Earlier this summer, we created the Pandemic Medical Advisory Team – comprising nine of the region’s top medical doctors and public health officials – to help inform our decisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the primary tasks of this team is to develop a data-driven decision-making framework to shape decisions regarding campus operations in a way that prioritizes health and safety.
I write you today to share this decision-making framework, which is published in its entirety at protect.ku.edu/pmat. Below is a summary of the three key elements of the framework.
States of Campus Operation
First, the framework creates a continuum of five states of campus operation based on varying levels of population density. The five states range from Level 1 to Level 5, with Level 1 being a fully open campus and Level 5 being a mostly closed campus. We will open the fall 2020 semester at Level 3. For context, our spring 2020 status would have been Level 5.
- Level 1: Campus Open with New Normal of Managed Density
- Level 2: Campus Open with Moderate Density
- Level 3: Campus Open with Low Density
- Level 4: Campus Open with Ultralow Density
- Level 5: Campus Open to Essential Personnel and Individuals Only
Relevant Circumstances and Data
Second, the framework has more than 30 indicators – including metric-based and non-metric-based indicators – we will use to inform decisions and evaluate our state of campus operations. These indicators are grouped into four categories: community considerations, campus considerations, leading indicators, and lagging indicators.
It’s important to understand that these criteria will be evaluated collectively, and their relative importance may change as circumstances change. In other words, there is no single indicator, single circumstance, “magic number” or “trigger” that will alone lead us to change the state of campus operations. Rather, the Pandemic Medical Advisory Team will evaluate all of these metrics when making decisions regarding campus operations.
Third, this framework lays out seven specific interventions that can deployed if the public health situation worsens on campus or in the community. Examples include heightened social distancing, specific residence hall occupancy reductions, and expanded testing.
Prioritizing Health and Safety
I want to emphasize how fortunate we are to have some of the region’s top medical doctors and public health officials on our Pandemic Medical Advisory Team. Each member brings tremendous expertise and a unique perspective that has benefited this decision-making framework. As a result, we can be confident that decisions related to campus operations will be data-driven and guided by the latest science, and will continue to prioritize the health and safety of our university above all else.
Douglas A. Girod