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Recover Update

Posted by:
May 29, 2020

To: Staff and Faculty
From: Office of the President

Dear PLU faculty and staff,

As we conclude the spring semester, we remain grateful for all the patience and dedication our community has shown during this difficult time. Taking a moment to celebrate our PLU graduates this weekend—albeit in some unconventional ways—gave us a much-needed and joyful break.

We are writing today to update you on our plans for the months ahead. Our plan, based on modeling and indications from public-health agencies, is to return to in-person learning for the fall term with the appropriate and necessary health and safety measures in place. (Any changes to Summer Term II will be communicated separately in the days ahead.)

Planning Structure
The PLU Recovery Planning Team, tasked with spearheading our efforts to return safely to campus, has assigned subgroups to focus on more detailed operational elements. Serving with me on the Recovery Planning Team are:

  • Joanna Gregson, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
  • Joanna Royce-Davis, Vice President for Student Life
  • Teri Phillips, Chief Operating Officer
  • Lace Smith, Associate Vice President for Marketing & Communications
  • Elizabeth Hopper, Director of the Health Center
  • Shawn Thompson, Assistant Director for Campus Emergency Programs

Across campus, divisions have formed collaborative working groups.

  • Academic Affairs. Provost Gregson established the Academic Division’s COVID-19 Response Task Force to develop recommendations for the fall, on topics ranging from classroom logistics and curriculum delivery to educational policies. This group is comprised of members of the Provost’s Academic Council and representatives from faculty governance.
  • Student Life. Vice President Royce-Davis called together a COVID-19 Fall and Future Planning group that is now working on detailed plans associated with caring for the safety and well-being of students in co-curricular contexts, including residential spaces, campus restaurants, athletics and recreation programs, and orientation. This group is also ensuring that resources needed for student success—relating to basic needs, health and mental health, connection, and engagement—are accessible in a variety of formats that support equitable access by students.
  • Administrative Services. Chief Operating Officer Phillips pulled together working groups for solidifying cleaning protocols across campus spaces, making recommendations for a campus-wide health attestation and developing a safe-return-to-campus policy and practices that will inform our return.

All of these groups are working in close alignment. The expanded Coronavirus and Campus Updates website will provide updates on these efforts this summer.

Forthcoming Guide
While much remains uncertain about how college campuses everywhere will need to adapt in the months ahead, the health and well-being of our community remains our top priority, and we will need to work together to ensure everyone’s safety.

We are preparing to move ahead with Governor Inslee’s Washington State Phased Approach to reopen. In anticipation of this phased reopening, our Recovery Planning Team is developing a set of core responsibilities and guiding principles that will inform our return-to-campus strategy and approach. This guide will be released no later than June 12th.

Because these plans will depend on cooperation from all of us, they will include expectations for full participation and adherence to safety policies, inclusive of:

  • Physical distancing
  • The use of masks and face coverings when indoors and when physical distancing is not otherwise possible, including in certain outdoor spaces
  • An emphasis on workplace sanitation and personal-hygiene practices
  • Consistent health monitoring and frequent communication
  • Select training in updated cleaning protocols
  • A commitment to the protection of vulnerable members of our community

Phased Return to Campus
Our return to on-campus activity, though urgently desired by many of us, must be accomplished in a manner that prioritizes the safety of our community and region. We will be minimizing our on-campus population density as much as possible while we reopen in the coming months, and insisting that you only come to campus when your department or unit permits. For many of you, that will mean continuing to work remotely after campus officially reopens.

Within Phase 1, our current reopening phase, only those faculty and staff whose onsite presence is required are allowed to be on campus.

The next stage of our reopening plan will begin when Pierce County moves into Phase 2. At PLU, this will first entail reactivating Admission and Student Financial Services, implementing the best practices outlined above and staggered on-campus work schedules. Individual employees from other units may also be approved to return to campus if their presence is required to prepare for the reintroduction of faculty/staff in later phases, or for the return of students in the fall. You will be contacted by your school, unit, or program leadership when your unit is approved to return to campus. Until that occurs, we expect that you will continue to work remotely.

Note: Pierce County will be allowed to move into Phase 2 when the county has no more than 90 new COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period. Numbers are released daily on the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department website before 2 p.m. Metrics have not yet been established for movement into Phases 3 and 4.

Future Updates
Our policies and guidelines will continue to evolve as the situation around us develops, and the significant planning that remains to be done will include continued engagement and updates. The Recovery Planning Team will provide monthly updates as we plan for fall, and will work with supervisors to give employees as much individual guidance and advanced notice as possible when it is time to prepare for their return to campus.

Whether we are called back to campus during Phase 1, 2, 3, or 4, we are all responsible for protecting the community’s health. We appreciate your understanding and flexibility as we work to collectively care for the well-being of our Lute community and of our neighbors.

In community,