Office of the President
Mon 3/23/2020 6:33 PM
Subject: COVID-19: Refunds, Building Access, and other updates – A Message from President Clark
Dear campus community,
By the end of the day today, two-thirds of all residence hall students will have moved out of their rooms. While so many students expressed their sadness to me about having to leave campus this past weekend, I have also been uplifted by their excitement at the prospect of returning to BSU once the crisis abates. The strength and spirit of our students, faculty and staff during these challenging days continue to shine.
In this communication, I will address several issues, including Governor Baker’s March 23 order for non-essential businesses; the transition to online learning; refunds for residence hall, meal plan costs and parking services (decals); building access; and on-campus events.
Governor Baker’s Order
Today, as you are likely aware, Governor Baker ordered the physical closure of all non-essential businesses and organizations effective at noon on Tuesday, March 24 through Tuesday, April 7, 2020. The governor’s order expressly exempts higher education institutions, including BSU, for the “purposes of facilitating distance learning, provision of school meals, or performing other essential student support functions, if operating under rules for social distancing.” Many of our other specific functions are exempted as well.
What this means for employees:
BSU’s faculty and much of its staff are already working remotely and telecommuting. The university is currently operating with a minimal number of “essential employees” on campus to ensure the continuity of the university during the COVID-19 public health emergency, and BSU remains in compliance with the governor’s current order as well the governor’s previous order regarding state agencies.
What this means for students who have not yet moved out of residence halls:
For residence hall students with approved hardships, the governor’s new order does not impact the ability of those students to continue residing in the residence halls and receive support from the university.
For students who have not yet moved out of the residence halls, your current move-out date/time remains in effect. However, our Residence Life and Housing team will allow students to move out earlier upon request. Students can sign-up for revised move-out times through our Residence Hall Check-Out Schedule or can contact the Office of Residence Life and Housing at ResLife@bridgew.edu for further assistance.
Transition to Online Teaching & Learning
Today marks the resumption of classes and the start of our transition to a fully online course delivery mode. We are all truly grateful to our faculty, staff and students who transitioned to today’s online/remote learning format along with virtual advising/student support services to ensure our students stay on track to finish courses, earn academic credit, and successfully complete this semester.
For students who find themselves in an online classroom for the first time, please know, we are here to help you. You can visit our Students Resources for Online Learning web site to learn about important tools, resources, and strategies that will help you succeed as an online student. Our Academic Achievement Center is operating remotely each weekday from 8:00 A.M.- 4:00 P.M. and is fully prepared to assist you. For further information, I encourage students to review the Student FAQs on BSU’s COVID-19 website about how to reach departments, such as Disability Resources and Learning Assistance. You also may contact the Academic Achievement Center directly at email@example.com.
I know that many of you have been eagerly awaiting news on the university’s plan to provide relief for this semester’s unused housing, meal plan, and parking services. We have been working hard to ensure that we do what’s right for you and your families, and we thank you for your patience as we have developed a refund strategy. Bridgewater State University plans to complete the issuance of prorated adjustments or credits to student accounts on or before April 15th.
Students living in a residence hall for the Spring 2020 semester will receive a prorated adjustment or credit of their housing and meal plan charges for the remainder of the semester. In addition, currently registered students (resident and commuter) who were billed for a parking decal will also receive a prorated adjustment or credit.
All adjustments or credits will first be applied to any outstanding balance owed to the university. We encourage you to check your student account online. Adjustments that result in an overall credit balance will then be processed as refunds within two weeks of the credit balance being determined. We also encourage you to sign up for direct deposit eRefund through eBill - if you haven’t already done so.
If you are on a payment plan, we realize that the final payment is due on April 1st. Knowing these are challenging times, we will postpone the final installment of the payment plan while we process these adjustments. If a billing balance remains after the adjustment to your account, you will be provided additional time to resolve your remaining balance, if any. Once all adjustments are complete, you will receive an updated eBill for the Spring 2020 semester.
Please note that while the global pandemic has compelled BSU to move classes to an online format, we will be delivering all of our courses this semester. As a result, tuition and fee refunds will not be available.
A comprehensive question and answer guide on refunds can be found in the Student FAQs on the COVID-19 website.
Building Access & Cleaning
As we previously announced, in the interest of reducing the spread of COVID-19, effective today, access to BSU buildings will be restricted to BSU students, faculty and staff, and not accessible to the general public. Please see the building access notice on BSU’s COVID-19 web page.
A special thank you to the tireless and dedicated BSU heroes who are on the front-line of responding to this pandemic – our building maintainers. Their work is never easy and it is especially taxing at this moment. They have gone the extra mile to ensure our buildings and high touch areas are disinfected and clean.
Last week, I made the difficult announcement that BSU must reschedule our 2020 commencement ceremony. We appreciate all of you who provided us with valuable feedback via social media as we consider when and how to hold our in-person commencement ceremony.
I also want to reiterate that all BSU sponsored on-campus events scheduled through May 17, 2020 are cancelled, postponed or will be moved to a virtual format.
Bridgewater State University has thrived for 180 years because of the resilience and character of its people. We have what many admirers of this campus community describe as “grit.” That hard-working and determined BSU spirit continues to fuel our efforts and motivate our “we’ve got this” attitude throughout this crisis. I am absolutely confident that we will emerge even stronger as our motto – “Not to be Ministered Unto, but to Minister” – takes on enhanced significance and meaning.
Frederick W. Clark Jr., Esq.