July 20, 2020 

Dear Colorado State University Staff Members,

I have been thinking about all of you, hoping you are well and looking forward to welcoming you for fall 2020 classes. With the start of the semester only five weeks away, I know you have many questions about how we will protect the health of our university community while offering an excellent and engaged education to diverse students from Colorado, the nation and the world.

We have been preparing for fall 2020 operations, but also have been awaiting guidance from the Colorado Department of Higher Education so that we are able to assure you that our plans comply with or exceed state requirements. The CDHE issued its guidance last week and we can now share with you these requirements and CSU’s plans for the fall semester.  While we continue to work diligently on our plans for fall, our decisions are guided by the well-being and health of our students, faculty and staff, including their physical and mental health.

We must balance this return to in-person, in-classroom or in-office work with public health orders that require physical distancing and limits on the number of people in a building. We cannot and should not bring all our units, divisions and offices back to a campus when students arrive. Staff who can work remotely should continue to do so unless otherwise permitted through the Pandemic Preparedness Team application process and in conjunction with their Vice President, Dean or other leadership because those units have a need to be physically on a campus.

Returning our students, faculty and staff to their classrooms, laboratories and work areas will take time and unfold on a schedule that we do not necessarily control. Our phenomenal leaders — health experts, educators, researchers, engagement specialists, student-life professionals, and staff — have worked quickly and resourcefully to create an innovative learning experience and environment for our students this fall.

We have three types of course delivery planned:

  • Our faculty should prioritize in person, in classroom academic instruction as much as possible;
  • Some faculty will be exempt from in-person, in-classroom delivery due to health issues and other considerations, as qualified through the Office of Equal Opportunity, Human Resources and a process that will be communicated early next week;
  • Other classes have been moved online due to space and time restrictions in response to physical distancing limitations on classroom occupancy that have been considered by the Pandemic Planning Team, departments and the Registrar’s Office.

For courses with an in-classroom, in-person component, we have put extensive public health measures in place. Details are outlined below.

This week, a cohort of students and a faculty member returned to the classroom as members of a pilot in-person history class, one of three summer in-classroom pilot classes planned. These students and the faculty are wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing, and following other public health measures, such as disinfecting their desks and chairs as they enter the classroom (this last measure is augmented with frequent cleaning by our custodial staff).

Our mission has not stopped in the face of the COVID pandemic. CSU is committed to providing our students with an education that will put them into the position to change the world. As a public research and engaged university, we are in a special and unique position to provide learning experiences that intersect with new discoveries, challenge our students with new ideas, and demonstrate the responsibility to engage with local and global communities.

We know that we do not overcome complex challenges and vexing questions without a diverse array of scholars and staff who dedicate themselves to CSU’s mission. Indeed, since the pandemic began, our researchers doubled-down on their efforts. Our faculty have dedicated themselves to ensuring continuity of learning for their students. Our staff have stepped up to support operations. And our students have demonstrated their desire to keep learning.

We recognize that many of you may have concerns about how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts people in different ways and some individuals are more vulnerable. Our community members have the responsibility to care for others – spouses, partners, parents – who are vulnerable. We also have many faculty and staff who are parents of school-aged children and younger who are anxious about how they will balance their household and work responsibilities with plans for K-12 education still in flux. CSU is committed to helping our employees through these issues. The Office of Equal Opportunity and Human Resources have developed a process for employees who may not be able to work on a campus to seek temporary work adjustments. More information about that process and how to apply will be communicated next week.

Below you will find an outline of preparations for fall semester and what can be expected as we move toward the beginning of the semester and into Fall 2020. Each decision will be re-evaluated upon implementation to ensure we are maximizing our impact. Please read this carefully.

Like you, I long for the day we can stroll the Oval unencumbered by the health precautions we all must take. But for now, we must embrace this new normal. Our plans will continue to be a process of patience and constant evaluation and re-evaluation. It will take the collective effort of the entire CSU community to strike a balance of remote and face-to-face services for our community. I count on all of you to join in that effort and help us ensure a successful Fall 2020 semester for our entire Ram family.

This is the great challenge for our generation. Just as students, faculty, staff and friends in the past have come together to help CSU recover from economic depressions and natural disasters like floods, it falls to us to help sustain this great institution and move forward during the COVID pandemic. We are not doing this just for students, faculty, and staff this fall. We are doing this for the next generation of CSU students, scholars, our community, and for all of those who will follow. We undertake this effort for the Rams who will walk onto our campuses decades from now and for people who will live in our community.

As it has been said many times, we are in an unprecedented situation that will continue to test our resilience and flexibility – strengths you all have shown repeatedly since the beginning of this pandemic. I know you will continue to rise together to meet this challenge.

Warmly, and with hope,

Joyce

 

Fall Semester Preparations and Measures

CSU has secured a central supply of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies for use during the summer and fall semester:

  • Face shields for all instructors to wear while teaching (instructors also may wear masks if they prefer)
  • Hand sanitizer and disinfecting supplies and dispensers to place across campuses, including disinfectant in classrooms and workspaces
  • Plexiglass barriers for key, translational spaces, such as food courts
  • Face coverings and thermometers for students and employees who cannot supply their own

Protocols and procedures for distributing these supplies as needed will be in place to assure strategic use to preserve the university’s resources.

Cleaning procedures

  • All university spaces currently in use are cleaned and disinfected daily by Facilities Management, with extra emphasis on areas touched frequently, using procedures and disinfectants endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control. These cleaning procedures will be expanded during the fall semester to cover additional use of spaces.
  • Daily cleaning and disinfecting of buildings and areas of our campuses in use when students, faculty, and staff return will continue.
  • Disinfecting and cleaning supplies will be provided for students, faculty and staff to clean their own workspaces, desks, tables, etc. (students should supply disinfecting and cleaning supplies for their own use in their personal living spaces)

COVID testing and contact tracing protocols

  • A COVID-19 testing plan will be implemented in August, will span several weeks, then will pivot to adaptive on-going testing. Details will be announced soon.
  • A number of students, faculty and staff who are on one of our campuses will be tested early in the semester and strategic testing will continue into the semester.
  • Contact tracing will be undertaken in conjunction with testing by the university’s Public Health Department in coordination with Larimer County.
  • All students, faculty and staff working on university grounds will be required to fill out an online daily symptom checker. A student-specific symptom checker is being developed in conjunction with RamWeb.

Addressing exposure and positive cases

When positive COVID-19 cases are discovered, CSU coordinates with Larimer County (or other appropriate counties) on necessary public health steps such as quarantine, self-isolation, etc., of students, faculty and staff, as well as disinfecting spaces as needed.

CSU uses contact tracing software that is also used by the Larimer County and other Colorado public health agencies, greatly enhancing speed, coordination and communication about exposures that potentially impact faculty, staff and students;

When an individual on a CSU campus tests positive for COVID-19, they must self-isolate while seeking appropriate medical care. CSU has a plan for those living in university housing who need to self-isolate or quarantine.

  • For campus residents, a CSU or county public health official coordinates with CSU Housing & Dining Services to arrange for appropriate housing for the student under isolation and/or roommates, depending on the situation.
  • Rooms and apartments are available to individuals in isolation or quarantine to separate infected students from others.
  • Areas where an infected person is known to have been will be cleaned.
  • CSU Public Health will coordinate daily check-ins with infected students and assist with connecting them to medical, counseling and student case management as needed.
  • For those who live off-campus, including our students, faculty and staff:

Pre-semester self-quarantine

CSU is reviewing current guidance (https://covidrecovery.colostate.edu/pre-semester-public-health-precautions/) as well as public health guidance as it impacts equity issues among our community members, such as the cost and availability of testing. We will provide more information soon.

Public health communications

The Pandemic Planning Team is providing websites, signs, digital signs, social media messages, direct communications to students, employees, parents and families, and other communications to clearly communicate public health orders across our university community

Public health precaution social-norming campaign

CSU will launch a social-norming campaign in August 2020 to support the start of in-person classes.

  • The campaign will instruct students to practice preventative health behaviors to slow the spread of COVID-19 (e.g., face coverings, physical distancing, etc.), will remind them of their responsibility for their own health, responsibility to others and the greater good, and encourage them to embrace these behaviors as the new normal on campus.
  • These efforts will be informed by the results of a survey sent to 5,000 current CSU students to gauge their behaviors, perceptions, and motivations.
  • CSU expects members of our community to adhere to public health orders, guidance, protocols, and University policies.
  • Compliance with public health orders, guidance, protocols, and policies will help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
  • Individuals who choose to not to adhere to defined public health orders, guidance, and protocols may be subject to administrative procedures or other consequences.

Facilities evaluations

CSU has surveyed hundreds of spaces for physical distancing capacity and furniture needs to assure best practices in the configuration of those spaces to meet public health guidance.

The university will follow public health orders regarding building occupancy.

  • Currently required to not exceed 50 percent building occupancy, as set by fire code.
  • Building occupancy limits may be increased or decreased by the county or state at any time. CSU will comply with any changes.
  • Entrance and exits in buildings will be assessed and marked to enhance physical distancing.
  • If work functions can be accomplished remotely, some offices and individuals will be encouraged to continue remote work operations.

In-person teaching logistics planning

CSU has formulated a plan to permit in-classroom academic instruction to the extent possible, in consultation with academic leadership and public health experts. Specifics include:

  • Scheduling additional class sections to allow space for physical distancing in classrooms.

– Scheduling additional evening class sections during the 4-8 p.m. block to utilize classrooms that typically would not be in use at those times;

– Transforming non-classroom spaces—including LSC ballrooms, fieldhouses, and other areas—to teaching spaces;

  • Hiring instructors to teach additional class sections
  • Equipping dozens of additional classrooms with technology to facilitate in-classroom, hybrid, and online instruction, doubling the number of technology-enhanced classrooms and making it easier to accommodate students who require online course delivery for health reasons;
  • Offering workshops and training to educate instructors and faculty on the use of technology to continue to deliver engaging, interactive in-classroom, hybrid, and online courses.

In-person employee work logistics planning

Employees are being returned to work on a campus via a phased, measured, strategic process.

  • No office, unit or department will return to in-classroom work without the approval of the Pandemic Preparedness Team, via an application process for return-to-work.
  • To comply with public health orders that require limited building occupancy, all units that can work remotely will be encouraged to continue doing so; units that can work remotely do not have to submit a plan to return to a campus when students return.
  • Every unit that returns to any kind of in-person work will be required to follow public health orders, guidance, protocols, and university policy.
  • All employees who return to in-person work will be required to complete online training on how to maintain public health precautions.

Expectations for observing public health precautions

All students, faculty and instructors will be required to follow state and county public health orders, guidance, protocols and University policies while on university grounds and in all buildings, including classrooms, laboratories, living, research and service spaces. These include:

  • Wearing masks or other appropriate face covering;
  • Maintaining physical distancing of six feet from other individuals;
  • Disinfecting their study and work surfaces (desktops, tables, etc.) regularly;
  • Staying home if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or believe they have been exposed to COVID-19;
  • Never gathering in groups without public health precautions;
  • All faculty and staff who report for in-classroom work on a campus must fill out the daily symptom checker. A student-specific daily symptom checker is in the process of being created.

In-person teaching logistics

Extra precautions, procedures, and measures will be necessary to create healthy spaces for in-person learning to take place on campus.

All members of the CSU community will be responsible for educating themselves regarding risks associated with COVID-19 and must take all necessary and reasonable steps to protect their own health during this pandemic.

There will be many new protocols individuals must comply with that are required by public health orders, guidance, and protocols, recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, and/or are required by CSU policy. Some of these include:

  • Wearing a mask or face covering over your mouth and nose while on university property and in class—instructors may opt to wear a clear face shield to better communicate and aid students who are hearing impaired and need to lip-read;
  • Keeping a minimum of 6 feet between yourself and others;
  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
  • Avoiding large gatherings;
  • Staying home when you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or know you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19.

In-person employee work logistics:

Employees will return to work on a campus via a phased, measured, strategic process.

  • No office, unit or department will return to in-classroom work without the approval of the Pandemic Preparedness Team, via an application process for return-to-work.
  • To comply with public health orders that require limited building occupancy, all units that can work remotely will be encouraged to continue doing so; units that can work remotely do not have to submit a plan to return to a campus when students return.
  • Every unit that returns to any kind of in-person work will be required to follow public health orders, guidance, and protocols.

Temporary Work Adjustments

Vulnerable Individuals

Some employees may need to request temporary work adjustments due to COVID-19.  Under state executive and public health orders, employees who are deemed “Vulnerable Individuals” (also referred to as “people at risk of severe illness from COVID-19”) are not required to work in-person. Vulnerable Individuals are defined as someone who is:

  • 65 years and older;
  • has a chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma;
  • has serious heart conditions;
  • is immunocompromised;
  • is pregnant; or
  • is determined to be high risk by a licensed healthcare provider.
  • Vulnerable individuals may request a temporary work adjustment through CSU’s Office of Equal Opportunity.
  • Those who live with or are the primary caretaker for a vulnerable individual may request a temporary work adjustment, which will be submitted to OEO and reviewed by CSU’s Human Resources
  • Employees who are impacted by COVID-19 may have leave options available to them created by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (please visit the HR website, http://hrs.colostate.edu/benefits/timeoff-fap-fml.html).

Employees with daycare eligible and/or school-age children, or other dependents:

Employees with dependents who are enrolled in daycare or school may encounter childcare issues due to COVID-19.

  • Employees with COVID-19-related childcare needs may request a temporary work adjustment which will be submitted to OEO and reviewed by HR.
  • Employees with COVID-19-related childcare needs may also be eligible for expanded Family Medical Leave created by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (please visit the HR website, http://hrs.colostate.edu/benefits/timeoff-fap-fml.html).
  • CSU is committed to working with employee-parents directly and with supervisors to ensure as much flexibility for families as feasible. CSU has tasked a working group to help guide this discussion.

Students

  • To request reasonable accommodations due to COVID-19, contact CSU’s Student Disability Center.
  • Students can also connect with their advisors to explore changing their courses to an online format.
  • Other options are to work with the department chair to find substitute classes that will fulfill degree requirements or take a class online through CSU Online or CSU Global.