Babson’s Response to 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Babson College will be open this fall. In updates to the community on April 21 and May 6, President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD shared how the College will maintain academic continuity come September.
Dear Babson Community Members,
As we continue to navigate through the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has placed upon our personal and professional lives, we also recognize that at the some point we will begin to transition back to an on campus format.
Guided by the Governor’s recent announcement on the four phases of reopening the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we have embraced those provisions and are guided by the governmental and public health advisories in our planning. Our priority has been and will remain the health and safety of all Babson community members. Therefore, we will remain in remote operation through Phase 1.
Return to Campus Employee Guide May 2020, you will notice some changes in the way our workplaces look and also see new practices and protocols, all designed for your protection and to enhance your wellbeing. Our goal is to collaboratively ensure you feel safe and secure while at work and to help you navigate the complexities of these challenging times.
Some of these actions include:
- More frequent cleaning and sanitizing
- Signage on social distancing
- Limitations to the use of elevators
- Suggestions for increased hand-washing
- Requirements for wearing facial covering
- More frequent communications on our operations, projections, practices and any new measures we are taking to support you and our community
The following guide has been developed to assist you in your transition and inform of your requirements as we return to campus. As the information and knowledge of managing this pandemic is evolving, please continue to check our HR intranet and the Babson College COVID-19 Response page for updated information.
Thank you for your continued efforts, collaboration and commitments to our academic and business continuity.
May 20, 2020
Dear Faculty and Staff:
The 2019-2020 academic year elicits vast and varied emotions. Gratitude for the flexibility and resilience of our community. Concern for our continued wellbeing. Grief for a semester upended by crisis. Motivation to bring Babson back stronger and more impactful than ever. And, most immediately, anticipation about our return to campus. It can feel overwhelming, but I continue to be energized and inspired by your support for our students and each other.
I am writing to share our preparations for a safe and measured return to our campuses. Our intent is to welcome the majority of faculty and staff back to campus and to begin on-campus classes this fall. We continue to plan for scenarios that may require flexibility to move between online and face-to-face options as the situation unfolds. The planning related to a return to campus operations continues to be grounded in two principles: the safety and health of our community and continuity of the academic experience for all students.
Let me share an update on immediate next steps and ongoing planning:
- Continuation of Remote Work Environment: Based on data from our recent manager survey, we feel confident that most areas of the College can effectively operate remotely. This allows us to preserve resources for students and community members returning to campus this fall. The following phased approach will be taken to return our workforce to on campus operations:
- Essential staff working on campus will continue to do so, adhering to physical distancing and other CDC guidelines.
- Remote work will continue for the majority of our staff and faculty.
- In the coming weeks, senior managers will work with their teams to determine when additional employees will begin to transition back to campus over the next few months to properly prepare for fall.
Exceptions to the stay-at-home order will continue to be at your manager's discretion and require advanced notification to Public Safety. Today, Human Resources will follow up with a detailed guide for planning the return to on campus work.
- Expert Guidance and Partnership: Reopening requires a new way of life for our students, staff, faculty and visitors. We have examined and are enhancing our safety protocols and operations. We are working with external experts, Environmental Health & Engineering (EHE), a leading industrial hygiene firm specializing in higher education, to help guide our decisions. EHE is providing solutions based on the most up to date public health, scientific, medical and engineering guidance. Additionally, we will continue to access expertise through our industry associations and state offices.
- Safety Guidelines and Health Monitoring Protocols: Several campus safety and health protocols are in development to ensure compliance with local reopening guidelines:
- Masks: Masks have been secured for all members of our community, and a policy will be issued for face covering as we get closer to the start of Fall semester. We will be fervently educating and reminding our community about proper mask wearing and hand washing.
- De-densification Planning: Working with our partners at EHE, we are examining all options for de-densification of buildings, including changes in classroom and residence hall capacity and altering dining areas and common spaces. This intense planning will continue for several weeks and be communicated well in advance of the semester start.
- Advanced Cleaning Protocols: Our Facilities team has deployed advanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols, including use of technology that covers larger spaces with more precise targeting of disinfectant.
- Practicing Physical Distance: Physical distance has been shown to limit virus spread. We are working to determine physical distance policies in and outside the classroom, public areas and residence halls.
- Other Strategies to Keep our Community Safe: In collaboration with other area colleges and universities and leading health experts, we are actively investigating a variety of additional tools and resources to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep our community as safe as possible.
On Friday, June 12 at 10am EST, we will host a virtual Community Forum for faculty and staff to discuss our ongoing planning efforts and timeline for critical decision-making. I invite you to join us for that session and to share questions in advance at email@example.com. Additional details will be shared next week.
I continue to be proud of our community’s exceptional management and response to this ongoing situation. I know the toll it has taken on so many, and I wish I could take away the fear, frustration and exhaustion with simple answers. While we may be growing weary of the constraints placed on our lives, there are positive signs of progress and we are beginning to understand what our new normal will entail. We have much work ahead. In order for us to succeed we must do the hard work together, as one community.
March 25, 2020
Dear Class of 2020:
The world has thrust upon the Babson community a great challenge. We understand the disappointment this has caused you and hear your desire to have a voice in the decisions surrounding celebrating your achievements.
Please know we are intensely exploring ways to celebrate the Class of 2020 and honor your accomplishments. Based on current government recommendations, and guidance from a cross-functional Babson task force, our commencement exercises, scheduled for May 16, 2020, will be postponed. We know this is something you’ve all been looking forward to as an opportunity to come together and celebrate everything you’ve accomplished during your time at Babson. We did not come to this decision lightly and share in your sadness.
There are many questions that remain to be answered. Our goal is to support you through this transition and recognize you as individuals and as a collective community. While there is no definitive date for when we will host a graduation ceremony, and no decisions about what it will look like, our goal is to find a way to celebrate together, surrounded by the people who supported us and enriched our Babson experience.
Our community is special, with many friends and classmates coming from all around the globe. This presents a unique challenge in finding a time, place, and manner in which we can all be together to celebrate our success. We ask for your patience and collaboration as we work through this process, identify new opportunities to celebrate the Class of 2020, and plan for a future date when we can safely celebrate our Commencement in a more traditional manner.
In the meantime, we want to hear from you.
How would you like to celebrate your graduation?
Are there creative ways to be together while we are apart?
When we are able to gather in person, what should Commencement look like?
Please share your thoughts and suggestions for innovative and safe ways to recognize your accomplishments, both virtually and when it is safe to gather together. Submit ideas to Classof2020@babson.edu or through the Commencement page by Friday, April 3.
While Commencement events have been postponed, your degree will be conferred as scheduled and you will become a Babson graduate on May 16 for employment and/or graduate education purposes. You will hear from the Registrar’s Office regarding important steps to maintain this timeline.
Commencement is the culmination of your Babson experience. It is an opportunity to celebrate with family, friends, and classmates and be recognized for your individual and collective accomplishments. It is an opportunity to look to the future with joy and excitement. It may look different this year, but we will celebrate you, in many ways, as we look towards a moment when you can be safely surrounded by the Babson community.
The past several weeks—and the weeks and months ahead—are a true test of what Babson has instilled in all of you; entrepreneurial leadership is the core competency we must possess to look at this daunting challenge as an opportunity to see the world in new ways. Thank you for your ongoing leadership, resiliency and willingness to adapt to new traditions—while we wait for the old ones to be safely held.
President Spinelli, Nori Horvitz ’20, Aly Massoud MBA’20
After very thoughtful conversations and collaborations between faculty, staff, and academic leadership of the College, I am pleased to share with you a new policy regarding course grades taken by our undergraduates.
For the Spring 2020 semester you can:
- Continue to earn letter grades for all of your courses.
- Select any or all of your courses to be taken using pass-fail grades.
If you seek letter grades for all of your courses, no further action is needed.
If you would like to select course(s) to be taken pass/fail, here are the steps you need to take:
- Using your Babson account, email your professor with a cc: to firstname.lastname@example.org
- In the subject line type “Pass-Fail” followed by the course code. As an example, if you select to take the course Negotiations using pass-fail grades the email subject line would be Pass-Fail MOB3580-01. Your course code and section number can be found in the student portal.
- No additional content is needed in the email.
The deadline for declaring a course pass-fail is April 29th, the last day of classes (prior to finals period). Note, a separate email should be sent for each course you select for pass-fail.
We were intentional in giving you the rest of the semester to immerse yourself in the online learning experience and assess your performance in the context of the learning modalities and the conditions you are taking your coursework. I encourage you to reflect carefully on your decision and to seek the guidance of your class dean, career advisor, and/or faculty member. We all remain available to support you.
Letter grades continue to have the same GPA weight and appropriate application of degree credits.
A “pass” grade in a course earns credits toward your degree, as appropriate meets academic requirements, and does not affect your GPA. A grade of “fail” has the same significant impact as an “F” letter grade, it will lower your GPA and credits will not be applied toward your degree.
Your professor’s course level grading rubric and expectations for learning still apply. To earn a “pass grade” you must earn the equivalent of a passing letter grade. Please seek guidance from the student handbook or your professor as needed.
Half-semester courses that ended before we shifted to all courses being online are not eligible for pass-fail grading.
To be eligible for the Dean’s List this semester you must earn a semester GPA of 3.3 and be enrolled in a minimum of 12-credits of courses that are receiving letter grades. As an example, you are eligible for the Dean’s List with 16-credits of letter grades and 4-credits of pass/fail.
If you are unable to engage in a course and complete course requirements, please discuss your situation in a timely manner with your professor and class dean to determine if an “incomplete” should be taken.
We recognize the fluid nature and the varied impact of COVID-19 on you and your loved ones over the remaining weeks of the semester that may impact your ability to learn and perform in your courses. We ask that you do the best you can to sustain your own learning, to support the learning of others (in particular in group projects), and engage with your professors and the larger Babson community.
Best wishes on a successful semester,
Ian Lapp, PhD
Dean of the Undergraduate School
March 13, 2020
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work diligently and thoughtfully to transition our community online for the remainder of the spring semester. For your convenience, the following information also is included on the Community FAQ and Resource Guide page and will be continuously updated here.
Prorated Room and Board
Many of you have inquired about the impact of this decision on your room and board fees. We are able to share that room and board costs, which include all meal plans, will be prorated for the seven-week remainder of the year for all students leaving campus and completely vacating their housing by Saturday, March 21.
You will receive this amount as a credit on your student account. If you wish to receive a refund check, or EFT, from any resulting credit balance, please initiate the request on the Babson Hub under SFS, then select ‘Refund Request’.
Please note, if you have been formally approved for later check-out by the College, your credit will be prorated based on your actual check-out date. If you are a financial aid recipient, your credit will be adjusted proportionally based on your Babson or institutional grant.
As the health, safety, and well-being of our community remains our top priority, we have also made the difficult decision to cancel all spring sport seasons effective Monday, March 16. Babson’s Director of Athletics, Mike Lynch, shared the following:
“All of us within the athletics community are disappointed and saddened about this situation, but feel this is the best decision given the unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in. I feel for our coaches, student-athletes and especially our seniors, whose time, hard work and commitment have elevated our athletics program.”
MOVE OUT Reminder
To reiterate, we are requiring residential students to move out of their campus housing assignments, remove all personal belongings, and return room keys by next Saturday, March 21 at 8pm. If you have significant barriers, restrictions, or other circumstances that may prevent you from returning home safely at this point in time, please submit a petition (via the SELF-SERVICE section of the Hub) to remain in on-campus housing by Monday, March 16 at 12pm (noon).
We understand that some students may require a reasonable extension to check-out after the March 21 deadline. If you need an extension, please complete the petition to remain in on-campus housing as noted above. Here are some of the College’s considerations for the petition process:
- Immigration Status—Please contact Glavin Office of Multicultural & International Education for appropriate guidance and/or documentation
- Permanent residence is shared with an older adult, pregnant person, or person with a compromised immune system/chronic medical condition (per CDC guidelines)
- Permanent residence is located in a CDC Level-3 country
- Significant hardship or extenuating personal circumstances (evaluated on a case-by-case basis)
Any student who is approved to remain on campus for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester will be notified by Wednesday, March 18 at 5pm.
The impact of this pandemic clearly has far-reaching implications for our academic, professional, and personal lives. I am so sorry that we cannot complete this semester under normal circumstances. Please know that our College community is stronger and more resilient than this virus. Let’s find new ways to stay connected and commit to helping each other continue to feel that Babson is a special place.
We will get through this challenge, together.
Stay safe … lpw
Lawrence P. Ward, Ed.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
April 27, 2020
Dear Babson Staff & Faculty,
Your safety, health and the continuity of our Babson community have been our paramount concern and guiding principle. Life, as we all knew it, has changed dramatically. Babson experienced significant revenue losses with less than 90 days to go in FY2020. COVID-19 financial impacts include: the distribution of pro-rated student room and board refunds; additional aid to our students; lost business at the conference center and in some of our non-credentialed learning programs; the delayed start of certain programs until next year; lost rent at the Boston Sports Club; and a (-13%) drop in our endowment within the past 30 days.
Over the last few weeks, we have outlined some of the known fiscal impacts and initial phases of a financial management plan, with the recognition that many global uncertainties lie ahead. We requested a re-written budget for the remainder of this fiscal year, including a spending freeze on discretionary funds. We enacted a hiring freeze, and a merit and bonus pool freeze. We asked for our broader community to support students in need. We asked for your recalibration of spending expectations.
Our community delivered. We managed the current fiscal year COVID-related deficit.
Babson was fortunate to be in a position of financial strength when the COVID-19 crisis began. That factor, in combination with your collaboration, creativity, sense of shared sacrifice, and hard work, has brought us a balanced current fiscal year budget. This is an even more remarkable feat given the scope of our financial losses: a -6% or (-$14M) decrease in operating funds with very few opportunities for new tuition generation remaining after the Spring semester began in January. Your caring, resilience, and commitment to the greater good of “One Babson” is reflected in this truly incredible accomplishment, which puts Babson on better footing going into the next fiscal year than many of our peer institutions. Even more significantly, you accomplished all of this while remaining student-focused, maintaining academic continuity, and simultaneously dealing with the personal uncertainties and anxiety brought on by these times.
Simply put: Thank you. Your actions are helping to preserve our institution at a time of abundant global uncertainty, under the constraints attendant in needing to manage all of our activities remotely in order to slow the spread of the pandemic.
Your continued support and flexibility will be critical as we manage through these times, model various operational and financial scenarios, and look ahead to continued uncertainty in FY2021, which begins on July 1, 2020. These scenarios will need to reflect versions of a potential new economic and physical reality for our students and their families. We will need to model the possible COVID-related impacts on undergraduate and graduate enrollments, and the generosity of our donors.
Babson’s finances are dependent upon student enrollments, and as such, our budget is sensitive to international travel restrictions, the economic impacts on our students and their families, and our ability to maintain a safe and healthy living and working environment for our students, faculty and staff. We remain committed to academic continuity and will continue to deliver the Babson experience in safe and effective ways, including a mix of learning modalities which accommodate the complexity presented by this global health situation. Summer courses will be offered online, and we are working with state and local officials and health and safety experts to develop a reentry plan for fall.
We know that we will need to be extremely frugal for the upcoming fiscal year. The following is a list of actions that will be taken to curtail spending for the remainder of FY2020 and going forward:
- We will continue the current hiring freeze until December 31, 2020.
- We will offer an Early Retirement Incentive opportunity for certain eligible employees. Over the next week, Human Resources will notify eligible employees, and begin discussions with them on this option. More information will come from Donna Bonaparte as this program begins. Early Retirement Incentive is a program that Babson has periodically implemented, as recently as three years ago.
- We will continue to carefully manage employee headcount and expenses.
- We will look to reduce costs and generate increased revenue opportunities.
The Strategic Planning process, which began last summer, included recommendations for radically recreating the organization. The urgency of this global crisis requires that we accelerate that effort.
The process of assessing opportunities for increased efficiencies and expense reduction across the full organization will be transparent and ongoing, and will consider our current and future strategic priorities. We will continue to provide updates as we move forward, and I look forward to presenting potential FY2021 budget scenarios to the Faculty Senate on May 1, in preparation for the discussion and vote of the Trustees in mid-May. Working together, I’m confident we can weather this unprecedented situation.
Thank you once again for your continued collaboration, hard work and foresight which is helping to mitigate the financial impacts of this crisis and shore up Babson’s future. Much gratitude and congratulations are due to all of you who worked to solidify our financial footing as we prepare for building next year’s budget plan. Most importantly, I hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy.
Physical Distancing Guidelines at Babson
These guidelines on distancing are created to deliberately increase the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. It’s important to stay connected, socially, with friends and family during this unsettling time.
To keep yourself and others healthy, but connected, it’s important you remember:
- In any public setting, maintain a safe distance between yourself and others. The CDC recommends keeping at least six feet apart from one another so as to not allow possible contact if an infected person were to cough or sneeze.
- Limit discretionary travel, including shopping trips, social visits - Use drive thru, delivery and take out options
- Avoid non-essential use of public transport
- Do not host or attend gatherings; opt for virtual meetings and gatherings – this includes academic group work.
- Maintain your mental and physical health; Exercise, fresh air and connections with friends and family are important to continue through technology options.