Jun. 24, 2020
Fall Quarter Schedule: Message from President Gaudino
[Note: Letter updated on June 24]
Dear CWU Community,
The CWU leadership team, aided by a group of key internal and external experts, is nearing completion of a plan to bring students back to campus for the fall 2020 quarter. While the plan will remain flexible to allow for responses to new information and changes in public policy, the following describes the course of action we are planning for now.
The plan seeks to balance two critical goals: safeguarding the health and safety of our community and offering the high-quality learning, living, and working environments for which Central is so well known. To achieve this critical balance, the planning group sought expert advice, studied best practices, and considered all available options. It also worked on aligning our plan to the state's and county's four-phased approach to protecting residents and opening economic and social activities.
The result is a plan to invite students back in the fall, with practices that will apply in Ellensburg as well as at the University Centers and teaching sites.
Accelerated Quarter Schedule
The fall quarter will begin on September 9 and end November 20 [Link to Fall 2020 Academic Calendar]. This schedule will yield 51 days of instruction. Classes will not be held on Veterans Day (11/11). The schedule does provide a Study Day (11/16). The goal of the schedule is to complete the quarter ahead of a forecasted increase in flu and COVID-19 cases and to avoid the logistics of students leaving campus and returning following the Thanksgiving holiday.
Choice of Teaching Modality
The fall quarter will allow faculty to choose between teaching in-person, using virtual modalities, and combining the two. The goal is to find the modality that best balances the safety and quality of instruction. Deans and chairs have been working with faculty to record these choices so they can be presented to students when they register for classes. Our new and returning students will be encouraged to develop a schedule that conforms to their learning style and personal needs.
Choice of Working Modality
Staff will be encouraged to work remotely unless their job only can be performed in person. As with the teaching environment, a combination of modalities is possible. Supervisors are working with their teams to determine the appropriate working environments that balance the risk of infection and the need to accomplish the required tasks.
Until a vaccine is available, physical distancing is a crucial factor in reducing the spread of COVID-19. The best distancing practice is to remain six feet or more from one another. When that is not possible, the use of masks will be required. These rules will apply inside and outside of buildings.
Learning spaces: Classes will be scheduled to maximize physical distancing. While the schedule is not fully built, classes will likely be scheduled using an expanded framework of days and times, and some non-academic spaces will be employed. Furniture and arrangement of spaces will be altered if necessary.
Gathering spaces: We have designed our buildings to encourage people to gather in common areas; now we must modify the arrangement of the furniture in those spaces as needed. The SURC, dining facilities, and residence halls will receive special attention.
Movement on campus: An additional goal of the fall schedule is to reduce the traffic in portals and hallways. An analysis is underway to map significant pedestrian pathways and to mark them with appropriate signage to help promote physical distancing. Special attention will be given to portals to popular locations.
Client-facing spaces: Many spaces on campus involve face-to-face service, such as dining, stores, and advising/counseling operations. In addition to using online service options, the spaces will be reconfigured in ways modeled after commercial retail outlets.
Masking and Other Physical Protections
Everyone will be required to wear masks when physical distancing is not possible. This rule applies to all employees and students, unless they are unable to do so because of a health-related reason. Face shields may be worn while teaching or working if the employee so desires.
CWU will provide cloth face masks to all students and employees. Alternative facial protection (hoods/shields/face guards) will also be made available to employees whose positions require additional protection.
Students who enter classrooms or gathering places without masks or remove them after entering the classroom will be asked to mask immediately or leave.
Sanitizing and Washing
While Central prides itself in the cleanliness of our spaces, the current situation calls for increased emphasis sanitizing those spaces and on emphasizing personal hygiene. Our housekeeping staff will clean all classrooms, labs, and studios at least daily. They will sanitize public washrooms twice daily. Sanitizing wipes will be available in all teaching and work areas to clean spaces between uses. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the university.
Cooperation and Culture
The university will take responsibility for implementing the significant components of the plan and for monitoring emerging research findings and changes in public policies. All of us must join together to keep one another safe. Several students reminded me recently that college campuses are not known for their culture of compliance. Most of us view our freedom to act and speak freely as a positive attribute of academic life. I believe that should remain so, but with an important caveat: we must now act in ways that protect others from this dangerous virus. We can do that, however, in straightforward ways—by distancing, wearing masks, and regularly washing our hands—that don’t impinge on the academic freedoms we so cherish.
I will update you as conditions change. Thank you—and continue to stay safe and healthy!
James L. Gaudino