5,000 Forwarding Labels Later: A look at the CC mailroom during COVID-19

Plus, Colorado College announces two new interim co-presidents

Good morning, and happy Tuesday! 

Today, we take you behind the counter of Colorado College’s mailroom during the pandemic, and we’ll recap some big news about the college’s changing leadership. 

➡️ICYMI: Yesterday, our resident microbiologist, Phoebe Lostroh, gave her weekly COVID-19 forecast for El Paso County and answered questions about the World Health Organization and asymptomatic transmission.

Behind the counter: How COVID-19 is impacting the college’s mailroom

During a regular school year, if Mail Services Specialist Rick Hessek gets to campus at 9 a.m., he has to park a quarter mile away. These days, with campus as a ghost town, he’s been parking right next to the building. 

Beyond the ease of parking during a pandemic, “It’s kind of ominous,” Mail Services Specialist Sarah Mascotti says about the upended campus work conditions from COVID-19. “We’ve had a lot of work, it’s just not a lot of people on campus.”

On Friday, The CC COVID-19 Reporting Project connected over Zoom with the Mail Services team to talk about how their work days have changed, how much mail they are forwarding now, and how they’re implementing new protocols for protection against the virus. 

⏰How a typical day for Mail Services looks right now

For the summer months, Mail Services will be in the mailroom in downstairs Worner from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to sort mail and receive deliveries. They check their email for messages from students who want mail forwarded from their Worner Box. “We’re getting a lot of those emails,” Mascotti says. 

To minimize contact, they only open the counter for students and faculty to pick up or ship out packages for two hours, from noon to 2 p.m. Then, there are two drivers who deliver to people who are ordering or picking up from on-campus offices and departments. 

📫Here’s how much mail is coming and going these days

The quantity of incoming and outgoing mail is at the average summer level, but during Blocks 7 and 8, they were especially busy. 

“We order a box of 5,000 forwarding labels at a time,” Mail Services Supervisor April Scriven says. “Usually that one box lasts us a whole year. We’ve gone through a whole box since March 15.” 

The mail services staff also sent out roughly 525 senior boxes and over 600 first-year books. 

They are able to forward mail, but are holding all packages until they hear from the recipient. 

If students want a package forwarded, “there’s an option that the student can use that’s on the USPS website that’s a lot easier now, and they just pay for shipping and then email us the label,” Mascotti says.  

⚠️How Mail Services is staying safe from COVID-19

Colorado College is encouraging faculty who can do so to continue working from home through Aug. 1. For those who need to come to work on campus, like the Mail Services staff, the college has recommended some workplace procedures.

Some COVID-19 protocols implemented by Mail Services:

  • All staff must wear masks.

  • As soon as they arrive, they wipe down all the counters and work surfaces.

  • Every morning, they check their temperatures to make sure nobody’s is higher than normal.

  • They try to only keep one person per workstation: only one person at the meter, and only one person at the shipping counter.

  • Facilities installed sneeze guards at the counter so when they’re open to the public, they are protected by a plexiglass shield.

  • They marked six-feet increments on the floor to encourage social distancing when the counter is open.

  • They are only open two hours, rather than the usual eight, to minimize contact.

  • The Worner building is locked, so any delivery drivers or Colorado College students and faculty looking to get to the mailroom have to call Mail Services first to get access.

According to Mascotti, Mail Services will be sticking to these limited hours until at least August, per the Safer-at-Home order from CC administration. “But,” she says, “I guess we’re all just waiting till August, just see what happens.”

‘A Year of Transition’: As Provost Alan Townsend departs, faculty transition into new roles 

A month and a half before he was expected to begin as interim president of Colorado College, provost Alan Townsend will leave Colorado College to become dean of the W. A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation at the University of Montana. 

Beginning July 1, Mike Edmonds, dean of students and vice president for Student Life, and Robert Moore, senior vice president for Finance and Administration, will become co-presidents until the college makes a permanent hire.

According to a University of Montana announcement, Townsend will step into his new role Oct. 1. In addition to serving as dean, Townsend will be a professor in the College of Forestry and Conservation. 

“Originally from Missoula, Townsend is an ecosystem ecologist who studies how ecosystems work, how they are changing, and what those changes might mean for society. … Townsend presented a compelling vision for the future of forestry and conservation throughout the interview process,” University of Montana provost Jon Harbor wrote.

In an email yesterday morning, Colorado College Board of Trustees Chair Susan Burghart announced Dean of Faculty Claire Oberon Garcia will fill both the dean and provost positions, and Senior Associate Dean of Students Rochelle Dickey-Mason will now serve as dean of students and vice president for Student Life. A new academic advisory council with Garcia and five professors will advise Edmonds and Moore.

Outgoing president Jill Tiefenthaler announced Jan. 14 that she would be stepping down as president in August to become chief executive officer of the National Geographic Society. On Feb. 25, Burghart informed the community that the Board of Trustees unanimously elected Townsend to serve as the interim president until they hired a new president. Townsend was not a candidate for the permanent position and was likely only going to remain in the role for one year.  

“This will be a year of transition and flexibility, as we navigate a presidential search and the challenges of the pandemic,” Burghart writes.

About the CC COVID-19 Reporting Project

The CC COVID-19 Reporting Project is a student-faculty collaboration by Colorado College student journalists Miriam Brown and Arielle Gordon, Visiting Assistant Professor of Journalism Corey Hutchins, Assistant Professor of English Najnin Islam, and Journalism Institute Director Steven Hayward. Work by Phoebe Lostroh, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology at CC and National Science Foundation Program Director in Genetic Mechanisms, Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, will appear from time to time, as will infographics by Colorado College students Rana Abdu, Aleesa Chua, Sara Dixon, Jia Mei, and Lindsey Smith.

The project seeks to provide frequent updates about CC and other higher education institutions during the pandemic by providing original reporting, analysis, interviews with campus leaders, and context about what state and national headlines mean for the CC community. 

📬 Enter your email address to subscribe and get the newsletter in your inbox each time it comes out. You can reach us with questions, feedback, or news tips by emailing ccreportingproject@gmail.com.