TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Indiana State University released its plan for a phased-in return to campus on Thursday morning. The University says the plan aligns with Governor Eric Holcomb’s Back on Track Indiana plan.
Indiana State’s President, Dr. Deborah Curtis, says ISU began planning almost immediately after switching to online learning. The toughest part was figuring out the timing.
A brief summary of the current plan looks like this:
• May 4-23 — Faculty and staff work remotely as much as possible. Members of the President’s cabinet develop plans for waves of employees to return to campus each Monday through July 6. Employees in facilities management and other areas return to campus to prepare facilities to meet state and federal requirements on social distancing and cleaning. ISU buildings remain closed other than by appointment.
• May 24 – June 13 — Staff begin returning in small waves each Monday, continuing through July 3. Faculty are requested to continue working remotely and limit visits to campus.
• June 14 – July 3 —Faculty are requested to continue working remotely and limit visits to campus. Selected university buildings will open after appropriate safety measures have been adopted.
• July 4 – August 1 — Faculty may return to campus as necessary. Updated ISU General Safeguards will be issued based on guidance from government health agencies.
• August 1 and beyond — Subject to guidance from governmental and health authorities, faculty, student staff, and students may return to campus. Plans for fall instruction and activities will be developed with the engagement of shared governance units and campus leaders.
Dr. Curtis says this is the best-case scenario, but a lot of work between then and now has to take place. Safety remains the number one goal.
“Some of the early returners to campus—a little bit this week and mostly next week—will be a small wave of facilities people who will be coming back and doing some deep cleaning,” Dr. Curtis said, “They will be putting in place some of our strategies for getting the place ready.”
Dr. Curtis says this includes practicing social distancing, wearing face coverings, and PPE. She says the goal is to return to on-campus and in-person learning “as much as possible”. Some decisions are still in the development stage as we learn more with COVID-19.
Dr. Curtis says they consulted with faculty, staff, and most importantly students when developing this plan.
She says students appreciated how quickly ISU switched to online learning and immediately working on this plan. They overwhelmingly prefer being on-campus rather than online learning. Dr. Curtis says they listened to what students value about being on campus, and have tried to match that in as safe of a way as possible.
“It’s been very clear to everyone involved in this process that fall 2020 will not look exactly like fall 2019,” Dr. Curtis said, “So we are planning out ahead as best as we can with an eye towards returning to what Indiana State University is going to look like not only in the near future but the distant future.”
Dr. Curtis says they are diligently working on modifications for student instruction to make it safer. Overall, she says the goal is to be welcoming students to campus by mid-August 2020.