Putting Health and Safety First as We Plan Ahead
Monday, May 11, 2020
I trust that you are healthy and safe as we wrap up this academic year.
Without question, the university’s normal operations have been upended the past few months. The disruption has been felt in every corner and facet of our university community. Each day, if not each hour, we find ourselves making important decisions that have an impact on the daily lives of our students, faculty, staff, and community.
We should all take great pride in the fact that we have navigated the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic and are successfully concluding a most unusual spring semester. I extend a virtual pat on the back to each of you for a job well done.
It has not been easy. While our physical campus looks as beautiful and inviting as ever, its bucolic appearance belies the reality that our faculty and staff are scattered far and wide, working tirelessly from home offices, kitchen tables, and Wi-Fi hotspots. Missing is the vibrant buzz of a campus community wrapping up a semester and headed toward commencement. Missing are the throngs of students who are the heart of our university.
We now turn to the next chapter, the beginning of the first summer session, which is being conducted fully online. Then, in late June, we will begin our second summer session, which is being delivered primarily online with selected labs, studios, and field work being administered in limited face-to-face settings with strict adherence to social distancing and safety protocols.
Through all these challenges, we are managing, and we are managing well.
The inevitable question on everyone’s mind right now is, what’s next? What are the university’s plans for the fall semester? It is a common question being asked at every university in the nation.
We remain optimistic that Purdue Fort Wayne will be able to begin the fall semester in some variation of a face-to-face teaching environment. That is our intention and our plan. There are, however, numerous uncertainties, variables, and contingencies that will influence our final decisions, and we need to continue exercising the flexibility and ingenuity that have served us well so far.
To that end, we have initiated a campus-wide process, coordinated by Jeff Malanson, director of strategic planning and implementation, to develop a process to fully explore and assess the university’s readiness within the scope of eight different scenarios. We have convened 18 task forces that are evaluating operational challenges and opportunities within the framework of the following scenarios:
- Full face-to-face instruction for fall semester; no further disruptions
- Start full face-to-face instruction for fall semester; unexpected disruption occurs
- Online instruction for fall semester; full face-to-face instruction for spring semester
- Mixed modality and extensive social distancing for fall semester; full face-to-face instruction for spring semester
- Full face-to-face instruction for fall semester; online for spring semester
- Full face-to face instruction fall semester; unexpected disruption spring semester
- Full academic year online
- Modified academic calendar for fall and spring semesters
The task forces are working on an expedited timeline. Their work will be complete by May 29. While the task forces are not charged with making decisions, their subject-matter expertise is invaluable as they develop a wide range of potential options and scenarios that will guide decision-making by our executive leadership team.
Meanwhile, as announced previously, employees who are able to work remotely will continue to do so at least through the end of June or until further notice. We hope to begin an initial return to campus for employees in student support roles starting July 1.
Please be assured that the health and safety of all students, faculty, staff, and visitors continues to be the primary driver of every decision we make. It is our top priority. We will continue to strictly adhere to public health protocols issued by local, state, and federal agencies, including best practices for social distancing and personal protection.
We will continue to keep you informed regarding the status of the university during this evolving pandemic. This includes twice-weekly email distribution of Inside Purdue Fort Wayne to all students, faculty, and staff. And the latest news and information will always be posted on the university’s comprehensive COVID-19 website.
Finally, I want to express my deepest condolences to those of you who have been affected either directly or indirectly by COVID-19. I know some of you have suffered through the virus yourselves, and others have had family members and friends who have been sick or who have died. Please know that your Mastodon family is here for you and that we keep you in our thoughts.
I am so proud of how our university community has responded to this pandemic. Our people, our systems, and our resolve are tested with each passing day. Yet we remain resilient. We remain strong. And we will get through this together.