Return to campus updates
May 28, 2020
As we begin the summer semester, we are grateful for how each of you individually and our community collectively responded to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Beyond your understanding and commitment to our University, you also worked tirelessly as we transitioned to online teaching and learning and remote work. We made decisions in the best interests of our community to not only support one another during those challenging times, but to be responsible and protect the health and safety of others.
I recognize your eagerness to learn more about planning for the fall and resumption of activities later this summer. We are being intentional as we consider a variety of scenarios. Two University-wide planning groups are leading our efforts, focusing on student academic and non-academic experiences and campus safety and operations. BGSU is an important part of our community, and Ben Batey, health commissioner for the Wood County Health Department, is chairing the subcommittee on health protocols. In addition, we are working with our peer Ohio public universities and other higher education institutions across the nation to develop our plans.
The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors remains a top priority. We are developing a multi-phased plan for your return to campus. As we make decisions and plans, we will continue to follow the science and comply with the recommendations and orders from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Ohio Department of Health.
There are many unknowns, and while our plans are still evolving, we want to share what you can begin to expect as we prepare for in-person learning. We will not be returning to how we operated our campuses in the past – there is a new normal, requiring us to be flexible and adaptable.
The health and safety of our community requires us to work together to protect one another. The foundation of our plan starts with our commitment to health and safety protocols:
- Before returning to campus, each employee will successfully complete online training to ensure awareness of recommendations and orders from the CDC and the Ohio Department of Health. This training will be available in mid-June.
- Before returning to campus, each supervisor will conduct a health and safety assessment of their workplace. More information, including deadlines for completion, will be available shortly.
- Before coming to campus each day, all employees will complete a self-administered wellness check. Anyone who has a diagnosis or symptoms relating to COVID-19 must notify the University and not physically report to our campuses.
- Each employee will be required to wear a face mask in all indoor public and shared environments. In the absence of the ability to physical distance, face masks will be required at outdoor spaces as well.
- Each employee will be required to adhere to physical distancing requirements in classrooms, common spaces and outdoors.
- Classrooms will be retrofitted or reconfigured for appropriate physical distancing.
- All personal workspaces must be cleaned and sanitized. Supplies and personal protective equipment will be made available. In addition, the University will enhance its daily cleaning protocols in all facilities.
- Each employee will be required to comply with the University’s current travel restrictions.
- For employees that meet the CDC’s definition of an individual at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, we will have a process to request special accommodations. A process for submitting a request will be available in early June.
- In collaboration with the Wood County Health Department, the University will conduct health monitoring, contact tracing, testing surveillance, and will work to assist with quarantine and isolation protocols.
Campus repopulation will occur in phases.
In June, critical personnel and researchers will return to campus, and other faculty and staff will remain working remotely. All campus events are canceled.
We will begin to repopulate in July with more employees. You will be notified in advance by your supervisor or chair about when to return to our campuses. Presuming safety protocols are followed and departmental workspace check sheets completed, employees, including researchers and those needing to be on our campus in preparation for the fall semester, will begin to report to campus. Campus events will remain canceled through July.
During August, repopulation to a new normal level will be achieved. To ensure social and physical distancing and to allow for the appropriate office and facility safety measures, the density of our employee footprint will be reduced. We should be prepared to work alternating schedules to avoid high density on our campuses.
Each of us will be required to sign a COVID-19 social compact outlining our shared expectations to minimize risk in response to this global pandemic. This compact will include detailed expectations regarding public health protocols.
I recognize our planning will be welcomed differently throughout our University. Some may want to reopen sooner, and others may wish to remain remote. We will continue to proceed thoughtfully, as we did when we moved to online learning during the spring semester before a potential outbreak.
To best position Bowling Green State University during this crisis and to thrive in a post-COVID-19 world, I plan to appoint a chief health officer, a Cabinet-level position to lead and oversee our comprehensive approach to our community’s health that elevates and integrates these critical functions.
We will continue to share more details regarding planning for the fall semester. We are reinventing a new normal, which will necessitate adapting course delivery, classroom management and configuration, curriculum offerings, residence hall safeguards, student life programming and many operations and functions across the University. I know that this message does not answer all of your questions, and I am sure you have more concerns. However, we appreciate your willingness to be adaptable and flexible during these challenging times.
Rodney K. Rogers, Ph.D.