bill Wallace, Wesleyan’s Catholic chaplain, last week.  He reminded me that the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (OSRL) is a wonderful resource to help our students who are dealing with the stressors of isolation, fear of contracting COVID-19, and the major and abrupt changes in routine we are all experiencing.  Our emotional, behavioral, and spiritual well-being is certainly being put to the test. We are lucky to have both the OSRL and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) here on campus.  Contact information for all the University’s chaplains can be found here, while CAPS can be reached at counseling@wesleyan.edu or (860) 685-2910. Faculty and staff may contact the Employee Assistance Program at (800) 854-1446.

I would be remiss if I didn’t continue to stress the principles of physical distancing.  Presently this is our best (if not our only) option to ‘’flatten the curve’’ and this appears to be happening.  We cannot let our guard down now. It’s important for everyone to follow these steps:

  1. Wear a face covering when in public. This is to decrease the risk of spreading COVID-19 as infected people can be asymptomatic for two days prior to symptoms or may be completely asymptomatic.
  2. Maintain a distance of 6 feet (2 meters) from others.
  3. Do not meet in groups of over five people.
  4. Wash hands frequently.
  5. Do not touch your face. Be especially cognizant when donning or doffing your masks.
  6. Cough into the crook of your arm.
  7. Avoid people who are ill.
  8. Wipe down frequently touched surfaces, such as door knobs.

We will continue to forge ahead caring for ourselves and others while maintaining appropriate distancing. We are in this together and will take each day as it comes.

Stay well, be safe, be kind,

Tom McLarney, MD