Coronavirus: New Campus Practices and Guidance
The following update on COVID-19 was sent to our community from Interim President Isabel Roche.
For more information, please visit our COVID-19 update page.
Dear Bennington Community,
As the situation around COVID-19 continues to unfold, our top priority remains the health and wellbeing of our campus community. Since there is no way to predict how and where the virus will spread, we are implementing the following changes, effective immediately, in an effort to prevent or delay the presence of coronavirus on campus.
- Reducing Exposure Risks to Our Community
- Speakers and speaker series: Speakers and speaker series with an anticipated attendance of more than 30 people can continue if they can happen virtually. If they cannot, they will be canceled or postponed. For events with an anticipated attendance of fewer than 30 people, the safest option will also be to cancel or postpone the event, if it cannot happen virtually. On-campus events will not be open to public in-person attendance, but we will share links to watch online when possible.
- Admissions visitors: The admissions team will be reaching out to prospective students who are planning to visit campus and work with families on alternatives.
- Social visitors: For the health and safety of this community, students will not be permitted to have guests on campus.
- Meetings with community attendees: Faculty and staff hosting meetings or sessions with community attendees should use conferencing technology as much as possible to limit in-person participation.
- Crossett Library: The library will not be open to the public.
- New Travel Procedures and Guidance
- 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.
- Long Weekend (April 4-8): Students and faculty are strongly encouraged not to travel during Long Weekend; we will be extending dining hall hours and adding programming on campus.
- Personal travel: The College is asking people to be proactive in considering the need to travel against the potential risk to yourself and the Bennington College community. In many cases, the safest option is to postpone your travel.
- Limiting trips Off Campus
- Field trips: Faculty are asked to cancel or postpone scheduled field trips; they should be in touch with John Bullock with any questions.
- Volunteer trips into town: We will be limiting volunteer trips into town for the time being. Please be in touch with Student Life with any questions.
- Other trips into public spaces: We recognize that students, faculty, and staff may need to take trips to the grocery store and other places. We ask that everyone follow the recommended procedures, including washing your hands and not touching your face.
In the event that there is a confirmed case of coronavirus on campus we will shift to remote delivery of all courses. Our faculty is currently planning ways to adapt courses so they can continue remotely, thereby allowing students to make satisfactory progress toward their degrees with minimal impact. The College will work with students for whom leaving campus may be difficult.
We will continue to follow guidance from the Vermont Department of Public Health, and monitor the situation and reassess in light of new information. Updates or modifications to the above and decisions about whether to hold or postpone later spring events like BenningtonWorks and the Bennington Food Summit on Relocalization will be forthcoming.
We will keep the community apprised of new information as it becomes available and are grateful for the flexibility, creativity, and conscientiousness you have demonstrated over the past few weeks. Please, of course, continue to follow recommendations, including washing hands and staying home while sick, and check our website for the most current information on Bennington College practices and guidance, and submit any questions for the Task Force.
We know this is an unsettling time with so much uncertainty and concern for the health of ourselves, each other, and our communities. In working together, we will successfully navigate these challenges.