COVID-19 Related Community Information
Education & Outreach to Off-Campus Students
- Off Campus Life Newsletter:
- Special editions on COVID-19 related topics (for e.g., regulations, quarantining, tips for talking with roommates and guests who are not following COVID-19 regulations)
- COVID-19 Communications:
- Several rounds of flier distribution door-to-door on COVID-19 regulations
- Postcard signage on COVID-19 regulations distribution door-to-door: many households have posted the signs on their windows
- Off-campus student letters from administrators
- UVM Vice Provost Annie Stevens sent letters to all students and families about COVID-19 regulations and UVM’s Green and Gold Promise that all students must sign
- UVM sent out a letter on behalf of Burlington Mayor Weinberger to students about his Box It In strategy for COVID-19
- Provost and Vice Provost letter to off-campus students about COVID-19 regulations and quality-of-life issues
- Continued messaging and updates from the leadership about the opening of the campus
- Student Surveys: OSCR did 3 surveys (one in March, two in May) to understand how COVID-19 has impacted students, what their financial needs were, what their plans were for move out and move in, and what they knew about regulations like quarantining. We wanted their voices in the conversations about COVID-19. We are doing another survey in August.
- Norming Positive Behavior:
- OSCR is sharing student stories and advice about quarantining in Off Campus Life
- In OSCR’s May Move In survey many students shared that they are doing the right thing around COVID:
- 94% of students said that they are aware of Vermont's quarantining orders for people who are coming from out-of-state to live in Vermont
- 63% of students said that they have made plans with their roommates about quarantining
- May 13 webinar with UVM President Garimella, UVM Vice Provost Annie Stevens, and Vermont Tenants on COVID-19 resources and public safety
- May 14 webinar with Mayor Weinberger’s Office, Burlington Community and Economic Development Office, Burlington Chief Health Officer Bill Ward, VT Tenants, and VT Legal Aid on COVID-19 supports services and regulations.
- UVM COVID-19 Website: includes safety guidelines for students and off-campus FAQ’s
Education & Outreach with Landlords
- OSCR and the Burlington Code Enforcement Office and the Burlington Police Department are connecting with landlords and landlord organizations around COVID-19 education with tenants.
- OSCR created signage for landlords to post in their properties and information to share with their tenants.
- Neighborhood Zoom Meetings: OSCR and ISGOOD did a Zoom event on Isham Street on July 2; other Zoom meetings may be planned in late August
- Neighborhood Projects: OSCR is planning some small projects on streets with students and their neighbors funded through their Neighborhood Grants, for e.g., planting gardens, doing clean-ups, and random acts of kindness for neighbors that can be done with social distancing. Projects will start in August with a New England Seeds grant OSCR and the ISGOOD neighborhood group secured to expand the gardens to Hickok Place and repair and fill planters on Isham Street. These projects can reconnect students to their community and decrease some of the isolation that could be impacting the concerning behavior
Interventions for Off-Campus Behavior that impacts the Neighborhoods
- Letters to students and landlords of houses of concern identified through Burlington Police Department data on Calls for Service and Violations and directly from neighbors
- Note: of the 25 letters sent to tenants and landlords of addresses of concern, only two addresses had additional issues. Other positive outcomes: two students wrote a letter of apology to neighbors and two students set up a meeting with all the tenants in the their households to talk about and resolve the issues.
- If you have a concern about the behavior at an address, you can e-mail OSCR at email@example.com.
- Joint UVM and Burlington Police patrols and UVM-funded police patrols responding to Calls for Service about quality-of-life issues; COVID-19 violations will be responded to educationally for first offenses.
- Off Campus Code of Conduct: The UVM Office of Student Conduct has a 3-Tiered System for students who get violations off campus (the tiers are a letter, a meeting with staff, and suspension depending upon the severity and frequency of the violation). The university gets violations data from the Burlington Police Department, which will now include COVID violations (the City fine for the first offense is $100, which will increase to $250 and then up to $500).
Partnerships & Community Outreach
- UVM Mapping Group: This group of on- and off-campus partners analyzes Burlington Police Department data to identify and respond to issues educationally. Group members also do visits to addresses that neighbors bring to our attention and addresses that receive 3 Calls for Service.
- UVM Community Coalition: This on- and off-campus group run by OSCR and the Student Government Association met in April and our next meeting is on August 7. OSCR is also reaching out to members via e-mail to get their input about other strategies to address the neighborhood issues around COVID-19.
- Burlington Resource and Recovery Center: OSCR is keeping in touch with the staff members, primarily Bill Ward and Patti Wehman, discussing issues and possible responses, and carrying out efforts like the leafletting.
- Burlington Community Justice Center: OSCR had an initial conversation with Director Rachel Jolly about other strategies for being proactive and for intervening around COVID-19 regulations. OSCR will be reaching out again in light of the recent issues neighbors brought to its attention.
- City Council: Several Councilors participate in the Community Coalition; OSCR presented to the Council with Permitting and Inspections Director Bill Ward on May 18 about the actions taken for the move out and move in of students. UVM will be on the August 10 City Council agenda to discuss the opening of campus and responses to off-campus issues.
- Ward 1/8 Neighborhood Planning Assembly: UVM presented at the June 10 NPA for a COVID-19 update and is on the agenda for August 12 to talk about the opening of campus and responses to off-campus issues.
This is a sample of the letter that tenants at addresses neighbors have concerns about receive. A handwritten note is added to the end of the letter which reads, "If you are not UVM students, I hope you will also take this message to heart."
Dear Residents of _____________________,
We know through conversations with our students and off-campus survey responses that many of you have been impacted by COVID-19. Some of you do not have employment and may have financial issues around rent, food, and utilities. Some of you may be struggling like so many of us are with isolation. And others may have fallen ill or have a loved one who is ill. If that is the case, please know that we care about you and that UVM's COVID-19 page (https://www.uvm.edu/returntocampus/frequently-asked-questions) has resources for you.
These are difficult times for so many and we thank you for rising to the occasion and following Vermont's and Burlington's COVID regulations. We also know there have been challenges to Vermont's success in decreasing COVID cases and deaths. That is where we need your help and commitment.
Neighbors have brought to our attention that their neighborhoods are more vulnerable now with the turnover of rentals in June. They describe young people socializing without social distancing, not wearing masks in public areas like sidewalks, and having late-night gatherings and parties.
Several of your neighbors contacted our office asking for assistance. They said the loud music and gatherings at your home were keeping their children up at night, causing them lost sleep, and increasing their stress during this difficult time. They, like so many community members, are concerned about the behavior they see that can increase theirs, their family's, and their neighbors' chances of getting the virus.
Some of your neighbors are nurses, doctors, and other hospital staff. They have seen the devastating effect of the virus and they do not want to see cases increase and more people suffering. Some of them are UVM students also risking their own health to help others. Late night activity interrupts their sleep and increases their stress, impacting their care for patients.
They and all of us at UVM need you to be in this with us. Let us know your struggles and we will work together to address them. And we ask that you take your neighbors' health to heart. I know there is not one of us who would want to feel the responsibility of significantly altering another's life. And that is the situation we are in. An unprecedented international crisis that has taken over 500,000 lives and infected almost 11,000,000 people.
In a non-COVID world, I would have visited you to talk, to learn what is going on for you, and to share the impacts your neighbors are feeling. I can do the next best thing, set up a TEAMS meeting with you, call you, or e-mail you. If any of those look good to you, you can reach me at 802-656-1103 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for listening and for contributing to our community’s health and safety,
Gail Shampnois, Director UVM Office of Student and Community Relations