As we prepare for the fall 2020 semester, there are bound to be many questions about how the campus and university activity will function. This page is a starting point for responding to questions and informing the campus community of processes and procedures. More information will be added as planning continues.
Q: There has been an order of 40,000 masks for campus use. Is this enough?
A: This is the first order sent to our System Office. We expect further details from the System as to supplies that will be received.
Q: Can we use our own cloth masks?
A: The exact types of PPEs will follow guidance from the State Department of Public Health and the CDC. The highest grade masks are still being used by our health, safety, and response professionals. Masks are primarily used to decrease the risk of an individual spreading the virus to others so any masks that cut down on that risk would be acceptable. Home-made or other cloth masks will be permitted, just as they are off-campus, for the protection of others.
Q: Will temperatures be monitored? Will we use remote temperature monitors?
A: There is no recommendation for taking temperatures at this point with the knowledge that some individuals that carry the virus remain asymptomatic. Guidelines can change here and we will monitor any such change.
Q: How will we navigate return to campus? Who determines that?
A: The basics of our return to campus are being determined by our System Office with details being left to individual campuses. The official start to the new semester is August 24; classes start on August 26. The many reports already developed will help guide our return to campus in the safest manner possible keeping in mind conditions could be fluid and will determine all of our "next steps".
Q: Will we have to pay for plexiglass protection?
A: Plexiglass and other protective infrastructure will be supplied and installed by our facilities team
Q: Will we get gloves?
A: This turns out to be a topic of some debate with some professionals suggesting that it is better to not use gloves and instead to do frequent hand washing and use disinfectants. Some feel that gloves carry the virus and can offer a false sense of security. Others feel more secure with gloves. We are still considering the pluses and minuses.
Q: Who deals with changing student course schedules?
A: The vast majority of student schedules will remain the same, with days and times of courses remaining unchanged, just mode of delivery becoming the variable. Thus, the major change would be moving classes or some portion of classes to an online format. As always, Departments and Chairs will continue to propose best schedules with Deans retaining approval oversight. The Registrar and her team will help insure students are informed and help navigate any schedule changes.
Q: Will we have access to cleaning materials for our own space?
A: Yes. It will be important to help keep our own work areas safe and clean. Supplies to do this will be available.
Q: For those who see large number of students, will it just be plexiglass protection or can we move to another space?
A: We have asked Deans and others to collect information about all protective infrastructure that may need to be installed, that will include plexiglass divisions as needed. In some cases, individuals will be able to move, for advising purposes for example, to available larger spaces. Similarly, advising or other face to face interactions can also move to virtual interactions.
Q: Can we advise students via the web?
A: Yes. Our Teams, or other online platforms, allows for good one on one or small group advising when face to face advising is not available, advisable, or desired.
Q: In light of our initiatives to prevent crowds and best insure social distancing, how will we control individuals who just want to come to campus but have no official business?
A: In light of the COVID 19 issues related to social distancing and mask protection, University Police will continue to monitor and work with others on campus to minimize risk and keep the community safe. During the summer months, signs will be in place noting the University is closed and there is no unauthorized access or recreational activities. Officers will continue to advise individuals that they must leave. During an Academic year where the campus is open under normal circumstances, individuals can traverse the open campus, use the state library within defined parameters (as during this covid crisis) and access open areas.
Q: What about NECHE? Will our substantive moves to online impact accreditation?
A: NECHE has given broad release from the usual criteria for the percent of online education being offered in a program. They state: “We are aware of the need for institutions to plan how they will offer instruction for upcoming periods of enrollment. Many institutions have informed us of their intent to offer both the summer and fall terms using distance education. To provide the necessary flexibility for institutions to make timely decisions, we are expanding the broad approval for the use of distance education as provided in the April 3, 2020, EA to include payment periods that overlap March 5, 2020, or that begin on or between March 5, 2020, and December 31, 2020.”
Specifically they note: “Normally, an institution offering a program via distance education must be accredited for distance education by an agency that has distance education in the scope of its recognition by the Secretary. The Department has interpreted this requirement to apply when an institution offers a program where at least 50% of the program is offered through distance education. The Department is waiving this requirement under the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act for payment periods that begin on or before December 31, 2020 as outlined above.”
Details can be found at: https://ifap.ed.gov/electronic-announcements/051520UPDATEDGuidanceInterruptStudyRelCOVID19May2020
Q: What about other campus events?
A: As we enter the Fall academic year much will depend on current circumstances and guidance from the State and the System Office. Small gatherings will likely be allowed; large gatherings that will not allow social distancing will not. Some programs could end up being a blend depending on content. Details on all campus events will be forthcoming as we move closer to the Fall semester.
Q: How will students juggle an on-ground course immediately followed by an online course?
A: The course schedules will, for the most part, not be unlike our regularly scheduled courses; there will be gaps between classes and students will have the opportunity to, if there is insufficient time to return home or to the residence halls, to find appropriate space to log in on their own laptop or seek an open computer lab (which, using social distancing, will still be available with added safety measures in place). Asynchronous courses offer the greatest flexibility in when student can access their courses.
Q: What will computer labs look like to allow access?
A: We are planning for computer labs to be available but they will have fewer individuals allowed and there will be ongoing safety requirements and infrastructure in place.
Q: Where is our facilities plan? We can't schedule until we know how many students fit in a room.
A: The determination of available space and appropriate class sizes allowable with social distancing has, for most campus classrooms, been distributed to each School or College. Some additional information for space not normally considered teaching space (e.g. ASC Theater, etc.) will soon be available.
Q: Can we insure we'll have the needed IT equipment to do lecture capture?
A: The plan that has emerged from our System has stated that all modes of education will be available, on-ground, online, hybrid, HyFlex (OwlFlex). Our Chairs are in the process of planning to accommodate these various approaches. IT has created a needs portfolio that has been submitted to the System Office that, if supported, will significantly grow the availability of needed IT in many classrooms.
Q: What about lab courses?
A: Laboratory and studio courses will have to also maintain appropriate social distancing. This is a challenge being considered by our faculty members who teach these courses. Options being considered include relevant programs and software that attempt to duplicate (within reason) on-ground experiences, rotating smaller numbers through a space (alternating weeks) while offering simultaneous remote experience (recording labs, virtual experiences), and using parallel, available spaces at the same time to allow distancing.