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Governor Lamont Visits Eastern for COVID-19 Update

Published on September 24, 2020

Governor Lamont Visits Eastern for COVID-19 Update

Governor Lamont

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont visited the Eastern Connecticut State University campus on Sept. 24 to hear how Eastern was managing the COVID-19 coronavirus. Joining Lamont were Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System, and Deidre Gifford, commissioner of the Department of Social Services and acting commissioner of the Department of Public Health.  Students and faculty from Eastern and Quinebaug Valley Community College were also on hand to describe how the fall semester was unfolding on their campuses.

Eastern President Elsa Núñez welcomed the state officials, student and faculty representatives, and members of the news media, all wearing masks and practicing social distancing in the Betty R. Tipton Room in keeping with state and federal guidelines.  “I am very proud of our students, faculty and staff at Eastern for taking COVID seriously and working together to keep our campus safe,” said Núñez. She described a variety of safety protocols and precautions the University has taken, ranging from Eastern’s mandatory facemask policy to a rigorous daily cleaning schedule, 500 additional hand sanitizers, 6,500 signs around campus and plexiglass partitions for safe faculty instruction in classrooms. Noting that most classes at Eastern are still being delivered on-ground or in a hybrid modality, Núñez said she was proud of the campus community for keeping the incidence of COVID low on campus — only two resident students have tested positive since classes started in August.

Ojakian said he was “cautiously optimistic” that the state universities and community colleges could complete the fall semester but urged the campuses not to ease up — “let’s be sure we don’t let our guard down now.”

Commissioner Gifford applauded Eastern for its mandatory mask protocol, and said she was encouraged by growing scientific knowledge regarding COVID-19, including the promise of a vaccine, more knowledge about the virus itself, a better idea of who is most at risk and better ways to treat the infection.

Noting that “education is one of the crown jewels in our state,” Lamont favorably compared Connecticut’s higher education experience to outbreaks taking place on college campuses in other states, but also cautioned “we are not out of the woods yet.”  He said he was pleased with how things were going in Connecticut and said that having health officials help drive decisions was contributing to the state being one of the nation’s leaders in responding to COVID-19.

Stephen Ferruci, English professor and president of Eastern’s University Senate, said he was proud the campus community was working together and said he had observed “clear, transparent and honest communications from the governor’s office on down” throughout the months of dealing with COVID-19. He thanked Eastern’s facilities staff, Information Technology Services and other offices and departments for their efforts in making the campus safe and students’ educational experiences as normal as possible. “As a liberal arts college, we teach our students to assume individual responsibility” toward other members of the campus community.

Matthew Driscoll, a business administration major and Eastern’s representative on the Board of Regents’ Student Advisory Committee, said he welcomed the “simple, easy-to-follow guidelines” the University has shared with the campus community, and also thanked the administration for giving students the flexibility to choose an online course load if they wanted.  Other speakers included Steve LaPointe, the director of the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center at QVCC, Karina Torres, a member of the Student Government Association at Eastern, and Karen DeLos Santos Dominguez, a student at QVCC.

Written by Ed Osborn

Categories: Administration