Message to the Webb Family
On March 2nd, students returned from their winter work internships bristling with energy and enthusiasm, as they took their first classes in the spectacular new Couch Academic Center. Two weeks later, students were asked to return home and we began online instruction. As I write this letter, New York is emerging as the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic with NYC and Long Island accounting for over 5% of worldwide cases. Yes, these are truly challenging and uncertain times. Those of us at Webb are most appreciative of the emails of support we have received from so many of you, asking how we are doing and seeking ways to assist us. This letter describes some of the actions we have taken over the last month as we continue to fulfill our mission of providing Webb students with the best possible education while safeguarding the health and safety of the Webb community.
Our dormitories remain open for students who need to be here. While we encouraged students to go home and take classes remotely, we permitted students to stay on campus if the student and his/her parents felt that was the safer option. Examples include students unable to go home, those with family members who are first responders (e.g. doctors and nurses), and those with family members in higher-risk categories (e.g. with compromised immune systems or underlying illnesses). A total of seventeen students are now living on campus, housed in Motley Hall in single rooms.
All courses were moved online as of March 16th, with Dean Werner and all faculty members providing instruction from home. We quickly purchased necessary information technology equipment, both hardware and software, and the Dean provided training for those faculty members without experience in distance learning. Although we have faced a few challenges due to slower internet/WiFi transmission rates at some homes, the early feedback is that remote learning is working well. Professors are working closely with students that had thesis projects utilizing campus-based test facilities, finding alternatives that accomplish the educational goal while allowing for completion by the end of the semester
By March 16th, those Webb staff members that can effectively work at home were asked to do so. On March 22nd, when New York Governor Cuomo issued a directive requiring 100% of non-essential personnel to work from home, we made a few additional reductions in onsite staff. Today, we are operating with eight staff working on campus, six of whom are living on campus. These staff members are responsible for keeping the campus functioning including student oversight, accounting, infrastructure maintenance, and providing meals to students.
This lean staff places a considerable burden on those remaining on campus. For example, “Chef Rob” is the only culinary staff member left on campus. He is doing yeoman’s work, ordering all provisions and cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner on all weekdays. Students and staff are washing dishes to alleviate some of his workload. On weekends, Chef Rob provides the food and the students cook and clean up themselves. I am writing this letter on Sunday afternoon, having just enjoyed a student prepared brunch consisting of banana crepes, sausage quiche, yogurt and fruit, and a cinnamon bun. Absolutely delicious! These students are amazing.
We have implemented best practices in social distancing and other risk mitigation measures. The extraordinary cooperation and “can do” attitude demonstrated by our students, faculty, and staff is heartwarming. It has been my pleasure to work side-by-side with all of them.
The coronavirus outbreak has led to many disruptions in how we do business at Webb. In each case, we have developed alternative processes that, although perhaps not ideal, meet our objectives. For example, restrictions on travel meant that many of our prospective freshmen were unable to come to campus to spend the night in Stevenson Taylor Hall, attend classes in the Couch Academic Center, and be interviewed by the president and a faculty member. Admissions director Lauren Carballo has substituted a process involving online interviews and webinars with students. Our communications staff has developed an admission’s video introducing prospective students to Webb life. We are confident that we will recruit a full complement of twenty-eight highly qualified students for the Class of 2024.
I very much enjoyed the thirteen regional alumni events held around the country and in Europe during the months of January and February. Thank you all for your hospitality! The New York, Norfolk, Green Bay, and Denver events planned for March and April have been postponed until the fall.
Unfortunately, we are unable to host Homecoming on the Webb campus this year. The Webb Alumni Association is planning a virtual meeting for Saturday, May 16th. Please join us! For those classes celebrating reunions this year, we hope you will take the opportunity to get together online, as it is a good time to stay in touch with classmates and friends. Noting that Webbie’s have a proclivity to procrastinate, please consider celebrating your reunion in-person a year late at next year’s Homecoming. We look forward to seeing you!
For the students who went home, we will rebate room and board on a pro-rata basis. Although our endowment investments are well diversified, they have also been impacted by the stock market decline. I have been working closely with the Board of Trustees to ensure prudent and effective financial management during these challenging times. We are all committed to the long-term financial health and sustainability of Webb.
The alumni, parents, past-parents and other friends of Webb have been providing extraordinary and unprecedented financial support to the Institute. We ask members of the Webb family who are in a position to provide further financial assistance to consider doing so at this time. We are encouraging students and their parents to donate to Webb a portion of the room & board rebate. Other members of the Webb family may wish to consider supplementing your Annual Fund gift or contributing to our COVID-19 Fund, which will help offset lost revenues and increased expenses incurred as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
As a community, I have full confidence that we will collectively rise to meet the challenges we face in these uncertain times. I am continuously in awe of the commitment, determination, and resiliency demonstrated by the entire Webb family.
May you and your families be healthy and safe!
R. Keith Michel
President, Webb Institute
Message Regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak
Due to recent events as explained below, we now request students without a specific need to remain on campus to return home, preferably by Sunday, March 22. However, if this is not practical or there are concerns about the safety of travel within this timeframe, please contact Lauren Carballo or Marissa Alperin with your request for an extension.
Students who are unable to return home, students that can demonstrate that they are better off staying at Webb, and students currently working on thesis using on-campus testing facilities will be permitted to remain on campus. Residency and food will be provided for this limited group.
To minimize the potential for exposure of our students, we are reducing staff to the minimum level that maintains safety and care on campus. We are also terminating construction on campus and restricting outside visitors until students that plan to go home have left campus. We do have a core group of employees, four of whom live on campus, who have promised to abide by our strict social distancing policies. I am confident that we can maintain the needed oversight and support for the limited number of students who may remain on campus through the coming months.
We all empathize with our seniors who will be graduating this June and will not be able to spend their final months on campus. Should the college not reopen by graduation day, we will find a way to celebrate your accomplishments with you and your families.
Webb Institute continues to monitor the situation surrounding the outbreak of coronavirus disease. We currently know of no Webb campus members who have been infected with the coronavirus. However, three staff members felt ill and developed a cough. Another staff member has a close friend who was exposed to the virus. These staff members are all working from home. However, the number of staff members we had to send home raises concerns about our ability to maintain adequate support over the coming months, if all students remained on campus. This is part of the reason we decided to send students home. We also concerned about the continued increase in coronavirus cases on Long Island, and the ability of the local medical infrastructure to keep pace with demand.
President Keith Michel
President’s Message Regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak:
Webb Institute continues to monitor the situation surrounding the outbreak of coronavirus disease. As of March 13th, there are 325 confirmed cases in New York including 41 in Nassau County. We currently know of no Webb campus members who have been infected with the coronavirus, are showing symptoms, or are at risk due to potential contact with infected individuals.
We have decided to switch to online classes beginning March 16th. Webb will remain open. However, moving to online classes gives students and faculty the option to work from home. Specific steps taken since our prior correspondence include:
- All courses at Webb will be taught online beginning Monday, March 16th. Online classes will continue until further notice.
- Students may remain on campus. Students remaining on campus may take classes from their lecture hall or from their dorm rooms. Food service will be provided.
- At their option, students may return home and take classes online from their homes. Should a student decide to go home, he or she may not return to Webb until in-person classes resume.
- If the Administration determines that online classes will continue following Spring Break, students will be permitted to stay at Webb during Spring Break. Food service will be provided. Should students decide to return home or travel during Spring Break, they will not be permitted to return to campus until in-person classes resume.
- For students remaining on campus, off campus travel should be limited to essential needs only (e.g. doctor’s visits).
- Students should not attend off-campus events with high density populations (i.e., sporting events, concerts), utilize mass transportation, or use restaurants and other venues where contact with coronavirus is more likely to occur. Students who do so will not be permitted back on campus until in-person classes resume.
- Non-essential visitors or guests are not permitted on campus until further notice.
- There will be no Webb-sanctioned off-campus events until further notice. All intercollegiate and off-campus sporting events are cancelled for the semester.
- Webb has a contingency plan for on-campus quarantine and also has medical supplies to reduce the potential transmission of the coronavirus.
- Webb will continue to be in contact with our local and state health departments and acting in accordance with their guidance.
President Keith Michel
President’s Message Regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak
Webb Institute is monitoring the situation surrounding the outbreak of coronavirus disease. As of March 8th, there are 105 confirmed cases in New York including five in Nassau County. These numbers will increase. We currently know of no Webb campus members who have been infected with the coronavirus or are specifically at risk due to potential contact with infected individuals. We are in regular contact with the NY State Department of Health and the Nassau County Department of Health, we have conferred with Webb’s local doctor and the hospital in Glen Cove to ensure that they are prepared to assist Webb.
During winter work, a few of our students made short stops in the airports of countries that are currently at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Warning Level 3 status. These students have not developed coronavirus symptoms. We have cleared their status with the NY State Department of Health.
Important information related to the coronavirus and steps being taken at Webb to mitigate any impact on the Webb community include:
Symptoms of coronavirus:
The following symptoms may appear in 2 to 14 days after exposure:
- Shortness of breath
Refer to the CDC website for further information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html
What should you do if you display symptoms of the coronavirus disease:
We ask students who are experiencing symptoms consistent with coronavirus, including fever, cough and shortness of breath, to call Webb’s on-call phone (516.776.7278) or Lauren Carballo, Director of Admissions and Student Affairs. They will assist you in getting the appropriate medical support. If you are ill, please do not attend class. Faculty will provide support for students who are unable to attend class due to illness. We will also provide assistance in obtaining meals if needed.
What can you do to avoid exposure to the coronavirus disease:
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease. CDC recommends the following preventative actions, which can help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and other respiratory viruses. For further information, refer to the CDC website at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home or remain in your dorm room and call the on-call phone if you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
What is Webb doing to help mitigate the potential impact of the coronavirus:
- The staff has increased cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces such as restrooms and dining areas.
- We are placing sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizing stations in the public areas around campus.
- We have set aside guest rooms to be used quarantining students if needed.
- We are canceling all offsite events through the end of March. By mid-March, we will decide if events will be canceled through April.
- All members of the Webb campus community are encouraged to avoid offsite non-essential travel.
- We ask all students, faculty, and staff to report to Lana Miller, Director of Human Resources, any intended international travel. Countries with CDC Warning Level 3 should be avoided. Any member of the Webb community that travels to countries with Warning Level 3 will be requested to stay away from campus and self-quarantine for a period of two weeks.
- We are developing contingency plans should we have an active outbreak of coronavirus in the region. This includes the possibility of sending faculty and/or students home and conducting classes online or through other means.
I will keep you updated regarding the coronavirus and steps being taken on the Webb campus. Should you have any questions related to Webb’s response to the coronavirus, please do not hesitate to contact me or Lauren Carballo, our Director of Admissions and Student Affairs (email@example.com).
President Keith Michel ’73