Hiram College

Dear campus community,

 

I have been in contact with Ohio Governor Mike DeWine regarding the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) to hear, first hand, the recommendations he has made for Ohio institutions of higher learning. After conferring with colleagues and advisors at Hiram and beyond, I believe it is prudent to use those recommendations as a framework for crafting a Hiram-specific plan to mitigate the risk of contracting and spreading the virus via social distancing practices and other measures. Although there are no campus-associated cases of COVID-19, we will be proactive in our effort to prevent illness and promote a healthy campus environment. Knowing that we are learning more about the virus every day, I hope you will remain flexible as our community adjusts to these new circumstances. We should all expect that the following guidelines will evolve as we become more knowledgeable and accustomed to the situation. As always, you can expect me to relay prompt and transparent communication throughout this period.

Classes

March 16-17. Hiram College is extending spring break for all students. There will be no classes on these two days.

This extension will allow the Learning Technologies staff to work with faculty and staff to finalize our preparation for remote instruction. Since Hiram’s Tech and Trek program provides each student, faculty, and staff member with an iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and keyboard bundle, our transition to online learning will be smoother than it would otherwise be and ensures that all students have access to the same technology.

March 18-April 15. Remote instruction via Moodle and Zoom will begin and continue through the remainder of the 12-week semester. Student assessments (e.g., papers, projects, ePortfolios) will be collected electronically. Faculty will communicate directly with their students on expectations regarding coursework and assignments. Students engaged in off-campus experiences (internships, clinicals, student teaching, etc.) will receive further details from their faculty members.

April 16-22. This term break remains as scheduled thanks to Hiram’s distinctive 12+3 academic calendar that offers a scheduled break at the end of the 12-week term. As of today, we anticipate that classes will return to their face-to-face format during the 3-week term, starting on April 23. We will keep you apprised of any changes that occur.

Campus Events

Mid- and large-scale college-sponsored events will generally be canceled starting Thursday, March 12 through Tuesday, April 21. Information regarding events can be found on the Events Calendar. For now, intercollegiate athletic events will follow recommendations from the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC), which has restricted all indoor athletic competitions from spectator participation. Outdoor sporting events may still have spectators.

Residence Halls

The campus will remain open. Students need to make the best decision they can for their individual circumstance—many of you will decide to stay or return home during the online instruction period (March 18-April 15) as Governor DeWine suggests. However, we know that for some of you, including in-season athletes, out-of-state students, international students, and others, Hiram may be the easier and safer place for you to be right now. If you feel that staying on campus is your best option, please complete a housing form by Monday, March 16 at noon. The form can be found online.

Travel

Effective immediately and until further notice, all college-sponsored international travel is suspended. College-sponsored domestic travel will be reviewed this week; the senior administrator who oversees the traveling group will communicate a decision to the trip leader in the coming days as to whether or not the trip may proceed as scheduled. Travelers returning from Level 3 warning countries or any community member who has potentially been exposed to the coronavirus are required report their exposure to the Student Health Center and to observe a 14-day period of self-quarantine and monitoring.

Guidance for Campus Constituents

Guidance for Students

As stated above, Hiram will remain open. The College will continue to provide student support services, academic resources, residential accommodations, dining services, and recreation facilities. There may be changes made, however, to the delivery and utilization of some of these services.

Guidance for Faculty

Both part-time and full-time faculty teaching in the Traditional College, at partnership schools, or in the Weekend College should plan on attending at least one of the remote teaching sessions that are being offered on March 13, 16, and 17 (details forthcoming). These sessions will provide faculty with personalized instructions about how to use their devices and Zoom technology to teach remotely. Faculty should also feel free to call the Learning Technologies staff with questions as they begin preparations to deliver courses remotely.

  • As of this writing, we are expecting that faculty will maintain synchronous sessions with students, at the same time that their face-to-face class was scheduled.
  • There may some students who do not have Internet access at home or others for whom a disability makes an online Zoom class session difficult. Faculty need to create reasonable alternatives for any such student, in cooperation with Dr. Kevin Feisthamel in the Student Health Center as needed. As always, each faculty member should set and communicate their expectations regarding class participation and attendance. Students who provide medical documentation of illness-related circumstances should be given the opportunity to complete work late and/or take an incomplete.
  • Faculty will be able to collect homework through Moodle or electronically. 

12-week classes will resume on Wednesday, March 18 in the online format described above. They will continue until the end of the 12-week term with remote final assessments taking place Monday, April 13 through Wednesday, April 15. 

The 8-week session in the Center for Adult Studies (CAS) will also begin next week on Wednesday, March 18, and will continue as described above. The face-to-face sessions at the partnerships or on campus will meet online through Zoom. As mentioned above, faculty teaching in CAS will also receive training.

Faculty in education and nursing should make arrangements with their partners and through their Ohio boards.

Faculty may continue to use their offices and campus facilities while delivering courses remotely. Any faculty member who exhibits signs of the flu will be expected to stay at home and seek medical attention as needed.

Guidance for Staff

Hiram aims to remain open during the rest of the academic year, and staff are expected to report to campus for work. Determinations about modifications in services and/or staff needs will be made based on emerging and evolving information. Hiram will provide work-at-home flexibility to employees who are at high-risk (i.e., chronically ill or immuno-compromised prior to this outbreak), have a need to work remotely due to personal matters related to COVID-19, or have extenuating circumstances. Employees must consult with their direct supervisor and/or VP to make arrangements.

Any staff member who exhibits signs of the flu will be expected to stay at home, seek medical attention as needed, and self-quarantine per latest medical recommendations at the time. Remote work options for those in self-quarantine may be granted by supervisors in consultation with respective VPs.

Guidance for Visitors

Hiram will remain open. Public health authorities recommend that we practice “social distancing” as the best way to prevent the spread of the virus, therefore mid- and large-scale events are postponed until further notice. In addition, recreational facilities, including the fitness center, weight room, and gymnasiums, will be closed to the general public.

Thankfully, many of our admission- and enrollment-related activities are done the “Hiram way”—in small groups that allow for individualized attention. Hence, we will be able to continue these events with little disruption. Students and families who wish to visit the campus or take a campus tour are welcome to do so and should contact our Admission Office at 330.569.5169 or  VisitHiram@hiram.edu to schedule and design a personalized visit.

General Comments

No matter where you are on campus or off, I encourage you to take robust preventative public health and hygiene measures. These include washing your hands thoroughly five or six times each day, sneezing into a sleeved arm, and distancing yourself from others at the first sign of flu-like symptoms.

Hiram’s emergency response team and Senior Cabinet continue to gather information, evaluate risk, and develop contingency plans, working directly with the Portage County Public Health Department and following the guidelines of the CDC and local, state, and federal authorities.

The campus community will continue to be updated via email as more information is available. In addition, we have established a Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Information page on our website to provide up-to-date information. If you have questions related to the College’s response and plans for COVID-19, please inquire via email at info@hiram.edu.

Hiram has committed to providing a high quality education in as safe and healthy an environment as is feasible. I deeply appreciate your patience and cooperation as we navigate the road ahead. Hiram’s strong community is perhaps its greatest asset, and we will support each other as we work through these challenging circumstances.

 

Your President,

President Varlotta Signature

Lori Varlotta