Just as the University of Colorado’s four campuses vary in significant ways, so do their plans for launching fall returns by faculty, staff and students. What those plans share is a detail-oriented commitment to the health and safety of the CU community.
That message was delivered to the Board of Regents by campus chancellors and members of their leadership teams during Wednesday morning’s special meeting, which was held remotely via Zoom and livestreamed. A recording of the meeting will be posted here.
“Opening up in the fall is possible thanks to the hard work of everyone involved,” said Board of Regents Chair Glen Gallegos.
President Mark Kennedy also praised the effort of leadership, faculty and staff across the campuses as they gear up for next month’s launch of the fall semester.
“Everyone is taking great concern for the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students,” Kennedy said. “I hope (board members) feel more comforted that we’re taking the challenge of back-to-fall very seriously.”
Detailed fall return plans are posted at these websites:
- CU Boulder: https://www.colorado.edu/roadmap/
- UCCS: https://returnto.uccs.edu/
- CU Denver: https://www.ucdenver.edu/safe-return-to-campus-fall-2020
- CU Anschutz: https://www.cuanschutz.edu/coronavirus/return-to-campus
Across the system, protocols already have been rolling out in recent weeks. The expectations for faculty and staff include pre-return training, daily health surveys and temperature taking, mandatory mask-wearing and reduced capacity in offices, classrooms and laboratories.
For students, chancellors are stressing education and personal responsibility. CU Boulder will remind students to “Protect our herd,” while UCCS pledges to “Protect the pride.”
“We are committed to ensuring that every student has the opportunity for on-campus learning,” said CU Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano. Large lectures are out; an education experience relying on “a combination of modalities” is in. Some teaching and learning will be done in person, some via remote, and some a combination.
“Faculty need to be prepared to change modality over the course of the semester,” DiStefano said.
The chancellor said there’s no absolute formula for determining when to move between phases. Leadership will be monitoring several factors that would influence a decision, including a rise in state or local COVID-19 cases, campus density and violations of social distancing rules. He and other leaders stressed that the knowledge gained and preparation undertaken since March, when the coronavirus pandemic necessitated a swift closure, have positioned CU in a much greater state of readiness.
Research enterprises are up and running at CU Boulder, DiStefano said, and the experience of researchers in the coming weeks will help inform the rest of the campus community as it follows.
Research also has returned to the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, said Chancellor Don Elliman, who called his campus CU’s “canary in the coal mine, because we are up and running.” All clinicians are back in practice as well, and nearly 1,000 students already have returned to campus.
“We are very fortunate that we don’t have the issues of dormitories and athletics to worry about,” Elliman said.
CU Denver’s status as a commuter campus with only one dorm building means a higher percentage of students who rely on public transit, noted Chancellor Michelle Marks. On decision-making, CU Denver also must work closely with the two other institutions sharing downtown’s Auraria Campus.
At CU Denver, Marks said about one-quarter of classes will be in-person or a hybrid of in-person and online; three-quarters will be virtual learning and online.
At UCCS, the campus this week began its first of three phases of returning, said Chancellor Venkat Reddy, as select infrastructure resumed operations. The second phase, launching July 27, will mark the return of faculty and staff, while Aug. 10’s third phase will see student services ramping up.
Regent Chance Hill asked about plans following the Thanksgiving break. While CU Boulder previously announced that students will move to online learning and not return to campus to complete the fall after the holiday, Reddy said UCCS “intends to give our students the complete experience.” Still, the campus will maintain the option of moving to remote-only learning after Thanksgiving. “We will evaluate as time goes by.”
Regent Jack Kroll, also a staff member at CU Boulder, asked specifically about considerations regarding the return of staff to campuses. Marks said that among faculty and staff at CU Denver, “There truly is a lot of anxiety about returning to campus.”
Pat O’Rourke, interim executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer at CU Boulder, said leadership continues to stress that “if people can work remotely effectively, we want to continue to enable them to do that.” At CU Boulder, each working unit has been asked to do an analysis of which personnel are needed on campus and when.