About Manchester

Weekly Update - August 27


From: President <President@manchester.edu>
Sent: Thursday, August 27, 2020 11:46 AM
To: All Colleagues <AllColleagues@manchester.edu>
Subject: Weekly update - Aug. 27


Dear Colleagues,

Our students’ return to Manchester represents an enormous amount of planning and preparation over the summer. Their return is not the end of our efforts, however.

Our response team conducted a tabletop exercise recently to walk through how we will respond when students test positive on our campuses. It revealed that we will need many hands helping to serve students who are moved to isolation and quarantine. We also will need help with COVID-19 testing. And, finally, we need ambassadors to encourage students and colleagues to maintain appropriate social distancing.

To meet those needs, we are forming a COVID-19 Rapid Response Team comprised of volunteer colleagues (faculty and staff). Led by Abby Van Vlerah, vice president for student life, the volunteers will help Manchester meet daily needs related to the pandemic and supplement the work of the professional residential life staff.

While we are asking for volunteers from both campuses, the greater need is on the North Manchester campus. We are asking you to invest part of your regular workday to help us meet these needs when they arise. The amount of help needed will depend in part on the number of tests we do and the number of students isolated or quarantined. The time you spend volunteering with this team will be considered part of – not in addition to – the number of hours you regularly work. For hourly colleagues, your total number of hours cannot exceed what you usually work in a week. That said, schedules may be flexible. Please talk to your supervisor about how volunteering for the Rapid Response Team would affect you and your team.

Individual team members will not necessarily serve in every role in the list below and you can let us know if you there is something on the list you would prefer to do.  Collectively, team responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Making deliveries to students in quarantine and isolation (personal protective equipment and training will be provided)
  • Communicating with students in quarantine and isolation
  • Providing logistical help when students move into quarantine or isolation, including managing onlookers and fostering a culture of kindness and empathy for students moving into those designated areas 
  • Doing contact tracing (primarily phone calls)
  • Helping during COVID-19 testing, including registering students, managing the flow of people at a testing location, and delivering our tests to the Genemarkers laboratory in Kalamazoo, Mich., a 204-mile round trip from North Manchester and 208-mile round trip from the Fort Wayne campus
  • Serving as social distancing ambassadors who help at mealtimes and events to make sure students maintain the recommended distance from each other, and
  • “Runners” who will be asked to perform various other needs on campus

If you are interested in volunteering for the Rapid Response Team, please complete this survey.

Your willingness to pitch in will help Manchester maintain a positive in-person experience for our students and help in our efforts to protect the entire community from the spread of COVID-19. We are in this together and I am grateful to everyone who answers this call.

Town-gown relations: The President’s Town Gown Committee held a special meeting Wednesday to talk about our plans for dealing with COVID-19 in the months ahead. These meetings are always productive and this one was especially so. One of the town initiatives we heard about is a state-funded wastewater monitoring program. Samples will be drawn from several locations around town and tested for the presence of COVID-19 RNA. The results will serve as a large-scale surveillance test and alert us to possible spikes in the community. There is no cost to the town or the University for participating in this state project.

I hope you can find time in your schedule to volunteer to be part of the Rapid Response Team. I plan to help with testing in whatever way I can and make an occasional run to Kalamazoo.

Thank you for all that you are doing, and be well.


Dave McFadden
Manchester University