Planning for the Safe Return to Campus

April 24, 2020 @ 2:28 p.m.

Dear CU Denver Community,

As the week comes to a close, I hope this message finds you and your loved ones safe and well. One of the hardest aspects of this pandemic is the amount of uncertainty it creates. We all have questions, including when the coronavirus disease will abate, what we’re expected to do in the meantime, and when we can get back to some semblance of normal. While I wish we had more definitive answers, I’m writing today to share the steps we’re taking in response to official guidance and what we’re doing to begin planning for an eventual safe return to campus. 

State and City Announcements
On Wednesday, Governor Jared Polis clarified his announcement that Colorado will move from its stay-at-home order to a “safer at home” phase beginning Monday, April 27.  Although some businesses will reopen on a limited basis, social distancing will continue. In addition, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has announced that he will extend the City and County of Denver’s “Stay at Home” order through May 8.

These announcements do not change the current operating status of the university. We are putting our community’s health and safety first. Only employees already designated as critical are allowed on campus and only when necessary. We will continue our existing remote learning and working model for some time as campus leaders, including our AHEC partners, engage in a structured and thoughtful approach for future planning. 

Planning for a Safe Return to Campus
We have already announced plans for the summer semester to be conducted remotely, and for all in-person events to be canceled through the end of July.

Any plans for our return to in-person campus operations this fall will be data-informed, use the latest science and occur in alignment with public health guidance. We have created a Safe Return planning team to help chart our course. The team will report to Provost Nairn and will be composed of three working groups: Research, Education, and Wellness Center/Housing. The team will rely on guidance from our ongoing COVID-19 taskforce, public health experts here and at CU Anschutz, and the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment.

Our Safe Return plan will include as much mitigation for COVID-19 health risks as possible to keep us safe while enabling us to advance our educational and research missions.  It will likely include measures for maintaining social distancing, wearing appropriate face coverings, limiting density, coordinating building entry and exit points, and enhanced cleaning. We will be working with our Auraria partners to assure consistent guidelines for the operation of our shared buildings.

We know everyone is anxious and ready to get back to campus life. I am grateful to the members of the Safe Return planning team for their willingness to devote their time and attention to this important and timely undertaking. We will provide updates on their progress, with the goal of receiving their recommendations by early summer. 

My continued thanks to each of you for all you are doing during these challenging and historic times. As we enter the final weeks of our spring semester, I know we all miss the opportunity to be together and participate in the traditional end-of-semester events. I applaud everyone’s creative efforts in adapting those for the new environment. We are LynxStrong, and we can and will continue to get through this together! Stay well and please take good care of yourself and those around you. 

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Dorothy Horrell

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