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COVID-19 Updates and Information

This page will be updated with the latest news regarding Bennington College’s response to COVID-19.

This page was last updated: May 19, 2020 at 11:55 am 

Questions?

If you have questions, please submit them here, which will allow our Task Force to review, assign, and answer them in as efficient a way as possible.

FAQ

We have created a page with answers to questions about Bennington's transition to remote learning. (We will have a new FAQ about the Fall term in the near future.)

Information for Faculty and Staff

General Prevention Measures

We encourage all community members to take measures to protect themselves to prevent the spread of these viruses as outlined below:

Both the influenza virus and the novel coronavirus have similar recommendations for prevention and protection:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. 
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home and away from public places when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue, cough down into your elbow, and never into your hand.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Additionally, it is recommended to get a flu shot if you have not already done so this season. The closest place to campus to receive a flu shot is Hannaford’s Pharmacy.   

What to do if you're sick

  • If you develop a fever or respiratory-illness symptoms such as a cough or shortness of breath, please stay home and contact your primary care provider and/or SVMC ExpressCare for screening and recommendations.  
  • Staff should be in touch with their supervisors if they need to stay home due to illness.
  • Faculty should be in touch with the Provost’s Office if they need to stay home due to illness and have questions regarding their absence.  

Support

  • If you have questions or are feeling overwhelmed and concerned, we encourage you to contact Human Resources for additional information and support. 
  • The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to all employees as a resource.
  • If an employee has a serious health condition (underlying health condition), the employee may request a workplace accommodation. An employee may request to work from home or request another accommodation by contacting Human Resources. We have a confidential process for managing these requests. All personal health information will be considered confidential and will be released only in accordance with the requirements of the ADA and the VFEPA.

Sick Time Policy

  • To encourage employees to stay home when sick, the College has temporarily altered its sick time policies in order to allow employees (in most cases) to continue to be paid while out of work. Employees will be allowed to maintain a negative sick time balance and/or the use of accrued vacation time to cover sick absences. Staff should continue to report their absences through ADP; please ensure absences are submitted as soon as possible. Employees who are absent due to symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19 will be required to present a note from a doctor prior to returning. Any employee who is concerned about financial hardship should contact Human Resources.

Benefits Information

  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Vermont (BCBS) is encouraging employees to use telemedicine, a feature that offers 24/7 access to network providers via phone or video consultation. Employees are also encouraged to use mail order pharmacy services. Visit Blue Cross/Blue Shield’s Express Scripts Mail Order Resources. In addition, please contact your local pharmacy as they may have mail-order services available. 
  • Blue Cross provides this guidance on insurance billing and coverage for COVID-19 testing. 
  • Human Resources is working with all College offices to assess essential business functions required to maintain operations and identifying minimum, essential staffing needs. As part of this review, we are assessing the feasibility and impact of alternate work arrangements. You may be asked to begin thinking about planning for a change of this nature.

Information for Current Students

General Prevention Measures

We encourage all community members to take measures to protect themselves to prevent the spread of these viruses as outlined below:

Both the influenza virus and the novel coronavirus have similar recommendations for prevention and protection:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. 
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home and away from public places when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue, cough down into your elbow, and never into your hand.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Additionally, it is recommended to get a flu shot if you have not already done so this season. The closest place to campus to receive a flu shot is Hannaford’s Pharmacy.   

Students on Campus 

  • Prevention Measures
    • If you have a fever and/or respiratory illness symptoms such as a cough or shortness of breath, please call Health Services. Health Services will conduct a screening and evaluation. Calling, rather than walking in, allows a clinician to screen on the phone for any risk factors, make appointments (if needed), share information and limit the spread of any illness. 
    • Please do not self-diagnose. If you have any concerns, please be in touch with Health Services.  

Students Currently on Study Away/Exchange Programs

Academic Services staff are monitoring international travel warnings due to the coronavirus. In addition, they are in direct contact with Bennington students currently enrolled in Study Away or Exchange programs and are working with them individually based on their locations and the recommendations of their host institutions. 

 

Parents and Families

The College has been sending emails to parents and families to keep them updated. If you have not been receiving them and would like to be included, please sign up here

Graduates and their Families 

The College is following developments and recommendations from the CDC, the Vermont Department of Health and others. We will share more information about the plan for Commencement in the coming weeks.

Please know that, even in this moment of transition, celebrating our graduates' achievements is at the forefront of our minds. We will find a way to honor the Class of 2020, even if that celebration takes a different form this year. 

Information about:

How You Can Help!

To address the most urgent needs of our students and to provide additional support for faculty as they begin to teach in a new way, we have established the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a special initiative of the Bennington Fund. The College is incurring significant new costs associated with this crisis—from expanding technological support for students and faculty to emergency travel funding for students—and this Fund will allow us to continue to assist students with unforeseen expenses, and students and faculty in the transition to remote learning.   

Campus Planning and Preparedness

A coronavirus task force, coordinated by Oceana Wilson, Acting Dean of the College, has been convened to monitor the situation and CDC recommendations, as well as to develop contingency and containment plans. If needed, plans are in place to provide isolation and support, including academic accommodations and meals, for students who may have to undergo testing for the coronavirus. Bennington College community members with questions or concerns are encouraged to submit them to the task force.

New Travel Procedures and Guidance

  • The CDC has issued additional travel recommendations due to wide-spread and sustained community transition of the coronavirus. These recommendations impact travel to: China, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong.
  • College-funded travel for faculty and staff: All faculty and staff planning travel for professional or work purposes must register their travel plans. Faculty travel plans will be reviewed and approved by the Provost. Staff travel plans will be reviewed and approved by the Director of Human Resources in conjunction with the employee’s supervisor prior to departure. Decisions to cancel, postpone, or continue will be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account where people are traveling and their own comfort level. Staff who travel may be asked to work remotely for at least two weeks following their return.

 

Task Force Members

Task Force Manager

Oceana Wilson, Acting Dean of the College
Point person for team, liaison to Senior Staff 

Academic Services
Kate Child

Admissions
Tony Cabasco

Campus Safety
Ken Collamore, Director of Campus Safety
Transportation, safety, after hours first response, liaison with local emergency response, VT DoH Open POD

Communications
Alex Dery Snider, Director of Communications
Duncan Dobbelmann, Chief Communications Officer
Nicole Arrington, Events Manager
Manage internal and external communications, media inquiries
 

Buildings and Grounds
Andrew Schlatter, Vice President for Facilities Management and Planning
Angel Kwasniak, Director of Operations
Contingency planning for maintaining essential operations, cleaning and sanitation oversight

Dining Services
Steve Bohrer, Director of Dining Services
Food and beverage for isolated individuals, contingency non-perishable food, cleaning and sanitation for dining 

Health Services
Dr. Randy Anselmo, MD, Director of Health Services
Medical evaluations and care, advise on infection control, liaison to VT Department of Health, SVMC

Human Resources
Heather Faley, Director of Human Resources
Identify essential staff, coordinate faculty/staff isolation, sick leave and return to work

Finances
Brian Murphy, Vice President for Finance and Administration
Finances, loss recovery and insurance, liability

President's Office
Elio Jahaj, Student Success Assessment Coordinator
Student liaison partner, student communication adviser
Meredith McCoy
Community liaison, food services
Delia Saenz
Vice President for Institutional Inclusion, Equity, and Leadership Development

Provost and Dean’s Office
Zeke Bernstein, Dean of Research, Planning, and Assessment
Laurie Kobik, Dean of Studies
Academic Services, study-away, student accommodations
John Bullock, Acting Provost and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs
Liaison to faculty, academic contingency/continuity

Psychological Services
April Stein, PhD, Director of Psychological Services
Student psychological issues related to pandemic

Student Housing
Christine Winget, Associate Dean of Student
Student living spaces, coordinate student isolation

Student Life
Natalie Basil, Dean of Students 
Student Life, housing, coordinate student isolation

Student Representatives
Elizabeth Fox
Nick Hennessy
Sofia Pacheco Pardo
Valentine Voisin
Ahmad Yassir

IT 
Jude Higdon, Director of Information Technology
Chris Adams, Enterprise Application, Cloud Services, and Security Engineer Technology, network, telephone system

Past Community Messages 

April 3, 2020 | COVID-19 Relief Fund

Dear Students,

I know that these past few weeks have been incredibly trying for all of you. The shift to remote learning and separation from one another—coupled with the broader anxieties of this moment—are testing all of us. Your lives have been upended by this global health crisis and I am acutely aware of the material, academic, and emotional hurdles you face today.

This is a challenging time for everyone, but for some students in our community the financial strain caused by these changes is especially daunting. To help alleviate the extraordinary burden and unforeseen expenses some of you face, I am writing to share that we have expanded our emergency assistance efforts to create and launch the COVID-19 Relief Fund. The Fund, which will be made possible through the generosity of Bennington alumni and friends, will allow us to offset some of the costs associated with this crisis, including providing modest grants to our highest need students to help defray unexpected costs they have incurred related to COVID-19.

As you may know, the College established this year an emergency travel fund for international and domestic students with demonstrated financial need. These funds have been fully depleted in providing emergency travel grants for students to get home. Donations to the COVID-19 Relief Fund will be used to support additional emergency travel needs as well as address additional areas of hardship, including:

  • Food insecurity for students not living in campus housing
  • Internet access for remote learning
  • Student medical expenses related to contracting COVID-19

Eligible students will receive an email today directing them to a simple application to apply for a COVID-19 Relief Fund grant. We recognize that this will not address the needs of all students but must first focus on the most critical needs the fund can support at this time.

And to all of our students—whether or not you will seek emergency assistance—please know that we are here to support you.

-Isabel Roche

March 27, 2020 | Establishing a COVID-19 Relief Fund 

Dear Bennington alumni, parents, and friends,

These past few weeks have been some of the most trying for all of us — as individuals, as a community, and as a college. I am touched by the concern and support so many have shown for the Bennington students whose lives have been upended by this public health crisis, and for the faculty and staff who are working tirelessly to support them in this unprecedented moment. 

Throughout it all, our extended Bennington community has been characteristically generous and compassionate. Many of you have asked how you can help in this moment of crisis, and I am so grateful for your concern. 

For our students' safety and in the interest of public health, we have had to make extraordinary changes in how we educate our Bennington students and, as of Monday, all instruction will be remote for the remainder of the spring term. This is an anxious time for us all, but for some students in our community, the shift to remote learning has created an especially challenging financial burden.

To address the most urgent needs of our students and to provide additional support for faculty as they begin to teach in this new way, we have established the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a special initiative of the Bennington Fund. The College is incurring significant new costs associated with this crisis — from expanding technological support for students and faculty to emergency travel funding for students — and this Fund will allow us to continue to assist students with unforeseen expenses, and students and faculty in the transition to remote learning. 

Our longer term priorities — like rebuilding the Barn, and keeping momentum on the Barn Challenge — have not changed and remain critical as well, but the urgent need of this moment calls for a commensurate response. 

If you can, please make a gift to the COVID-19 Relief Fund today. We are deeply grateful to those of you who have already made donations to support our students and faculty in this time, and to everyone who has reached out to help. The Bennington community is stronger today than it has ever been, and our connection to one another — while distant and physically separated at the moment — is reaffirmed by your kindness, compassion, and generosity. 

With gratitude and well wishes to all,

Isabel

March 27, 2020 | Change in COVID-19 testing & student isolation information

To: Students, Staff, Faculty
Fr:  Dr. Randy Anselmo, Director, Student Health Services

I am writing to update the community that we currently have a student in isolation for possible COVID-19 monitoring. While the student has no identifiable risk factors for having contracted COVID-19, their symptoms were consistent enough with it to warrant this step. Following the revised guidelines from the Vermont Department of Health (VT DOH), the student has not been tested; and current practice is to treat people who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 as though they have COVID-19. 

The VT DOH’s revised advice is that COVID-19 testing is no longer recommended unless an individual’s symptoms are severe enough to require hospitalization, and we have adapted our strategy in light of that advice. 

This may mean that students who don’t actually have COVID-19 will have to go into isolation; we will likely not be updating the community every time, but wanted to share now, given the change in guidelines and any concern on campus. 

What happens in isolation
Students in isolation will receive the same treatment as is currently recommended by the CDC for confirmed COVID-19 until medically cleared to leave isolation.

Isolation will be carried out in one of many rooms on campus that have been designated for this purpose, with a private bathroom and meal delivery. I will be checking in daily with all students who are in isolation, providing medical care as needed, and arranging transfer to the hospital for anyone with symptoms that suggest the need for a higher level of care than can be provided on campus. Once these students have been released from isolation, you can be assured that they have been medically cleared and are able to resume communal living in student housing. 

Guidance for other students
All students who are placed in isolation will be asked to identify “close contacts.” Those individuals will be contacted directly with information and instructions. If you are not contacted, you were not identified as meeting the close contact definition and should continue standard social distancing and prevention guidelines.

Close contacts will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days. If they do not have symptoms, the student can self-isolate in their assigned room. Housing staff will be in touch with the student to assign them a specific bathroom for use and arrange for meal delivery. If a student becomes symptomatic during self-isolation, they should contact Health Services right away for an assessment and advisement regarding their situation.   

Facing isolation can feel very daunting, and one’s first impulse may be to keep quiet about symptoms in order to avoid it. However, it is critical - and ethically imperative - to the health of the community that students with respiratory symptoms report their symptoms and comply with our request that they isolate according to best practices.  
 

The best prevention and protection from COVID-19 continues to be to prevent exposure to the virus. We ask all community members to continue to seriously observe these prevention guidelines and thank you for your continued partnership to keep our community healthy and safe. 

March 27, 2020 | Change in Hours & Meal Delivery Model

TO: Students on campus
FR: Meredith McCoy, Associate Vice President for Institutional Initiatives
Steve Bohrer, Director of Dining Services
 

Dear Students,

We want to begin by saying just how grateful we are for all of you and the energy you bring into the dining hall each day. Your spirit and smiles make coming to work a joy and are also the reasons we are doing all we can to keep you safe and well-nourished. With this in mind and in alignment with the State of Vermont Office of the Governor Executive Orders, we want to make you aware of some additional safety measures to the dining program. 

  • Dining services will move from a take-out buffet service to a to-go boxed meal beginning Saturday (3/29) at lunch.  
  • Dining hours of operation will be limited to 2 blocks of time each day - lunch and dinner 12:00pm to 1:00pm for lunch and 5:00pm to 6:00pm for dinner/breakfast. 
  • Dinner meals will include breakfast items for the following day. 
  • Meals will be pre-packaged and ready to go on tables (vegan and dietary restriction meal boxes will be labeled) just outside of the entrance to the dining hall during the 2 blocks of time. 
  • You are not required to swipe your card.
  • Students on the Flex-7 meal plan should pick up their meal at lunch each day.  
  • We ask that you follow the honor system and only take your meal and not those designated for those with dietary restrictions.

As we move to this model, it will be important to know of dietary restrictions in order to provide meals to meet those needs.  As a proactive measure, no meals will be made with nuts or shellfish. For those requiring dietary restrictions, please complete this form and we will do our best to provide a variety of options; however, all food preferences may not be able to be met at each meal.  

Yours in health and safety.

 

March 24, 2020 | Campus Employment Update

TO: Staff, faculty, and students

FROM: Oceana Wilson, Acting Dean of the College and Dean of the Library
Faith McClellan, Associate Dean of Work-Integrated Learning

We write to follow up on Friday’s communication about campus employment with more detailed information on our transition to remote employment for students for the remainder of the Spring 2020 term.  We know that many students rely on the income earned through campus jobs and we are committed to continuing to provide work for students.

With the College’s shift to remote learning and a significantly reduced population on campus, the work needed to support students, faculty, and staff as they carry out their work both on and off campus is different. All in-person work has been discontinued for the remainder of the spring term. We have transitioned as many positions as possible to remote work and have added a number of new positions that provide additional support to faculty, students, and staff. 

Here follow the next steps, designed to maximize student access to jobs in an equitable manner, all while streamlining the transition process for students and supervisors:
 

  • Within a week, there will be remote work openings listed on Handshake for close to 200 students. Some of these are current positions transitioned for remote work, while others are new remote positions--and still more will be created in the coming weeks. All students are welcome to apply for remote jobs, regardless of their location, for the remainder of the term. 
  • All students need to submit a “fast track” application on Handshake, even if they wish to continue the job they currently hold. Only resumes are required; we are not asking for cover letters or interviews. 
  • Students with prior experience in a particular role may receive priority due to prior knowledge of the position. We are also prepared to add new openings in cases where new applicants can help to meet a department need. 
  • All positions will be posted on Handshake by the end of day Friday, March 27. Positions will be updated on a rolling basis for the next few weeks in an effort to maximize opportunities to students. 
  • Because our goal is to provide access to jobs to as many students as possible desiring work, hiring will typically be limited to one job per student. If we find that additional work is available, students will be notified and can then apply for more hours. Additionally, if students seek to apply for two jobs with fewer than 4 hours each, we will consider this.
  • All students will of course be paid for hours already worked.  Students or supervisors who are having trouble entering hours on TimesheetX should contact helpdesk@bennington.edu
  • Students who have been working this spring may access ADP to set up direct deposit or update their mailing address in order to receive wages from this past pay period. Any questions related to paychecks, payrolls, I9s/W4s, or related issues can be directed to payroll@bennington.edu.

Campus supervisors will soon receive information on the details of how to list positions, and students can expect that their applications will be rapidly moved forward to hiring decisions. It is our hope that many students will be up and running in positions at the start of next week. 

In the meantime, please be in touch with us directly at campusjobs@bennington.edu with any questions or concerns that you may have, as we know how critical campus jobs are to your financial and personal well-being. 

 

March 23, 2020 | Update on Staff Operations

To: Staff
From: Heather Faley, Director of Human Resources

I am writing to provide you with two important updates related to the health crisis. Please reach out to your manager or to Human Resources if you have questions about this information.

Massachusetts Stay-in-Place Order

Today, the State of Massachusetts announced a temporary Stay-at-Home order that requires businesses that are not deemed essential to close their physical workplaces as of Tuesday, March 24 at noon until Tuesday, April 7 at noon. This means no employees are to work from any Massachusetts location unless the business has been placed on the exceptions list. 

Although Bennington College is not a Massachusetts employer, we know some of you live in the surrounding Massachusetts communities and are likely wondering how this order will affect you and your work. While not required to do so, the College has decided to follow the Massachusetts Order for our employees who reside in Massachusetts. Similar to the New York Order we informed you about yesterday, we view this as a prudent measure.

Essential staff working at educational institutions in the following areas are exempt from this order: Buildings & Grounds, Business Office, Campus Safety, Dining Services, Health and Psychological Services, Human Resources, Post Office, and the President’s Office.

If you are a staff member living  in Massachusetts who works in a department not listed above - please refrain from reporting to work on campus as of Tuesday, March 24 and until April 7, 2020. If you have not yet done so, you should shift to working remotely as of Tuesday. Please reach out to your manager if you have questions. 

Vermont Department of Health Update on Monitoring Your Health

The Vermont Department of Health has updated their guidance on monitoring your health. The Department of Health indicates that Vermont is now experiencing community spread of COVID-19, which is why they are encouraging social distancing. This will help slow the spread of the virus and protect people who are more vulnerable. The Department of Health indicates that if you have symptoms of COVID-19 and mild illness, you can stay home and treat your symptoms. They further indicate that not everyone needs to be tested. If you are sick or concerned about your health, contact your health care provider to find out if you should be seen for an evaluation and considered for testing.

Resources and Support

Please contact Human Resources if you are experiencing financial hardship or need assistance and support in any way. Additionally, please use the resources of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) as needed.

If you have questions, please contact hroffice@bennington.edu.

 

March 22, 2020 | Preventative Measures & Social Distancing On Campus

TO: Students
FR: Dr. Randy Anselmo, Director of Health Services
Ali Tartaglia, DrPH, Director of Student Health Promotion
Natalie Basil, Dean of Students

As we prepare to move into a new phase of a smaller campus population and remote teaching, learning and advising, we want to reiterate the importance of using preventative measures and social distancing during this time of crisis. At the speed at which COVID-19 is spreading, every day counts, and we cannot wait “until things get bad” to take the necessary steps.

Thus far, the campus has not had a confirmed case of COVID-19 and we must delay the spread of this virus to campus as long as possible. We also must protect those individuals whose role on campus is deemed essential (e.g., buildings & grounds, campus safety, dining services) to support having students living on campus. Once the virus comes to campus, we must do everything possible to mitigate the exponential spread.

Current guidance from health officials, epidemiologists and historians, indicates that because this virus spreads in density, social distancing along with hand and respiratory hygiene are imperative to slowing the spread and “flattening the curve” in order to reduce the surge of medical need that will overwhelm our local and regional medical community. You play an important and imperative role in this movement.

We are sharing these guidelines and ask that you please take them very seriously. These instructions are written for students remaining on campus, but we strongly recommend all students adhere to social distancing and hygiene recommendations.

  • Students should keep 6 feet (2 meters) between them and other people regardless of the health of each individual. Visibly healthy people can be carriers and spread the virus.
    --No gatherings (social or academic) in house common rooms or campus facilities that do not allow 6 feet (2 meters) of distance between individuals. In most cases, this will be no more than 6 people depending on the size of space.
    --Campus Shuttle vans will limit the number of riders per trip to 2 people and 1 driver. The Campus Shuttle will be available on Saturdays only. Commons Dining will be open but students must take food to go and not congregate in groups or spaces that do not allow 6 feet (2 meters) of distance between individuals.
    --Students should limit hosting other students in their individual rooms and keep 6 feet (2 meters) of distance between individuals.
    --While faculty and staff may be in their campus offices, students should avoid walking in and instead call or email to schedule appointments to meet remotely.
  • Students will limit travel into Bennington to once per week and should use social distancing measures such as avoiding crowded areas and all events. This also applies to students with personal vehicles on campus and should limit the number of passengers in the vehicle to 1 other person who sits in the back seat rather than the passenger seat.
  • Students will not travel outside of the towns of Bennington or North Bennington, into other states or internationally. Students who do so are not permitted back on to campus or into campus housing.
  • Students who are ill - including cough, sneezing, sore throat, fever - should avoid in-person interactions with others and not be in common and public spaces.
    --Call Health Services, rather than walking in, to schedule an appointment and receive instructions.
  • No guests will be permitted on campus or in campus houses.

Our understanding of this virus is evolving as is the spread of this pandemic. We are in difficult and unsettling times. As such, new guidance is being issued rapidly and you should prepare that:

  • Campus operations may decrease further as health issues develop in Bennington and surrounding areas and impact staffing on campus.
  • In case of emergency or growing public health concerns, the government may impose limitations on public movement and businesses may close. Plan for what you may need in the event you are unable to leave campus and your house for any period of time.
  • In accordance with Bennington College’s 2018 agreement with the Vermont Department of Health, Greenwall may be used as a Public Point of Distribution (POD) site for the purpose of running mass clinics and/or distribution activities for disease prevention and/or control.
  • If you decide at any point to return home, you must notify Christine Winget, provide her with your travel itinerary, clean out your room, and return your room key.

Our campus is operational, but will need to look and feel very different in order to protect you, those who care for you and the broader community. This is guidance we are all taking seriously, even in our own homes, and we understand how constraining it feels. We are developing ways to stay virtually connected as a community but we must act and act quickly for the health and safety of our entire campus community.

Staying Connected
For information on how to stay connected, engaged and supported in this moment, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Psychological Services
For students living on campus who cannot go home to be with family for support during this stressful time, the Psychological Services Office is closed for face-to-face sessions, but therapists are available to speak to students for therapy on a confidential therapy platform. To make an appointment, please email Health Services. Our emergency on call therapist will also be available. You can contact the on call therapist at any time by calling Campus Safety.

For students off campus, please feel free to reach out to April Stein, Director of Psychological Services, or your clinician on campus for help finding support in your area.

March 22, 2020 -- Update on Staff Operations

To: Staff
From: Heather Faley, Director of Human Resources
 

Thank you for all that you are doing to keep our community as healthy and safe as possible as the situation around COVID-19 continues to unfold. We appreciate the support that you’ve shown one another and your patience as the College continues to assess and reassess our response to this unprecedented health crisis. 

Of utmost importance to us is supporting your health and well being, as well as making you aware of new developments as quickly as possible. We are working hard to keep pace with this rapidly evolving situation and write to provide you with critical new information and updates.  We apologize for sending this over the weekend but feel it is important to disseminate this information as soon as possible, as we know that you continue to have questions and concerns. 

New York State Stay-in-Place Order

New York State has implemented a Stay-in-Place Order effective Sunday, March 22, 2020 at 8:00 pm. The Order requires a 100% reduction of the in-person workforce in any business location for businesses that are not deemed essential. This means no employees are to work from any workforce location unless the business has been placed on the exception list. 

Although Bennington College is not a New York employer, we know some of you live in the surrounding New York communities and are likely wondering how this order will affect you and your work. While not required to do so, the College has decided to follow the New York Stay-in-Place Order for our employees who reside in New York. We view this as a prudent measure.

Essential staff working at educational institutions in the following areas are exempt from this order: Bookstore, Buildings & Grounds, Business Office, Campus Safety, Dining Services, Health and Psychological Services, Human Resources, Post Office, and the President’s Office.

If you are a staff member who works in another area of the College - a department not listed above - please refrain from reporting to work on campus as of this date and until further notice. If you have not yet done so, you should shift to working remotely as of Monday. Please reach out to your manager if you have questions. 

Change in Operations

The majority of students will have left campus by Monday evening. At that time, we anticipate that we can begin reducing the number of on-campus staff in Buildings & Grounds and Dining Services. These offices are working to develop initial staffing plans that will allow the College to maintain only the most essential and critical services on campus - those that are necessary to allow students to remain in a healthy  living and learning environment. Managers will be in touch directly with their respective staff members to provide information on these changes.

Alternate Work Arrangements/Time Away from Work

New Federal regulations have been passed that will provide leave time for eligible employees who are unable to work (or who can’t work from home) because of a school closure due to a COVID-19 crisis. As these regulations were just recently approved, the College - like many other organizations - is  working to learn how these changes apply to our staff. We will provide an update on this provision early next week.

In the meantime, the following options remain available to assist with meeting your personal and family needs:

  • Employees may request a temporary schedule change including an adjustment to your work hours or work schedule. Requests should be submitted to your manager.
  • Eligible employees with individual health concerns may request a workplace accommodation by contacting Human Resources.
  • Employees may continue to request the use of accrued vacation and leave time.

Monitoring Your Health

If you are sick at all with any cold or flu-like/COVID-19 symptoms, including  a fever or respiratory-illness symptoms such as a cough or shortness of breath, please take preventative measures - stay home and contact your primary care provider and/or SVMC ExpressCare for screening and recommendations. Employees who are absent due to symptoms that are consistent with the flu and COVID-19 will be required to present a note from a doctor prior to returning to work. Please do not return to work until you receive medical clearance from your doctor and have been free of fever for 24 hours. Human Resources will follow up directly with the employee and the employee’s manager to secure a return-to-work note prior to the employees’ return to campus.

The College has temporarily altered its sick time policies in order to assist employees who need to be out of work and new Federal regulations have been implemented to provide additional assistance in these instances. Additional information about the Federal regulations will be forthcoming next week. 

In certain circumstances, time away from work may be covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act. An employee should consult with Human Resources on FMLA matters. Please continue to report your absences through ADP

Buildings/Space on Campus

The work of the College is continuing. However, only a select number of buildings on campus remain open for use. Please review the most current information on services and space here.

Resources and Support

Please contact Human Resources if you are experiencing financial hardship or need assistance and support in any way. Additionally, please use the resources of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) as needed.


If you have questions, please contact hroffice@bennington.edu; we will do all that we can to respond to your inquiries throughout the weekend.

March 20, 2020 -- updated shuttle schedule

TO: Students
FR: Ken Collamore, Director of Campus Safety

Today and tomorrow, Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21 the local shuttle will continue as scheduled: tonight until 9:00 pm, and tomorrow from 11:00 am-9:00 pm. 

After tomorrow, the shuttle will have an updated schedule. These changes are in accordance with the continued health concerns, and efforts to implement social distancing and to limit exposure for our community and the larger Bennington community. 

Shuttles will only run on Saturdays; there will be no shuttles Sunday through Friday. 

Every Saturday beginning March 28, 2020, two shuttle vans will run concurrently from 10:00 am-6:00 pm. The second shuttle is to offset the two passenger limit per trip and provide ample time for all students to have an opportunity to ride the shuttle.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email me.

Thanks to everyone for the community-wide sense of responsibility to everyone's health and safety.

 

March 20, 2020--A Note About Student Departures

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

We are all adjusting to the new realities of the public health crisis we are in, and the uncertainty and change that is inherent to it, and I want to thank you for your care and flexibility during this incredibly difficult time. We have aimed over this past week to communicate our decisions to the community as quickly and clearly as possible, but we know that there are questions about some of these decisions. It is for this reason that I write to elaborate on the rationale behind some of the very tough choices we––like most residential colleges around the country––have had to make.

As we have continued to monitor and assess the steady increase in the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Vermont, our region, nationally, and globally––as well as the projections for its growth in the coming weeks––we are guided above all by our responsibility for the health and safety of Bennington students, faculty, and staff. The decision to shift to remote learning was made because we need to significantly reduce the on-campus population. Every public health official and epidemiology expert has been urging social distancing, and we have seen individual institutions, businesses, towns, and now states, mandating this action in the name of slowing the growth of the virus. Keeping the campus full or even half full presents a danger not only to you––our students, faculty, and staff––but also to the broader community, as it will strain the already limited healthcare infrastructure in our region. It is for this reason that we need every student who can leave campus to do so.

We determined the number of students who could safely be housed on campus in close consultation with state and local health experts. More than half of our students petitioned to remain on campus, and we had to set a high threshold for approving requests to best protect those students whose only option is to stay on campus––and to protect those staff members who cannot work remotely and will be providing these students with essential services and support. Please know that these decisions are extremely difficult, and being made with care and consideration for each and every student––and for all students and the larger Bennington community at the same time. For those students who are leaving campus this week, we truly appreciate your understanding of the need to help protect both the students who must remain and the larger community.

For those students who have not been approved to stay at Bennington, and for whom leaving campus presents specific difficulties, we are doing everything possible to help you, ranging from emergency travel grants to campus storage for your belongings to free transportation to Albany International Airport and Albany-Rensselaer Train Station. We will keep working with each of you as you prepare to leave campus.

We at Bennington College are as connected today as we have ever been. The compassion and empathy exhibited by this community as this crisis unfolds has been inspiring.

With gratitude,
Isabel

 

March 13, 2020

announcing the transition to remote learning -- read the full message

March 12, 2020

Sharing the FAQ -- read the full message

An update for families -- read the full message

 

March 11, 2020

Sharing that we have a student who is currently being tested -- read the full message

 

March 10, 2020 (Survey)

To: All students
From: Zeke Bernstein, dean of research planning and assessment

In light of the presence of the novel coronavirus in our local community, and as at many colleges and universities in affected areas, we are planning for the possibility of moving some or substantially most of our courses into an online setting. This might involve video conferencing, exchange of information or assignments via email or digital drop-boxes, or other forms of online teaching and learning.

As we prepare for this possibility, we want to assess whether you have the technology that you would need for this transition. Please take a minute to fill out the very brief survey linked here:

https://forms.gle/WjvTixybgByQeUgT9

As the situation evolves, we will be in touch with more details and information in the coming days.

March 9, 2020

Read the message

March 8, 2020

Read the message

March 5, 2020

Read the message

March 2, 2020

regarding AWP -- read the message

February 12, 2020

Read the message. 

January 29, 2020

Read the message.