Dear Staff, Faculty, Graduate Student Employees,
Governor Kelly’s current Safer at Home Executive Order is set to expire May 3, and while the change gives all Jayhawks reason to be hopeful, it is important that we orchestrate the revival of our Lawrence and Edwards campuses in a way that preserves and protects the safety of our people. Fully restoring our operations will require our patience, careful consideration, and deliberate implementation.
At this time, the Governor’s order will not change how we approach our work on May 4. We can expect county orders will continue to affect our operations. KU employees who have been working remotely should continue working remotely. Mission-essential employees cleared to work on campus should continue to report as they have been.
All According to Plan
Reconnecting with each other in person and rebuilding our community is what we’ve looked forward to for months. This moment, however, is also a time that demands our caution if we are to avoid major setbacks. Our recovery as a university will be informed by science and accomplished in coordination with guidance from local, state and federal agencies.
Members of KU’s Public Health Planning Team are developing a framework to lead KU’s efforts to restore our operations. At the core and in every phase of this framework is a deep respect for the health and safety of our people. We will follow a five-phase resumption of in-person activities that takes into account appropriate social distancing and proper precautions such as facility preparation and signage, more frequent deep cleanings of reopened spaces, and use of personal protective equipment.
A gradual expansion of our research enterprise will be among our first areas of attention. The PHP Team is working with Vice Chancellor for Research Simon Atkinson and Vice Provost for Operations Mike Rounds to further develop an implementation strategy that successively allows us to resume our on-campus research efforts. Labs will reopen strategically, and we will work to ensure buildings are appropriately staffed with custodial teams. Researchers will receive notification when it’s suitable for them to return to their labs, and they’ll be advised of new safety and personal protection guidelines applicable for our stage in the recovery plan.
Rather than following a set timeline, our plan will use key indicators to help identify when we are ready to graduate to the next phase of revitalization. Each phase increasingly allows more faculty, staff and students to return and the resumption of various activities. We will work to ensure that employees who are at higher risk are not asked to return to an on-location job until risks are minimized. Our plan is to resume on-campus operations in some capacity this fall. The framework is flexible and will guide us if we need to take a step back to better preserve the health of our community members.
Renewal With Purpose
This pandemic has pushed us – pushed everyone – in directions we didn’t want or expect to go. If there’s a bright spot to this experience, it’s that we’ve learned a lot about ourselves, our community and our operation. Jayhawks, individually and collectively, have accomplished so much and performed so well under extreme conditions.
Necessity has demonstrated that many of us can continue to work and learn remotely. It has shown us we have multiple ways to teach, engage and build community with our students. And we will need to have students – and their needs – in mind as we continue to restore our enterprise. Many students who want to continue their studies may not be able to rejoin our campus for in-person classes. We must recognize the critical importance of designing and delivering instruction and services that accommodate the needs of our current and future students, regardless of their physical location or their health status. Our future and our success depend on it. Our mission and our values demand it.
There are questions you have that our teams are still working to find the best solution for. There is still much to prepare for and we will continue to communicate KU’s plans with you. One thing is certain right now – KU is an exceptional learning community and together we will rise above the challenges of COVID-19.
Doug and Barbara
Douglas A. Girod
Barbara A. Bichelmeyer
Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor