Letter to Families Regarding COVID-19

Patrick Connelly, dean of students, outlines the college’s plans and procedures for the weeks ahead.

Dear Families,

Marlboro’s Senior Team has been meeting regularly to get updates about COVID-19 and discuss possible impacts on the College. The aim in all our discussions has been to move quickly and thoughtfully to minimize, as much as we are able, the risk of exposure for community members and their families, while continuing to fulfill our educational mission. We know that we should assume that the virus will eventually reach Potash Hill. That means we should act now to keep the impact minimal. We especially want to protect members of our community who might be immuno-compromised, and those for whom the virus might have more serious impact.

There are many unknowns about COVID-19, but two things are clear. The first is that social distancing is one of the best protections against the spread of the virus. The second is that the virus has the potential to spread rapidly in communities. Both of these pose challenges for all colleges. And best practices suggest that we need to act before the virus is identified within our community.

The decisions outlined below were not easy ones to make, and Malboro joins many colleges and universities in taking preventative and proactive actions. We do so informed by public health guidance and in consultation with colleagues across higher education who are facing the same need to protect those most vulnerable in our communities in the face of COVID-19’s spread.

College-Sponsored Travel
At this time, the College is cancelling all international and domestic College-sponsored travel. That includes Spring Break trips, conference attendance, faculty research, and other travel paid for in part or in whole by the College. We recognize the frustration and hurt that this decision will cause for many, but it is in the best interest of the community to limit individual’s exposure to the virus as much as possible.

Spring Break
Spring Break will proceed as normal. Our two week break gives us time that many of our peer institutions do not have to make thoughtful, informed decisions. The College is actively preparing for the possibility that we may need to ask students to delay their return to campus and to transition to online classes temporarily after Spring Break. That decision could be made at any time between today and Friday, March 20, should conditions and recommendations from the CDC and Vermont Department of Health change.

To prepare for the possibility of online classes from home after Spring Break students should:

  • Bring with them during Spring Break all academic materials (books, notebooks, laptop) necessary to conduct studies remotely for some period of time.
  • Check their email regularly during Spring Break in the event we need to notify them that classes will be conducted remotely.
  • Students who have been given permission to stay on campus during spring break may continue to do so.
  • Provost and Dean of the Faculty, Richard Glejzer will follow up with faculty with details about the continuation of academic classes.
  • Students whose travel plans are directly from and to the campus and who would not be able to bring their academic materials with them on break can coordinate with Student Life to pick up their materials upon their return, if we do move to online classes.

Students Who Must Stay on Campus: While we will require most students to leave campus, we know that some students cannot go home and will need to remain on campus for the rest of the semester (International students or U.S. students who may not have the option of returning home). The process for requesting permission to remain on campus will be sent out in a separate email shortly.

Public Events on Campus
At this time, the College is not canceling any public events on campus. Given our small size most of our events fall below recommended attendance guidelines. The College may change that decision at any time depending on guidelines and recommendations from the CDC and Vermont Department of Health.

You may be wondering why we have made these decisions now, given that there are no known cases at Marlboro and there are only two known cases within the State of Vermont. We believe that spring recess travel presents a number of challenges for our community. Because so many members of our community are planning to leave, their return could present an increased risk of exposure to the virus. We are looking to mitigate that risk, if possible, while also continuing to fulfill our educational mission.

This is a lot to take in. We are aware that the impact on our entire Marlboro community will be great. However, our top priority is the health and welfare of our community and to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19, especially for those most vulnerable. We are taking these actions now, as disruptive as they might be, to lessen the risk of facing greater challenges and consequences in the future.

Every college and university across the country is looking at the best way to protect their community while maintaining their educational mission. Each institution’s specific circumstances guide their response to the virus, and each response varies due to location, size, and exposure to the virus. The same is true for Marlboro. We are making decisions based on the science surrounding the virus with guidance from the CDC and Vermont Department of Health and choosing to move deliberately and thoughtfully in our process.

We will continue to provide regular updates on how we are responding to COVID-19. Given how fluid the situation is, we will adjust this plan as necessary. We know that there are a variety of opinions as to how we should respond to the spread of coronavirus. We are making decisions in real time in a rapidly evolving situation. We will continue to update you and your student as the situation changes. Please make sure that your student is checking their Marlboro email regularly as that is how we will be communicating updates or changes.


Patrick Connelly
Dean of Students


(a mostly random selection of Marlboro microdestinations)