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Eastern Fall Reopening

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Reopening: July 13th

June 24, 2020

Dear Colleagues:

Our Eastern Connecticut State University campus community has been diligent the past three months, serving our students while working from home, and waiting for guidance on when we will return to campus. I want to thank everyone again for your commitment to our students, for staying unified even as we work remotely, and for your professionalism and hard work. Eastern is stronger because of you!

As we begin to prepare for our students’ return to campus for the fall semester, I have more information to share with you.  First of all, I would like to announce that we are reopening the campus to administrative and student support functions on Monday, July 13.  (Southern and Central will also open that day; Western will open on July 1.)  We will do so with the underlying principle that the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff is our first priority. If the circumstances on ground change such that the health and safety of our campus community is threatened, we will adjust our operations.

We are reopening under guidance from the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System Office, which is directing the state universities to limit the number of staff in our offices and rotate them on a “shift" basis.  Your vice president will communicate details on that staffing configuration with you by next week.  We have also adjusted our cleaning protocols and other health and safety procedures. Please find additional information below regarding the reopening of campus offices and services.

Human Resources:

As Ken DeLisa, Chief Human Resources Officer, shared last week, employees may be eligible to continue to work remotely, based on certain documented medical conditions.  Employees who wish to request a medical exception or have questions about this process should contact Maria Weinberger in Human Resources at weinbergerma@easternct.edu for further information.

Academics:

Faculty members are working with the Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) this summer to prepare courses for the fall and/or to learn new instructional pedagogy related to delivering hybrid and online courses. On July 8, at 2 p.m., CIT will be offering a training session on teaching hybrid courses; more information on this session will follow. Next week we will also host a virtual forum to continue discussions about teaching and learning this fall. Provost Bill Salka has also shared protocols with faculty for instructional modalities to be used. 

Reopening Offices:

When administrative and support service employees return to work, the following protocols will be in place:

  • Office capacity will be limited to 50% staffing
  • Each vice president will establish and communicate a schedule to rotate staff between on-campus workdays and working remotely.
  • Employees, students, and visitors will be required to wear face masks in public areas and open office spaces (all but private offices) to comply with the University’s social distancing protocols.
  • Meetings of three or more people must be conducted on WebEx or MS Teams.
  • Hours of operation for all offices will be posted and services will be identified as being offered on-ground or remotely.

Testing:

  • The State of Connecticut is providing testing to Eastern through third-party vendors, with costs to be covered by student health insurance.  We are working with the State to implement the following protocol to test all resident students and RAs this fall.
  • Resident students must have documentation of COVID-19 testing that has occurred within 14 days prior to their arrival to campus.
  • Students with positive tests must quarantine until 10 days without symptoms have passed since the test was taken.
  • All resident students arriving on campus must submit an initial self-screening questionnaire on arrival and then daily for the first seven days they are on campus.
  • Students arriving without testing documentation will be tested within seven days of arrival, quarantining until they test negative for COVID-19.
  • 5-10% of the residence hall population will be tested weekly, including random and targeted testing.
  • Contacts of students and staff who test positive will also be tested.
  • To ensure testing can take place safely without interruption to students’ academic schedules, resident students will be allowed to move back the week of August 10, 2020.
  • Commuting students who exhibit symptoms should self-quarantine and be tested; those with positive tests must quarantine until 10 days without symptoms have passed since testing. 
  • As was the case this spring, any faculty or staff members who experience COVID-19 symptoms should consult with their medical provider for testing; those with positive tests must quarantine until approved to return to work by their healthcare provider.

Contact Tracing: We are also working with the Connecticut Department of Public Health and other authorities to develop a contact tracing program to limit exposure and spread in the event positive COVID-19 cases are identified on campus.

Health and Safety Protocols:

In addition to a stringent daily system of disinfecting and cleaning based on CDC and CT Department of Public Health guidelines, the following measures are being implemented:

  • Partitions, Plexiglas shields, podium shields, and other enhanced safety measures will be installed.
  • The University will supply each member of the campus community with one reusable, cloth face mask on request.
  • Per faculty request, faculty will be provided face shields for use during on-ground classes.
  • We have significantly increased the number of hand sanitizer stations on campus, which will be available at all building entrances, all classroom entrances, in food service areas, and in other high traffic areas in buildings.
  • Wipes or disinfectant spray and paper towels will be available for use in high contact and frequently used areas, including classrooms prior to each class meeting.
  • Signage and floor tape will be used to remind the campus community of social distancing requirements, the mandatory wearing of masks, and other health and safety protocols.
  • Housekeeping, food service and other employees in high contact areas will use protective equipment as needed to ensure their safety and that of the campus community.

I will be back in touch with the campus community with additional information as our plans for the summer months and fall semester develop.  While the circumstances we are managing are unprecedented, we share this challenge with colleges and universities across our nation.

I believe we will have the resources we need to provide our students with an exemplary public liberal arts education this fall.  I also believe we have the determination and solidarity to succeed. 

Again, all our plans to resume campus operations are based on our commitment to the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff as our first priority.  If circumstances change and the health and safety of our campus is compromised, we will adjust our plans accordingly.  As always, I thank each of you for your patience and understanding.

Sincerely,

Elsa M. Núñez
President

View previous updates on the Updates Archive page.