Returning to Campus for the Fall Semester
As we prepare for the fall semester, we have heard KU faculty and staff expressing a range of emotions, from profound concerns about returning to campus, to excitement about reconnecting in person with colleagues and students. Many of you likely have mixed feelings, which is understandable as we adapt to an environment that is subject to constant change.
Chancellor Girod and Provost Bichelmeyer have expressed our institutional commitment to an in-person, residential experience this academic year. While the 2020-21 academic year showed our ability to provide an engaging remote and hybrid educational experience, it is clear our students overwhelmingly value the relationships, connections and opportunities that an in-person, on-campus experience provides. As faculty and staff, our focus is on meeting those student expectations while taking reasonable steps to protect the health and safety of ourselves and our community.
The key word for the coming academic year is “adapt.” We have no doubt that local, state and national conditions will change multiple times over the coming months, requiring us to reassess and pivot in our campus guidance and practices. We thank you in advance for your flexibility and patience.
On-Campus, Remote and Hybrid Work
Last spring, Human Resource Management met with unit leaders and asked them to designate each position in their organizations as “on-campus,” “remote” or “hybrid.” By this time, you should have been told the designation for your position. If not, we encourage you to talk with your supervisor or unit leader. Hoteling spaces will be available throughout campus for hybrid employees, and for remote employees who may occasionally need workspaces while on campus. Additional details on hoteling spaces will be available soon.
Staff who want to pursue a different work arrangement than what was determined should begin by discussing the idea with their supervisor and/or unit leadership. Then, complete an HRM Work Location Request form (login required), which will be reviewed by the staff member’s supervisor. HRM will have final review and approval. Our institutional responsibilities to serve students and colleagues must guide decisions as to whether a particular position can be approved for remote work.
Returning to Campus
Those of you who worked on campus or visited campus in the past year saw safety measures implemented during the pandemic, including CVKey check-in at building entrances, sanitizing stations in hallways, directional signage for stairways, socially distanced classrooms, drinking fountains taken out of service, and more. Some of those measures have been discontinued or altered, while others have been kept for the coming year.
On Friday, the Chancellor announced that masks are required for everyone in indoor public spaces on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses, and are recommended in crowded outdoor spaces. Masks continue to be required at all times on buses. The mask policy has been revised and posted in the Policy Library, and it includes a few limited exceptions. If you have concerns about someone not following the mask policy, we encourage you to share those concerns through our online form.
Masks and most other personal protective equipment (PPE) can be ordered through the Protect KU website. Powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs) can be requested by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vaccinations are the best way for each of us to do our part to protect ourselves and each other, and ensure a successful academic year. Although the State of Kansas passed legislation prohibiting KU and other public institutions from requiring vaccines, we join Chancellor Girod and Provost Bichelmeyer in strongly recommending you get vaccinated as soon as possible, if you have not already done so. Current research shows the vaccines are safe and effective at preventing severe illness from COVID-19.
Information on where to get vaccinated is available on the state of Kansas vaccine website and the CDC vaccine website. While we encourage you to get vaccinated before returning to campus, KU will also offer the following walk-in vaccine clinics:
Aug. 21, noon to 2 p.m., Watkins Health Services building
Aug. 23 to 27, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Level 4 of the Kansas Union, Traditions Area
Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Lobby, Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center
While instructors and staff cannot ask students or colleagues if they have been vaccinated, they can talk about the benefits of vaccination and generally encourage others to be vaccinated. Instructors can also include information in their syllabus to help students know where they can get vaccinated.
Testing is available at Watkins Health Services for individuals with or without symptoms. To reduce risk of transmission, please make an appointment for a test by calling the Watkins Health Services Nurse Helpline at 785-864-9583.
Even if you have fully completed your COVID-19 vaccinations, you are welcome to receive a test through this process. Check the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine if you should be tested. You should not receive a test if you have previously tested positive for COVID-19 during the past 90 days.
Classrooms and Indoor Spaces
Capacity in classrooms has been reset based on national higher ed standards. While most classrooms will have more students than last academic year, many rooms will have more space per student than pre-pandemic due to the new capacity standards. Instructors at their discretion can encourage students to space themselves as much as possible within a classroom.
KU has purchased and installed air filtration equipment for many classrooms and other shared indoor spaces. And, Operations staff and external partners have assessed our building air handling systems to ensure they meet the recommended guidance for ventilation with outdoor air.
Layers of Protection
Perhaps the best lesson we have learned during the pandemic is that layers of protection offer the best hope for staying healthy. Masks, vaccines, hand washing, appropriate distancing, testing, ventilation systems, isolation/quarantines, and more, all work together to reduce the risk of transmission and allow us to be back on campus where we can engage and connect with each other in person.
Talk to Us
The Protect KU website remains the best source of information regarding fall 2021 health measures, masks, vaccines, testing and more. The site is continually updated as information, guidance and conditions change.
As we continue working together to navigate the pandemic, your voice is important in sharing feedback, questions and concerns. Your insights will help us assess how we are doing and what changes may be needed to realign and rebalance our approach and practices. You can contact us at email@example.com.
Mike and Chris
Vice Provost for Human Resources,
Public Safety & Operations
Vice Provost for Faculty Development