Dear students, staff, and faculty:
Chancellor Girod and I, along with other KU leaders, have shared much information with you about health and safety measures the university has taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We provided updates over the past several months as decisions were made and as conditions changed, and we realize that the sheer volume of information can be overwhelming. With that in mind, as we begin the fall semester, we are providing you with this summary of the key steps we’ve taken to create a safer campus environment and guidance to help you protect yourself and others.
Our research-based approach introduces a broad array of steps and public health tools for the Lawrence and Edwards campuses that work together to create multiple layers of safeguards. Our plan for a safer semester includes de-densifying campus, face coverings, physical distancing, frequent hand-washing, daily symptom screening, testing, adaptations to facilities, additional open-air spaces, discouraging travel, an enhanced custodial approach and much, much more.
The information below is posted in much greater detail at protect.ku.edu and will be updated regularly. Please remember to refresh your browser if it’s been some time since your last visit.
We know you are most concerned about what we are doing to provide for your health and safety, and our people have been working tirelessly throughout the summer to this end. At the same time, science shows us that the single act that can best protect you is one that only you can do, and it’s simple – wear a mask.
Everyone on campus must wear a face covering (e.g., cloth face covering, surgical mask, etc.) over their mouth and nose when in common areas of a building and when within six feet of other people anywhere on campus (outdoors and indoors). You should wear your mask at all times while participating in any official campus activity, such as an outdoor class.
Even while wearing a mask, it is important that you practice physical distancing of six feet or more. If you have a mask on, passing moments of less than six feet are acceptable, but it should not be the norm.
KU has taken extensive measures to encourage and maintain physical distancing within buildings. This starts with the effort to reduce the number of people on campus. Classroom spaces have been reconfigured to provide physical distancing. To accommodate the decreased capacity of classrooms, courses have shifted to variations of in-person, hybrid and fully online.
Signs have been posted in hallways to direct the flow of traffic, and stairways have been marked as either up or down. In addition, elevators in most cases are restricted to a single person per trip. Some common spaces where people congregate will be closed or capacity reduced. We encourage you to eat and socialize outdoors, when possible, and always maintaining proper physical distance. Tents are being erected and may be available at certain times of day.
To be clear, while we have marked buildings to encourage you to maintain physical distancing, the expectation is that you maintain physical distancing when outdoors, as well. (See below.)
Students, faculty and staff will use the CVKey symptom checker app this fall for entry into campus buildings. If you will be attending classes or working on campus during the fall semester, download the CVKey symptom checker app today.
The app asks questions regarding your current state of health and your travel history. You will be required to complete the health assessment each day you plan to be on campus. If your answers meet the required health status, the app will generate a QR code for you to scan at building entrances. If your answers indicate a possible risk for COVID-19 infection, the app will direct you to contact a health care provider.
The self-assessment and health-related information is strictly confined to your mobile device. No personal health data is shared or stored outside the mobile device. The only information the QR code provides when scanned is a simple yes or no indication of whether your health assessment meets the criteria to enter the building that day. The app cannot be used for other functions, such as location tracking or contact tracing.
Go to CVKey.ku.edu for instructions on how to download and install the mobile app.
Students, faculty, and staff who will be attending in-person classes or working on campus will be required to obtain a COVID-19 test if they expect they will be on campus before Sept. 7. KU is providing a COVID-19 saliva test for all faculty, staff and students before the start of fall classes. Students living in KU Student Housing will have a test provided as part of their staging and move-in process and will receive a separate email from Student Housing with instructions. Detailed information is available at protect.ku.edu/testing.
Students, faculty, and staff will all receive a standard issue of PPE for use on campus, including two reusable masks and a personal-sized bottle of hand sanitizer (bottle refill stations will be posted around campus).
KU supervisors or unit leaders may request enhanced PPE (e.g. plexiglass dividers, N95 respirators) on behalf of individual faculty or staff members by completing the Campus PPE Request Form.
Custodial teams across campus will focus on making the public areas of campus as safe as possible by implementing specific disinfection plans for each building. The following cleaning protocols will be implemented in all buildings: High-touch points (e.g., door handles, light switches, hand rails, etc.) will be disinfected multiple times a day. Restroom fixtures and touchpoints will be disinfected twice a day. High-use rooms will be deep cleaned after hours, including the use of disinfectant fog when appropriate for the facility. In collaboration with building managers, Custodial teams are addressing specific needs within each building, such as lab areas.
Because it is not possible for Custodial staff to clean every classroom on campus between class sessions, students will be responsible for wiping down their learning space when they arrive. Disinfectant wipes will be placed by the entry of every classroom. Cleaning stations with paper towels and disinfectant will also be located in common areas of most buildings.
Air Quality in Buildings
KU Operations has consulted with the leading industry organizations for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) maintenance and safety standards. We are following the recommendations and best practices of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; and the Centers for Disease Control. Each campus building’s HVAC system runs at 40-60% humidity and at temperatures between 69-74 degrees Fahrenheit, ranges recommended to minimize the spread of COVID-19. KU HVAC teams will continue to assess and optimize air systems to maximize outside air intake and reduce recirculated air. Air handling systems are engineered to run best when windows remain closed.
Outdoor spaces generally offer better airflow than indoor spaces, but proper physical distancing is still important. Large tents with seating and electrical power have been erected on the Lawrence campus, for use as additional online classroom spaces and for studying and socializing. KU’s outdoor Wi-Fi network provides the opportunity for students to participate in an online class if its scheduled time is adjacent to an in-person class.
Proper physical distancing (more than six feet) is one of the most important practices for limiting exposure to COVID-19 — even if everyone is wearing a mask. Sometimes, proper physical distancing is not possible for short amounts of time. If you are within six feet of another person for 15 minutes or more, you are considered a close contact even with proper use of masks. If you are not using masks, even five minutes closer than six feet would qualify as “close contact” and an exposure risk.
Contact Tracing and Voluntary Reporting
In Kansas, participation in contact tracing is voluntary and will be coordinated through the Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health. If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, or if you have been exposed to someone who has been diagnosed, a public health worker may call you to check in on your health and discuss who you’ve been in contact with.
One way we can help contain the virus is by limiting exposure outside our community. To do this, we have made several changes to reduce travel outside our geographic area.
Fall classes will begin as planned on Aug. 24, and the last day of in-person classes is Nov. 24, after which students are encouraged to leave campus for the semester. After Thanksgiving, there will be a study week, followed by a week of final exams conducted remotely. There will not be a Labor Day holiday or Fall Break.
The first day of the spring 2021 semester will change from Jan. 19 to Feb. 1. Stop Day and Finals Week remain unchanged. Spring Break will not occur midway through the semester as it typically does; rather, it will be added to the Winter Recess, resulting in the later-than-normal Feb. 1 start.
Lawrence and Edwards Campus staff, faculty, and scholars may travel only if it’s essential to fulfilling their job’s core function, or it provides essential support to the university, such as some research or lab work. Most conference presentations are not considered essential.
Reporting travel to “hot spots:”
Students, faculty and staff who return to Lawrence from an area designated a “hot spot” by the Kansas Department of Health & Environment are required to self-quarantine and monitor symptoms for 14 days.
As with other campus resources and facilities, KU Transportation Services and Lawrence Transit are taking measures to protect the health and well-being of our community. These include:
- Requiring all drivers and passengers to wear masks.
- Placing plexiglass partitions around drivers.
- Reduced capacity.
- Establishing disinfecting protocols that occur throughout the day, every night, and on a weekly basis.
The various KU Dining facilities on the Lawrence campus will begin fall semester operations between Aug. 17 and Aug. 24. Patrons can expect a variety of changes including new traffic flow patterns, plexiglass barriers, appropriately spaced tables, reduced seating in dining areas, mobile ordering and touchless payment, enhanced sanitation practices and expanded grab-and-go food options. All self-serve stations are being converted to staff-served stations. Carry-out orders are strongly encouraged to better accommodate reduced seating capacity. Patrons also must wear face masks in the facilities when not eating or drinking. Staff will wear face coverings and gloves at all times and be screened daily for COVID-19 symptoms.
We all have a responsibility to follow health guidelines that have proven to be most effective in preventing transmission of COVID-19:
- Wear a face covering.
- Do not touch your face, eyes, or nose.
- Cover your mouth or nose when you cough or sneeze.
- Wash your hands often.
- Use hand sanitizer when washing isn’t practical.
- Use sanitizing wipes on desks and individual workspaces.
- Stay home if you are feeling ill or think you may have been exposed.
Again, all students, faculty and staff will receive a personal bottle of hand sanitizer they are encouraged to carry with them. Refill stations will be located throughout buildings.
Your psychological and emotional well-being are just as important as your physical health, and all are encouraged to reach out for personal help and support. If you encounter others who may be struggling to adjust, reach out to them.
Resources for students:
- Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
- Watkins Health Services
- Campus Cupboard
- Student Emergency Aid Network
Resources for faculty and staff:
- Benefits-eligible employees and their dependents can receive assistance through the state’s Employee Assistance Program.
- Staff members may be eligible for the Rosalie Lanier Gray KU Staff Assistance Fund.
Personal Responsibility and the Protect KU Pledge
KU has implemented unprecedented measures to create a safer campus environment for all students, faculty and staff. Ultimately, however, a successful academic year depends on you, your classmates and colleagues taking personal responsibility to protect yourself and others.
The Protect KU pledge says:
“Together, as Jayhawks, we resolve to protect ourselves, each other, and the greater Lawrence community. We must adhere to all COVID-19 health and safety guidelines so that we can continue our mission to lift each other and advance society by educating leaders, building healthy communities and making discoveries that change the world.”
Jayhawks, I hope you all will hold yourself accountable as I hold myself accountable. The comments and concerns I’ve heard over the past several months convince me that the vast majority of our community members understand the actions needed to help reduce the risk of transmission, and are ready and willing to do their part. It is also incumbent upon each one of us to gracefully educate others who may be unaware. I understand this can be uncomfortable in certain circumstances, and staff are here to help. If you see others who are not wearing a mask, putting themselves and the community – our community – at risk, please let us know. Student Affairs, Human Resource Management and Faculty Development have partnered to create a single point of contact for you to share your concerns and observations. Individuals will be counseled and considered in accordance with the appropriate policies that govern our campus, our workplace and our classrooms.
Though this “summary” email may feel like an overwhelming amount of information, my hope is that this eases your concerns and answers many of your questions. There’s been an incredible amount of work by staff, faculty and administrators in preparation for the start of classes, and more detailed information is available to address nuanced situations. I encourage you to visit protect.ku.edu and browse the more comprehensive material and FAQs posted there. Please check the site regularly for updates and remember to refresh your browser.
I am grateful for all who have contributed, and continue to contribute, their time and talent for the greater safety of us all. As I’ve mentioned before, our situation during this pandemic is very fluid, and we can expect there will be new developments and changes ahead. I appreciate your patience and understanding as we adjust to new conditions, and we will make sure you are informed and that your questions are answered as we navigate the fall semester.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor