FAQ for Students

Last updated on January 15, 2021 at 5:00 pm EST.

What are the testing center's hours of operation from Thanksgiving through February? 

Testing center hours, Thanksgiving through February

The schedule is below; if you have any concerns, please email healthservices@bennington.edu.

Date Hours of Operation
November 23-24 Open Monday and Tuesday only
8:00 am-3:00 pm (closed for lunch 11:30 am-12:30 pm)
November 25, 26, 27 Closed. Please adjust your testing schedule accordingly and test on Monday (11/23) or Tuesday (11/24), if possible. Students should contact Health Services for concerns about testing in advance of leaving campus.
November 30-December 11 Open Monday through Friday
8:00 am-3:00 pm (closed for lunch 11:30-12:30 pm)
December 14, 2020-February 7, 2021 Open Mondays only
8:00 am-3:00 pm (closed for lunch 11:30 am-12:30 pm)
February 8, 2021 Open Monday through Friday
8:00 am-3:00 pm (closed for lunch 11:30 am-12:30 pm)

Are visitors allowed on campus?

As before, visitors are allowed on campus outside, provided they are wearing masks and complying with the State of Vermont’s mandatory guidance on travel and gatherings.

view from jennings

Health and Safety Practices and the Commitment of Shared Responsibility

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 is the Commitment of Shared Responsibility?

The Commitment of Shared Responsibility is an agreement signed by all faculty, staff, and students of Bennington College, outlining the required health and safety protocols and behavioral expectations.

How will the Commitment of Shared Responsibility be upheld?

Our goal is to keep all members of the community safe and healthy. In the same way we are asking all members of the community to share cleaning responsibilities because it would be impossible for Buildings and Grounds to clean every surface after every time is it touched, we are asking all members of the community to help in the upholding of the Commitment through direct and respectful dialogue with each other. In acknowledgement that there may be situations, due to power differentials or other dynamics, that could cause someone to feel unable to engage in direct dialogue, community members may also share concerns through an online form and will be provided with guidance on navigating next steps. 

We anticipate that most infractions will not be willful, but rather a lapse into older pre-pandemic patterns of behavior. In these cases, which we anticipate will be the vast majority, the issue will be addressed in a way that focuses on education and restorative practices. 

If there is a major violation of Commitment by the staff, students, or faculty, the College is required to act in accordance with the Mandatory Guidance for Residential Campus Learning, issued by the State of Vermont on July 3, 2020 as follows:

 “Institutions shall enforce this contract, and immediately remove any student who violates major public safety components of the contract (such as quarantine requirements) from campus for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. Because of public health, existing judicial processes must err on the side of public health and remove a student from potentially further endangering the community by immediately removing the student from the campus. Faculty and staff who choose not to wear a face covering or follow existing public health safety standards shall face immediate disciplinary action.”

(*New Content* 9/1/2020)
The mechanism by which major infractions will be addressed will be as follows: faculty violations will be addressed by the Acting Provost; staff violations will be addressed by Human Resources; and student violations will be reviewed by the CSR Violations Panel, which is composed of students, faculty, and staff. 

COMMIT

What if I have a concern about someone not complying with the Commitment of Shared Responsibility?

Our goal is to keep all members of the community safe and healthy. In the same way we are asking all members of the community to share cleaning responsibilities because it would be impossible for Buildings and Grounds to clean every surface after every time it is touched, we are asking all members of the community to help in the upholding of the Commitment. 

Direct dialogue between members of the community at the time of the incident will almost always be the most effective way to address a concern. We also understand that there may be situations, due to power differentials or other dynamics, that could cause someone to feel unable to engage in direct dialogue. 

In situations where direct dialogue was not possible, community members can share concerns through this form.

If the situation is an emergency contact Campus Safety by dialing 767 (SOS) on campus or 802-447-4250 from any non-campus phone. 

What if I want to live in campus housing but I don’t want to sign the Commitment of Shared Responsibilities because I don’t agree with it?

No student will be permitted to live in campus housing without signing and adhering to the Commitment of Shared Responsibility. The Commitment of Shared Responsibility is being given to students in advance to allow each student an opportunity to consider and decide if living on campus under these terms is what they want to do.

What are the health monitoring protocols for students, faculty, and staff?

All students, faculty, and staff will be required to self-screen and certify the results by completing the daily health screening to confirm that their temperature is within a range that does not exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit and that they are free of any new respiratory illness (fever, new/worsening cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, chills/muscle pain, or new loss of taste or smell). If anyone is unable to obtain a thermometer due to significant financial constraints, they should contact Student Life (students) or Human Resources (staff/faculty).

What are the expectations for wearing masks?

All staff, faculty, and students must wear cloth face coverings in any public or shared space on campus, including outside spaces where 6 feet / 2 meters distancing is not possible. Students and faculty should wear masks in classrooms. All participants should wear masks for advising sessions and other meetings with students, faculty, and staff. When outdoors, and more than six feet apart from one another, people may use their discretion, but everyone should carry masks with them, in the event they are needed.

Will the College provide masks?

The College will provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all essential staff whose job responsibilities require it. All other members of the community are expected to bring their own cloth face coverings. (Masks are available for purchase in the Book Store, and you can make your own per CDC instructions.)

Is there a plan to provide and implement wash stations on campus for enhanced hygiene?

In addition to handwashing available in all campus restrooms, we will be distributing hand sanitizer stations throughout campus to promote frequent hand sanitization.

Testing and CoVerified 

What happens if I test positive?

Students who test positive will be contacted directly by Health Services if their result is positive with instructions and next steps.  

Daily health screenings: 

All students, faculty, and staff will be required to complete a daily temperature and symptom self-screenings. Please confirm that your temperature is within a range that does not exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Please also confirm that you are free of any new respiratory illness (fever, new/worsening cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, chills/muscle pain, or new loss of taste or smell).

The College is using CoVerified, a COVID-19 Campus Management Platform, which is available on the web and as an iOS phone app. CoVerified is secure and confidential, and does not track users location or movement. Only Health Services, Human Resources, and the Dean’s Office will have access to this information.  

What is CoVerified?

The College is using CoVerified, a COVID-19 Campus Management Platform, which is available on the web and as an iOS phone app. CoVerified is secure and confidential, and does not track users location or movement. Only Health Services, Human Resources, and the Dean’s Office will have access to this information.    

If you develop symptoms and log them, someone will reach out to you with instructions (students will hear from Health Services; faculty will hear from the Provost and Dean’s Office, and staff will hear from Human Resources). The app will also allow you to schedule appointments for rolling testing when that begins, receive test results, and log test results that you may have from elsewhere. If you test positive, CoVerified will allow you to report close contacts and it maintains your privacy if you choose to do so. 

Information and instructions on using CoVerified will be shared as soon as it is ready. If you have questions, students should feel free to reach out to Health Services, staff to Human Resources, and faculty to the Dean's Office. Please also see the App tutorial and Parent guide.

How will the College report cases on campus?

In order to be transparent and also protect individuals’ privacy, we will share the total cases, active cases, recovered cases, and total tests conducted on campus on the COVID-19 updates webpage. We will not be confirming details about specific cases. 

The state of Vermont will be conducting contact tracing and will be in touch with members of the community believed to be at higher risk of having contracted COVID-19 from someone who later tested positive. Alison Tartaglia, Director of Student Health Promotion, is the College liaison to the Vermont Department of Health for student contact tracing. Health Services will also contact Human Resources and/or the Provost and Dean’s office, as appropriate; those offices will be in touch directly with staff or faculty, including to answer any questions specific to the work of the office.

If a student was believed to be infectious while in class, the faculty member will be told what class, but not the individual student’s name. The faculty member does not need to notify the students in the class. The contract tracing process will determine which students need to be notified. 

Students who test positive for COVID-19 may choose to alert their families or emergency contact. The College will not share health information about specific students with family members unless a student is under 18, has given permission, and/or is severely ill and unable to communicate.

Will there also be rolling testing?

Yes. There will be rolling testing to help identify asymptomatic cases throughout the term. The rolling testing will be conducted by Broad (pronounced to rhyme with “road”) Institute of MIT and Harvard. The frequency of the rolling testing will be responsive to the number of cases on campus.

What is the overall plan for adjusting the re-opening process, should there be cases on campus or in the area?

Our re-opening plan is designed to allow us to be flexible. Like opening or closing a spigot a little at a time, we can and will adjust policies based on how things are going. Factors that will influence those decisions include things happening both on campus (e.g., how well the community is adhering to the Commitment to Shared Responsibility, the number of cases on campus, if there are cases of community spread, the number of quarantine and isolation spaces available, the speed of test results) and off-campus (such as the local hospital’s capacity, and the state’s capacity for contact tracing). 

Adjustments may include things like: increasing or decreasing indoor dining capacity, switching to pick up service for the Dining Hall, Library, and Bookstore; a temporary transition to all remote instruction for a week or two, specific courses temporary transition to remote learning, and/or an additional quarantine by house community.

 

Classes and Academics 

What does a hybrid course look like and why are we having them?

Hybrid courses are those that have students learning in-person and remotely simultaneously. We decided to offer most courses in this way to ensure access to as much as the curriculum as possible for students who will not be able to come to campus in the fall, as well as to ensure that any student who needs to temporarily stay away from their classrooms for health reasons will be able to continue working with their faculty and peers.

Will there be other changes to courses?

Yes, primarily to ensure the safety of students, staff, and faculty. Specifically, classrooms will have lower occupancy limits to conform to social distancing protocols. Some larger campus spaces, such as Commons Atrium, UpCaf, and Deane Carriage Barn, may be used as classrooms to accommodate courses with larger enrollments. Students and faculty will wear face masks during class sessions.

Will there be performance-based courses?

Yes. Courses in Drama, Dance and Music will be held. Faculty are keenly aware of the unique safety concerns around the activities that many of these courses would normally require and are adapting in a number of ways. It is, for example, difficult to sing or project your voice effectively when wearing a mask, so some performance-based courses will be more effectively taught remotely, even when the faculty and students are on campus. Activities in other courses may be adapted to be taught in-person in a manner that is consistent with safety protocols.

Residential Life/Housing 

What to Expect When You Arrive

Campus will open for the Spring 2021 term the weekend of February 13, 2021. Students will be asked to sign up for a specific time to arrive and complete the move-in process. We are currently planning that students who did not live on campus for the fall term will arrive on February 13, and students who lived on campus for the fall will return on February 14. (As was the case in the Fall, we will work with International students who can not arrive in February due to restricted travel or delayed visa processing as a result of closed embassies.)

When students arrive on campus in the Spring, they will quarantine until negative test results are in. All students returning after break will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival and then again on day seven; they will quarantine in their rooms until the first negative test result is in, and quarantine on campus until the second one is in.  All courses will begin remotely to allow students complete the quarantine process before in-person instruction begins.

Arrival Quarantine & Testing

When students arrive on campus in the Spring, they will quarantine until negative test results are in. All students returning after break will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival and then again on day seven; they will quarantine in their rooms until the first negative test result is in, and quarantine on campus until the second one is in.  All courses will begin remotely to allow students complete the quarantine process before in-person instruction begins.

Campus Cleaning Protocols

Shared spaces and facilities will be cleaned daily using CDC-recommended practices in which all Buildings & Grounds cleaning staff have been trained. However, due to the impossibility of continuous cleaning, we will also rely upon community members to participate in cleaning high-touch surfaces and shared tools after use to ensure the safest environment for all. This is a component of the Commitment of Shared Responsibility, which everyone—all staff, faculty, and students—is required to sign before returning to campus.

What plans do you have for additional cleaning or "deep cleaning" of the facilities?

Shared spaces within academic and residential buildings will be cleaned by trained College housekeeping staff at least once a day following CDC-recommended practices. Cleaning protocols within other spaces will vary depending on frequency and type of use. 

What will the cleaning protocol be for houses and other shared spaces on campus?

Common spaces (living rooms, bathrooms, corridors, etc.) within student residential buildings will be cleaned daily utilizing CDC-recommended practices. Cleaning of individual dorm rooms will remain the responsibility of the occupants. However, we are happy to consult and provide guidance regarding cleaning practices.

Cleaning of shared spaces, such as labs and studios, will be a collaborative effort between Buildings and Grounds cleaning staff and community members who use the space, as outlined in the Commitment of Shared Responsibilities; users will be expected to help clean and disinfect shared surfaces and tools after use. Supplies will be provided to support this.

Campus Employment and Financial Questions

What kind of work opportunities will be provided?

Students studying on-campus in Fall 2020 will be given the opportunity to apply for low-contact, in-person jobs, which will become available to eligible students in Handshake starting mid-July. Many of these jobs will be different from what has been available previously. We have worked closely with all departments to source enough low-contact jobs to meet the number of work-eligible students (see details below). As in previous terms, to support an equitable process, students who wish to continue working in a previously held job must reapply in Handshake and be re-approved for hire.

How many hours can I work per week?

Our goal is for every student awarded need-based campus employment to be able to earn their full allocation in their financial aid award. Students with the typical work allotment of $1,150 would need to work between 7-8 hours per week to use that allotment during a term. Fall 2020 jobs have been restructured so that the vast majority of positions will offer 7-8 hours per week, allowing work-eligible students to hold one job to meet their allotment.

To help meet hiring gaps, work-eligible returning students who wish to obtain a second 7-8 hour weekly job (totaling 14-16 hours weekly) can now be approved to do so, after completing the two-question Google Form that was shared with all eligible students.

Can I still work if I don’t have a work allotment in my financial aid package?

With a goal of providing earning access to our neediest students, students without need-based work allotments in their financial aid packages will no longer be eligible to apply for work. We understand that this is a significant shift. If students have questions about their work award status, they may contact financial aid or review their aid award on My Financial Aid.

Can I work remotely?

The College is not able to approve any remote student employment after the end of the Spring 2020 term, due to budget constraints and employment laws. We understand that students and families rely on the work allotment in their financial aid packages to cover their costs. Given this, work allotments will be removed and replaced with comparable Bennington aid for all full-time students who are studying remotely. The addition of this aid in place of an allotment will reduce the amount owed on Populi for the term or, in some cases, result in a credit, which will be refunded to students. This aid will be disbursed on the same schedule as all other aid. Students and families should contact financial aid with questions about their individual packages.

Will there be a change in tuition and fees if a student is remote?

The same tuition and activities fee will be paid by all students whether in person or remote. Housing, meals, and the health center fee will not be charged for students who study remotely.

Will there be consequences if families need to retract the student re-enrollment before fall term starts?

No, students do not incur new costs until they arrive on campus and begin eating meals, living in housing, or taking classes. The student bill and student’s decision to enroll remotely are both due by August 1. Any prior balances will still be due.

What is the last day I can withdraw / take a leave without financial charges?

Students should make their decision to return to campus by February 1 to ensure housing, arrival schedules, and staffing are appropriate for the population. Academic charges for tuition will begin accruing after February 15. Housing and/or meal charges will begin accruing when a student arrives on campus. Once classes begin, the Refund and Withdrawal Policy will apply. Full charges are earned for the block after 20 days of attendance.

What happens to financial aid if the College shifts to fully remote learning during the term due to a spike in the virus?

Just as it was calculated in the spring term, student charges and financial aid will be calculated per day, based on charges and aid being earned-by-attendance. 76% of the financial aid a student receives is offered to assist with tuition. 13% is offered toward housing, and 11% is offered to assist students with meal plans. Aid will be adjusted (per day) in the area where there was a change. If the student remains enrolled in Distance Education after returning home, then 76% of their aid will remain eligible for the remainder of the term to assist with tuition. 24% will be adjusted on a per-day basis for meals (11%) and housing (13%) not earned-by-attendance. Charges on Populi will be adjusted at the same per-day rate used to calculate standard withdrawals.

Technology and Wi-Fi

The College has been in the process of a three-year, campus-wide network upgrade, which includes upgraded Wi-Fi access points in all student housing. The student housing Wi-Fi  upgrade was completed during winter Field Work Term 2020, and the spring 2020 term, after COVID-19 response, was spent tweaking the network configuration. While we can never guarantee that there will be no network issues, the College’s investment in the network over the past three years, including Wi-Fi  in student houses, will greatly improve the student experience and make us able to far better participate in courses delivered remotely from student housing.