Dear Bentley Community,
Yesterday, I shared news of the university’s plans for fully reopening campus for the fall 2021 semester. While we all look forward to that brighter future, the reality of today is that the number of positive COVID-19 cases among students continues to rise and we must take immediate steps if we are going to keep our campus open and continue to allow students to live on campus this spring.
Unfortunately, it’s clear that the measures we took last week to roll back to our ease-in period restrictions have not worked. In the past month, there have been more positive cases than in the entire fall term. Bentley’s growing test positivity rate currently sits at 4.7 times the average positivity among all colleges and universities in Massachusetts. As a result, stricter interventions are required.
Effective immediately, residential students are required to stay in their personal rooms on campus with strict exceptions such as picking up food or getting a COVID test. Students living off campus who are enrolled in our screening testing program are only to come to campus for their weekly screening tests and then must immediately leave campus. All classes will be conducted remotely. These measures will take effect this morning and remain until at least Thursday, March 18.
I know this is unwelcome news, but implementing these new guidelines immediately is the last possible measure that we can take before having to review the feasibility of continuing the on-campus experience for the remainder of the spring term. This week is crucial, and numbers must trend downwards.
Later this morning, Provost Blancero and Dean Shepardson will send an email detailing additional steps to keep our campus safe. This will include the relevant information about how students will be able to access the more-limited campus services available during this restricted period. Please read that email carefully and follow the health and safety measures. These measures are not meant as punishments. We must keep our community safe from the very serious threat of COVID-19 as the virus still poses a very real threat, regardless of a person’s age or health.
You have all worked hard and sacrificed to make this term a success, and we do not want to send students home before the end of the semester. However, we will be forced to close our campus and send students home unless each member of our community keeps their distance, wears a face covering and keeps to their immediate roommates over the next week. Again, please read this morning’s email from Provost Blancero and Dean Shepardson carefully to understand the full extent of the new campus guidelines. Please do your part this week to turn us in the right direction.
Interim President and Chair of the Board
Additional Health and Safety Measures
Dear Bentley Community,
Earlier this morning, Interim President Paul Condrin shared that immediate new restrictions are needed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on campus and protect our community. Without a reduction in the rate of positive cases on campus, we will be forced to send students home and end the on-campus experience for the spring term, as we did at this same time last year. That is the last thing we wish to do, so to keep that from happening, we urge you to strictly follow these new measures.
The university COVID-19 Testing Dashboard makes it clear that the recent trend of positive cases is unsustainable. In the last 16 days, 96 students have tested positive. The data are troubling, and it’s clear that the strictest possible measures are required. As a result, the following restrictions will take effect immediately until at least Thursday, March 18:
Classes - All in-person undergraduate and graduate classes will move to remote learning. All academic spaces will continue to be closed.
Testing Compliance and Contact Tracing - Violations of the testing protocols and contact tracing efforts will be taken very seriously. Students must have their appointments scheduled (twice weekly for residential students and once weekly for non-residents) and must keep those appointments. Students who miss appointments without having submitted a Temporary Housing Leave form or having a valid exemption will no longer have access to the campus for the remainder of the spring term. This includes residential students.
Testing on March 11 and March 12 - We will conduct a special day of testing on Friday, March 12. All students who do not already have a test scheduled for today, Thursday, March 11 will be assigned a mandatory testing appointment for tomorrow March 12. Students currently in isolation or quarantine, who are excused from the screening because of a positive result in the past 90 days, and students who declared that they are away are exempted from Friday testing.
Residence Halls - Inter-residence hall visits will continue to be prohibited. Additionally, students must avoid visiting other rooms in their residence halls and should stay only with their family units. Non-Bentley visitors, including family members, are not permitted in the residence halls.
Non-Residential Students - Off-campus students are not permitted to come to campus except for screening test appointments or for approved, essential student work. Students who miss appointments without having submitted a Temporary Housing Leave form or having a valid exemption will no longer have access to the campus for the remainder of the spring term. We urge all students to apply these on-campus restrictions to any off-campus interactions, including refraining from dining in at restaurants and visiting others outside of your household.
Student Work - All student workers may be granted an exception to continue in-person work by a vice president in order to support essential campus needs. Positions that allow for remote work should be confirmed with supervisors.
Off-Campus Travel - Residential students are strongly advised to not leave campus unless absolutely necessary. We know some students may prefer to go home for the duration of these restrictions. Attempting to return to campus after a night away will require a full on-boarding process with a negative test produced upon arrival and an immediate on-campus testing appointment. If you are leaving campus overnight or longer, you are required to complete the onboarding process again, which includes producing a negative test that was taken within the past 72 hours, testing upon your arrival and self-quarantining in your personal room while waiting for a negative result. Students needing to travel off campus overnight or out of state must complete the Temporary Housing Leave form. Failure to complete this process will likely result in your removal from housing.
Dining - All on-campus dining will continue to be takeout only. Nighttime dining options will close at 10 p.m.
Campus Services - Except for picking up takeout food at the 921, the Student Center will be closed and meeting rooms will be available only by appointment. The Mailroom will convert to pick up by appointment only using the instructions in notification emails from mail services, and the Bookstore and Falcon Mart will operate under limited hours.
In-person Campus Events - All previously approved in-person events that are scheduled to take place in the next seven days have been postponed. No new in-person event requests will be considered or approved during this time period.
Library - The library will convert to pick-up and drop-off services only. No students are allowed inside the library to browse or study.
Athletics, Fitness Center and Pool - Teams will be required to suspend all activities including organized practices and scrimmages. The fitness center and pool will be closed. Certain athletic fields will be closed and off limits.
Shuttle Service - The shuttle to Harvard Square will continue to only operate on weekdays. The last shuttle leaving Harvard Square will now depart at 6 p.m.
Staff and Faculty Offices - Vice presidents will review the current levels of personnel working on campus and will shift staff to work remotely where appropriate. Faculty should consult with their deans about office and classroom access. All essential student services will continue and students will be able to access these remotely.
This update is meant to provide as much information as possible for the days ahead. If you have questions, we invite you to submit them here.
We know this is a challenging time, and these added limitations to campus activities can be stressful. Health and wellness resources are available on campus, and we encourage you to reach out if you are in need to help. Remote consultation appointments are available through the Counseling Center by calling 781-891-2274. Telephone support is available at that number 24/7. There are also online tutorials and workshops on the Health Resources page and short online psychoeducational videos on our Counseling Center YouTube page.
These restrictions are not meant to be punishments but are crucial to continuing the spring term on campus. The health and safety of our community remain our top priority, and the current rate of cases on campus is not sustainable. We are all tired of the restrictions, but the pandemic continues to dictate what we can and cannot do. The faster we take this seriously and reduce the number of positive cases, the quicker we can return to more open operations.