Jan. 12, 2022
Dear Bentley Community,
As our campus prepares for the start of the spring semester, we are committed to beginning the term as safely as possible, with a continued focus on maintaining the health of all community members. The policies and guidelines outlined below are important for all members of our community to closely follow and are designed to ensure that our students can enjoy the on-campus and in-class experiences—with as little interruption as possible—that make Bentley special. It will be important for us all to be patient and understanding of what may be asked of each member of our community. COVID-19 cases are at an all-time high in Waltham, our surrounding communities and around the world in part due to the high transmissibility of the omicron variant. This semester will certainly bring challenges and positive cases.
While for many on campus—thanks to the benefits of vaccination and boosters—contracting COVID-19 may only result in mild illness, each positive case brings with it consequences that impact our entire community and campus support services. Each residential student who contracts COVID-19 requires special housing accommodations, meal deliveries and medical follow up. If large numbers of our campus population become sick with COVID-19 at the same time, even with mild symptoms, the staff and faculty who support our students will be stretched beyond capacity and Bentley may then be unable to maintain critical campus services and continue regular operations. Put simply, in order for this semester to be possible, we cannot allow support services to be overwhelmed when we have the tools and proven preventative measures at our disposal.
For the weeks ahead, here is what you should know:
Hybrid Start to Classes
All classes for the spring term will begin in a hybrid format for the first two weeks of the semester, from January 24 to February 4, due to the prevalence of positive cases across the country, increase in delayed and canceled flights, and to provide a safe ease-in period that allows everyone to participate in classes. Students will not be required to attend classes in person for the first two weeks. Beginning Monday, February 7, all undergraduate classes will be fully in person unless otherwise noted. Graduate classes will continue in a hybrid format, as is always offered for master’s level courses at the university.
To maintain a safer, more measured flow of students moving in, some changes will need to be made to the move-in process to ensure we do not have too many positive cases at one time. The hybrid start to the semester will allow students to begin classes on time, no matter their move-in date. Residential students are reminded they need to arrive with proof of a negative test (see details below under “Testing”). We will work to accommodate student requests, especially students with current travel commitments such as flights. Details will be provided to residential students by the end of this week from the Residential Center.
We know that travel arrangements and planning are particularly difficult for our international students. We remain committed to supporting all international students who may face difficulties traveling to campus in the coming weeks. Our Center for International Students and Scholars can be reached at 781-891-2829 or email@example.com for any questions related to arriving to campus and/or remote learning.
As a reminder, all students, faculty and staff are required to receive a COVID-19 booster shot this semester. All details and deadlines related to booster shots are available on Back to Bentley.
It is important that all members of our community wear a mask at all times when indoors, except for in the residence halls or when actively eating or drinking. This includes in academic and administrative buildings if not in a private office, the Student Center, the Library, the Dana Center (including the fitness center) and the Bentley Arena. While masks aren’t required in residence halls, we strongly advise that you use them when visiting other rooms or in common areas.
There will be increased enforcement and expectations of mask wearing as we start the semester. To prevent being overrun with positive cases, we all must do our part to ensure we do not transmit or become infected with the virus. We urge students, faculty and staff to order high quality masks and bring them to campus. This includes disposable 3-ply masks with a nose wire (good), or filtering masks (better) that meet a standard such as KN95, KF94, FFP2, ASTM F3502/Workplace Performance (plus), or N95 without an exhalation valve. These may be required in certain situations on campus including classrooms. More details will be provided on the Back to Bentley webpages.
Weekly screening testing will continue for all undergraduate and residential students and is optional for faculty currently teaching and for frontline staff members. Students should schedule their weekly testing appointments before the start of the semester using the Bentley Health Portal. Instructions on scheduling appointments can be found here.
Additionally, residential students are required to provide proof of a negative test before moving onto campus. More details will be shared later this week about how to meet this requirement with a PCR or rapid antigen test and how to provide proof of a negative test result.
If You Tested Positive During Break
Members of our community who tested positive for COVID-19 during winter break are excused from testing requirements for 90 days. To be excused, students should upload their positive test report, or a letter from their health care provider, to the Bentley Health Portal. Please email the Health Center if you cannot obtain a positive test report or a letter from your health care provider documenting your positive COVID-19 test result.
Updates to Isolation and Quarantine Guidelines
Earlier this month, Massachusetts adopted the latest CDC guidelines for isolating following a positive case and quarantining following a close contact. Starting this semester, Bentley will be adopting similar guidelines for isolation and quarantine, which will be shared on Back to Bentley prior to the start of the semester.
We ask students and families, particularly those within a 200-mile radius of campus, to make a departure plan to isolate or quarantine off campus at home. While we know this will not be possible in all situations, we are learning from area institutions that having students isolate at home helps to manage higher rates of infection on campus. We are seeking your cooperation in this effort.
Upcoming Informational Webinar
We know that many may have questions regarding the above campus guidelines. To help clarify any policies for the spring semester, we will be hosting a webinar next week to walk through these protocols and answer common questions. Please keep an eye out for an invitation and registration link in the coming days.
As a community, we all share the goal of having the least amount of disruption for our on-campus learning experience this semester. As a place-based university, we are all responsible for the health and wellness of ourselves as well as our fellow students, professors and university staff. It’s only when we all do our part to keep one another safe that we give ourselves the best chance of a semester without major disruptions.
As always, these guidelines and all future updates will be posted on bentley.edu/backtobentley.
We are all frustrated that COVID-19 continues to play such a major role in our day-to-day lives. However, we cannot let our guards down and stop the preventative measures that have proven effective in keeping our community safe. We’re looking forward to seeing campus full of students once again and working together for a successful semester.
The Bentley University Cabinet
E. LaBrent Chrite
Donna Maria Blancero