Earlier this month, we shared with you our latest plans to reopen the Lawrence and Edwards campuses for the fall semester. Today I write to share two new components of our reopening plan:
- We have published the first iteration of what we are calling the Protect KU plan, which will serve as our roadmap for a thoughtful, science-based return to campus.
- We are creating two new planning teams – which will include faculty, staff and students – to help inform decision-making in the weeks ahead.
The Protect KU plan
The Protect KU plan introduces the ways we will protect students, staff and faculty as we work to reopen campus this fall. The plan provides the latest information regarding COVID-19 and summarizes the decisions, protocols and procedures KU is implementing associated with reopening and covers topics such as health and safety, working on campus, and contingency planning. In general, the document will help you know what to expect in the coming weeks and months.
The policies, guidelines and responsibilities in the Protect KU plan are based on the most current information and advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health organizations. If individually and together we follow the measures set forth in our plan, our combined effort will enable us to protect our people as we go about our research and creative activities, and provide our students the experience they expect, while reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Please note, the Protect KU plan is a living document that will evolve in the days ahead based on your feedback and ever-changing circumstances across the state and nation. We are aware of COVID-19 trends locally and nationally, and with your help, we will continue to adapt accordingly. As the Provost and I have said many times, our goal is to welcome back as many students as we can while continuing to prioritize the health of our community above all else.
New planning teams
We have recently heard suggestions from some of you that students, staff and faculty need to be more engaged in the decision-making process for the fall semester, specifically with regard to the academic and teaching components of our planning. We agree, and as a result, we are creating two new planning teams that will enable us to more fully incorporate your experience, expertise and feedback.
First, I have asked Provost Bichelmeyer to create and lead a Pandemic Project Management Team as we move into the next phase of our planning. This team will include faculty, staff, students, governance and administration, and rely on the insights of these constituent groups as we continue to develop policies and practices for the fall. Additionally, this team will have the opportunity to share thoughts and information with the Public Health Planning team, which has been driving our planning since early 2020, and will continue to do this important work.
Provost Bichelmeyer has already begun assembling the Pandemic Project Management Team by inviting the University Senate Executive Committee members and deans representatives to come together to provide input about their experiences and needs. You will hear more about this directly from Provost Bichelmeyer soon.
Additionally, we are creating a Pandemic Medical Advisory Team, which will be headed by Dr. Steve Stites, vice chancellor for clinical affairs for KU Medical Center and senior vice president for clinical affairs for The University of Kansas Health System. Joining Dr. Stites on this team will be Executive Vice Chancellor of KU Medical Center Dr. Rob Simari, Douglas County Health Officer Dr. Thomas Marcellino, as well as leaders from Watkins Health Services and KU faculty. As you know, testing and contact tracing is key to a thoughtful and science-based return to campus, and this team will ensure our decisions continue to be guided by the most current medical advice and prioritize the health of the community above all else.
More information to come
As you have heard me say countless times, this is a fluid situation, and all of our planning is subject to change based on evolving circumstances and the latest medical guidance. We will continue to provide updates via email and at coronavirus.ku.edu. In the meantime, thank you for all you are doing on behalf of KU.
Douglas A. Girod