Last week we began the fall semester with more classes in online or blended format than ever before in the history of the university.
We know the pandemic will require contingency plans to be implemented throughout the fall semester. This could require even more classes to be temporarily moved to online or blended formats as the semester progresses.
When implementing contingency plans, the university’s goal is to not move all classes online or remote delivery or close the entire campus like we did in the spring. Instead, we will temporarily suspend or modify individual courses, activities, programs, facilities and operations as necessary.
This strategy will result in some operations being impacted while others will continue as planned.
Throughout the summer, the leadership team worked with the board to develop guiding principles and factors that will be evaluated when making decisions about contingency plans.
The following guiding principles will provide a frame of reference for our decisions on contingency plans:
- Impact on the health and physical well-being of students, faculty and staff.
- Impact on the university’s mission. Mission considerations include:
- Academic quality and accreditation.
- Student success.
- Student experience.
- Inclusive excellence.
- Public profile.
- Impact on the mental health and morale of students, faculty, and staff.
- Impact on university risk and compliance.
- Impact on the university’s ability to generate revenue.
- Impact on our state, the local community and other external stakeholders.
Implementing contingency plans
We will evaluate the following data and factors when deciding whether and when to implement contingency plans:
- Isolation and quarantine space available for our on-campus students.
- Faculty, staff and student availability and absenteeism (including Greenwood and the Child Development Center).
- Campus case data, including, but not limited to:
- Number and rate of change of active cases.
- Number and rate of change of quarantine cases.
- Number and rate of classes that have been moved to modified delivery.
- Access to COVID testing and other resources such as masks, other PPE and cleaning supplies.
- Directives and guidance from health officials and federal, state and local governments.
- Information from relevant community dashboards, including, but not limited to:
- Change in daily cases.
- Hospital capability score.
- Public health capability score.
- Trends among peer institutions of higher education.
There is not a particular threshold that will trigger a specific contingency plan. Rather, decisions will be based on an evaluation of each of the factors listed above and other relevant data and factors. The person or group responsible for making the final decision about a contingency plan will depend on the level and impact of the particular contingency plan at issue.
First week update
Finally, as you know, we completed our first week of classes for fall 2020. As expected, we had a spike in our confirmed cases totaling 141 for the week of Aug. 16.
We prepared for this in a variety of ways:
- We moved all of our testing to a vendor who is able to provide results in 24-48 hours. This enables us to quickly transition students to quarantine or isolation, depending on the situation.
- Our COVID Response Team (CRT) came online last Monday, allowing us to manage cases and situations in real time, thereby reducing exposure to others.
- We expanded our capacity of housing available for residential students who need to quarantine and isolate. Starting Sept. 1, we’ll have the entire Q (formerly Holiday Inn Express) available for residential students who have confirmed cases.
- Faculty are working with students who aren’t able to attend class to ensure they maintain their studies.
We understand there are those who continue to be concerned that we have reopened. So far, the positive response has far outweighed the negative. We continue to think this is the correct course of action for our students. We are closely monitoring the situation and are adjusting accordingly.
Thanks for all you do for Missouri State!
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