May 14, 2020: Update on Planning for Gradual Return to On-Campus Operations
Dear Faculty and Staff:
Today, I am writing to share with you the process we have begun to develop comprehensive scenario plans for our gradual and safe return to campus. Our goal is to restore on-campus operations for Fall 2020 to the extent possible. Maintaining the health and well-being of the Wentworth community is, and will continue to be, the core consideration in our planning and decision-making moving forward.
This process taking place over Summer 2020 is two-fold – planning and then implementation. We are currently in the planning stage – evaluating possible academic, residential living, and return to work models that allow for necessary physical distancing. Physical distancing necessitates planning for lower density of students, faculty, and staff physically located on campus at any given time.
We will not finalize our decisions about how to proceed operationally until July 1, 2020. This provides us with seven crucial weeks for developing comprehensive options that allow us to maintain flexibility in decision-making and the appropriate time frame to monitor COVID-19 infection levels, assess government and public health advisories, and ensure that we are prepared to successfully implement the chosen direction. Once we decide how we will proceed, we will have eight additional weeks to implement all components of the plan we have selected. And, while we will pick a particular path to pursue, I ask that we keep in mind the need for continued flexibility leading up to the opening of the fall semester as conditions remain less than certain, and we may need to alter our plans.
For the scenario planning and implementation process, we have engaged a business continuity professional named Thomas A. Gaitley of Copper Harbor Consulting, Inc. to facilitate all aspects of our work. We have formed seven working teams that are focused on the following critical areas:
- Students (led by Annamaria Wenner – Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students)
- Academic (led by Rich Hansen – Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost)
- Faculty/Staff (led by Mary Ellen Keeney – Interim Vice President for Human Resources)
- Campus Infrastructure (led by Dave Wahlstrom – Vice President for Business)
- Financial/Legal (led by Bob Totino – Vice President for Finance)
- Communications (led by Amy Intille – Vice President for Executive Affairs)
- Situation Monitoring and Tracking (led by Mark Thompson – President)
These seven teams will submit recommendations to the Re-Entry Planning Team, which I will lead and is comprised of members of my senior team. I will make decisions based upon the input of all of these eight teams, which includes guidance from Director of Compliance and Risk Management Brian Burns, Director of Environmental Health and Safety Mike Malmberg, and Director of Emergency Management Bryan Sears.
As the planning efforts of these teams evolve, I will continue to provide you with timely and transparent communications. As with our enrollment management efforts and remote teaching this summer, we need each of you to continue the important contributions you are making right now to our collective success to maintain our momentum. We are all depending upon one another. There are many unknown factors for us in the weeks ahead, but we will be focused on making thoughtful decisions for students, faculty, and staff balancing health and safety with offering the best possible educational opportunities for our students.
Please continue to be patient with yourselves and your colleagues. I am confident that we will emerge from this public health crisis an even stronger and more supportive community.
Mark A. Thompson, Ph.D.