Fall 2020: CU Denver's Plan for a Safe Return to Campus

June 4, 2020 @  12:50 p.m.

Dear CU Denver Students, Faculty, and Staff,

I hope this finds you healthy and safe. With so much happening in our community and country that deeply affects us all, it’s hard to focus on other matters. However, we promised to update you in early June on plans for the fall 2020 semester. Today’s message provides important news about these plans.

Registration for the fall is open and we are planning for a safe and gradual return to campus. While it is not likely to look like a typical fall semester, we look forward to welcoming students, faculty, and staff back to campus. Our goal is to ensure safety while providing options for members of our community, especially the most vulnerable.

We don’t know with certainty what the next phase of the pandemic will bring, so we must be prepared to make modifications as needed. That includes a plan to return to all-remote learning if necessary. We will continue to follow the guidance of public health officials, in addition to directives from local and state governmental agencies.

Over the last several weeks, a group of faculty and staff from across the schools, colleges, and central support units has been developing a plan to repopulate campus. The Safe Return Team is spearheading these efforts, with subgroups focusing on more detailed operational elements.

Safe Return to Campus: Welcoming You Back with Integrity and Innovation

Our plan contains these key elements:

Protecting the Campus Community

  • Public health-informed campus and building safety protocols and procedures, in coordination with our Auraria campus partners
  • Limited number of people on campus; accommodation for faculty, staff, and students who cannot return to campus due to health conditions
  • Phased reopening of research and creative activities over the summer to test safety protocols and procedures
  • Daily health assessments required for entry to campus
  • Safety trainings for faculty, staff, and students
  • Readiness to adapt to changing conditions

Flexible Ways of Learning

  • Mix of on-campus, remote, online, and hybrid course formats to meet a wide variety of student preferences and circumstances; details to be provided by early July on format for each course
  • Prioritizing on-campus classes with experiential/hands-on activities—such as labs, studios, and performance classes
  • Prioritizing on-campus classes for particular student populations, including first-year undergraduates, senior seminars/capstones, core courses for graduate students, and others
  • Expanding online and hybrid course offerings to accommodate students who are not comfortable returning to campus

Promoting Student Success

  • No tuition increase for fall and spring semesters
  • Assuring high-quality, interactive courses through faculty professional development on teaching in a variety of formats
  • Student support services—including advising, tutoring, counseling, and career services—provided virtually and on campus
  • Providing spaces on campus for students who need access to computers or internet
  • Lynx Crossing residence hall to open, with physical (social) distancing protocols
  • Auraria Library and Student Wellness Center to open as public health guidance permits

One key element of our plan is the flexibility it provides for students, faculty, and staff who have concerns about returning to campus this fall. Public health guidelines, which are subject to change depending on the trajectory of the pandemic, require less density and limited operations on campus. Some jobs (e.g., facilities, housing/dining, information technology) can only be done on campus and others (e.g., student services) will need some on-campus presence in the fall. We are encouraging schools/colleges/units to identify their employees’ ability to return to limited operations this fall so that as-needed in-person services can be staffed.

The Safe Return website provides more details on the plan, including FAQs and next steps. Work on its implementation is ongoing, and the website will be updated as additional operational decisions are made. Our goal is to be as transparent as possible, as we know how important these decisions are to you and to the community.

I’m sure that you will have questions on all of this. Please refer to the FAQs on the website, and feel free to ask a question  that you don’t see addressed there. As we move into this next phase of planning for fall, I’d like to ask students to please stay in touch with your advisors and faculty, and staff/faculty to please stay in touch with your supervisors and deans. For our part, we will stay in touch with you with regular updates.

We’re in This Together

While COVID-19 has upended our world and our university in ways that none of us could have foreseen, I’m proud of the flexibility, determination, and grace with which the CU Denver community has responded.

The resumption of activity on campus will be the next great test of our resolve and compassion for one another. Safety protocols reduce risk only if we all follow them; we have to accept this shared responsibility even as different parts of our university resume activity at varying speeds. Doing so will help to ensure that we’re able to return as quickly and safely as possible, and that we’re doing our best to protect ourselves, each other, and our loved ones.

I want to thank the many campus experts who are working on our Safe Return plans. The immediate future will look very different than what we have been accustomed to, but one thing has not changed: CU Denver’s commitment to providing our students, faculty, and staff with an environment where our mission of education, research and service can continue to thrive. I’m confident that the ingenuity that characterizes the CU Denver community is helping us find the pandemic’s silver lining: an opportunity to rethink, and to do even better.

Dorothy Horrell signature

Dorothy Horrell

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