Campus Operations and Business Continuity Update

Greetings, all,

At least it isn’t snowing. I hope you’re making the most of the not-snow. (Sorry: it’s a slow news day.)

Here’s the Ops stuff. It’s much of a muchness this week and doesn’t lend itself to one of those quickie bulleted lists that busy people appreciate. I’m sorry. As an alternative, I’ve designed the headings to help you skim—particularly faculty and staff who don’t need all the gory student details.

Vaccine stuff

  • Vaccination requirement for students: As you saw in Marlene and Fred’s email, starting next fall students will be required to provide proof of Covid vaccination. As required by law, there will be an option to request medical and religious exemptions through a process TBD.
  • Vaccine requirement for faculty and staff… question mark?: Of course the automatic next question is: will we have a comparable requirement for faculty and staff? And the answer is: Not sure yet. We faculty and staff folks are a complicated category (as if you didn’t know). So Maud and Senior Staff are taking time to consider all the factors, including… well… science. There will be at least twice as many opinions about what we should do as there are people at Williams. So if you have one or two (opinions, that is) you can talk to any Senior Staff member as we work through the tangle of issues.
  • Actually getting a vaccination: It’s taking time for humanoids to get appointments. Don’t give up, and also don’t panic. Everyone who wants a turn will get one, it will just take a little while. Here are a few pro tips while we all hit refresh over and over:
    • The county releases new appointments for the week at 6:00 p.m. every Monday. Get in their queue well before 6:00 at https://www.maimmunizations.org/. They dole out appointments in the order in which people got in line, until all the slots for that week are gone. Then the process starts over again the next Monday.
    • I haven’t been able to find information about how early on Mondays you can get in their queue. If someone has intel let me know and I’ll share it in next week’s update. But I suggest treating it like a wait for concert tickets: bring your figurative lawn chair, slanket and snacks, and snag a figurative bracelet with a number on it.
    • A lot of folks (present company included) have found vaccination appointments at local Walgreen’s, Stop & Shop, WalMart, the Big Y in North Adams, etc. Students, many of these locations are reachable via public transportation or livery service, and some can even be reached by foot or wheel. Accessible rides are also available through Berkshire Paratransit. So give it a try: You can use https://vaxfinder.mass.gov/ to search for openings. They pop up throughout the week, unlike the county ones.
    • You can also follow @vaccinetime on Twitter, a bot that will inform you in real time of every open appointment that becomes available across the state. You have to be prepared to get phone alerts every six milliseconds for places in Duxbury or Grandpa’s Crossing or wherever, but it could pay off. (No insult to folks from Duxbury, BTW: South Shore is wicked awesome.)
  • Students, remember the WoVO (Window of Vaccine Opportunity): You might have noticed the calendar math on this. You can’t stay on campus past the end of the term to await your second shot unless you’re approved to live here this summer. Given the time you’ll have to wait between doses, there’s a limited window during which you can start vaccination here and expect to complete it here before you have to leave. After that window, you can start the series here and find a way to get your second dose wherever you’ll go this summer, or wait until summer to start the process.

There are two things I don’t want to do with this information: stress you guys out or deter you from getting vaccinated. But I do want to make sure you’re aware of the issue in advance so you have time to plan. The college can’t arrange second doses in other states, but Student Health Services, the deans and lots of us old folks (speaking for myself) are happy to help you think about your options.

  • Student proof of vaccination: Students, after you get a shot please immediately upload an image of your vaccine card to Health Services’ patient portal or email it to [email protected]
  • Vaccine transport for students and faculty/staff who need it: College vaccine shuttles will transport riders to the sites at St. Elizabeth’s in North Adams and BCC in Pittsfield, and only to those sites. You must have a vaccination appointment to ride. To reserve a seat, complete the Spring 2021 Vaccination Shuttle form.

As a reminder, the shuttles are accessible, but we ask you to contact Krista Jolin before making your reservation so we can run an extra check that we’ve got all the accommodations in place for you.

Students, you can also drive or ride in a personal vehicle (alone or with a podmate or parent) to any vaccination site, even outside the corridor, as long as it’s a same-day round trip. If you use this option, just make sure you’ll be able to get back to the same site for your second dose later, since you’re supposed to get both at the same location.

  • Everyone: Insurance info is IMPORTANT, IMPORTANT, IMPORTANT: The staff at the vaccination site will ask for your insurance information. Please bring it with you if you’re insured. If you’re uninsured you can absolutely still get vaccinated. But if you have insurance and don’t bring the card or information, then the vaccine provider has to absorb your costs. Which is freeloading and a bit unkind given all the investments they’re already making to get us vaccinated.

Testing

  • CoVerified testing documentation: If you need proof of testing status you can download a PDF of your results from the CoVerified website or mobile app.
  • CoVerified, Part 2: The Scheduling: The CoVerified web portal will only let you schedule one week’s appointment at a time, which is meh. The developers intend to put an update/fix in place soon. In the meantime, the mobile app will let you schedule for multiple weeks at a time, which is some percents better than meh.

Hammocks, snacks, and other niceties also impacted by Covid

  • Hammocks: Yes, friends, even hammock use is affected by the virus. What a world. And therefore so are our friends the trees. If using a hammock, please only tie it to large trees (10” or more in diameter, which is roughly ⅚ the length of a twelve-inch ruler). Use a thick strap: thin ones can break on you, which results in a rapid decrease in social status. They’re also more likely to harm the tree, and what did trees ever do to you besides bring you birds and some fruit. Also, please don’t use them (hammocks) in areas with shrubs or other plantings.

I was also thinking we could tie one to that pack of sled dogs that I’ve seen on campus and offer free hammock rides. If you’re those people who own those dogs, I’m just spitballing here—no pressure.

  • It’s a library, not a lunchroom: Our recent relaxation of guidelines for eating in common areas seems to have been strategically overinterpreted: it does not apply to library spaces. The usual no-food policy is still in force there, including in study rooms. The library staff are updating their signage to make this policy clear, but why wait for the rules to be posted when you could comply now? (How’s that for a life philosophy.)

Besides, there are plenty of other rules far more worth breaking.

If you ask me which ones they are, we can’t be friends anymore.

There will probably be one million and seventeen more things to tell you soon, so I’ll go start working on next week’s message now.

Jim