What to Know for Spring 2022 - Students
My sincere hope is that you found some personal time this break to take your thoughts away from the stressful aspects of life and do things you love with the people you care about.
We are rapidly approaching the spring semester, and I know some of you are looking upon our changing pandemic status with concern. I appreciate this feeling, and I also know we are far better prepared for what may come than ever before, so I want to let you know about current plans for the coming semester.
First, a reminder that the majority of us have adopted the most effective means possible to curb this pandemic and limit its impact. We have the benefit of knowing with even greater certainty the high vaccination status of our community and the documented benefits of vaccination. Further, more of us are now eligible for vaccinations and boosters. We will continue to require masking in our academic and work spaces, and encourage everyone to use the most effective masks available to them whenever they are in indoor spaces or large gatherings.
As most of you know, there are laws, regulations and rulings that limit our range of responses to the pandemic. At the same time, tools and strategies we’ve used during previous surges have been effective in allowing us to remain open as a research residential institution and serve each of our students. We’ll continue to use these efforts and modify as needed to address whatever our new circumstances bring.
Our spring semester will start on time and in person. Our teams will continue to monitor pandemic conditions and work closely with state and regional public health officials. We can expect there will be disruptions that we will need to address as they arise, and I ask for your grace, understanding and agility as we work together on appropriate solutions.
This spring we will resume with many of the practices that have helped us remain open and responsive to you, other students, our faculty and staff, and our state. Here is a brief overview:
Course Format and Supporting Students
Courses will be delivered in the format that was posted in the spring 2022 course schedule, although depending on an instructor’s need to isolate and availability of substitute instructors for in-person courses, there may be temporary shifts to an online format. If you need to temporarily isolate due to illness or a positive COVID result you are responsible for reaching out to your instructors to determine how you can best stay current in your courses.
The isolation period identified by the CDC varies depending on a number of factors, including vaccination status, the presence or absence of COVID symptoms and test results. Please refer to the Protect KU website for the latest guidelines.
If you need courses this semester with an online or hybrid format, please work with your advisor to find suitable courses and sections that will help you stay on track in your programs. Instructors are not obligated to construct an online version of their in-person course for individual students.
Masking and PPE
Masking is still required on KU Transit buses, in campus buildings, and with the reinstatement of the Douglas County provision, masking is again required of all patrons in Allen Fieldhouse. The virulent conditions presented by the Omicron variant have also led to an important change in KU’s mask policy. Instructors and presenters, with the exception of those in the performing arts, should wear masks at all times in the classrooms, including when speaking and presenting.
We have informed employees they should not report to work if they are sick or if they need to care for sick family members. This may have a temporary impact on the availability of in-person services and we ask for your patience and understanding. Ultimately, our goal remains to ensure your support needs are met. Some offices and work spaces may be able to reduce their in-person presence while still maintaining appropriate office hours, perhaps with additional online options.
Supervisors will be working on ways to creatively staff offices and work spaces that limit potential exposure and still allow students and others access to support services and solutions, or for important research to continue.
Instructors determine and control the attendance policies for their courses. We have asked instructors to consider ways to structure their course to offer flexibility should you or other students become ill or need to isolate.
Because participation is an important part of many class experiences, it is important that you communicate with your instructors before class if you are unable to attend due to illness. To ease the potential burden on Watkins Health Services, instructors have been asked to consider alternate forms of absence verification rather than a doctor’s note. Please discuss the options with your instructor.
Remaining Vigilant and Informed
While the Omicron variant presents new challenges for the United States and our community, vaccination appears to be very effective in stemming the worst effects of this variant. I encourage everyone who hasn’t been boosted or vaccinated to do so as soon as possible. We continue to make it safe, easy and secure for you to get vaccinated through Watkins Health Services if you haven’t already done so. We will continue to expect students, staff and faculty to wear masks in our academic and work settings. Almost all campus common spaces – including classrooms and office suites – have also been equipped with air filtration units.
Our guidance may change as the situation evolves, and I sincerely hope it improves. As in the past, I appreciate your patience and understanding as we work to balance the various needs of our community members. We’ve done this before, and shown we can adapt to unique or new circumstances. Please continue to check the Protect KU website. You can also submit COVID-specific questions on the Protect KU site. Please remember the breadth of other support resources available at KU should you need them.
I’m grateful you’ve chosen to be part of the Jayhawk community. You should take pride in the progress you’ve made on your educational journey. This pandemic has been challenging in many ways, and the measures we take, individually and collectively, can make a difference. Please take care of yourself and your friends and family, and stay strong in your studies as the semester begins.
Barbara A. Bichelmeyer
Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor