On the Coronavirus

Review updates here on how the college is dealing with COVID-19

Watkins Update: March 27, 2020

As Watkins navigates the coronavirus outbreak, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has called for the state’s schools to remain closed through April 24. Watkins College of Art will adhere to these new guidelines to ensure the safety of its campus and community. Classes will continue online, and staff will continue to work remotely. As previously noted, Community Education classes that are cancelled during this period due to the outbreak will be prorated and refunded.

No official decision has been made regarding Watkins’s Commencement at this time. The college continues to monitor the situation with the guidance of federal, state, and public health officials. When a decision is made, it will be shared with the college community and posted here.

We thank you for your continued patience and cooperation during this evolving situation.


Watkins Update: March 16, 2020

Due to the ongoing nature of preparations and strategies related to COVID-19 (the coronavirus), Watkins has decided to close residence halls at 5 p.m. on March 20th. This step allows for the entire campus to be closed, with academic courses going online and personnel working remotely as described in the March 13th update below. As of now, the closure will last through Sunday, April 5, 2020, with an expected reopening on Monday, April 6th. However, the situation will be monitored and, as previously communicated, Watkins may extend these measures. Please continue to review this page for announcements as they emerge. As always, we thank you for your patience and cooperation as we adjust to the evolving situation.

 

Watkins Update: March 13, 2020

In accordance with increasing concerns about COVID-19, more commonly known as the coronavirus, Watkins will suspend in-person classes and move to remote instruction on March 23rd, following the end of spring break. At their discretion, all employees are invited to work from home starting March 16th and will work remotely beginning March 23rd. These arrangements will last until Friday, April 3rd, and the college will update accordingly should there be a need to extend beyond this date.

The Watkins campus will remain open until March 20th. Should individuals (faculty, staff, students) need to be on campus during this time, we ask that they take the proper precautions (social distancing, routine hand-washing, etc.) as described in the posts below.

Residence halls will continue to remain open for those not leaving campus for spring break; however, for those students who are leaving, we ask them to pack more personal items (clothing, computers, supplies) should additional steps be required beyond spring break.

Faculty are currently working on specific lesson programs and schedules for their online courses and will communicate further details to their classes during spring break.

Community Education spring courses will be cancelled during this period and prorated refunds issued to enrollees. More information on this will be communicated to participants by the Community Education department.

The safety and well-being of the Watkins community is of the utmost importance, and while we know the closeness of our community is one of the factors that makes it so special, this decision-making and these steps are being driven by the guidance of health officials in order to ensure that safety and well-being.

Developments will be posted here as they are known, and we thank the Watkins community for its understanding and support as we work together and through this fluid situation.

 

Watkins Update: March 11, 2020

In light of the continuing developments around COVID-19 (more commonly known as the coronavirus), we want to make the college community aware of the steps Watkins is taking to reduce the risk of exposure given its spread across a range of demographics and ages. Although there are no reported cases at Watkins at this time, the college is:

1. Ordering additional and abundant cleaning supplies (wipes, hand sanitizers, etc.) for all spaces and a hospital-level cleaner for our facilities team to use during its normal maintenance schedule. The frequency of that schedule has also been increased due to the virus. We ask that you assist in these efforts by deploying the best practices described in the March 6th update below. These practical steps make an enormous difference in keeping the environment virus-free.

2. Implementing a short questionnaire for all visitors and guests from the public to complete before staying or working at Watkins. The questionnaire asks about travel and the current health of visitors and guests in order to assess any risks.

3. Evaluating over the next several days the need — and preparing the mechanisms — for online courses should the situation merit moving in that direction after Watkins’s spring break next week.

4. Cancelling certain large-group gatherings within the Community Education programs.

These plans are developing, and given the fluid nature of the national effort to deal with the virus, we ask for your patience as we work to understand its evolution and impact on Watkins. Please refer to this page and the March 6, 2020 update below for guidance/resources regarding the coronavirus and how to avoid contracting it.

 

Watkins Update: March 6, 2020

Given the growing concern around COVID-19 (often referred to as “coronavirus”) as federal and state officials and health departments collaborate on dealing with its spread, Watkins would like to offer the following guidelines for the health and wellbeing of faculty, staff, students, and its larger community.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, COVID-19 is thought to be transmitted mainly from person-to-person contact and through droplets that can have a range of six feet. As such, we are strongly encouraging all in our community to take proactive steps in their own spaces to reduce the risk of transmission and help keep themselves and buildings virus-free.

These practical, simple efforts include:

1. Increasing cleaning frequency throughout buildings of entryway doors, touch screens, door handles, stairway rails, and other common areas.

2. Avoiding touching one’s eyes, nose, and mouth. Cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Practice respiratory etiquette; see this poster from the Centers for Disease Control.

3. Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

4. Performing routine environmental cleaning after use of spaces, particularly shared spaces such as kitchens or break rooms, and/or after classes and meetings (e.g. wiping down tables). Clean shared devices, as well as hand- and headsets on phones and the like.

5. Practice “social distancing” by choosing to avoid densely populated areas, such as cinemas, restaurants, bars, and other gathering places. With those who are ill, remove oneself from close proximity to them.

6. If sick, remain in one’s residence hall or at home.

7. If you feel you may exhibit coronavirus symptoms (as described via the links below), first, stay calm and self-quarantine at home or in one’s residence hall, then alert the Student Life department or another administrator to ensure the safety and security of the entire community. Current guidance suggests calling the nearest hospital or clinic and describing your symptoms in order to be directed to the proper place. (Showing up at an emergency room or hospital is not advised given the potential of infecting others and that the site may not be the ideal receiving place for those infected.)

8. Maintain an awareness of, and vigilance around, the virus as information, testing, and news about it evolve.

Helpful Resources:

A coronavirus hub from the Centers for Disease Control:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Information on how the virus spreads:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html

Symptoms of coronavirus:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/symptoms.html

A simple Fact Sheet on coronavirus:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/2019-ncov-factsheet.pdf

Stop the Spread of Germs Poster (pdf)