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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.

Even more, 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.

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.

Individual and Community 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.”
  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms, do not come to work that day.
  • Use the Daily COVID-19 Symptoms Pre-Screen Tool prior to entry on campus.
  • Sign in to the VC Safe Zone App to support contact tracing, should it become necessary.
  • You are required to have your Vassar College ID at all times when on campus in order to access buildings.
  • Because it will be difficult to determine when you might not be able to maintain six feet of distance from someone, masks/face coverings are required at all times while in shared public spaces and while you are in transit across campus. Masks/face coverings may be removed when you are in your dorm room or office, when dining, or when you have arrived at an outdoor location where you can reasonably maintain six feet of social distance.
  • Everyone is expected to abide by the following community care rules:
    • Always maintain at least six feet between yourself and others when possible.
    • Adhere to posted room-capacity limits at all times.
    • Follow directional signage in all buildings.
    • Use hand sanitizer before and after entry through doors with knobs, restrooms, stairs, and elevators.
  • Students are required to self-attest to their health through the mobile app every Monday. Some students may be required to self-attest more regularly (athletes, VSA orgs, students living within walking distance of campus, etc.). Students are encouraged to continue to self-monitor for symptoms every morning before they begin their day.
  • 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.
  • Through September 7, 2020, small group meetings (fewer than 10) may occur outdoors with appropriate distance norms and masks; larger meetings, other than classes, must take place remotely via Zoom or another remote tool.
  • 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.
  • Faculty and other employees should refrain from having students in their homes.
  • 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. 
  • 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.

Residential Life

Masks/Face Coverings

All residents are expected to wear a mask/face covering inside the house when not in their room. The mask/face covering must fit closely to your skin, covering mouth and nose. All areas outside of a resident’s room require mask usage including hallways, stairwells, bathrooms, lobbies, kitchens, laundry rooms, parlors, and multi-purpose rooms.

Entrances and Exits

All card-swiping entryways to the house will be designated for one-way flow of traffic. Each entry will be designated to be used as an entrance or exit exclusively. Please follow these signs in order to limit cross foot traffic near entrances and exits.

Foot Traffic in the House

Residents may move in both directions in any hallway or stairwell. Residents are expected to utilize hallways and stairwells as passageways only. Residents are expected not to use hallways, stairwells, and lobbies for gathering. Sufficient mask/face covering usage is expected. 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.


No non-Vassar community member may enter college buildings, including your house/room. When considering inviting another student or Vassar community member into your house or room, follow the guidance regarding mask usage and maximum capacities provided to residents for the residential houses.


Every resident will be assigned to a nearby bathroom in their house and will be expected to only use that assigned bathroom. Each resident will also be assigned a specific toilet stall, sink, and shower stall to use exclusively, which will be shared with a portion of the other residents assigned to that bathroom. A maximum capacity for each bathroom will be set based upon the size of the bathroom. Residents will be expected to follow guidance on bathroom assignments and maximum capacities. Mask usage will be expected in the bathroom except for bathroom functions requiring its removal (i.e. brushing teeth, washing face, etc.).


Residents will need to make a reservation ahead of time in order to use the kitchen. Each kitchen will be allotted a maximum capacity based upon the size of the room. Residents are expected to follow guidance for reservations, maximum capacity, cleaning, and mask usage while using the kitchen.

Laundry Rooms

Each laundry room will be allotted a maximum capacity based upon the size of the room. Residents will be expected to check for machine availability online using Laundry View before taking their laundry to the laundry room. If the laundry room has reached its maximum capacity upon your arrival, wait outside of the laundry room until others have left. Residents are expected to keep their presence in the laundry room to a minimum and leave the laundry room promptly after loading and unloading machines. Students should avoid congregating in the laundry room. Folding and organizing laundry may not occur in the laundry room.

Parlors, Multipurpose Rooms, and Additional Lounges

  • General use: Each parlor will be allotted a maximum capacity based upon the size of the room. Gatherings and individual usage of the room will be permitted up to the maximum capacity. Individuals must use masks/face coverings and remain six feet apart from one another while using the room.
  • Reservations: Groups may reserve the parlor and multipurpose rooms. Masks must still be used for group reservations even if the group is a “family unit” since others may potentially enter or pass by and there is frequent turnover.


Roommates living in multi-occupancy rooms will be considered as a “family unit” and will not be expected to wear masks/face coverings while in the room together. Residents in single rooms may have one guest in their room with sufficient distance and mask usage. Residents are discouraged from having unmasked guests in their room. Upon the need to trace contacts, residents will be expected to confidentially provide information to Health Services about any guest in their room within a certain window of time.

House Programming/Student Fellow Groups/House Team Meetings

Gathering in person for programming, student fellow groups, and House Teams are expected to follow the guidelines for the residential houses. Groups are expected to make relevant room reservations for parlors and multipurpose rooms while adhering to the room’s maximum capacity and utilizing sufficient mask usage.

Estimates for Maximum Capacity (As of 6/23/2020)





















Multipurpose Rooms (MPRs)




















Additional Lounges










Apartment Guests and Party Registration

  • Guests: Residents within the apartments are discouraged from entertaining any guest who does not live in their apartment. Maximum capacity for common rooms within each apartment will be equivalent to the number of residents assigned to that apartment.
  • Party Registration: There will be no party registration process during the Fall 2020 Semester. Parties will not be permitted in any apartment.

Food Delivery

Touchless food delivery will be available throughout campus.

Early Move-out

Preparing for a move-out (shutdown): Early departure from campus may occur at any time during the academic semester. Students are advised to bring fewer belongings with them to campus than they would during regular conditions. Extensive decorations or additional furniture items are discouraged.

In the event of an early move-out, the process will be phased. Students with permanent residences within 3 hours of driving distance will be asked to leave first, within the first days after the announcement. Students with permanent residences within 6 hours of driving distance will be encouraged to leave within the next few days after. Students taking domestic flights will have the opportunity to leave any time within the week after the announcement. Students taking international flights will also have a week within the announcement and may seek flexibility after that as needed and dependent on conditions at the College.

Accountability: Responding to Instances Where Community Standards Are Violated

It will take the whole community to keep us all attentive to the community standards. No one can do it all alone, so please participate in helping everyone. If you see someone not wearing a mask when needed, approach and say something like: “I notice you are not wearing a mask right now. I feel a little concerned about that because one of the community norms we all agreed on during this time is to wear a mask to keep one another safe. Is there a way I can assist you with getting a mask or can you help me understand why you are not wearing one?” Then listen with compassion and grace. Similarly, if you are reminded by someone to wear your mask, don’t forget to thank them for reminding you. Again, we must depend on each other, and together, we will be able to hold the community standards and keep all of us healthy and safe.

Our safety protocols are multilayered, encompassing testing, social distancing, mask-wearing, and enhanced cleaning. We recognize that there will be instances when a member of the community does not adhere to a community norm. In these cases, we ask that members in the community serve as the first “carefront” in responding to these violations. For example, if an individual is not wearing a mask you might approach them as described above.

If you need help, please reach out to the Community Care Team (CCT) by filling out this form. The Community Care Team will employ bystander intervention techniques, dialogue, and restorative practices. The CCT will consist of students, faculty, staff, and administrators. Their identities will be public knowledge and promoted regularly.

The CCT will be proactive in providing training/educational modules for the community.
The team will also be trained on standards and using a restorative justice approach when a boundary is crossed or community trust is broken, including: asking questions, educating with a harm-reduction approach, offering support and access to supplies—all with a goal of showing care and keeping students in the campus community.

If a student continues to interfere with the living and learning environment of others, a final option will be to forward a complaint to the Dean of the College or their appointed designee for review and a restorative conference. Students who travel beyond campus without the appropriate authorization may be asked to self-quarantine and submit to additional COVID-19 testing. In extreme cases where students continue to disrupt the creation of a safe living and learning environment, students may be asked to leave campus and complete their semester remotely. 

Lastly, the CCT will undergo training and education to minimize bias. CCT reports will help keep track of data of the people being reported and will be routinely reviewed by the team in order to minimize the possibility of institutional racism perpetuated by community members and the CCT.

Please do not call security to enforce mask wearing or social distancing protocols, but, as always, contact security for matters involving immediate harm or danger.