We are writing with additional updates based on recent developments, including the governor’s March 31 executive order and the extension of the social distancing recommendations by the federal government. Additionally, below you will find updates on the positive cases of COVID-19 within the Colby community and answers to questions that have been raised by faculty and staff.
The governor’s executive order—the “Stay Healthy at Home Mandate”—requires the public to stay home except for certain “essential activities.” The continuation of Colby’s academic program and our ability to provide for the students who remain on campus are deemed essential by state and federal authorities. Therefore, employees who need to conduct their work on campus are permitted to continue to do so. This includes faculty members who need to come to campus for the purpose of remote coursework.
For background, the executive order identifies educational institutions as “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” as follows:
“Educators supporting public and private K-12 schools, colleges, universities for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing other essential functions, if operating under social distancing.” Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce During COVID-19 Response, March 19, 2020
As you know, Colby has been able to move most faculty and staff to remote work, and we have adjusted work schedules of those needing to be on campus—mainly in Dining Services, Facilities, and Security—to reduce the number of employees on campus at any given time. Through these efforts, we have reduced the number of employees on campus from more than 800 prior to the break to fewer than 100 today.
The text of the full executive order may be reviewed here. We encourage faculty and staff to cooperate with the state’s efforts to implement social distancing in hopes that we can reduce the impact on our families, friends, colleagues, and communities.
Colby’s implementation of safety protocols related to COVID-19 will now be extended through May 1. These include:
- All buildings are closed to the public and require card access at all times. The libraries, athletics center, and Colby College Museum of Art remain closed until further notice.
- Work schedules for colleagues in Dining Services, Facilities, and Security will remain on a reduced schedule while maintaining regular pay.
- Meetings or groups are limited to no more than 10 people, and participants must adhere to social distancing guidelines (six feet apart).
- We have also directed employees driving Colby vehicles to do so alone until further notice.
- The shuttle is running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on an on-call basis for single passengers and only for an essential reason.
- The state order requires that anyone coming into Maine from out of state must quarantine for 14 days. It is not yet clear whether or how the travel restrictions may be enforced. If you need to travel (e.g., for a medical appointment, to take care of a family member), you should do so. Please continue to submit the returning from travel form here so the College is aware of those members of our community who are required to be quarantined.
- Please continue to practice additional preventive measures:
o Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer, cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, and refrain from touching your face.
o If you are sick, especially with respiratory symptoms, stay home and contact your healthcare provider if needed.
Community Cases of COVID-19
As of April 1, we have been notified of six test-positive cases of COVID-19 within the Colby community. Of those individuals, five were out of state at the time of the positive test and therefore are counted in those states’ totals (and are not reflected in the totals reported by Maine CDC). All members of our community who were deemed to have had close contact with the test-positive individuals were notified and provided with health guidance, including monitoring and quarantine requirements per public health guidelines.
Four of the individuals who tested positive have recovered and been released from isolation. Two remain in isolation outside of Maine.
Should we experience additional test-positive cases among members of the Colby community in the Waterville area, we will provide that information on our COVID-19 webpage. We will not issue emails notifying the community of each case. Regarding students who have been away from Waterville for more than 14 days, those cases will be reported in students’ home localities and will not be included in Colby’s updates.
It remains essential that any faculty or staff member who is tested for coronavirus, regardless of results, report the information to the College via the confidential form found here. This improves our ability to trace cases of the virus and inform and protect our community.
Our teams, as well as colleagues in the Office of Human Resources, have been in contact with employees to assist with work accommodations and other needs. We encourage faculty and staff to reach out to these resources if your circumstances change or you need assistance.
We would like to remind you that the College’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available for employees and family members. The EAP offers information and counseling services for a range of issues.
On Monday we began remote teaching and learning, after two intensive weeks of faculty preparation and extensive work by the Dean of the College team to ensure that students had the tools they needed to access their courses. The preliminary reports from both students and faculty suggest that our remote courses are going quite well and that students and faculty are very happy to be back in contact and at work together. We are very grateful to the many people who have worked so hard to ensure that we can still offer our students a terrific—if different—Colby education. The Provost’s Office, ITS, and the Dean of the College staff continue to actively support the remote academic program, and we hope you will reach out to any of us if you need assistance in doing your work.
We understand that many of you have questions regarding summer universal-experience opportunities and student employment, and we very much appreciate your interest in moving ahead with those plans. At the same time, the situation continues to change quickly and we believe that having more time to monitor the spread of the virus and work through potential scenarios for summer employment and funding grants will be in the best interests of our students, faculty, and staff.
We want to thank every member of this community for your patience and flexibility as we continue to navigate this together. We will update you as needed with additional information. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions or concerns.
Provost and Dean of Faculty
Vice President and Chief Financial Officer