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Simon's Rock employee tests positive for coronavirus

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GREAT BARRINGTON — Bard College at Simon's Rock officials publicly announced on Monday that an employee has tested positive for the coronavirus, the school's first confirmed case.

"In line with guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the employee has been self-isolating at home for two weeks and reports they are feeling much better. We wish them all the best as they continue to recover," officials wrote in a memo shared with its campus community and on its website.

Simon's Rock Director of Marketing and Communications Jennifer Frederick clarified that the affected employee had begun self-isolating 15 days before receiving the confirmed diagnosis.

She said Pittsfield Board of Health officials will be reaching out directly to anyone who might have been in close contact with the unidentified employee and noted that those individuals could be asked to self-isolate and to report to health officials any developing symptoms associated with the virus.

This announcement came at the same time classes resumed using newly designed distance learning modules.

Students at Bard College Simon's Rock and Bard Academy at Simon's Rock were dismissed for spring break on March 6. Students were allowed to make arrangements to pick up their belongings as needed.

Students who have been off-campus for spring break and are currently experiencing symptoms such as fever or cough, and students who have been traveling in CDC-defined areas of Level 3 high risk for this coronavirus, were asked to remain off campus.

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Bard Academy high school students are required to remain off campus to complete the semester remotely, as per Gov. Charlie Baker's order to close all schools, public and private, serving students from early childhood to Grade 12, through early May. Some educators have speculated that schools will eventually be closed for the remainder of the academic year.

Residence halls and a limited number of campus facilities will remain open for students who were permitted to stay on campus because of extenuating circumstances that prevent them from returning home.

Frederick told The Eagle on Wednesday that "more than 90 percent of students have left campus." Employees not required to be on campus to perform essential services have also been asked to work remotely.

"All academic resources and support continue to be available, remotely, to all students including tutoring, academic advising, career development, and accommodation support," Frederick said, nothing that students and faculty already use a variety of digital and online platforms for teaching and learning.

A team of 11 college officials known collectively as the Simon's Rock Infectious Disease Task Force, will continue updating the campus community on a regular basis.

"Faculty have been working hard to plan how to deliver the remaining weeks of class as if you were in the classroom. We anticipate there may be bumps ahead, but working together, we will find the best solutions," task force members told students through a March 20 memo.

Jenn Smith can be reached at jsmith@berkshireeagle.com, at @JennSmith_Ink on Twitter and 413-496-6239.


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