Spring Break Update and Ripon College Response to Coronavirus | March 12, 2020

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

Over the past 10 days, the Ripon College administration and our Response Team have followed the coronavirus situation closely. We are using national, state and local health authorities as guideposts for our decision-making. This includes the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the United States Department of State at the federal level, which aided our conclusion last week to cancel our spring program in Rome, Italy.

In Wisconsin, we monitor the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. We have also met with (and have spoken to) officials from the Fond du Lac County Health Department multiple times. 

While there have been two confirmed cases of coronavirus in Fond du Lac County, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services said the following on 3/12/20: 

“Currently, the risk of COVID-19 to the general public in Wisconsin is very low.”

We have also drawn support and learned from the actions and statements of our partner schools in the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, the Midwest [Athletic] Conference and other public and private schools from across Wisconsin.

It has been our philosophy to act rationally and calmly, but to take the health and safety of the community into consideration first and foremost. Since the situation is fast-moving, changing by the hour and without precedent, we are striving to make informed decisions on a timeline about the appropriate steps forward for the community.

That said, we may very well have to alter our decisions as the nation (and the College) learns more about the coronavirus in the days ahead. Students should be advised to check their ripon.edu email regularly for college updates. 

Here are a set of FAQs about Ripon’s response to the coronavirus. I will tell you candidly that we do not have the answers yet for every issue, but we will do our best to address your concerns. If we don’t know the answer, we will tell you that as well. Should you have a question for the Response Team, I would ask that you email your query to: [email protected].  All calls should be directed to Marketing and Communications at 920-748-8351.

The following are the most significant of the decisions we are making today:

1. Spring Break Extended: Ripon’s regular spring break begins on Friday, March 13. We have decided to extend spring break for an additional week. We are asking students to prepare to take all essential personal and course materials with them prior to departing campus for spring break on Friday, March 13. Depending on the situation, classes may restart Monday, March 30. 

We have taken this action for two primary reasons.

    • To allow our faculty some extra days to work with our information technology staff to prepare, if we decide, to move a significant portion of our curriculum online. 
    • To gain clarity as to whether we will be able to return to a regular in-class schedule on March 30. The extra week allows more time to determine the severity of the pandemic and chart an appropriate response.

2. Based on advice from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services regarding domestic travel and recommended self-quarantine upon return, all College-sponsored spring break travel has been canceled.

As we move forward through the next several weeks, I ask for your patience and respect for Ripon College and the people that work, study and live here. I will do my best to work with my colleagues to make timely and informed decisions that safeguard the health and safety of students, faculty and staff. We will do our best in the weeks ahead.    

Zach Messitte
Professor of Politics and Government

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