March 14: President Quillen: #DavidsonTrue

Today on campus, students are packing their rooms, professors are working with library and instructional design experts to move their courses to remote instruction, and our student life team is supporting community members, especially students, who have specific challenges or needs. Thank you all for coming together in support of our mission and one another.

In the broader community and on campus, people are adjusting to a radically different context. As we all focus more on COVID-19 and slowing its spread, each of us will pay more attention to our health and to abiding by our shared obligations. I’m proud and grateful to be a part of Davidson. You have turned understandable fear into constructive action, and your concern for one another is evident at every moment.

College leadership is working to address questions as they come in and is posting responses.

SGA has worked generously and quickly to address specific needs like transportation and storage. All students who can leave campus are doing that. Our amazing seniors have demonstrated leadership and understanding, and I know we will celebrate their accomplishments at some point in the future.

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March 13: Brief Note and Reminders Regarding COVID-19 from President Quillen

Good morning, I hope to update you at least once daily for the next few days. Thank you for all that you’re doing.

At a time of heightened anxiety, I want consistently to urge us to take the steps we know we can take to slow the transmission of this virus, no matter where or who we are. There is a lot we can’t control, but there are steps we can take. This virus is most often transmitted through sneezes, coughs, and close personal contact. Do these things:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds.  When you can’t use soap and water, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid routine personal contact: wave, say hello. No handshaking or hugging.
  • Avoid large gatherings.  Do not hold or attend such gatherings.
  • If have symptoms (coughing, sneezing, fever, shortness of breath) stay home and call your doctor or the Center for Health and Well-Being.
  • Students who can leave campus, please do so and let us know how to help you.

Seniors, I know this is impossibly disappointing for you and that you have many questions, including questions about Commencement. No decision has been made here. I can promise you, though, that in the future a time will come when we can and will celebrate. I don’t know when this will be, but I will work with you to figure that out. For now, I need you to help us safeguard the health of everyone by taking the steps above.

Many students have asked about room and board; appropriate refunds/credits will be issued. We expect to do this by Monday, March 28th.

Thanks to all students for your cooperation, leadership and understanding. We’re here to help.

Thanks to SGA for your good questions last night, and for encouraging all of us to abide by our shared obligations. I will be back in touch later today.  

Faculty members, thank you for your incredible efforts to move to remote instruction. I am so grateful for your creativity and collegiality.

Staff members, thank you for everything that you’re doing to support our mission and safeguard our campus. We’re fortunate to have you.

Thank you all for your efforts and support of one another.

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March 12: Important Information Regarding COVID-19 from President Quillen

I have just been informed that a member of our community exhibited some symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and meets some of the criteria for testing. This individual was tested this evening, and we will know the results in a few days. Our thoughts are with this person, and we hope they recover quickly.  We are committed to protecting their privacy.

Out of caution, that individual is in quarantine. We are following the guidance and direction of local and state health officials, who have not recommended any additional steps at this time.

Our understanding from health officials is that, if the test comes back positive, we or the health department will ask those individuals who have been in close contact with this potential case to monitor their health closely for a period of time. 

Once we have any further information we will share that with you. We understand that sharing this now will cause anxiety, but, knowing that rumors may circulate, I wanted you to hear the facts as I know them.

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March 12: Important Campus Message from President Quillen Regarding COVID-19

With the declaration of a global pandemic, we as a community need to take significant, immediate steps to honor the priorities that have guided us in addressing COVID-19. These priorities remain what they have been:

  • Safeguarding the health and well-being of the campus community, especially those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19
  • Respecting the guidance of public health officials
  • Ensuring that students can complete their academic work for the semester

Then two other very important priorities: 

  • Ensuring, insofar as possible, that faculty members can continue research and scholarly work
  • Ensuring, insofar as possible, that other crucial educational opportunities remain available to students

To honor these priorities now, we need to switch to remote instruction (mandating that all faculty move to remote instruction) and we need all students who can leave the residence halls to do so.

This is an extraordinary step for a campus like ours. Our priorities have not changed. The declaration of a global pandemic will likely cause school and work closings and increasingly stringent guidelines for personal interactions as well as even greater stress on everyone. By moving to remote instruction, we enable all students, no matter where they are, to complete their academic work, albeit in radically different form. By strongly urging all students who can leave campus to do so, we reduce the density of our residence halls, helping to ensure that we can, under conditions of a global pandemic, comply with potential guidance from CDC and other public health experts.

I am fully aware of the complexity of this potential course of action and the burdens that it places on you all. I am asking for your help and support. Some students will need to stay on campus. These students need others who can leave to do so. Faculty members will need to go remote, and will rely on those who have expertise or experience doing this to help them. Other members of our community will require individual solutions that meet their unique needs.  I am grateful, as always, for the ways in which you support and sustain each other. 

To ensure that we can address everyone’s needs, especially those of the most vulnerable among us, we need every single person to help, as you have been helping up to now. Thank you, thank you.

The Immediate Plan

Everyone

  • Campus will remain open. Departments across campus are working to continue to provide services and programs that supplement academic coursework.
  • All classes are cancelled tomorrow, Friday, March 13, through Tuesday, March 17. 
  • All classes will resume by remote instruction on Wednesday, March 18.
  •  Human Resources is working on a continuity of work plan for all regular employees and Kim Ball will send a message with additional information later today. 

Faculty Members

  • Training in remote instruction remains available, and Dean Jefferson will follow up with more information and ways to explore solutions to individual challenges in this move.

Students

  • Students, if you can, please leave campus by Wednesday. You will be aiding your friends, classmates and mentors, as our goal is to reduce the concentration of people on campus. You should not plan on returning this semester, so please take whatever belongings you need through that time. We will follow up at a later date with information about retrieving belongings that are left on campus. Student athletes, your coaches will follow up shortly.
  • If leaving now presents a hardship or is impeded by international travel restrictions, please talk to the Dean of Students office. Let us know what you need. We want to help. Dean McCrae will follow up with additional information.
  • Synchronous remote classes will be held at the scheduled times. Office hours will be held remotely.

We recognize that this is hard, especially for some subject areas and courses. Faculty members will work with students on how to complete work in these areas.

We are moving quickly to get information out to you, so a lot of questions will be answered in subsequent communications. Please look for these. No decision has been made about Commencement.

Students, if you need an accommodation for a disability, please see Beth Bleil.

Additional Information

  • Campus remains open, but we are canceling all gatherings of more than 50 people. This will impact scheduled performances and other events. More information will be forthcoming.

  • Our Silicon Valley program has switched to remote instruction.

  • The Admission team is transforming events to virtual visits.

This move, unprecedented in the college’s history, is very difficult and will require everyone’s help. To our students, thank you for your resilience and your support for each other during these tense moments. To our faculty members and staff, thank you for steadfast dedication to our primary purpose, values and students.

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March 11: President Quillen Update on COVID-19

Over the past few hours, I and many others have received a number of understandably anxious emails and calls from our community, asking for explanations, information or posing questions specific to the circumstances of individuals. All of us (senior leadership and our T&I, Academic Affairs, and Student Life teams, together with many faculty members and staff members) are working to address each of these questions. I want to thank my colleagues and all of you for all you are doing at this very stressful time to support one another.

Each of you who writes has a different concern: a senior who wants desperately to complete a thesis, a first generation student who cannot go home, a scholar athlete who wants to finish a final season, a faculty member who wants to give a paper at a conference, a person with a chronic condition who wants to leave campus, a staff member with an elderly parent at home, a student with an ill relative at home, and more. Each of these concerns and fears matters.  

All of us, with your help, are working to come up with plans/answers/options that safeguard the health and well-being of campus and honor the differing needs, health concerns and aspirations of the community. In this we are guided by the best information we can get from CDC and local health officials. Even if we cannot answer you directly, we’re working on it.

Every single person can help to safeguard themselves and others:

  • Abide  by our “shared obligations” (outlined in the March 7 message below).
  • Cancel in person gatherings, including social gatherings, that can be postponed or whose purpose can be accomplished in another way.
  • If working remotely is best for your situation, talk with your manager or Director of Human Resources Kim Ball. 

Tomorrow we will provide a detailed update. Thank you, as always, for all that you do for Davidson.


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March 10: Your Support for Each Other During the COVID-19 Situation

We are a strong community that looks out for one another.  Thank you all, during these stressful days, for embracing our shared commitment and taking care of each other. 

We have received a variety of questions, particularly from students, that we will try to answer here. Later in this message you will find questions collected by SGA leadership with Dean McCrae providing some answers.

The most important thing to take away from this message is that we need your help, creativity and good sense. We all are operating differently, and we need to find creative ways to get things done differently than we have in the past. If you have a gathering scheduled that involves people flying in, can you achieve what you need to by meeting virtually or postponing? Can you raise money for your charity in some way other than an event that draws a crowd to campus?  

One of the big questions right now is about in-person classes. We do not, at this time, have plans to send students home and shift to virtual or remote instruction. You undoubtedly have read of some schools doing this. Institutions make these decisions based on a variety of factors, including location and risk to vulnerable populations, such as a university that runs a hospital filled with patients. Davidson is an amazing, strong community in which we provide tremendous support for each other. There are many among us who would be going home to situations where they may not have the same support as here, or they could put someone from a vulnerable group at risk.

That said, we continue to adjust how we are handling this situation based on circumstances. Our teams in Technology & Innovation, the Center for Teaching and Learning and Academic Affairs have worked to ensure that faculty have the resources and training to teach remotely. We are going to offer this option to faculty now, which will give them the opportunity to test this format. We need to prepare for all possibilities. For example, we have arranged new licensing that allows all faculty to use Zoom conferencing with up to 100 participants, and training sessions for remote teaching are going on this week.

The Governor of North Carolina has declared a state of emergency. Such a declaration is a tool that governments use to access emergency funding and relax some regulations to better respond to possible crisis situations. It is not a measure of risk by public health officials.

Please continue to follow the preventive steps we have sent and are posted on this webpage. 

Other Things We Are Doing

  • All college-sponsored international travel is cancelled through the end of this semester, which is a tighter restriction than previously set.  If you need an exception to this because of an emergency situation, students should contact Dean Byron McCrae, and employees should contact CFO Ann McCorvey.
  • We are discouraging nonessential, college-sponsored, domestic travel through the end of the semester, and trips must be cleared by a division head or, for students, the Dean of Students office, also a tighter restriction.  The distinction from international travel is that the college is better situated to help you within the U.S. if circumstances or regulations around you change.
  • We expect to have COVID-19 tests in hand this week.
  • We have plans and self-contained facilities in place if we need to quarantine or isolate students.  The Guest House, for example, can be cleared of guests, which provides individual rooms with individual bathrooms. We have other locations with private bathrooms and separate ventilation systems. 
  • We have cancelled some events, such as the upcoming Reformed Tradition symposium, Cornelson lecture and Alumni Association meeting.
  • Athletics continues to evaluate spring competition schedules, travel and policies in conjunction with the A10 conference, NCAA and public safety officials.
  • Our facilities crews continue to ratchet up cleaning of common areas and to maintain hand sanitizer in public locations.  Food service has removed areas of common touchpoints.  

FAQs

Below are questions assembled by SGA leaders with responses from Byron McCrae, Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students

Where will students quarantine? 
Please see the reference to the Guest House above.  Decisions about where to isolate or quarantine students will be based on advice from our medical partners and the guidance of public health officials.  

Is it true that the lounge on the third floor of Armfield is a quarantine zone? (This is a rumor going around) 
While some students may be aware that Armfield lounges were used in a public health emergency several years ago, I should stress caution about rumors and the misunderstandings that rumors cause.  Decisions about where to isolate or quarantine students will be based on advice from our medical partners and the guidance of public health officials.  

What threshold of symptoms must students meet to not attend class?
If you have symptoms of a cold or the flu (fever, cough, sneezing, shortness of breath) stay home, get rest, and contact your doctor or Davidson’s Center for Student Health and Well-Being.

Is there support available for students with disabilities? Although our age group is not at high risk, there could be students on campus with physical disabilities that suppress their immune systems. How is the college supporting those individuals? 
Students should contact any of the following offices: Academic Access & Disability Resources, the Dean of Students Office or Center for Student Health & Well-Being.  

Where should students go if they're experiencing symptoms?
Students should go to the Center for Student Health & Well-Being.  

How will academics at Davidson change because of the virus? Some colleges across the country have sent students home, transitioned to online classes, etc.
Please see the reference to remote teaching above. We are taking proactive measures to be as flexible as possible to meet the needs of our students as well as our faculty and staff.  Some of our employees are primary caregivers to populations at high risk for the illness, so we may provide them options. 

How is the Town of Davidson reacting to the spread of the virus?
The town has posted information on their website. 

How will current and future abroad plans be impacted?
We will continue to adjust as circumstances require. 

What is Davidson doing for older-aged professors who may be at risk?
Please see the reference above to providing the option of remote teaching to all faculty.

Is there anywhere where students can find a list of places around the country, and the world that are at risk?
Yes, the CDC and U.S. State Department

What changes is the health center making to accommodate students during this time?
Health and Well-Being has been planning and following CDC protocols for several weeks. 

Changes were made at commons to keep things sanitary. What steps could Eating Houses take to prevent the spread of illness?
Eating house leaders have reached out to college leaders who provided recommendations to all Patterson Court houses that provide meals.  

Could the college take steps to increase the availability of Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer throughout campus?
Resources are limited and we will try to obtain more. Please do not move or take the hand sanitizer containers that our staff have placed in public places. These are there for all of us. Use them, but please do not take them.

This has been, and continues to be, a community effort.  We are grateful for your support and devotion to your friends, classmates and colleagues, and we will continue to need your help. 

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March 9: Changes to Protect Us from COVID-19

We will be operating a little differently as we take steps to protect against COVID-19. Today, we want to tell you about some of the first of the kinds of changes you can expect. 

Meals will be different. We want to remove or reduce common touchpoints, such as places at which lots of people touch serving utensils, condiments or napkin holders.

  • You will find more places at which the food service staff serve you. 
  • We will take orders verbally rather than setting out pencils and paper order forms.
  • Salt and pepper shakers, ketchup, other condiments and napkin holders will be placed under a sneeze shield, and the outside of them frequently will be wiped down with sanitizer.

These steps likely will slow down food service, so please be patient with longer lines.

We are reevaluating events with crowds, the benefits, level of risk, the size of the crowd and other factors. You may see some events cancelled because the speaker couldn’t travel or participants start cancelling. 

We are grateful for the care you already are taking toward your own health and the health of those around you. Please continue to keep your classmates, friends and colleagues at top of mind as you make decisions. 

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