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Fall Planning Task Force

Message to campus - 6/11/2020 Topic-Travel

This is the third update from the Fall Contingency Planning Task Force. It pertains to employee travel. Because of the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, and EKU’s commitment to providing a safe work environment, employees should avoid all non-essential travel. 

In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the following guidelines for University-approved travel (including University-funded and personally-funded business travel) are effective immediately and will be in place until further notice. This policy applies to all employees, inclusive of faculty and staff.

All travel, including trips within Kentucky, will be limited to essential travel, which is defined as follows:

  • There is a compelling university interest in travel. Compelling interest must be measured by the university as a whole and not with reference to any individual, department, or college interest. In this context, compelling evokes the highest university strategic interests.

  • The travel is necessary to fulfill the compelling university interest. In other words, there are no alternatives to in-person attendance and travel, the travel cannot be postponed, and the compelling interest can only be served by personal attendance.

Requests for travel should be presented to the area chair, dean, or supervisor for the first stage of review. Recruitment and Development travel may be submitted for blanket approval. If the first-stage review results in approval of the essential nature of the travel, the request will be forwarded for review by the Provost or area Vice President for a final review.  Travelers should allow at least two weeks for the completion of the approval process and should not incur any expenses prior to approval by the Provost or Vice President.

Be advised that expenses incurred without appropriate approvals will not be reimbursed. All travel vouchers must be submitted within 60 days of the completed trip to be reimbursed.

Please be advised that candidates for promotion and tenure are to be evaluated according to existing approved guidelines. The guidelines are subject to modification due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While this normally includes the process of peer-review and regional levels of distinction (e.g. state, regional, national, international), the requirements for promotion and tenure may often be met without the need for travel. Therefore, candidates providing evidence for the existing criteria should be evaluated without regard for the format of delivery for professional conferences (e.g. face-to-face with travel or virtual delivery).

Additional guiding principles:

  • International travel will not be approved until further notice.

  • Professional development funds will continue to be managed via existing processes. Every effort should be made to apply these funds to virtual professional development opportunities to reduce and eliminate travel.

 A reminder about professional and personal travel:

Due to COVID-19, employees and students are required to follow CDC guidelines on travel. In accordance with CDC guidelines, Governor’s Orders, and/or the US Department of State, those who return from travel internationally must stay home and monitor their health for 14 days. In addition, all students and employees returning from outside the U.S. must self-quarantine for 14 days, watch for symptoms of COVID-19 and report using this form. 

We will provide guidance for student travel (academic and extra-curricular) in a future update. As always, we welcome your feedback and questions.


Message to campus 6/8/2020

Dear colleagues,
 
This is the second update from the Fall Contingency Planning Task Force. We are grateful for the time and commitment by the working group members and many thanks to everyone for your diligent participation in the Fall Contingency Planning process. We are grateful to our dedicated faculty for developing recommendations for courses and making the academic success of our students, regardless of circumstances, your priority. We are equally grateful to our committed staff who are working diligently to prepare for a successful fall semester.
 
We have information to share with you about 2020-2021 proposed calendar changes and about resources being assembled to support your work.  EKU will begin the fall semester with academic instruction on August 17, 2020.  Please be aware that the task force’s work is based on local, state, and national guidelines surrounding the reopening of higher education institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic and are subject to modifications. 
 
Proposed 2020-2021 Academic Calendar changes: 
 
The President’s Council, upon the recommendation of the Task Force, has approved a revised calendar that minimizes the effects of holiday travel, allows for a six-week winter term for students to get ahead or catch up, and retains the integrity of the e-campus schedule. 
 
Key features include: 
 
  • Elimination of Fall Break to add two instructional days
  • Elimination of one holiday day (Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving) 
  • Completion of all in-person requirements for the fall 2020 semester by the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving 
  • Remote administration of final exams the week of November 30
  • Delay of the Spring semester start until Tuesday, January 19, 2021
  • Elimination of the break between Spring 2021 and Summer I 2021
  • The calendar is attached and additional information on commencement planning and other logistics will be forthcoming. The University will provide an online proctoring system at no cost to students.
Resources for faculty:
 
  • A clearinghouse site for all campus resources related to online instruction, has been created. The resource is available at RemoteTeaching.eku.edu
  • Modules offering helpful tips for students on success in online learning, time management, stress, adjustment to college life and other topics will be pre-loaded into all Blackboard sites.​

Class planning: The Task Force will review the recommendations submitted by colleges and work with the deans to identify and configure spaces to enhance safety while meeting the pedagogical and academic needs of the class. 

We are grateful for your insights, your dedication to EKU and your patience. As always, we are here to hear your concerns and answer your questions. You may also check the web site for updated information. Look for more detailed information from the task force later this month. 
 
Thank you
 
Fall Contingency Planning Task Force Co-Chairs 
Elizabeth Ballou, Executive Director, Enrollment Management 
Sara Zeigler, Dean, College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences

Message to campus 5/19/2020

Dear campus community,

This message is the first campus-wide communication from the Fall Contingency Planning Task Force. The working group is charged by the Interim President with developing a plan for the re-opening of EKU for the fall semester. The plan will consider both academic instruction and student experience. 

Our sincere appreciation goes out to our students for adapting to the remote instruction environment and a hearty thank you to our faculty and staff for your diligent work,  assisting our students, and bringing the semester to a successful conclusion during a very challenging time. As we completed the Spring semester, plans for the Fall semester were underway, and it is progressing rapidly. The Fall Contingency Planning Task Force has carefully researched options for the upcoming semester. EKU will open on schedule in the Fall and operate on its published calendar. The following measures are already in place or currently underway.

Flexible options for students: Students can choose the schedule that best meets their needs, from a wide array of fully online offerings to an on-campus schedule (with appropriate adaptations based on local, state, and federal requirements), or a combination of both. 

Modifications to housing and common areas:  Configurations and furnishings are being rearranged to ensure proper distancing and accommodate enhanced cleaning protocols.  Housing arrangements and custodial services are being adapted to implement the most current guidance.

Support services:  EKU will provide the full array of student support services, in both on-campus and remote formats. Students will have access to EKU’s excellent individualized attention to student needs. Students may contact their advisors for personalized guidance on scheduling, seek mental and physical health care through free services (remote and on-campus), and expect a rich array of extra and co-curricular activities in multiple formats.  

Instruction:  In collaboration with the college Deans and Chairs, the Task Force will oversee an academic section-by-section planning process that adapts instruction to the most current recommendations for health and safety. Measures may include, but are not limited to, enhanced cleaning, use of masks and other protective items in instructional settings, availability of sanitizing materials, and increased distancing through the use of larger spaces for on-campus activities. 

Instructional and Academic Support: 

  • Transition to college courses:  All incoming students enrolled in the transition to college classes will receive content on being successful in online environments, on health and wellness, and on stress management.
  • Pedagogical resources:  The Instructional Design Center and the Noel Studio for Academic Creativity have collaborated to create a one-stop-shop for faculty resources. The site will be made available to faculty soon. 
  • Recreation and activities:  Work is underway to adapt practices at the Campus Recreation Center to meet guidance provided for gyms and other exercise facilities. Staff will be making similar adaptations for campus events, and activities. Students will be able to choose remote options for exercise, entertainment, and engagement.

These initial measures will provide the framework for a smooth and safe return for the fall 2020 semester. A variety of campus workgroups will continue to evaluate plans and processes for other areas of our public health response including health and safety training, screenings, testing, contact tracing, quarantine requirements, travel guidelines, and athletics. These plans will evolve based on guidelines and best practices from local, state and federal health and education officials. 

Our continued thanks extend to the task force working groups. Through the sharing of ideas, opinions, and a unified commitment to safety, health, and learning, EKU will emerge from the pandemic with a comprehensive plan that encourages Colonels to be confident about the fall semester. Through difficult work and innovation, everyone associated with Eastern will once again realize why they call EKU a second home and will continue to achieve great things that only The School of Opportunity can provide. 

Our goal is to communicate to the campus again in early June. Another communication later in the month will reveal the main tenets of the plan with a roll-out of the plan to follow shortly after. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to either of us directly with questions, concerns, or ideas. Your input is needed and appreciated.

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