Westfield State moves to remote learning for remainder of semester

WESTFIELD- Westfield State University will move to remote-learning for the remainder of the current semester as the school’s ability to quarantine infected students becomes limited. 

Westfield State is currently in a shelter-in-place period, but the continued spread of COVID-19 among the campus population prompted school officials to switch to remote learning. A phased move-out will take place in the coming days for residential students. 

“Even though enlisting our months-long contingency plan was always a possibility, this was a difficult decision that impacts our full campus community,” said Westfield State Interim President Roy Saigo, Ph.D. “But, we are at a critical juncture as the health and safety of our campus community is our top priority.”

Students will move off campus Nov. 17 to Nov. 22. The remainder of fall classes will be conducted entirely online, with some small exceptions. University housing will be closed to the general student population from Nov. 23 until Jan. 19, when the spring semester is set to begin. 

Westfield State began the fall semester with a one-month period of remote learning, the only state university in Massachusetts to do so. At the end of September, 1,300 students began moving back to campus for in-person learning. 

There have been 113 COVID-19 cases confirmed at Westfield State since students returned to campus, most of which were detected in the past two weeks. Students who tested positive and were unable to go back home to quarantine were sent to Lansdowne Place, the university’s off-campus downtown apartment building. 

When Lansdowne Place began to reach capacity, on-campus suites and apartments were opened up for students to quarantine. 

Saigo said in a statement that Westfield State made the decision to close the campus with guidance from the state Department of Public Health

“I regret the collective disappointment these changes for the remaining semester bring to all students and their families, as well as to faculty and staff,” said Saigo. 

He said in a separate letter to the campus community that the decision to close the campus for the semester did not come lightly, and that it is being done to protect the campus community.

When I first arrived at Westfield State, I shared with you my three priorities for this academic year. Perhaps the most important one is to treat our students as if they are our own children. Throughout the many decisions we have made during the pandemic, know that this has been my guiding principle,” said Saigo.  

Because students will no longer be on campus, the scheduled mandatory COVID-19 testing for all students throughout the semester will no longer take place. The small number of students who need to remain on campus to adequately complete their work, such as nursing students, will be tested for COVID-19 on Nov. 19.

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