July 17, 2020 - COVID-19 Update
A message from President Hasseler - July 17, 2020
Dear Members of the Muskingum Community:
In just a few weeks we will be welcoming students back to campus as we begin our fall 2020 semester. Muskingum University has been preparing our facilities and programs to ensure a safe and healthy learning and living environment, while preserving the connections, activities and relationships that make this such a special place. Our planning teams have carefully reviewed local, state and national health guidance and consulted with medical professionals to develop guidelines and implement changes in readiness for our fall semester. We will continue to closely monitor all guidelines and make changes as needed going forward.
Health and Safety
All employees and students will be expected to wear face coverings in all campus buildings, except in their individual workspaces or residence hall rooms. Face coverings are expected outdoors as well if appropriate social distancing is not possible.
In addition, employees and students are expected to perform daily health checks, engage in social distancing and follow guidance on facility use and group events and gatherings. Procedures have been implemented to address needs of faculty, staff and students with underlying health conditions.
Adhering to these guidelines is the way that we express that MuskiesCare, and thus protect each other while enjoying the opportunity to be together on our beautiful campus.
Additional measures include adjustments to workspaces, extra cleaning protocols, and easy access to hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies.
The University is working directly with the Muskingum County Health Department on testing, contact tracing and healthcare services. We have secured appropriate health-related isolation and quarantine spaces for students who are unable to return home in collaboration with the MCHD.
We have revised our academic calendar so that classes begin a week early on August 18 and end prior to Thanksgiving to avoid being on campus during the peak influenza season. The spring calendar is still under review but at this point we anticipate returning to campus in mid-January.
We have developed a classroom and lab management plan that allows appropriate social distancing in all learning spaces. With the addition of some new teaching spaces, we can provide appropriate classroom space for full-time face-to-face instruction for most of our classes. Instructors are working tirelessly over the summer, however, to ensure that the basic elements of every class are available in our Blackboard online learning management system to serve students for whom COVID-related issues prevent classroom attendance and also to use technology effectively to enhance our learning experiences.
Our residential spaces have been adjusted to allow for the availability of single rooms for any students who wish to pursue that option. Careful arrangements of single and double rooms have allowed us to de-densify our student living spaces.
Dining and retail facilities have been altered to meet social distancing and health guidelines.
We are working closely with the NCAA and our colleagues in the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) in terms of our athletic programming. The President's Council of the OAC has made the decision to postpone all NCAA intercollegiate athletic competition through December 31, 2020, amidst continued concerns about COVID-19. The Conference is committed to moving NCAA intercollegiate competition to the spring, with various models currently being discussed. At this time the intention is to engage all sports in competition starting in January 2021 and throughout the spring semester. For more details please refer to our Athletics Q&A.
The outdoor track will remain available for community use when not in use by an athletic team. All other athletic facilities will re-open in the fall for employee and student use only following appropriate health protocols.
Travel and Events
University travel will be restricted to essential travel only. No international trips will be permitted, and field trips are also prohibited for the fall semester.
Although we are encouraging the use of virtual gatherings in lieu of in-person events and meetings, we are allowing some on-campus gatherings so long as they abide by current health guidance. This includes a limit of 10 participants, the reservation of an appropriately sized room to allow for proper social distancing between participants, and the use of face coverings.
This is just a brief synopsis of the extensive work our faculty and staff have been doing to prepare for a safe return to on-campus instruction. I am deeply grateful for the dedication of Muskingum employees to the well-being of this institution and look forward to beginning the fall semester together.
Until then, all my best wishes for your health and well-being.
President Sue Hasseler
Note: Detailed information regarding our return-to-campus policies can be found in the links above.