| by Baishakhi Taylor and David Provost

Students

Dear Middlebury Parents and Students,

Following our decision to transition to remote instruction on Monday, March 30, after spring break, we have received a variety of questions on many topics. We understand how disruptive this is to everyone, and we want to address your concerns and provide you with as much information as possible at this time.

Based on your feedback, we will allow students to stay on campus until Sunday, March 15, 5:00 p.m. if necessary, and approved by student life. If you have not yet filled out the original departure form, please do so right away. The form will now accept departures dates through Sunday, March 15. If you have already filled it out and wish to revise your departure based on this new information, please revise your date here.

We still encourage you to leave campus by 8:00 p.m. on Friday, March 13, if you can do so.

Please be assured that we are working on all of these complex issues around the clock. We appreciate how many of you have reached out, and even more so, that you are working with us in a fluid situation. We also appreciate how difficult this ambiguity is for seniors, who look forward to these weeks of their senior year to spend time with friends and staff and faculty mentors.

Health Implications

Many have asked us why we made this decision, given that the situation may appear to be better in Vermont than in other states. This is not true for a residential college campus, where density holds particular health risks, no matter where a college is located. Given the rapid spread of the virus and its proximity to our dense residential campus in Vermont, we are following the principles of “social distancing” recommended by the CDC in our decision-making process. We have made a series of decisions based on what we believe are in the best interests of our students, faculty, and staff. The aim in all our deliberations has been to move quickly and thoughtfully to minimize, as best as we can, the risk of exposure for members of our community, while continuing to fulfill our educational mission.

Public health authorities advise that social distancing is the best way to slow the spread of infection and prevent the challenges of providing care for many people being infected at once. We therefore looked for opportunities to eliminate, as much as possible, the need for students, faculty, and staff to congregate. We also sought to minimize the risk that the virus would be introduced to our campus from the outside.

We believe it is essential for students to leave campus prior to a potential outbreak, which could quickly overwhelm our campus and local health resources. Once cases begin appearing locally, it could become increasingly difficult to effectively implement social distancing or isolate students, faculty, and staff who may have been exposed to the virus. The strain on our capabilities could put our community even more at risk, both in its health and in its ability to fulfill our academic mission.

Refund Information

For students who leave campus by March 15, we will apply a prorated credit for room and board (housing and meal plan) for the time students would have been on campus. Understanding that students may be returning to campus to finish the semester, we cannot at this time know the amount of the credit or when it will be applied to student accounts.

We will know more in the next three weeks, by which time we will determine the prorated credit. Following that decision, our staff will apply the credits to the student accounts via our online billing system. We will keep you updated as things unfold.

Financial Hardship

We understand that the decision to begin spring break early and require students to travel off campus on short notice may create undue financial hardship on some families. Students who already had travel arrangements should check with airlines and other carriers, since many travel carriers have waived change or re-booking fees. For students who need to make new or alternative arrangements, we are hopeful that, in many cases, those can be made with minimal or no incremental financial burden.

However, we recognize that travel changes or new arrangements may be cost-prohibitive for some students. We do not want finances to be the principal barrier to your ability to leave campus. If you need emergency financial assistance, please contact Student Financial Services at sfs@middlebury.edu or call 802-443-5158.

Departure Information

  • Families Picking Up Students on Campus — Families are welcome to come to campus to assist their students with packing.

  • What should I take with me? — You must pack your room before departing since it is possible the semester will be completed remotely. Boxes, tape, and labels are available for pickup in Commons offices and other locations to be determined. Remember to empty any refrigerators and dispose of perishable food items. Your belongings should be packed, labeled (including name, student ID number, building, and room number), and left organized in your room. We will provide secure storage and, as necessary, shipping for everyone.

  • Student Departure Form — All students must fill out this form to notify Middlebury of their plans. The form must be filled out by Thursday, March 12, at 3 p.m. Students who must stay on campus should indicate this on the form and must receive prior approval to stay. We are responding to these applications throughout the day to give students prompt information in support of their planning. Online form here.

  • Mail Center, Packages, and Boxed Belongings — The mail room will remain open and any packages that arrive after students have left campus will be held for students until they return to campus. We will securely store your boxed-up belongings until your eventual return. This means it is essential that you think ahead and take with you anything you anticipate needing. It also means that seniors should strongly consider taking all belongings with them if possible. If students are unable to return to campus this semester, we will send further instructions on how to retrieve your belongings.

Student Employment

We have received many questions about whether students will be permitted to continue their jobs. There may be opportunities for student workers to continue employment remotely. We are researching federal guidelines that inform this policy. We will share information as we receive it.

Remote Instruction

We want to reiterate the following important details that we sent you in yesterday’s letter.

  • Classes Resume Remotely March 30 — Following break, all instruction will be offered remotely. Our staff in Digital Learning & Inquiry (DLINQ), Information Technology Services, the Library, and the Provost’s office are working with faculty to ensure that they are as prepared as possible to resume teaching March 30, using digital technologies.

  • Academic Continuity — All students will be able to fulfill their academic requirements remotely. The Department of Education is relaxing regulations to enable colleges and universities to meet academic standards more flexibly.

  • Technology for Remote Learning — We will provide technology support and will make available equipment that students might need (headsets, webcams, and other technologies) on long-term loan.

  • Coursework — These are extraordinary times, and faculty and staff will do all they can to be flexible around exams, homework submissions, etc. based on the variable working situations our students will find themselves in while studying remotely. Please stay in close contact with your professors.

Events and Activities

  • Commencement and Reunion — We have not yet made a decision about Commencement, Reunion, or other major events later in the spring and summer. It would not be prudent to do so given how rapidly things are changing. We will continue to update you based on evolving information.

  • Summer Study/Internships/Research — At this time, summer activities are not affected. We are optimistic that summer schedules will continue as normal. However, we are constantly evaluating the situation and things may change as we get closer to summer.

  • Athletics and Arts — We wanted to acknowledge how difficult this is for students who were looking forward to performances and athletic contests over the spring semester. We understand that these are integral parts of the Middlebury experience. We encourage those of you working on group projects that can be maintained virtually to do so. If we do resume in April, we are hopeful that we will be able to sponsor as many of them as possible.

We will continue to provide updates for you through email and online to ensure that you have the most current and accurate information.

If you have additional questions, please refer to our coronavirus FAQs, which are updated frequently, and if they are not answered there, please email sao@middlebury.edu or call the helpline at 802-443-3106, staffed from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily until Friday, March 13.

This is a difficult situation for everyone, and we appreciate your flexibility, patience, and understanding as we work through these details and respond to numerous requests.

 

Sincerely,

Baishakhi Taylor
Vice President for Student Affairs

David Provost
Executive Vice President for Finance & Administration

 


Note: 3/17/2020 - in the Refund Information section, the language was updated from “Following that decision, our staff will apply the credits and generate refunds via our online billing system.” to read “Following that decision, our staff will apply the credits to the student accounts via our online billing system.”