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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update - March 11, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update - March 11, 2020
Dear campus community,
 
As noted in a prior communication, EKU is closely monitoring the developments surrounding the COVID-19 virus in the world, the nation and Kentucky. University leadership is meeting regularly to develop responses to a rapidly changing situation. As we address the impact of the COVID-19 virus, our highest priority is to protect the well-being of our students, faculty, staff and the community. For that reason, EKU is enacting several measures to help mitigate the likelihood of transmission and the spread of the virus. Change is never easy, but change is at hand, and we must support each other to meet the challenges we face while still carrying out our educational mission. It’s what Colonels do. 
 
I am implementing the following initial measures: 
 

Campus Operations

Eastern Kentucky University is committed to finishing the spring semester and providing our students the academic instruction necessary to fulfill their program requirements. EKU will remain open. Although limited in some areas, much of the campus will operate as usual. However, we will be altering our modes of instruction delivery to help mitigate the risks associated with the COVID-19 virus. Because we live and learn together, our goal is to address the communal living and learning aspects of our campus to reduce the transmission and spread of the virus.

Regional campuses and dual credit courses will follow the EKU Richmond campus protocols listed below. Instructors should expect communication from their departments about course delivery options soon.

Information about Model Laboratory School will be shared later this week in a separate communication from the superintendent. Burrier Child Development Center will follow the Model Laboratory School schedule.
 

Classes and Instruction

  • EKU will restructure the spring semester for the week of March 16 through March 20. Except as provided below, students should not return to campus immediately following the spring break.  
  • The residence halls will temporarily close. Exceptions will be made for students without alternative housing options. Additional information will be provided through direct communication from EKU Housing about access to your belongings and requests for continued housing.
  • Online programs (e-Campus) will continue operations on a regular schedule beginning Monday, March 16.
  • Beginning Monday, March 23, all courses will be delivered remotely. Either online or through other established alternative learning options. Faculty will directly communicate with students before March 23 about delivery methods and student access.
  • Classes will use an alternative method of instruction delivery until April 3. Before that date, an assessment and decision will be made about continuation with alternative instruction methods or a return to normal instruction.
  • During the week of suspended classes (March 16 through March 20), faculty will be working to adapt learning materials to an alternative delivery format. 
  • The Office of Academic Affairs will provide information to faculty about moving courses to an alternative format.
  • Options for lab and performance-based courses are being reviewed and additional information will be provided. 

Campus Services 

Beginning Monday, March 16, there will be an adjustment to several campus services. For more information, visit https://go.eku.edu/covid19.
 

Commencement and Course Finals

We are hopeful that the aforementioned precautions will allow the University to observe regular commencement exercises in May. However, the potential risk and safety requirements of a public event of this size will be reviewed and taken into consideration before a final determination is made. Likewise, the current status of health advisories will determine if courses should resume in a face to face format. Regardless of delivery methods, faculty will administer final exams, the spring semester will be fully completed, and your academic progress will not be impaired.
 

Travel

Any University-sponsored international travel is now suspended. Individuals currently abroad will have direct advising from the Education Abroad office concerning their placement and return. The length of the suspension will depend on the pervasiveness and lifespan of the virus. 
University sponsored domestic travel is restricted to essential business travel. All university sponsored domestic travel will require VP approval. You are highly encouraged to evaluate personal and elective travel based on current travel advisories for areas with high risk and incidences of COVID-19 transmission. Visit the CDC website for the latest travel warnings.
Employees are highly encouraged to share any personal international travel plans with their supervisor.
  

University Employees

The health and safety of our employees will be balanced with the need to provide essential services to the University. Employees will observe regular work schedules as much as possible, beginning Monday, March 16. Employees should work with supervisors if adjusted work hours are required. We understand a portion of our employees might fall into populations that are considered at high risk for the illness and encourage anyone experiencing symptoms or potential exposure to COVID-19 to remain at home. EKU Human Resources will remain flexible with planning and options for employees who may be exposed or affected by the virus. Additionally, telecommuting and working remotely are options that must be arranged with your supervisor.. Departments are encouraged to be mindful of social distancing recommendations and consider limiting large staff meetings and/or scheduling them virtually through teleconference and webinar systems. 
Student employees should contact their supervisor to make arrangements about work schedules and expected responsibilities.
 
For more information about employment, contact Myra Thomas (student employment) or Jessica Ehrhart for employee questions.
 

Events

We are evaluating ways to mitigate potential transmission while still being able to offer limited campus activities. However, we ask that you weigh the benefit versus the risk carried by the event. Also, look at the possibility of rescheduling events to a later date in the semester or providing them virtually as a teleconference or webinar, if possible. Events with 50 or more attendees should be postponed or canceled. If there is an essential business purpose for the event, a waiver must be granted through the unit VP. If opting to obtain a waiver, thorough consideration will be given prior to approval.   
 
Additional information concerning events will be available on https://go.eku.edu/covid19
soon. 
 

Reporting and Prevention

To keep our campus community safe, in case of illness, students should contact the Dean of Students and employees should contact their supervisor and Human Resources immediately if there is a need to be excused from class assignments or work related to COVID-19 illness. 
 
Additionally, you should notify EKU of potential travel or exposure that would put you at risk for COVID-19 transmission. Please use this webform for self-reporting to allow the University to keep a record and monitor any potential risks of exposure. You should report if:
  • You or someone you are/have been in close contact with has traveled to a country or region with a Level 3 Travel Health Notice
  • You or someone you are/have been in close contact with has been diagnosed with the coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • You or someone you are/have been in close contact with has been identified and/or quarantined as a “person under investigation” for the coronavirus (COVID-19) 
If you are experiencing any symptoms of coronavirus (fever, cough, shortness of breath), contact your preferred medical provider*. 
 
*Unless you are experiencing a medical emergency, public health officials encourage anyone who is otherwise healthy to contact their health provider by phone first, before going to a medical facility for treatment.
 

Hygiene is the Best Medicine

The single and best primary defense on preventing the spread of illness is healthy hygiene. We can all practice this first-line of protection by:
 
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Practice social distancing and/or isolation when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
 

More Information

Please visit the COVID-19 web site to get the latest information from EKU. This website will be continually updated. We will communicate any updates and adjustments to EKU schedules or procedures as soon as possible and this website will be continually updated. The RAVE notification system will also be used to communicate any changes to University operations and class schedules. 
 
The Kentucky Department for Public Health has established a COVID-19 Hotline available at 1-800-722-5725 to answer questions and offer healthcare referrals. For up-to-date information on the status of Kentucky cases and health information, visit www.kycovid19.ky.gov.
 
I understand this is a lot of information to absorb, but we have a great deal of work to do. Our students, faculty and staff deserve our best efforts to provide a quality educational experience while maintaining safety. Our great University has met many challenges in the past. I do not doubt that, together, we will meet this one with courage and resolve. Whether remotely, online, or face to face, EKU will always be the school of opportunity and our sense of community will continue.
 
I ask for your patience, wisdom and guidance as we work through this public health situation together. We must be united, which requires tolerance, understanding, and a willingness to do what is right for our campus and community. We care about you and your families. We will communicate any updates and adjustments to EKU schedules or procedures as soon and often as possible. 
 
Thank you for all you do. 
David T. McFaddin
Interim President

Published on March 11, 2020

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