Daily COVID-19 Update: March 12, 2020

Dear Bereans,

Here are some COVID-19 updates for Thursday, March 12th.

We are fortunate to have “microbe expertise” on our faculty, in the person of Dr. Dawn Anderson.  Read her blurb offering some more information about the specifics of the novel coronavirus.

I need to dispel one rumor regarding our cancelled Commencement celebration, that being that the commencement speaker was to be Dolly Parton and that she had already written a song to be part of her address.  It is true that Ms. Parton was added to the approved list of potential honorary degree recipients from Berea College at the January, 2020 Board meeting, but it is NOT the case that she had been invited on such short notice to receive that degree this May.  I do hope that we will be able to prevail upon her to join us for a future Commencement, however.

Recognizing the unexpectedness of traveling home may catch students with little money, the College has decided to advance students $100 from the payroll to be processed next week.  This will go to the direct deposit account where your labor payments are sent; the money should be in your account on Friday (tomorrow!)  For those who receive a paper check, you may go to the Student Financial Aid Office on Friday after 8:30 a.m. to pick up an emergency loan voucher to get the $100 cash from Student Accounts.  Please understand that there will be a payroll deduction of $100 taken from your labor check next week, in addition to your current payroll deduction.  For example, if you were having 50% deducted from your check, next week you would have 50% plus $100 in payroll deductions OR if you had a flat amount of $25 deducted from your check, then next week there would be $25 plus $100 deducted.

Some students who live nearby have expressed interest in being allowed to take campus jobs. We very much appreciate this spirit of wanting to assist the community through a difficult time as we will have lost a large fraction of our student labor. The Administrative Committee has agreed that we can in fact employ students who live nearby, within commuting distance to work in labor positions.  The pay rate for students working in labor positions, whether living on campus or commuting from nearby will be at the rate planned for summer positions this year, $8.75/hour.  Students not working will receive the pay rate of their current campus position.

Announcements from the Labor Program

  • All student labor placements will be finalized by Monday morning (03/16). Students and supervisors will be notified by email, asap
  • Also, the Labor program has a large quantity of treats and snacks that had been purchased for Labor Day.  Students wanting some snacks for travel are welcome to stop by the office.

I do have one bit news for faculty and staff that might be a little bit unwelcome.  Operations will be continuing at the college which  means that meetings of committees, councils, and assemblies will continue.  Members not able or wishing to attend in person, including for example student members, can attend via Zoom, if possible.

Another bit of unfortunate news which we just received this morning; all KIIS programs have been cancelled for this summer.

The Child Development Laboratory plans to continue to be open as long as there are no cases of COVID-19 on campus or among the families served by the CDL.

Announcements from IS&S

(Students should also see the lengthy email sent this morning with more details.)

  • IS&S is completing all student laptop repairs immediately before students leave this weekend.  If a student’s laptop is not repaired before Friday, we will issue a loaner laptop for an extended time at no charge.
  • IS&S will ship bootable USB drives, including instructions to all seniors for assistance with laptop transfer of ownership.
  • IS&S is extending the password expiration from 120 days to 270 days.  (This can be done with undue cybersecurity risk because of our successful adoption of the Duo Multifactor Authorization protocol.

Another rumor that has been reported to me is concern about staff lay-offs.  We contemplate continuing with normal business operations and are not considering the possibility of lay-offs.

National and local media has taken an interest in our situation and we have had reporters on campus.  Some students report what they take as harassment.  Please know that no one needs to speak with a reporter if they prefer not to, and in that case, it is a good idea to refer them to Director of Media Relations Tim Jordan.  Please let Mr. Jordan know at jordant@berea.edu if you have been excessively bothered by a reporter and where the interaction took place.

My thanks for all everyone is doing to work through this challenging moment.

Lyle Roelofs, President