Brandeis sends students home due to growing concerns over COVID-19, all events cancelled

Brandeis sends students home due to growing concerns over COVID-19, all events cancelled

March 13, 2020

All Brandeis classes with more than 100 students will move online by Monday, March 16 and the last day of in-person instruction for all classes, regardless of size, will be Friday, March 20, according to an email sent to members of the Brandeis community on March 11 by President Ron Liebowitz. There are not any recognized Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases that the university is aware of in students, faculty, staff or in the Waltham area, according to a March 11 email from the Student Union following an interview with Provost Lisa Lynch.

All undergraduates living in on-campus housing are asked not to return to campus after noon on Wednesday, March 25. They may begin moving out of their housing earlier and will not be penalized in their classes if they choose to leave campus. Students can move out by visiting their Quad Office to receive an official check-out envelope, according to an email from the Department of Community Living (DCL).

“COVID-19 presents the Brandeis community with an unprecedented challenge due to daily changes in guidance from state and federal authorities and the lack of knowledge of the virus,” reads Liebowitz’s email. “It is clear, however, that we must take steps to help limit the spread of the coronavirus by reducing our density of population on campus. Doing so will reduce the risk of the spread of virus within the community, especially among those most vulnerable.” The Passover and Spring Recess dates have been moved to March 23-25, April 9-10 and April 15-16. 

Undergraduates will be allowed to remain on campus in the residence halls on a case-by-case basis, but they will need permission from DCL. Examples of students for whom exceptions would be made include international students, those with ongoing on-campus jobs, those who do not have a home to go to where they would be able to continue their online classes or for whom going home is not an option, according to the email. 

Financial Aid

“Students moving out of university residence halls will receive a prorated refund for room and meal plan charges—meaning that the university will refund departing students for the portion of the spring semester they will not be living in their residence hall and using dining services,” according to an email update sent to the community from the Brandeis Health Center on March 12. “These adjustments, as well as any changes to need-based financial aid, will be calculated and applied to students’ accounts after students move out of university housing. Dining services will remain available for students who receive permission from the Department of Community Living to stay on campus, or who will continue to live off-campus in Waltham.”

If you are concerned about how to afford going back home or have other financial concerns,  the Brandeis Health Center website says that you should contact the Office of Student Financial Services to discuss options that may be available.

Academics

Faculty will make accommodations for students who leave campus prior to March 21, including exams. Class attendance and participation policies will be revised to indicate that students’ grades will not be penalized due to the need to accommodate health needs, a student departure from campus before March 21 or the move of all academic work online.

The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) will support this transition to online classes. 

“This will not be the same experience as having class in person by any stretch of the imagination,” said Lynch in an email to The Brandeis Hoot. “But after meeting with department chairs today and talking with faculty and the Deans I am impressed with the creativity and thought that faculty members are putting into reimagining and remapping their courses. This is not the experience any of us imagined but we will get through this most unprecedented time.”

The email says that if a student has a class with “unreasonable levels of projects/work due throughout this week,” they should contact the department chair. The email says that under existing guidelines laid down by the university, professors cannot force students to remain on campus in order to complete a test, exam, lab assignment or other projects.

“Zoom has been upgraded across campus to be able to accomodate 500 individuals at a time,” reads the email from the Student Union. “All materials are trying to be made as accessible as possible—Brandeis has outlined guidelines on how professors can make technology accessible, as well as three copiers on campus that turn all resources accessible.”

The Brandeis Bookstore is extending free shipping site-wide so that students can access materials without coming to the store’s on-campus location, according to an email from the Brandeis Bookstore sent to the community on March 12. The bookstore will most likely remain open on campus with limited hours as long as university dining services are open, according to a bookstore employee. Students may bring rental textbooks home if they are needed to complete the semester, the employee said.

Events

All events or meetings with more than 20 attendees, on-campus or off-campus, must be postponed, cancelled or “virtualized,” according to the March 11 email from Liebowitz. 

DCL is cancelling all events, including fundraisers for the rest of the semester, according to an email from Senior Department Coordinator Susan Wilson on March 12. She said that these cancellations came after extensive consultation with Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Dr. Mark Brimhall-Vargas.

The Intercultural Center (ICC) is cancelling all of its club events scheduled to be held at Levin Ballroom and Sherman Function Hall, according to an email sent to club leaders from DCL on March 12. Club events scheduled at other locations will also be cancelled. These determinations are made based on student reservations forms submitted to Conference and Events. The email says that no exceptions will be made. Students were encouraged to reach out to the Department of Student Activities regarding contracts.

All club events at the ICC, Skyline Residence Hall and Ridgewood Quad are cancelled as well, according to the email. All food-related fundraisers are cancelled. 

Athletics

“Following the conclusion of non-traditional practice sessions on Friday, March 13, all fall sports practices will be suspended,” wrote Director of Athletics Lauren Haynie in an email to varsity athletes. “In addition, following the conclusion of intercollegiate athletic events on Sunday, March 15, the remainder of the 2020 spring sports season will be cancelled.” 

Gosman Sports and Convocation Center will remain open for informal recreation and will operate on its regular schedule through March 20, according to the Brandeis Judges website. No more than 20 individuals will be permitted to occupy any recreational space at one time and guest privileges are restricted until further notice. All external user group rentals are cancelled, effective March 14, until further notice and all intramural sports, group exercise classes, personal training sessions and club practices will end on Friday, March 13. 

For Seniors

Information on Commencement will be provided at a later date, according to the March 11 email from President Liebowitz.

“Right now, all seniors across the country are being affected in regards to credits,” reads the March 11 email from the Student Union after its members interviewed Provost Lynch. “We have been assured that graduate schools will be taking this into account and consideration. Updates will continue to come out as all schools figure out their new policies.”

Campus Resources

For students who utilize Brandeis Counseling Center (BCC) or Health Center services, TeleHealth will be used so that students can have meetings remotely. These resources will be HIPAA compliant and will utilize Zoom Medical, according to the March 12 email. Brandeis is following CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MPH) for screening COVID-19 risk and is testing with the MPH, according to the Brandeis Health Center website.

“If you have no known risks for COVID-19 please make an appointment for care at Brandeis University Health Center by calling us or using the secure patient portal to schedule your appointment,” says the Brandeis Health Center website. “Notify the front desk of your symptoms upon arrival.”

The CDC does not recommend the use of face-masks for people who are well, according to the Brandeis Health Center website, and it says those resources should be saved for the spread of infection in health care settings. 

Mandel Café, Science Center Café, Heller Starbucks, Farber Library Starbucks, The Stein and Currito’s in Upper Usdan will all close on Friday, March 13. Dining will be consolidated to Sherman Dining Hall and Usdan Dining Hall. The Faculty Club, Dunkin’ Donuts, Einstein’s, Louis’ Deli, SubConnection, and the sushi bar located in Upper Usdan will remain open for the time being.

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