Coronavirus: Announcement From President Elaine C. Collins

Coronavirus: Announcement From President Elaine C. Collins

March 24, 2020

A Message from President Elaine C. Collins:

Dear NVU Students, Faculty, and Staff,

As you know from Chancellor Spaulding’s recent email, we have had to make some difficult decisions about the remainder of the spring semester at Northern Vermont University and the other Vermont State Colleges System (VSCS) residential institutions. NVU is extending remote instruction through the end of the semester and students will not be returning to the residence halls on April 6 as we had initially hoped.

Given how the COVID-19 global pandemic is rapidly and exponentially unfolding across our nation, this outcome likely seemed inevitable to many of you. Knowing this does not lessen how it feels for each of you and for our community as a whole. As I mentioned to you in an earlier email, this disruption to the cadence and traditions of your spring semester is heartbreaking to me, and I know it is to you as well.

That said, our main goal at this time is to keep you and the NVU community healthy and safe. At the forefront of our decisions to continue remote instruction through the end of the semester and to move quickly out of the residence halls, is our commitment to ensuring the health and safety of each of you and our neighboring community members.

Students, I know the remainder of the semester, full of traditions and anticipation for the completion of another year, means your college experience, like that of so many students across our country, is disrupted. This disruption is unparalleled in recent generations. Though you will not be on campus—enjoying time with friends, playing sports, acting in spring drama productions, singing and performing—each of us will be working diligently to bring you the education you deserve. In addition, staff will be creatively working to bring you as many NVU experiences as we possibly can, albeit in a virtual way.

Faculty, I recognize each of you is being called to lift yet again to make the remote learning experience the best it can be. It heartens me to see the creativity already taking place—virtual Facebook gathering spaces for departments, virtual storytelling sessions being planned, Zoom sessions with students, and so much more. Thank you for ensuring our students receive the best education they can during these times.

Staff, I cannot thank you enough for being on the frontlines to support our students as they transition to remote learning. Thank you also for your dedication and out-of-the-box thinking to bring the NVU experience to our students through virtual means. It is incredible to see.

Seniors, know that we will honor your graduation. Degrees will be conferred. You will graduate. We will honor the hard work and commitment you have made to earn your degree with a commencement ceremony for May 2020 graduates in May 2021. The ceremonies will be held on your campuses on the same day, but in a separate ceremony from the May 2021 commencement. Additionally, this spring we will create senior slideshows for each campus to be featured alongside other virtual celebratory experiences.

Let me pause here to reiterate the three decisions so they are clear to all of you.

Remote instruction will continue through the end of the spring semester for Northern Vermont University, Castleton­­ University, and Vermont Technical College. Look for a follow-up email from Provost Nolan Atkins tomorrow. Be aware that a policy related to pass/fail options will be forthcoming.

Residence halls will not reopen this semester, and the VSCS is requesting a rapid move-out to be completed by March 30. Because we cannot bring our students back for face-to-face instruction, Vermont Emergency Management has made a request that we prepare for the possibility of a public health crisis. If we are not using our residential facilities, these spaces can be of use to our neighboring communities during this crisis. For your health and safety and for our role as partners in the State of Vermont, we must ask our students to act with speed to remove their belongings from the residence halls. Vermont Emergency Management needs your help so we can assist our neighboring communities through this pandemic.

  • IMPORTANT NOTE: Details on the process, appeals, and dates and times for move out and retrieving your belongings will follow from Residential Life on each campus. We ask that you not return to campus until you have received instructions about the process.
  • We understand that some students may not have viable housing alternatives and we will provide an application process for emergency housing requests in these situations.
  • If students cannot make it back to the campuses for reasons beyond their control, we may arrange movers to pack up belongings and store them on site. Such moving will be at the student’s risk.
  • All off-campus students living in areas near our campuses should seriously consider returning home as soon as possible if that is an option.
  • The timeframe for the removal of belongings from the residence halls may change if state or federal orders are made to shelter in place.

Refunds for room and board. We recognize decisions around billing and refunds are critically important to our students. We will be doing the following:

  • Billing adjustments will be issued for room and board at a pro rata rate, dating back to March 16. For those still in residence, the adjustment will date to your last day on campus.
  • Students will receive their adjustment within 90 days of removing their belongings from the residence halls. Should we receive new directives from the Governor, we may need to adjust the timing and criteria for refunds.
  • Any questions about these adjustments should be directed to Student Administrative Services at StudentServices@NorthernVermont.edu after the adjustment has been made.

We know this is a disruption to your spring semester. We are here to support you in this move to remote instruction. Academic Support is here for you. Wellness and counseling services continue through remote means. We are here for you.

All, as we move to remote learning, it pains me that our students will not see our campuses turn over to spring, with trees coming into bloom and beginning to flower. I will miss the laughter on our pathways and in the hallways, frisbee on the quad and in Veterans Park, and seeing students lounging in hammocks beneath the pines.

I recognize that we are asking a great deal of each of you. COVID-19 is unparalleled. It will change the world. What it will not change is the grit, perseverance, heart, and action of NVU. North makes a difference that lasts.

Let’s do this.

Best,

Elaine