ACU Fall Plan

Abilene Christian University is committed to the safe return to campus of our students, faculty and staff in Fall 2020. Significant planning has gone into protecting the health and well-being of our community so we may provide an enjoyable and fulfilling on-campus experience.

Masks and general safety protocols

Face masks will be required in all indoor spaces unless alone in a private office. Face masks will also be required outdoors when social distancing is not possible. If an individual cannot wear a face mask, a face shield should be worn. Roommates in residence halls are not required to wear face masks or shields in their private living space.

To promote a more positive classroom environment, our team will strategically locate air purifiers to increase air filtration and airflow within certain instructional spaces. Some instructional spaces will also be outfitted with Plexiglas shields on podiums, and between musicians/actors and their instructors, so students can make presentations and sing without a traditional face covering. These are among the custom-built solutions we’ll employ to fit the variety of academic disciplines on our campus.

We will provide enhanced sanitization efforts, resources for health screenings, access to personal protective equipment, and workplace and classroom wellness guidance. The addition of these new protocols, along with heightened attention to personal hygiene and self-care, means we will all be doing our part to protect our community.

Reasonable accommodations may be requested by students, faculty and staff and determined on a case-by-case basis. As a general rule, a face shield is an acceptable accommodation to a face mask.

Instruction

In Fall 2020, more than 78% of ACU classes will be taught face to face; about 8% will be online to alleviate pressure on classroom spaces and to accommodate faculty who have specific health concerns; and 14% will be independent study and internships. Classroom spaces will be configured so students are 6 feet from each other and at least 10 feet from the instructor. Face coverings or shields are required in all classrooms. The time period between classes has been increased from 10 to 20 minutes to allow time for cleaning each classroom after use.

Unless a health and safety situation requires a course to move temporarily to remote instruction, courses that are scheduled as face to face will meet at the assigned times and places from Aug. 24 thru Nov. 24, at which point all courses will shift to remote or online instruction for the last week of classes and finals. The semester will conclude as scheduled Dec. 11.

If an instructor or student illness requires isolation for an individual or those exposed, or if the COVID-19 situation worsens and requires a broader shift to remote instruction, faculty will be able to use the robust online course materials they are building this summer to pivot quickly.

  • If students are exposed and instructed to quarantine, each of their instructors is alerted and the quarantined students participate in each of their classes remotely for the quarantine period.
  • If an entire class is exposed and instructed to quarantine, the class shifts to remote instruction for the quarantine period.
  • If an instructor is exposed and instructed to quarantine, all of their classes shift to remote instruction for the quarantine period.
  • If a student tests positive for COVID-19 and has mild or no symptoms, they must attend their classes remotely while they are isolated.
  • If a student tests positive for COVID-19 and has severe symptoms, the SOAR (Student Opportunities, Advocacy and Resources) team will help the student communicate with their instructors until the student has recovered to the point they can resume remote or face-to-face teaching.
  • If an instructor tests positive for COVID-19 and has mild or no symptoms, they must teach their classes remotely while they are isolated.
  • If an instructor tests positive for COVID-19 and has severe symptoms, the department chair will identify qualified instructors to manage the instructor’s courses until they have recovered to the point they can resume remote or face-to-face teaching.

Testing

ACU will provide voluntary COVID-19 PCR testing free of charge to faculty, staff and students. Our plan is to:

  • Provide testing for any faculty, staff and students who request it
  • Provide regularly scheduled testing days throughout the fall semester
  • Provide testing for all student-athletes, coaches and Athletics staff as they return to campus
  • Provide tests for symptomatic members of the ACU community
  • Provide testing for all close contacts of all positive cases
  • Surveillance testing: Be prepared to deploy testing to specific communities based on exposure (i.e., a few student-athletes or a team per month, a floor in a residence hall, a social organization, etc.)
  • Contact tracing will be conducted by ACU staff who have been certified by Johns Hopkins University. These individuals will augment the local health department’s contact tracing and will help centralize the information and coordination involved with allowing individuals to be contacted quickly so proper steps can be taken to investigate, notify and isolate when necessary.

Isolation/Quarantine

ACU will require members of the community who test positive to isolate and those who have been exposed to quarantine in accordance with CDC guidelines or local health department instructions. Care coordinators will be assigned to each person.

Students will be encouraged to return home to isolate/quarantine as a first option. For those who need to remain in Abilene, Residence Life has reserved rooms for this purpose.

Medical and Mental Health Care

ACU is committed to making the return to campus as safe as possible by providing students, faculty and staff with resources to promote their health. We will continue working tirelessly to fine-tune our cleanliness and hygiene protocols. The ACU Medical and Counseling Care Center, along with Wildcat Care, are available to assist you with medical and mental health needs. Now more than ever, telehealth is an excellent resource, allowing you to stay healthy, talk with a provider 24/7 and greatly limit your exposure to COVID-19. Many medical concerns, such as a cold, sinus infection, rash, nausea, etc., can be discussed via telehealth. In addition to providing in-person care for your medical needs, the ACU Medical Clinic can provide COVID-19 testing with same-day results.

If you experience symptoms related to COVID-19 while on campus, please use our Coronavirus Screening Tool by visiting Wildcat Care and clicking the button at the top of the page. If you are experiencing emotional distress, you can discuss your feelings and concerns with a mental health provider through Wildcat Care as well.

If you experience symptoms related to COVID-19 while on campus, please use our Coronavirus Screening Tool by visiting Wildcat Care and clicking the button at the top of the page. You can discuss your feelings and concerns with a mental health provider through Wildcat Care as well.

International Students and Scholars

ACU is committed to supporting our international students and scholars. You are valuable members of our community, and we will assist you in every way possible. Information for new and current (returning) international students and scholars for Fall 2020 can be found at acu.edu/international-education. This information is based on the most recent guidance received from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and will be updated regularly. If you have other questions or unique circumstances to discuss, please email lucy.dawson@acu.edu in our Office of International Students and Visiting Scholars.

Student Life/group events

Student Life has assembled a subcommittee composed of various constituents across campus to oversee and approve all student activities and events during Fall 2020, including student organization gatherings/meetings and rushing and pledging activities for social clubs. A more centralized approval process will assist in verifying that student organizations have gone through appropriate channels to reserve space and are aware of relevant health and safety guidance. When appropriate safety and social distancing protocols can be followed, we intend to approve events.

Whether intramural sports can continue this fall remains unanswered. We will make a decision prior to the start of the semester.

We have suspended Chapel gatherings in Moody Coliseum for the fall semester. Instead, students will participate in small-group Chapels carefully organized around appropriate safety and distancing protocols. These small groups will be managed by the Student Life Chapel office and will meet weekly.

Other university events

The University Events team formed a committee with representatives from Athletics, Student Life, Academics and Advancement to oversee and approve all events on campus. This committee will help ensure all events are approved and will follow specific protocols and guidelines according to the current standards. All activity will be monitored through a software system to assist us in the oversight of maintaining a safe and healthy environment on campus.

Current COVID-19 Information

As of August 12, 2020

ACU senior leadership is continually monitoring the rapidly changing global threat posed by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). At ACU, our top priority has been – and will always be – the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff.

We have initiated the following actions:

  • Commencement will be celebrated the weekend of Aug. 7-8 in three ceremonies. Live streaming options are available for each ceremony.
  • On-campus learning is scheduled to resume in the fall, beginning Aug. 24. Fall Break will be canceled and classes will move online after Nov. 24. There will be one week of online-only instruction, followed by final exams, with the semester concluding as scheduled Dec. 11.
  • Effective July 2, 2020, face masks are required to be worn by all individuals (faculty, staff, students and visitors) in all indoor spaces on campus and outdoors when physical distancing is not possible.
  • Effective July 2, 2020: Texas Governor’s Executive Order establishes statewide face covering requirement in most counties.
  • Employee and supervisor notification procedures have been established regarding potential or diagnosed positive tests for COVID-19.
  • Phase III of the Abilene campus return for faculty and staff began July 15.

Current COVID-19 Cases