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COVID 19: The Fall Semester & Our Responsibility

Date: August 26, 2020

Re: The Fall Semester & Our Responsibility - a message from SGA President, Student Trustee, and Vice President, Student Affairs and Enrollment Management

Sent on behalf of:
Anna Rice, President – Student Government Association
Erik Benson, Student Trustee – BSU Board of Trustees
Dr. Joe Oravecz, Vice President – Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management

 

Dear Fellow BSU Bears,

One week from today we Kick Off a new academic year!

Whether you are learning remotely, living in the surrounding neighborhoods, communities, or on-campus, we are excited to welcome our new students, and returning of fellow students for the Fall 2020 semester.

We have come a long way since March 2020 when most of us moved to a remote learning and meeting format in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. So much work has been accomplished since then to assure a safe start for our Fall 2020 semester. Amid the excitement of a new start, we face the reality that COVID-19 is challenging us all in many ways. For that reason, words like safety and campus experience have new meaning. It will be different. And, we know you already knew that.

As President Clark stated, we must do our part. It’s imperative we do so in order to have a successful semester and beyond. To show our support for one another — we are ALL taking the Bear Paw Pact — a pledge that involves four easy steps we can all take to protect each other:

 

As a BSU Bear, I make this pact to:

  • Protect Myself
  • Protect Others
  • Protect our Campus Community

To do this, I will:

  • Stay home if I am sick
  • Maintain physical distance of 6 feet
  • Wear a face covering in public and common areas
  • Practice good hygiene and wash my hands

 

While these steps will shape our campus experience, we are collectively working very hard to ensure they don’t define it. By adhering to these steps, we will still be able to engage with our friends, connect with campus activities, and be a part of all that BSU has to offer.

For all of us – whether we are learning remotely, living nearby off-campus, in surrounding communities, or on-campus — we’re not in a place where we can tolerate unsafe behaviors.

We need to keep it safe.

This is where we need to rely on each other. We’re all in this together — we all play a role in keeping our campus safe, and our individual roles are critical to our collective success. We’re sure that you have heard about other universities with COVID-19 outbreaks quickly changing their semester plans. We must not be among them. The outbreaks on other college campuses appear to be linked directly to the social activities of students, often at off-campus venues and events. It is dangerous, and it can significantly impact our BSU community, and the Greater Bridgewater Community — as well as any other community, including family you visit. That is not who we are as BSU Bears. We, collectively, ask that for the common good of BSU - you please follow the Bear Paw Pact and guidelines, committing to the safety of our community.

The defining moment is upon us — we are asking each other to remember our commitment to health and safety precautions does not end at the boundaries of campus. In our off-campus activities, it is imperative we continue to practice safe, responsible behavior and avoid situations that are likely to promote spread of the virus and could even — inadvertently — bring the virus to campus as a result of a family or friend’s party or other gathering. As BSU Bears, we have no tolerance for peers or colleagues creating situations where we are put at risk. We are better than that, and fully support our Student Code of Conduct and sanctions for those who, both on-campus and off-campus, choose to put others at risk. Furthermore, supporting the Governor’s directive — the Town of Bridgewater will be dispersing large gatherings that violate state rules. Plainly stated, should a fellow Bear choose to knowingly go against University policy and/or State guidelines they will be held accountable. Period.

Our actions and behaviors have the potential to keep the BSU Community as safe as possible. Moreover, holding each other accountable on the student-to-student level will help keep the entire community safe. If you become aware of events or gatherings that violate this policy, please email safestudents@bridgew.edu so the University can respond appropriately. Intervening to remind a BSU Bear to wear a face covering or making us aware of a planned gathering is one of many ways to do your part in keeping our community safe.

As we start the semester, the BSU community remains vigilant and flexible; and should the need arise, BSU will not hesitate to escalate steps to further keep members of our campus community safe. We will communicate with you via email and student/community announcements each step along the way.

BSU is here for you.

We’ve been waiting for you. Many students are already on campus. Through virtual classes and outreach, supplemented by as many instances of in-person teaching, services, programs and activities as possible, the intent is to provide a meaningful college experience inside and outside the classroom. The pandemic is a real threat we cannot control. We can, however, control our response to it, both individually and as a University.

For those of you who will be coming to, or already on-campus for courses or using resources, you will be receiving communication prior to the first day of class from Dr. Chris Frazer, Executive Director, Wellness Center, and Denine Rocco, Associate Vice President and Dean of Students, sharing with you information related to our COVID-19 Testing and Contact Tracing procedures. Please make sure you thoroughly read through the information.

We are confident that come Thanksgiving, when all courses will be taught remotely, we will collectively celebrate what our BSU family has achieved together — keeping our campus open and safe. To achieve this, it will require each of us, all the time, 24/7 to be aware of and honor our personal role and responsibility to protect myself, protect others, and protect our BSU Community. We are all in this together!

Let’s have a healthy, successful Fall semester!

We’ve got this!

GO BEARS!

Sincerely,

Anna Rice, President — Student Government Association
Erik Benson, Student Trustee — Bridgewater State University Board of Trustees
Dr. Joe Oravecz, Vice President — Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management

The Bear Paw Pact