Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Information

Corona Virus (COVID-19)
MWCC Community Members

Mount Wachusett Community College is in close contact with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to ensure that we are taking all necessary steps and precautions associated with the public health concern represented by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

We are here for YOU

We may not be on campus, but we are up and running and ready to help our students and community. We are as dedicated to educating our students as ever, and are doing everything we can to fulfill that mission. Our staff, from advising and admissions to financial aid and student services, are up and running remotely and ready to help.  Call or email us as you normally would, visit the directory for contact details.

Current Status

The majority of summer and fall classes will be conducted remotely. Summer Session II begins on July 13th, and Fall begins September 9th.

Campuses are not currently open for in-person, on-campus services until further notice, but our dedicated staff and faculty are working remotely and look forward to assisting you!

Contact Tracing Protocol

Contact tracing is the systematic identification of persons who have come into close contact[1] with a confirmed case of COVID-19.[2]  Initially, this process was administered by MDPH or a local DPH.  However, due to the increased number of cases, a Community College may be required to administer this protocol when it receives notice of a confirmed COVID-19 case in its community and the MDPH or its local DPH is unable to conduct contact tracing.

  1. Initial Protocol Considerations
  •  This is a confidential process.  The name of the individual who has tested positive shall not be disclosed to a close contact, or any other individual or entity outside of MDPH/local DPH(s), nor should sufficient details be provided that makes their identity readily identifiable.
  • Protocol administered through Human Resources, College’s health officer or other designated individual (“Tracing Officer”).
  • Protocol is administered in coordination with the UPDATED Responding to Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 policy, issued by General Counsel’s Office on March 27, 2020.
  1. Upon notification of a confirmed COVID-19 case in the College community
  •  Contact your local DPH to inform it of the confirmed case and determine if it will conduct the contact tracing process.  If the local DPH does not return the College’s call within three (3) hours, contact MDPH at 617-983-6800.
  • If the local DPH is going to conduct the tracing, provide it with the confirmed case’s contact information.
  • If not, the College’s Tracing Officer should confirm with the local DPH that the College will conduct contact tracing in accordance with this Protocol.
  1. Initiate Contact Tracing
  •  Contact the confirmed COVID-19 case and complete the Contact Tracing Reporting Form, including identifying all individuals the confirmed case came in close contact with in the college community during their period of infectivity.[3]
  • Contact those that had close contact with the confirmed case during the period of infectivity.  Indicate: (a) that they have been identified as coming in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19; and (b) the date and location of the close contact.
  • Instruct close contact(s) to contact their health care provider and self-quarantine for up to 14 days or as directed by their health care provider.
  • Inform close contact(s) that upon completing their period of self-quarantine they will require a doctor’s note indicating they are cleared to return to work.
  • Inform local DPH of notification to close contacts.  Provide information to local DPH as requested.

Click here to download the Contact Tracing Reporting Form

 

[1] Defined as (a) being within approximately 6 feet of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time (at least 15 minutes); or (b) having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on).

[2] Individuals who have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.

[3] Defined as the date the COVID-19 patient developed symptoms up to the time the patient went into isolation.

May 8, 2020

Dear MWCC Student,

As we continue to progress through the COVID-19 health crisis, we know that your educational journey has been challenged in many ways. Mount Wachusett Community College is committed to ensuring that our students continue to push forward towards their educational and career aspirations.

All of our students (and their families) have been impacted in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. It caused a profound disruption to our delivery of educational and academic support services.  At MWCC, we will support our students whenever and however possible. I am reaching out to share with you some important news regarding additional financial assistance that we are now able to provide to our currently enrolled MWCC students.  The Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides funding to colleges and universities to help students overcome the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the transition to remote learning.

I am pleased to announce that as an eligible student enrolled during the Spring 2020 semester, you will be receiving $500.00. You must acknowledge your need for this assistance as well as confirm your eligibility by following the below link and completing the form.  Once you have completed the form, this financial assistance will be disbursed within two weeks through our BankMobile processor.  You will receive an email shortly from our Student Accounts office to ensure your account is set up properly for receipt of payment.

https://tinyurl.com/y8rcw3we

If link does not work, copy and paste it into your web browser and you will be directed to iConnect. You must be logged into MWCC iConnect to complete this form.

We hope that this payment provides meaningful support to assist you during this transition.  I wish you and your families the best. We look forward to seeing you all back on campus as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Jim Vander Hooven, President

Mount Wachusett Community College

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March 25, 2020

Dear Students,

Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about my own experience in completing my college degree and goals. In most respects, I was able to focus primarily on my academic work, completing assignments, and thinking about my next steps following graduation. All of that was done before there was anything like remote learning. In fact, it was before email and cell phones.

I juxtapose that with what all of you are experiencing at this time. Obviously, the threat of Covid-19 virus has forced us to change almost everything about how we conduct the business side of running a college, providing academic content, and being there for our students’ needs whatever they might be. I have expected and continue to expect our faculty and staff to adapt to these new and temporary changes at lightning speed. The work continues and I urge as much patience as possible as we work through our challenges.

When the threat started to become more real, I made some early decisions to cancel on-campus, in-person events. These events included our annual hosting of the Naturalization Ceremony where hundreds of new Americans deliver their oaths, hosting debates for the Gardner mayoral election, and the hosting of several statewide and regional conferences. Over time, I have needed to cancel or postpone all on-campus events, move all learning for spring semester to remote learning, and to move almost all employees to remote working environments – all in the matter of 7-10 days. I am proud of how our community of faculty members, staff, and you our students have risen to the challenges.

Many of these events take months of preparation and require significant resources in order to run effectively. In light of that, I have had to make several incredibly difficult decisions concerning end-of-year events up to and including commencement itself. Commencement is perhaps the most sacred event in higher education. It is the highest symbolic event we have to honor your accomplishments.

But it is also my highest duty to provide a safe environment for our students, employees, and community members. We must be willing to do our part to “flatten the curve” as we’ve come to fully understand the phrase. We have been hard at work considering ways to best honor the symbolic commencement and balance the needs of our communities in light of Governor Baker’s expectations.

Therefore, rather than cancelling or postponing Commencement, we will be holding a virtual Commencement Ceremony. The ceremony will include all aspects of the traditional commencement ceremony including the speakers, the awards, and the reading of the names of the graduates. It will be held on the same day and time as scheduled: Wednesday, May 20th at 6:00pm. Significantly more information will be forthcoming in coming weeks. We will also be transitioning our Gateway/Pathway Graduation Ceremony to a virtual ceremony. That ceremony will be held on Friday, May 22 at 12:00pm as previously scheduled.

I know this is disappointing information to receive. But I believe it is the best possible option to both honor your accomplishments and to keep the public health in the forefront of our efforts. I appreciate your understanding and hope that you continue in good health as you work toward reaching your academic goals.

Sincerely,

Jim Vander Hooven, President

Mount Wachusett Community College

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March 18, 2020

We continue to process and plan for the ramifications of this unprecedented Covid-19 crisis facing all aspects of our daily lives.

I want to reassure the college community that we are doing everything in our power to provide for the health and safety of each and every one of you. I am deeply concerned about your health and wellbeing, as well as that of your family and friends, as we struggle through this.

I am thankful for the commitment of our Covid-19 Response Team. I am thankful for the communications I have received from faculty, staff, and students throughout the last two weeks. Based on all available information, I have made the following decisions concerning how we can best maintain our mission through this difficult time.

Delivery of Courses:

I have made the decision that MWCC will suspend all face-to-face instruction for the remainder of the spring semester.

Next week, we will continue to work toward transitioning all face-to-face courses to remote delivery formats. Many of you have already made significant progress in this effort. We will be providing opportunities next week for faculty to gain the guidance they need, the technological infrastructure they require, and the training needed in order to resume all classes in a remote delivery format.

All future communication related to this effort to move toward remote delivery formats will come directly from the Division of Academic and Student Affairs. I ask the faculty to be patient and know that those communications, including information about training opportunities, will be coming. In the meantime, please continue to strategize ways to incorporate this for your courses and work directly with your Deans to address any specific questions you might have.

College Operations:

Tomorrow, Thursday, March 19th, MWCC campuses will be open for managers and supervisors only. Individual meetings will be held throughout the day, adhering to social distancing expectations, between myself, Dan Horlander, the divisional vice president, and the managers and supervisors to continue planning around creating remote work plans (including IT infrastructure needs) for employees. As has already begun in some areas, managers and supervisors will continue to communicate with their employees about these plans. Divisional vice presidents will share this meeting information with their managers and supervisors.

Beginning tomorrow, Thursday, March 19th, all other employees will be on remote access work for normal business hours. The work objectives/expectations for tomorrow will include strategizing plans for what can be done remotely and to being available and responsive to managers and supervisors as they communicate throughout the day. In some cases, departments or divisions will need to operate on a rotating schedule of in-person and remote working situations. There are operations that simply cannot be done remotely. The purpose of the meetings tomorrow is to discuss those contingencies and to create a plan for addressing with a rotating work schedule wherever possible.

It is important to note that MWCC will not be closed. Rather, MWCC campuses will not be open to the public for in-person, on-campus services until further notice.

Future announcements will address any in-person services should they and when they become necessary.

Please note that all employees scheduled to work March 13th through March 27, benefited and non-benefited, will be paid. I anticipate receiving formal guidance from the Commonwealth with expectations following that date.

I want to emphasize the next steps you can expect. Over the coming days, and sometimes hours, you can expect regular communication from your managers, supervisors, deans, and vice presidents. We will not always have an immediate answer to the challenges that lay before us with this unprecedented change in our business operations. But we will get through the challenges and will be as strong as we can for our students.

Thank you for your understanding, and as Candace often closes her emails, “be well.”

Jim Vander Hooven

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March 17, 2020

2:39PM

This email is to provide some clarity around what courses will be suspended during the week of March 23-27.

  • All online classes and classes that have been redesigned to go online can continue as normal from March 23-27.
  • All face-to-face and hybrid courses will be suspended for all of March 23-27.
  • All Cycle 2 online classes and class that have been converted to online will begin on March 23rd.
  • All Cycle 2 face-to-face and hybrid courses will be suspended for all of March 23-27.

I apologize for any confusion this might have caused.

10:26AM

Good morning all,

I continue to be appreciative of everyone’s patience and understanding at this time. The situation continues to be fluid and, based on the changes all around us, our status continues to evolve. I do want to caution everyone to try not to read into my best-effort updates anything other than what is there. For instance, the accessibility to campus today was, as stated, an opportunity for folks to pick up belongings that they left in their offices last Thursday without knowing they wouldn’t be returning to the office for more than a night.

As for the move toward remote learning for our students, this is nothing more than the movement we began last week with the Deans and Department Heads working with faculty. Based on the latest advisory for the State’s website, here is the latest:

With regard to higher education, the Department of Higher Education and DPH strongly recommend that colleges and universities, both public and private, continue to pursue strategies to reduce the need for students to be on campus, including suspending in-person classes and implementing institution-wide programs to shift to remote learning, technology enabled solutions, and other tools to allow students to successfully complete course and degree requirements. Institutions should also pursue strategies to reduce the need for faculty and staff to be on campus by maximizing remote work opportunitieswhile maintaining essential on-campus services, especially for residential students who cannot safely return home.  Existing guidance is posted here and additional guidance will be forthcoming.

I also acknowledge that this process will be complicated for some. In order to facilitate this process for our faculty, and to have a unified approach to the extent possible, I am announcing:

  • Suspension of all academic classes, including clinicals/externships, for next week between March 23 – March 27.
  • We are delaying the start of Cycle 2 classes until March 30.

 This will give our academic affairs and IT departments additional time for the transition. I will be meeting directly with both MCCC and AFSME unit representatives to work through the details required for these announcements.

We know that with the closure of local libraries, coffee shops for dine-in, etc. that many of our students will be challenged by our move toward remote learning strategies. We are also grappling with the requirements around lab components. This is ongoing and will likely take some more time to figure out completely. We need to keep in mind the needs of our students and will work to do so. Again, the college is closed through the end of the day tomorrow, Wednesday. The COVID-19 Response Team will be meeting on Wednesday morning and an announcement will come as soon as possible following that with more updates.

Furthermore, we are in the process of working toward opportunities for working for home for those who can do so. Over the next 24-48 hours, we will be communicating with managers and supervisors to create a working plan for staff. This might be in the form of a rotational schedule. We will be in touch on that as soon as we have more details.

Thank you for your continued understanding.

Jim

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March 16, 2020

This has been a difficult time of global crisis. I appreciate everyone’s assistance, feedback, and patience as we’ve worked to be proactively responsive to the situation. Daily, we are experiencing changes that directly impact our students. From local libraries, restaurants, childcare centers, and K-12 schools closing, our students will be severely impacted. Due to the recent developments regarding COVID-19, Massachusetts Community Colleges are fully committed to maximizing remote work, teaching, and learning opportunities for the foreseeable future as we work to ensure the health and safety of our students, employees, and communities.

MWCC campuses will remain closed through Wednesday, March 18. This will provide us with the time necessary to continue cleaning and to begin maximizing our efforts to accomplish remote work, teaching, and learning opportunities for the foreseeable future in accordance with Governor Baker’s recommendations for higher education.  The College will also be developing additional measures to satisfy the social distancing recommendations of the CDC and MDPH. The MWCC Covid-19 Response Team will meet again on Wednesday morning to assess the latest developments and to begin charting the above-stated objectives. A reassessment will be done at that time toward making a decision about the rest of the week and next. Of course, please note that with this rapidly developing situation, this could change at any time.

Employees will have access to their offices (at all campuses) TOMORROW, Tuesday, March 17 between 8:00 am – 11:00 am to gather items from their offices (since the closure was unexpected). This would be a good opportunity, for example, to change outgoing phone messages, per your direct supervisor. We are asking that employees who choose to come to the Gardner campus on Wednesday please enter through the main door closest to the President’s Complex.

In the meantime, some other updates:

  1. MOC has closed all of its childcare centers for two weeks, including the Garrison Center.
  2. The MassHire/Career Center site in Leominster is closed until further notice.
  3. All April Theatre at the Mount performances have been cancelled.

I appreciate the faculty’s willingness to move as much of their curriculum online as possible to reduce the number of students who need to physically come to campus/labs.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to me should you have any questions. I will continue to make the decisions that keep the health and wellness of our students, faculty, and staff at the forefront.

Thank you for your understanding.

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March 13, 2020

Late this afternoon, I was made aware that we have an MWCC employee who was notified this afternoon that they had close exposure to an individual not associated with MWCC who is demonstrating symptoms of Covid-19. While that individual has not yet been tested, they have been placed into self-quarantine. Our employee has been and continues to be symptom-free and their last contact with the individual was on Wednesday, March 4th. Our employee immediately left campus and will remain on self-quarantine through the end of their 14-day period as requested by the Department of Public Health. They are also contacting their primary healthcare provider about next steps.

Per State protocol, I immediately contacted the Massachusetts Department of Health to report the situation. I have now received their callback. After thoroughly reviewing our situation, they have determined that no employees of MWCC who have had contact with this employee are at risk. They concurred with the decision to send the employee home for the remainder of the 14-day self-quarantine period.

However, out of an abundance of caution, I have decided that all MWCC campuses and the Garrison Center will be closed Friday, March 13th through the end of the day on Monday, March 16th. Mount Fitness will be closed for the day on Friday, March 13th with a reassessment to be done on Friday. This will give us an opportunity to conduct more extensive cleaning and to plan for the near future.

I want to emphasize that DPH made clear that proximity to our employee is not a cause for concern. As always, I will continue to communicate with you all as I learn more. I appreciate your understanding as we work through these extraordinary circumstances.

James Vander Hooven, Ed.D., President, Mount Wachusett Community College

March 24, 2020

Students,

In an effort to keep all healthy and safe during this COVID-19 pandemic, Student Services is advising students to contact us via phone 978-630-9855 or email studentservices@mwcc.mass.edu for assistance. We are here to help! Our staff and offices are available virtually Monday through Friday from 8 am – 4 pm. We are monitoring email and voicemail and will get back to you as soon as possible.

We will continue to offer the support services that we know are important to you. While we may not be able to meet with you face-to-face, we can connect with you on the phone, over email, or virtually. Counseling Services is also still available and students can reach out to Melissa Manzi, our College Counselor via email at m_manzi@mwcc.mass.edu.

A list of our Student Support Services (with contact information) can be found here (bookmark this important site).

Student Services recommends during this difficult time that you stay well-informed through reliable sources such as www.mass.gov; MWCC’s campus website www.mwcc.edu and/or www.cdc.gov. Please know that you are not alone and as a community college student, Student Services is here to support you through this challenging time in our lives.

This is an opportunity to utilize and access free resources that can help ease the stress over the next few days, weeks, or potentially upcoming months. MWCC would recommend using free virtual platforms for classmate support, such as Cisco WebEx, Skype, Zoom, and Google Hangouts to mention a few. A number of communication providers are offering free or discounted internet, personal computers, and other resources to assist with the nation-wide transition of all colleges to a virtual learning platform. We have a complete list on our COVID-19 website under the “Resources” tab. We are updating this site whenever we are made aware of a resource that may be helpful to our students.

We recognize that this is a challenging time for many – inside and outside of the classroom.

The College is working on a plan to offer our Food Pantry services on a safe and limited basis. In the meantime, the Gardner CAC continues to operate its Food Pantry. They can be reached at 978-632-8700 or visit their website for detailed information at https://gardner-cac.org/covid-19-updates/. We anticipate anyone who currently receives SNAP benefits (a/k/a food stamps) will continue without interruption during this most difficult time. NOTE: The Department of Transitional Assistance has suspended collecting many of the proofs of verification typically requested for SNAP and cash assistance purposes. DTA reopened its offices on March 19, 2020 (the local DTA offices are physically CLOSED, but SNAP workers are staffing the phone lines and trying to process as many new applications as possible).

Students who are applying or have a SNAP renewal or TAFDC renewal DO NOT NEED to submit signed DTA forms, such as the Educational Income and Expense form (EDUC-1) or the Community College Enrollment form (CCE-1 forms). DTA will take a self-declaration from the student about their financial aid and student attendance.

DTA is aware that colleges are closed for in-person business and staff are not available to sign and fax forms. If a student is studying remotely, they are still a "student" under the SNAP rules.

The statewide human service information and referral assistance can be reached by dialing 2-1-1 or visiting MASS211.org.

For housing crisis situations, please know that no one can be evicted amid COVID-19 https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2020/03/13/massachusetts-eviction-moratorium-coronavirus; https://www.mass.gov/service-details/emergency-housing-assistance-resource-information.

On behalf of all of us at Mount Wachusett Community College, we are here to support you! If you need anything, please reach out to Student Services. It is especially important that you regularly check your MWCC email to ensure that you are receiving important updates and timely communication from the College and your faculty. It is critical that you stay connected as much as possible. If you are having a difficult time or have a question, please contact us at studentservices@mwcc.mass.edu. This email address is monitored throughout the week. We will get back to you!

Sincerely,
Jason Zelesky, Dean of Students

March 20, 2020

Students,

All MWCC campuses remain closed to students and visitors at this time. Only a limited number of staff are permitted into the building to ensure the health and safety of our community.  The MWCC Bookstore also remains closed.  A number of you have reached out with questions regarding purchasing textbooks and/or critical educational materials for your current or your upcoming Cycle 2 courses.

I am pleased to report that you can purchase those items online and have them shipped to your home address at no charge.  The Bookstore has waived all shipping costs given the circumstances.  You may also use your Financial Aid book voucher to complete your purchase.

Need to purchase a textbook and/or required educational materials?  Please follow these simple directions to make your virtual purchase:

  • On the MWCC Bookstore site (https://www.bkstr.com/mwccstore/home) click “Textbooks”.
  • Be sure to select “Spring 2020” as your current term for all Cycle 2 course.
  • You can shop by COURSE or COURSE ID.  Students should view their schedule via iConnect so that they can find materials for each course.
  • Select your courses and then click FIND MATERIAL FOR XX NUMBER OF COURSES (blue box).
  • Select the items you wish to purchase and put them into your virtual shopping bag.
  • When you have selected all the materials you need, please click “VIEW BAG & CHECKOUT”.
  • You will get an order total.  Click “CHECKOUT”.
  • If you already have an account with the MWCC Bookstore, please login.  If not click “CONTINUE AS GUEST”.
  • Enter your MWCC email address.
  • Under “Delivery Method”, please select “Ship to an Address”.  You are not able to pick up your books in the store.  Delivery is FREE. Enter your shipping address.
  • Click “PROCEED TO PAYMENT METHOD”.  Execute your payment using the options available (Credit/Debit/PayPal)
  • If you are using “FINANCIAL AID”, please check that box.  You will be required to enter your MWCC Student ID to verify your book voucher.  Click “FIND ACCOUNTS”.
  • Complete your order.

Please have a safe weekend.

Sincerely,

Jason Zelesky, Dean of Students

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March 18, 2020 

Dear MWCC Students,

I realize that this has been a very difficult few weeks for all of you – not just as students, but in all aspects of your busy lives.  The public health impact of the COVID-19 virus continues to impact and alter almost every aspect of how we live, work, and learn.  Mount Wachusett Community College remains 100% committed to your academic success and your personal health and safety.  I want to thank all of you for your continued patience and flexibility as we work to develop a plan that keeps you safe and helps you finish the academic year given these extraordinary circumstances.

As of today, public colleges across the Commonwealth, including community colleges, state universities, and the University of Massachusetts’ campuses, remain OPEN for restricted services, with very limited access to the public, and no in-person classroom instruction.  Collectively, these campuses are all moving towards online instruction as a strategy to effectively complete the current semester.  While K-12 schools in MA have been closed through April 7, that executive order does not extend to colleges and universities.  I know that announcement was confusing to many students, so I wanted to provide that important clarification.

In an effort to support our students and work towards a successful completion of the Spring 2020 semester, we are announcing the following important updates:

  • Mount Wachusett Community College is planning to re-open tomorrow, Thursday, March 18.  However, the college will not be providing in-person services to current students or to the public at this time.  The building will only be open for limited staff to return to their offices, return emails and phone calls, and develop a plan that maximizes our services to students in a remote fashion.  If you have reached out to us, we will begin returning those calls and emails tomorrow.
  • Beginning March 23, regularly scheduled online classes will resume or begin as normal.
  • Current in-person courses, labs, and clinicals (including the in-person meetings of blended/hybrid courses) are being delayed until Monday, March 30 as we transition to remote instruction so you may successfully complete the Spring 2020 semester.
  • Cycle II courses that are 100% online will begin on March 23 as scheduled.
  • New, in-person Cycle II courses that were scheduled to begin on March 23 will be delayed until Monday, March 30, as they are being migrated to remote instruction.
  • Faculty will be spending the week of March 23-27 preparing to transition all in-person and hybrid courses so that they can be completed remotely.  Students should expect to hear from their faculty during the week of March 30.  Please do not reach out to your faculty at this time – they will reach out to you as soon as they have developed a plan for you to complete your course(s).  Thank you for your patience as faculty work to make these necessary adjustments to their courses.
  • Students are encouraged to outreach to the college via phone or email.  The College is still making decisions regarding what type of in-person services might be available in the future.  These decisions will always be based on the health and safety of our community and in accordance with the guidance provided by the Commonwealth.

Now more than ever, it is absolutely critical that you maintain a close connection with your MWCC email.  This is our official means of communication with students, and we will be continuing to provide you with important updates as we respond to this evolving situation.  I want to thank the faculty and staff at MWCC for their incredible dedication to our students.  Believe me when I say this – we are all committed to your success!

If you have any questions, please reach out to Student Services at studentservices@mwcc.mass.edu.  We will be responding to emails in a timely fashion.  If you have questions, please ask.  We are here to help!

As we work together to complete the Spring 2020 semester, I ask that you continue to take care of yourself and take the recommended steps to reduce the spread of this virus at home and in our community.

We will continue to provide timely updates on our website www.mwcc/COVID. We ask that you bookmark and visit this site often as we will continue to provide important information and resources to assist our students.

Mount Wachusett Community College has always been and will continue to be a beacon of hope and inspiration for our students and the communities that we proudly serve.  We are working hard to continue to be a supportive, nurturing, and transformative influence in the lives of our students.  We will work together to complete this semester, keep each other safe, and make the dreams of our students come true.  You are why we come to work every day.  We are here to help you achieve your academic and personal goals – no matter the challenges we collectively face.

Together we will get through this.  Be well, and continue to do good work!

Sincerely,

Jason Zelesky, Dean of Students

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March 16, 2020

Dear Students,

The local, state, and federal landscapes continue to shift and change as we collectively attempt to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus in the United States and in North Central Massachusetts.  We recognize that Governor Baker's actions yesterday have created a number of dilemmas for our students.  The closing of all public and private K-12 schools, the suspension of some childcare facilities, and the interruption of many workplaces has made this a very difficult time for all students.  We are all trying to adjust to this "new normal".

As promised, we have some important updates to share.

All campuses of MWCC will remain closed through the end of the day on Wednesday, March 18.  The Governor has asked that all state colleges and universities examine ways to continue and finish the Spring 2020 semester with maximum flexibility and with an emphasis on transitioning as much academic work as possible to remote, hybrid, and/or online formats.  We are using this closure to develop a plan that will still allow as much teaching and learning as possible to continue despite all of the challenges that we currently face and keeping in mind the current recommendations on social-distancing and minimizing the size of all gatherings.

While classes are not in session this week due to Spring Break, we know that many of you are eagerly awaiting a decision as to what next week and the remainder of the academic year will look like.  The college’s COVID-19 Response Team will make a decision regarding the remainder of this week and next week on Wednesday, March 18.  I will communicate that decision to all students as soon as it is made.

In addition, I want to share a few other updates:

  • Mount Fitness will close on Tuesday, March 17.  Updates will be posted here.
  • The MassHire / Career Center on the Leominster Campus is closed until further notice.
  • All April “Theater at the Mount” performances have been cancelled.
  • The Garrison Center has announced that it will be closed for the next two weeks.

I will update all students on Wednesday.  In the meantime, please continue to do everything you can to stay safe and healthy.  We will continue to post updates here.

Sincerely,
Jason Zelesky, Dean of Students

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March 13, 2020 

Dear Students, 

Late last evening, MWCC made the precautionary decision to close all campuses and buildings from today (Friday, March 13) until Tuesday, March 17.  This decision was made out of an abundance of caution in order to fully clean and sanitize our buildings.  As always, the health and safety of our students is our top priority.  This closure also included the Garrison Center, Mount Fitness, and our satellite campus sites. 

Next week is Spring Break for all students.  I encourage you to use this time to rest your mind, body, and spirit during what has been a difficult and challenging time.  As you all know, this situation continues to evolve and change.  I will update students via email as needed, so please check iConnect throughout the week.  Anything important will be communicated with you in a timely fashion.  If there is news to share, I will be in touch.  Communication is important during times of uncertainty. 

When you return from Spring Break, we are asking all students to focus exclusively on their academic responsibilities.  As such, we are asking students to limit their non-essential time on campus.  While socializing and being with friends is important, we will be asking students, faculty, and staff to maximize the “social distancing” that is designed to help keep buildings clean and people healthy.  All non-academic activities will be postponed until further notice to assist students in focusing on those academic responsibilities.  Academic and student support services will continue to be available to assist students as they work to complete the semester. 

I know this is a difficult time with lots of adjustments and changes to your daily routine.  Life – as we knew it – has been disrupted, at last temporarily.  These changes are all designed to help us keep you safe while also helping you move forward towards your academic and career aspirations. 

MWCC has created a website to help update our community on COVID-19 (Coronavirus). I encourage you to refer to this site for questions and updates (in addition to my emails).  

Take good care of yourself.   

Jason Zelesky, Dean of Students 

COVID-19 and social isolation are increasing danger for those who have to shelter at home with abusive partners. If you or someone you know is in this situation, the information below can help.

  • First and foremost, call 911 if you are in danger. Police will still respond to calls for help.
  • YWCA Domestic Violence Services 24-hour safe and confidential assistance: Helpline 508-755-9030 and Chatline www.ywcahelp.com
  • If you need help with or have questions about restraining orders, you can reach the Gardner Court SAFEPLAN Advocate directly at 774-312-3772 during regular business hours.
  • DTA (Dept Transitional Assistant) Domestic Violence Specialist (Fitchburg) 978-665-8713
  • DTA for assistance go to the web site for the application process https://dtaconnect.eohhs.mass.gov/SNAP assistance line, 877-382-2363.
  • LUK, Inc Domestic Violence 978-345-0685 (8-5) After 5pm 800-579-0000
  • PATHWAY FOR CHANGE, INC Sexual Violence 800-870-5905
  • Safe Link state-wide Hotline 877-785-2020 (24/7) (keeps inventory of shelter beds)
  • FHCD remote line to apply for shelter, 866-584-0653
  • National DV Hotline: Can help by text when talking isn’t safe - Text LOVEIS to 22522
  • Call PAVE, Intimate Partner Abuse Education Program, 978-466-3820 x 8967 if you are at risk of hurting someone and want help.
  • If you are at risk of losing housing and need financial assistance see wayfindersma.org/hcec-assessment or call a domestic violence advocate listed above.
  • Think about your support system and who you trust. Talk with that person about how they could help if you need to get out quickly and come up with a code word you can use to let them know you need help. Keep your phone charged. Consider contacting a domestic violence advocate to plan for safety or see https://www.thehotline.org/help/path-to-safety
  • Depending on their ages, talk to your children about your concerns and make a plan for where they should go and who they should call in an emergency. Reassure them this isn’t their fault.

If you are concerned about someone; use these 3 steps Recognize (know what abuse is), Respond, (give them this sheet for resources), Refer (Call a Domestic Violence Advocate or Safe Plan Advocate)

You are not alone, and your community cares!!!

Thanks to the Gardner Domestic Violence Task Force for this comprehensive list. You can find them on Facebook or at 978-230-6446.

For all of our staff members and students trying to keep the kids busy at home when you need to work or study, here are a few resources we've found. Feel free to share more with us on social media or email to marketing@mwcc.mass.edu.

Free Drawing Lessons from Famous Illustrators (via Fastcompany.com) These illustrators, and a couple of authors, are offering ritual resources and free classes for kids. Included on the list is recent MWCC Speaker Jarrett Krosoczka with a YouTube series, "Draw Everyday with JJK".

Junior Sea Doctors This page is a one-stop-shop filled with marine science videos as activities that you can easily do from your own home.

SciShow Is a YouTube series launched in 2010 that explores scientific topics seven days a week. It has expanded to three additional channels, SciShow Space, SciShow Psych, and SciShow Kids. There is something for everyone from content creator Hank Green.

Crash Course Kids is a YouTube series aimed at 5th Grade Science topics such as Earth Science, Physical Science, Biology, Geography, Engineering and Astronomy. New videos are launched twice a week.

30 Great Educational Netflix Shows via WeAreTeachers.com This list offers suggestions for students of all ages.

CWMARS Libraries are closed, but digital collections are always open! Check out eBooks and Audiobooks with your local library card. If you don't have one, you can create one online.

Activities and online resources for homebound kids: A coronavirus guide via livescience.com This article includes links to resources from a variety of sources including Scholastic and NASA with ideas for kids from K-12.

Visit the Zoo! These Zoos have live webcams: National Zoo, Monterey Bay Aquarium, San Deigo Zoo, Houston Zoo

Parenting in the time of COVID-19

Time to Come In, Bear: A Children's Story About Social Distancing

You are probably reading this because you need to know how the Coronovirus (COVID-19) will affect your financial aid. If you need to talk to someone right now, contact the MWCC Financial Aid Office at 978-630-9169 or email financialaid@mwcc.mass.edu.

Note: In light of the many challenges presented by COVID-19 for students and families, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has chosen to extend its 2020-2021 FAFSA filing priority deadline date from May 1 to July 1.  This change in policy will largely impact students who are applying for the MASSGrant program. 

Do I still have to make loan payments if I already have financial aid?

As of March 20, 2020, the U.S. government will allow you to suspend payments on your loans. This is called an administrative forbearance. This means you can temporarily stop repayment on your federal loans in the event you have financial hardship.

If you want to request an administrative forbearance, you should request one by contacting your loan servicer. If you are unsure of who your servicer is or how to contact them, visit StudentAid.gov/login or call 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243; TTY for the deaf or hearing-impaired 1-800-730-8913) for assistance.

If you’re at least 31 days behind on your payment as of March 13, 2020, or become more than 31 days delinquent after that date, you’ll automatically be placed in the administrative forbearance to give you a safety net during the COVID-19 national emergency.

Do I still need to fill out the FAFSA? Why?

Yes, you should still fill out your FAFSA! Don’t let COVID-19 take away your chance to get your education. Submitting the FAFSA officially establishes your need for financial aid. The good news is, if you do it online and have your documents on-hand, it’ll take less than half an hour.

Where can I learn more about Financial Aid and Cornonavirus?

The Federal Student Aid office of the US Department of Education has set up a website to answer many of the most common questions students and borrowers have asked. Visit studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus. If you find that you still have questions, please reach out to our Financial Aid staff at 978-630-9169 or email them at financialaid@mwcc.mass.edu.

Government Resources

Mass Department of Public Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Resources for Institutes of Higher Education

Information on Unemployment and Coronavirus COVID-19 vis Mass.gov

Finding the Right Help During the COVID-19 Outbreak via benefits.gov

Housing

Housing assistance from CHAPA

Communications Providers

The Federal Communications Commission has an agreement which states that providers will waive late fees, not cutoff service for lack of payment, and open hot-spots for increased accessibility to the internet. Visit docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-363033A1 for information.

Please visit the following websites for the latest details on how to sign-up and leverage these services

Comcast COVID-19 Response: Comcast offers free Wi-Fi for 2 months to low income families plus all Xfinity hot-spots are free to the public during this time. Visit corporate.comcast.com/covid-19.

Charter Free Internet: Visit corporate.charter.com/newsroom/charter-to-offer-free-access-to-spectrum-broadband-and-wifi-for-60-days-for-new-K12-and-college-student-households-and-more

AT&T COVID-19 Response: At&T offers open hot-spots, unlimited data to existing customers, and $10/month plans to low-income families. Visit https://about.att.com/pages/COVID-19.html

Verizon COVID-19 Response: There are no special offers, but Verizon is following the FCC agreement. Visit www.verizon.com/about/news/our-response-coronavirus.

Sprint COVID-19 Response: Sprint is following the FCC agreement and will provide unlimited data to existing customers. Starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020, Sprint will allow all handsets to enable hot-spots for 60 days at no extra charge. Visit newsroom.sprint.com/covid-19-updates-sprint-responds.

T-Mobile COVID-19 Response: T-Mobile is following the FCC agreement and providing unlimited data to existing customers. It will soon allow all handsets to enable hot-spots for 60 days at no extra charge. Visit www.t-mobile.com/news/t-mobile-update-on-covid-19-response.

Librarians are available via email and chat to assist you with questions during our normal operational hours Monday through Thursday 7:30-6 and Friday 7:30-4. Here's how we can help:

  • Librarians are available to work with students one-on-one via Blackboard Collaborate Ultra or other means in order to assist with their research needs. Please email Suzanne Levasseur: slevasseur1@mwcc.mass.edu and Ellen Pratt: e_pratt@mwcc.mass.edu for assistance with this.
  • If students or faculty have questions about how to access the databases or if you have questions about your Library account, please email Carla Morrissey: cmorrissey4@mwcc.mass.edu.
  • Is there a resource that you use for your course(s) that you no longer have access to? Would a research guide for your course or an assignment be helpful? We can help with those needs. Please email the Library: library@mwcc.mass.edu and we will assist you.

In short, we're here to help! So please let us know what we can do to support you!

Library FAQ's Regarding Bookstore Textbook Rental & Return Policies

The Library is currently not open to the public for in-person, on-campus services. We will update this page when this changes.

Additional note: Library items are currently not available for borrowing. Delivery has been suspended and you cannot request items from other libraries. If you or your students currently have an item that is checked out, you can ignore any overdue notices. No fines or fees will be assessed during this time.

March 16, 2020

To all our Mount Fitness members, we will be closing beginning Tuesday, March 17th, per the Governor’s State of Emergency Declaration and in an effort to prevent the spread of the COVID-19. We will provide an update this Sunday on our latest status. All membership types have been frozen.

As always - visit Mount Fitness's Facebook page for information and fitness resources.

Testing Services in person have been suspended.

    • As this pertains to new student registration, there are many measures by which students can be placed into classes. Please contact Advising to speak with a staff member about the best registration options for you.
    • As this pertains to selective health TEAS requirements, please email us at testingservices@mwcc.mass.edu and when remote and/or in-person test dates are posted we will notify you.
    • As this pertains to CLEP testing, please email us at testingservices@mwcc.mass.edu and when in-person operations resume we will contact you to schedule your exam.

The Academic Support Center is working remotely to tutor students until in-person services resume.

    • Email: Have a quick question? Looking for feedback on a paper draft? Send an email to asc@mwcc.mass.edu and your request will be forwarded to the appropriate subject-area tutor. Please include your name, MWCC student ID number, class a brief description of the assignment, and the paper or project for review.
    • Video: Want to schedule a video appointment with a tutor? Email asc@mwcc.mass.edu and we will schedule an appointment for you.