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Community Care Standards

About Our Community Care Standards

Rather than establishing a set of specific behavioral guidelines, VassarTogether has developed community care standards around an ethos of looking out for one another—of bringing meaning to the phrase “we precedes me.” This ethos calls for all students and employees not only to be in community, but also to act in community. Community care means that we think both about the individual and the communal impacts of the things we do and how they contribute to minimizing the potential for the spread of COVID-19.

While these norms are written to the attention of students, we expect these standards to be followed by every member of our campus community, including but not limited to faculty, administrators, and staff. In particular, we look to employees as models for this behavior. Finally, we’d like to note that these standards are constructed to prioritize readability and accessibility: We envision these standards as living, breathing practices that both reflect and guide the heart of the community at Vassar.

Community care asks us to think deeply about the ways we talk with and help each other uphold these norms and standards. Curiosity, education, and empathy should be at the center of these encounters as we continue to build a community that values and protects the health of all members, including those on campus and throughout the greater Poughkeepsie area.


Individual and Community Standards for Fall 2020

Please note: depending on the continued evolution of COVID-19 and the science of it, we may need to update these norms. In some instances, this might mean that some expectations can be loosened. In other cases, this could mean that we will have to enhance the norms and standards listed below. VassarTogether will communicate updates to the community as they become available.


All students returning to campus are required to sign the VassarTogether Commitment, as follows:

By returning to campus to be part of “VassarTogether,” I commit to bring meaning to the phrase, “We precedes me.” I take this opportunity to not just “be” in community but also to “act” in community. I understand that the College may have to shift its practices based on guidelines set forth by New York State and/or federal, regional, and local public health guidelines.

As a member of the Vassar community, I agree to the following Commitments:

  • I commit to remaining on campus from my arrival date in August until I leave campus for the semester on/around November 20. I understand that compliance with this is crucial to the health and safety of the entire community. I understand that leaving campus will be permissible in the case of emergencies and in limited situations that require prior approval from the Dean of College office and that those who are approved to leave campus will be subject to additional COVID-19 testing upon return. *For students living off-campus, you may not invite students living on campus to your residence. You must complete the on-line health screen daily. 
  • I commit to following all campus access policies, including the guest policy.  I understand that no non-Vassar community member may enter campus buildings, including my house and dorm.
  • I commit to wearing a mask in compliance with the campus mask policy. 
  • I commit to always maintaining at least six feet between myself and others when possible.
  • I commit to navigating spaces on campus safely, including using hand sanitizer frequently, wiping down surfaces when deemed necessary to do so, and following all building signage regarding capacity limits, traffic flow, and other safety measures.
  • I commit to undergoing COVID-19 PCR testing within seven days prior to arriving on campus, twice within 14 days of arriving on campus, and additional testing as required.
  • I commit to cooperating with contact tracing initiatives, including, but not limited to, self-attesting to my health through the mobile app as required, potentially daily. I understand that I am encouraged to self-monitor for symptoms every morning.  App links: https://computing.vassar.edu/vassarmobilesupport/
  • I commit to self-quarantine and isolation if it is deemed necessary for me to do so. I understand that the College will provide a separate residential space for students who are symptomatic or determined to have COVID-19, as well as a separate space for close contacts or individuals who might be positive.
  • I commit to processes connected to the Community Care Team (CCT), including engaging in restorative conversations when invited to participate in such. If I notice a behavior that is concerning, I will follow the intervention guidelines as laid out by the CCT.
  • I understand that public health conditions might require the College to shift to remote learning on very short notice and that I will be responsible for my transportation and removal and/or storage of my personal belongings if the closure of residence halls is required.

Other General Norms:

  • All community members will follow guidelines set by the Health Service regarding PPE, social distancing, and the like—recognizing that such benefit the community by keeping everyone safe.

  • All community members will assume best intent: When someone is not following safety precautions, assume first that there may be a valid reason or unintentional oversight. Offer to assist others in following the standard (ask if they need help acquiring/making a face covering, finding an optimal space for their gathering, etc.), and when reminded yourself, respond with “thank you for reminding me.”

  • Remain up to date on standards. These standards will be updated and changed over time. It is expected that all community members will stay educated in order to follow all norms.


Use of Physical Spaces on Campus:

  • Classroom spaces have been furnished to accommodate social distancing; no new furniture should be brought into classrooms.

  • Employees will have access to the academic buildings during the workday (offices, classrooms, labs, etc.). Card access in the evenings/weekends to academic buildings will be restricted to those who apply for that access because of specific needs/requirements.

  • Avoid having multiple individuals in narrow halls or rooms where a six-foot distance is not possible. Please look for and respect the traffic/directional and distancing markings for entry, exit, and movement down hallways.

  • Use sanitizing wipes to clean all chairs, tables, and surfaces upon entry into a classroom or shared space. If possible, wipe again before leaving.

  • Avoid sharing office water coolers and coffee machines across offices.

  • Please leave doors open and, if possible, open windows to maximize air circulation in classrooms and other meeting spaces.

  • Use hand sanitizer before entering and upon exiting elevators. There should be no more than one person in small elevators and no more than two people in freight-sized elevators. Limit touching buttons with bare hands when possible.

  • In stairwells, use hand sanitizer prior to entry and avoid touching handrails. Use sanitizer upon exit, after opening crash bar doors.

  • All buildings will be card-access only. In order to limit density in buildings, people should keep their entry into buildings on campus to a minimum. 

  • Bathrooms in academic and administrative buildings are limited to one occupant at a time. Before leaving the bathroom, please be sure to clean up any mess and wash your hands . Individuals waiting to use the restroom should stand at least six feet from the door so that others can safely exit. 


Social Interactions on Campus:

  • Through September 7, 2020, gatherings may occur so long as they are kept under 10 individuals. These gatherings must occur outdoors with appropriate distance norms and masks; larger meetings, other than classes, must take place remotely via Zoom or another remote tool. We encourage community members to avoid gathering as much as possible.

  • Faculty and other employees should refrain from having students in their homes.


Please note that Community Standards are determined by VassarTogether Committee, not the Community Care Team.