From the Interim Dean of Students: Returning to Campus

August 10, 2020

Dear Students,

I’m Daniel K. Cairo, your interim Dean of Students. I want to share my excitement for your return to campus while acknowledging the angst of returning during a global pandemic. Like many of you, I don’t know exactly what this academic year will look like. But I am also inspired by our staff and faculty, who are working around the clock to preserve the wonderful community we love. We understand that in order to maintain our community we must be delicate, graceful, and intentional in this uncharted territory; your safety is our primary concern.

Below is a compilation of the information that you’ve gotten lately. I know it is a lot, but you must read this information carefully and in its entirety. Your success and the well-being of our community starts with you staying informed about what the college is doing and what you need to do as well.

COVID-19 Safety Training

Before Fall Semester begins, all students, faculty, and staff will be required to complete a training webinar about coronavirus safety protocols. Look for a link to training on this week’s newsletter.

Assumption of Risk and Shared Responsibility

Taking steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 at Westminster College is a shared responsibility. Every member of our community–including you–must do their part. Westminster expects you to comply with the following health authority recommended practices; you must do so to ensure your own well-being, but also the well-being of others. By taking courses this coming year, you are acknowledging the risk of COVID-19 infection on campus and agreeing to share in the responsibility to follow all college and health-authority-recommended practices. Please read the assumption of risk and shared responsibility notice, which says that you are acknowledging the risk of COVID-19 infection on campus and agreeing to share in the responsibility to follow all college and health-authority-recommended practices.

Face coverings and physical distance

Face coverings must be properly worn at all times in all indoor spaces and indoor and outdoor classrooms. This includes the residence halls, especially in shared spaces outside of your apartment. Face coverings must be made of appropriate materials and cover both the nose and mouth; reusable cloth face covering must be made of doubled-layered fabric other than knits or fleece and completely cover both nose and mouth. Medical masks are also appropriate to use. Reusable cloth face coverings should be washed between each day of use or when they become visibly dirty. Disposable face coverings cannot be effectively cleaned for re-use. Coverings that are single-layer material, made of fleece or knits, or sitting below the nose are not acceptable. You must maintain physical distance, defined as 6 feet or more, when interacting with anyone in the Westminster community.

Contact Tracing App: Westminster Safe

Westminster will be launching a new contact tracing app, Westminster Safe, developed by Westminster alumnus Taymour Semnani (Ferry, LLC), which all students will be required to use. Westminster Safe tracks who you’ve been close to for 15 minutes or more and alerts you if you’ve had a known exposure to someone on campus who has tested positive for COVID-19. No data is collected by the college or any third party; data is stored on your smartphone only. The app does not identify who has been infected or who is being notified of exposure. It simply alerts Westminster Safe users that their device has been in proximity to the device of an infected person and testing is needed. Community adoption of Westminster Safe is a key part of keeping you, and our entire campus community, healthy and safe.

Office Visits

Departments and offices will be meeting with students by appointment only. The Westminster directory lists contact information for all staff and faculty on campus. Additionally, all departments and offices will have a listing on their doors with information regarding appointments. Know that some offices are not designed for in-person meetings; please be prepared to meet virtually or outside when possible.

Purchasing Food in Shaw

Please refer to campus dining for information on services and dining guidelines.

Student Code of Conduct and College COVID Policy 521

The college’s policy 521 on complying with COVID-19 guidance governs all students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors in all college-owned, leased, or operated facilities. The Student Handbook governs student conduct at Westminster, which includes COVID safety guidelines. Violations of the COVID 521 policy and/or the Student Handbook may result in sanctions and corrective actions up to and including suspension and/or expulsion as set forth in the Student Code of Conduct. Examples of violations are when a student does not comply with a request by a Westminster instructor to wear a face covering or refusal to wear a face covering or maintain social distance in the residence halls. Non-compliance may be anonymously reported via the incident report form.

Being Prepared: Residential Student Quarantine and Isolation

Westminster identified isolation and quarantine spaces for residential students who test positive for COVID-19 or are identified through the contact tracing process. Residential students placed in isolation or in quarantine will have the necessary support such as meals, bedding, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and assistance with faculty communication.

Preparation and planning are important. All residential students must have a safety bag by their room door that includes comfortable clothes, a book, a copy of each course syllabi, cell phone charger, and anything that might need if they are required to move to isolation or quarantine.

Move-in and Testing

All residential students must complete a COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2), Antigen FIA test, or PCR test 96 hours prior to moving into the residence halls. You must upload your test results to the COVID-19 test form. You will not be able to move in or receive keys without completing the form and submitting your results.

Testing sites are available across the country at community-based testing sites (many free of charge). You may also ask your primary care physician. You may need to tell them that you are required to be tested by your college. We recognize that it may not be possible for all students to get a test in advance. Those traveling from outside the Salt Lake area who are unable to get a test prior to arriving may schedule a test at Student Health Services. Student Health Services will have a limited number of appointments available on your arrival day.

If you are currently living in the Salt Lake area and cannot get a test at an off-campus location, please schedule a time to visit Student Health Services prior to August 14.

Testing at Student Health Services

To schedule a test on campus, please call Student Health Services at 801.832.2241 or 801.832.2239. Make sure to leave your name and phone number. You will receive a call back to schedule your appointment. You may also email studenthealthservices@westminstercollege.edu, but phone call scheduling is preferred.

The test itself will take approximately 20 minutes. You must complete the following steps before you arrive at Student Health Services for your testing appointment:

  1. Print out forms and complete them before coming to campus for your test.
  2. Create a barcode with your student ID number. Print it out and attach it to your COVID form in the box that says, “attach barcode here."

Keep in mind: After you get tested, stay home, avoid public places, keep physical distance (6 feet away from people) when leaving home for essential duties, and wear a face covering.

Testing at locations in Utah

Visit Utah’s coronavirus webpage to find testing locations throughout the state. You may need to tell them that you are required by your college to get tested. For your convenience, here is a list of locations performing tests without requiring symptoms:

  • First Med Urgent has 5 locations in Utah. Use their location finder to find one near you.
  • Walgreens in Taylorsville at 4668 S. Redwood Road—call 801.967.4942.
  • Sugar House Health Center, 1280 East Stringham Ave., Salt Lake City. Testing hours are Monday–Friday from 7:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m., Weekends and holidays, 8 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Call 801.587.0712 or toll free at 844.747.9325. University of Utah’s Sugar House location suggests early morning arrival to avoid anticipated long lines of students.

Orientation

New Student Orientation is dedicated to your transition and wellness. As Westminster prepares for your arrival to campus and attendance at New Student Orientation, we want to ensure we are following campus guidelines to safely assemble in person. All students, presenters, and campus partners are required to wear a face covering and practice social distancing (6 feet apart). Though students are asked to bring their own mask, you will receive a Westminster mask upon check-in at New Student Orientation, however, you should also bring your own masks so you have more than one.

The entire program will be conducted in small groups, led by a Griffin Orientation leader. Your small group will have a designated classroom as well as an outside space, allowing your group to practice social distancing from other small groups. All of your New Student Orientation sessions will be conducted in your small group, including some virtual sessions. Lastly, we’re asking all students to check daily for COVID-19 symptoms prior, during, and after New Student Orientation. Each New Student Orientation day, you will be asked wellness questions to ensure all students participating in New Student Orientation are feeling symptom-free.

Convocation

Convocation will be a televised event. Students will meet with their GO groups at 8 a.m. for breakfast and then move to the televised event.

Course Instruction and Classroom Procedures

Check to see how your fall courses will be taught! Things have likely changed since you registered. Most classes are now “hybrid,” which means they will be offered with a combination of in-person and online instruction. “Hybrid” courses will hold at least 25% of the course in person. “Virtual/remote” courses will be synchronous (held in real time as scheduled) but will not include in-person teaching. Most courses will be held in classrooms with technology that allows you to participate remotely, but you need to contact your professors to be sure that their classrooms have that capability. Many in-person classes will be taught in outdoor classrooms, so be prepared to dress accordingly.

Many classroom protocols have been adopted to comply with public health guidelines and to ensure a safe learning environment. Room capacities have been adjusted to support social distancing. As mentioned above, in all teaching spaces faculty and students must wear face coverings at all times, maintain minimum 6-foot social distancing, regularly wash their hands, and disinfect classrooms and instructional equipment before and after use. No consumption of any food or drink will be allowed in classrooms, both indoor and outdoor. You will be turned away or asked to leave a classroom or office if you fail to comply with a face covering request.

Face shields may only be used in addition to face coverings, not instead of them. Student Disability Services can provide face coverings with clear mouth portions that can be used to assist people who lip read. Students may request accommodations from Student Disability Services if they are unable to comply with those policies. Please contact Jody Katz (jkatz@westminstercollege.edu or 801.832.2289) in Student Disability Services for more information.

Care Packages and Masks

All students will receive a safety care package which includes 1 mask, hand sanitizer, and a COVID-19 resource bookmark. New students will receive their care package during New Student Orientation while returning students can pick up their care package in Richer Commons August 18–20.

Wellness

This is a stressful time for everyone. As a campus community, we are dealing with something that none of us have experienced before and involves many areas of uncertainty. New information is made available daily, and sometimes the COVID-19 guidance that we become accustomed to changes because of it. We have had to re-invent our customary way of doing things in circumstances which impact every aspect of our lives.

Take care of yourself and others during this unprecedented time. Monitor your mental health and physical health, such as paying close attention to your moods, stress levels, or change in motivation. Proactively manage your stress and wellness by being physically active, eating regularly, drinking lots of water, getting adequate sleep, honing your time management skills, and building your support system. Staff from the Fitness, Wellness, and Recreation Department are a great resource to proactively take care of yourself and your peers. Reach out to the Counseling Center to access mental health assistance or any staff from Student Well-Being and Support.

Utah COVID-19 counseling resources

Utah has made free counseling resources available to anyone feeling COVID-19 related stress. Every day of the week from 7:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m. you can call or text 385.386.2289, or email your first name and phone number to UtahStrong@utah.gov to be connected to mental health resources.

In Conclusion

Yes, this is going to be an interesting academic year. But now more than ever, we need our community to come together. As you try to balance the academic year, continue to strive in learning but also in laughter, love, and caring for peers and everyone in our community. Westminster College is not unique as we face COVID-19, but we are Griffins and we will soar through this together.

Daniel K. Cairo Ed.D
Interim Dean of Students

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