Responsibilities and expectations for students this fall – August 21, 2020
The fall semester is almost here, and it's going to be unlike any other fall in Framingham’s history. Over the summer our Continuity Teams have been re-engineering learning, student life, and campus facilities to protect community health and safety while helping students make the most of their FSU experience during the pandemic.
We write to you now to explain what will be different for all on- and off-campus students during the pandemic, the importance of following the protective rules and guidelines we've put in place, and the consequences of not following them. We want to level with the students planning to return to campus next week: FSU this fall is going to bear little resemblance to the FSU you're accustomed to experiencing. If you have accepted an invitation to live on campus this fall and change your mind after reading this message, don't worry--you can cancel your housing assignment without a penalty until August 26.
STUDENT LIFE ON CAMPUS
Academics: The majority of classes and academic experiences will be conducted remotely this fall. We have learned a lot since the spring and have invested in new ways to collaborate and build community virtually. Preserving FSU quality and academic rigor are top priorities, but, admittedly, the remote experience will be different and will present challenges. We take these steps to safeguard the health of everyone involved. Even those classes meeting on campus may have some changes to format and will require adherence to social distancing and other rules that are in place to keep everyone as safe as possible. To learn more about the exact format your on-campus classes will take, you can contact the instructor directly. Please note that since our initial email about which classes are being held on campus additional classes have been moved on-line. Please visit the Registrar’s Fall 2020 subject listing and schedule for more information on class format.
Initial COVID Testing: If you are living and or learning on-campus you will receive an email telling you how to sign up for testing. Residential students must receive a test within 24 hours of moving-in. Commuter students taking classes on campus must complete their onboarding COVID testing by September 1st. If you do not take the test you may be removed from housing and/or asked to take your classes remotely until you complete a test.
Ongoing Testing and Attestation: Students living on campus or coming to campus must evaluate their wellbeing daily using the FSUgo app and clicking on “symptom tracker.” If you are experiencing any of the listed symptoms you must contact the Health Center or your primary care provider. You must also get tested every other Tuesday throughout the semester. Information about how to make those appointments will be in the testing information email.
Residence Halls: The only people allowed in the residence halls will be current residents of the specific hall in which they live, and individuals authorized to be present for work/service-related reasons. Social distancing guidelines will be in place, and there is a limit on gatherings. Be mindful that many of the COVID-19 case spikes in university towns have occurred at off-campus gatherings of students. Thus, we ask students to follow social distancing and face mask guidelines while off campus and to pay attention to the Commonwealth’s guidelines about groups.
Dining: Framingham State University Dining has developed a careful and systematic approach that will keep students, faculty, staff, and guests who dine on campus safe and healthy. The plan includes reduced dine-in seating capacity based on regulatory social distance guidelines in all locations, reservations must be made, and students enter through the annex door. Seating will be limited to 30 minutes. There has been a replacement of self-serve, unattended buffets, topping bars, drink stations, and other communal serving areas as defined by regulatory guidelines with similar options. There is a robust mobile ordering and platform in place for all campus restaurants to encourage take-out. There are extensive take-out menu selections available to accommodate reduced dine-in capacity and to promote social distancing. Students picking up take-out will enter and exit on the 2nd floor. Face coverings are required for all guests and employees. There are expanded seating options for commuter students, signage delineating traffic patterns, and queuing space and to encourage social distancing while dining.
Athletics: The Athletic Center will be opening in phases with both restrictions on occupancy and permitted activities. Masks will be required for ALL activities. The old gym will open on Monday, August 31st, the new gym will follow on Wednesday, September 2nd, both with limited hours. The weight room will follow after the initial COVID-19 onboard testing is complete. Please note that we will close a location for failure to follow the posted rules. Please ensure you wear your mask and have your FSU student ID with you at all times.
Student Community Health Compact: Sign the Student Community Health Compact and refer to the University COVID Website or the FSU Student Navigating Your Return to Campus webpage for updated information.
Support for Students Who Test Positive: We must be prepared for community members to test positive for the virus or to get sick. If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, call the Health Center at 508-626-4900. For any student who tests positive for COVID-19, the first option is to return home to recuperate. You have already been asked to provide emergency transportation and off-campus medical support plans. We realize that, due to extenuating circumstances, some students may not have suitable off-campus housing in which to isolate. We have some rooms reserved for isolation on campus that we can use for students on a case-by-case basis.
To students living off campus: it is just as crucial for you to fulfill your responsibilities during this period as it is for students living on campus. The City of Framingham issued an executive order for face mask wearing for anyone in public over the age of two on April 17, almost three weeks prior to the state’s mandate. Be aware of the city’s rules about social distancing and social gatherings. Don't throw parties or organize gatherings. Dissuade friends from visiting your homes or apartments. Keep in touch with each other virtually.
The news is replete with stories about outbreaks following close-contact gatherings. We cannot let that happen, whether you are living on or off campus: We follow the science. We believe the researchers. We understand that the virus spreads through close contact with other people. We know that no one is immune from Covid-19 –including you.
Most of all, at FSU, we don't put other community members at risk – not our friends, not our faculty, not the staff who support us all, not our neighbors. So please be part of the solution and adhere to these important policies.
Consequences. Given that we are in the midst of an unprecedented global health emergency, we believe that we're doing what is necessary and that failure to follow these mandatory rules must have serious and swift consequences. We understand that the “new normal” is a difficult adjustment, but to keep the FSU community safe you must abide by the Student Code of Conduct, which includes COVID-19 regulations and procedures. Failure to abide by the Student Code of Conduct may result in serious consequences that could cause a student to be removed from the residence halls and/or be expelled. We are all in this together and everyone needs to do their part.
These individual consequences may seem harsh. But the community consequences of a well-intended gathering that gives rise to a serious outbreak of the virus could be catastrophic. Students, faculty, and staff may be hospitalized with acute illness. Our campus may be depopulated, and students sent home again. Depending on conditions, our plans to welcome more students back to campus this spring may have to change. And it could all start with what might seem like a harmless party, gaming session, study group, or coffee date. Do not allow yourself or people you care about to take these risks. Your community is relying on you.
FSU’s decision to stick with our reopening plan, even in light of current conditions and what is happening at other universities, is grounded in our trust that FSU students will rise to the challenge. This experience has been painful for everyone, particularly for students. COVID has forced you to sacrifice precious time and experiences during your college careers, and we empathize with you. If everyone focuses on working on the problem, we can help our on- and off-campus communities stay healthy and safe this fall and beyond.
If you read this message and decide that this restrictive environment is not for you, we understand completely. As we stated earlier, fall 2020 residents have until August 26 to cancel their on-campus housing assignment without penalty through the myResLife portal. If you decide to return, we will welcome you warmly and be very glad to see you, even if we're standing six feet away with our faces covered!
Please contact us if you have any questions. Thank you for taking your role in protecting yourself and FSU seriously, and for being thoughtful partners as we navigate these challenging times together.
Dr. Lorretta Holloway
Vice President for Student Development and Enrollment Management
Dr. Meg Nowak Borrego
Dean of Students