May 28, 2020 – Email to faculty about the fall semester

Good morning faculty, 

Congratulations and thank you again for an impressive shift to online instruction in the spring and summer. The cycle of the academic year is familiar even during this time of continued uncertainty, and as you turn your minds to next semester, I want to update you on how plans are shaping up for fall. 

ACU’s fall semester will proceed as scheduled, with classes beginning August 24 and concluding December 11.

As you know, three teams have been working diligently to ensure we are able to safely resume instruction on campus this fall. The teams are finalizing their recommendations in the next few weeks, and we will continue to evaluate our next steps as the landscape changes.

The teams are preliminarily recommending significant face-to-face components in most fall classes. We are focused on prioritizing in-person labs, clinicals, studios and first-year classes, and on creating a robust online learning environment for each course that is nimble enough to move online temporarily (if a faculty member or student illness requires isolation for an individual or those exposed), or if the situation worsens and requires a broader shift to online delivery. 

The teams also have developed protocols for COVID-19 testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine, as well as social distancing, cleaning and sanitization. For instance:

  • We have secured access to a significant number of COVID-19 tests and will complete systematic and routine testing to keep our campus community safe. Those living in residence halls will be given first priority for testing.
  • We have increased cleaning protocols for high-volume touchpoints (door handles, table/desktops, light switches, etc.), including common-area restrooms, to further mitigate risks of COVID-19. We use an EPA-registered, healthcare-rated disinfectant to clean and disinfect campus buildings, including athletic and residence life facilities. 
  • Select ACU staff are being trained as certified contact tracers so we can identify anyone who may have been exposed to the virus.
  • We will provide face masks to students, faculty and staff.
  • We will have designated space to immediately isolate and quarantine anyone who tests positive for COVID-19.
  • We are adjusting class meeting times to avoid hallway congestion and allow ample time to clean and disinfect each room regularly between classes. 
  • We are changing the configuration of some existing classrooms - and identifying spaces previously not used as classrooms - to increase social distancing.
  • We will be reducing many in-person class meeting sizes.
  • We will provide grab-and-go meals at The Bean, suspend self-service options, and provide appropriate social distancing for dining room seating.
  • We will provide traditional double occupancy rooms to preserve separate living spaces for possible isolation and quarantine should that become necessary.
  • At this point, we have made the decision to suspend our large Chapel gathering this fall and hold small group Chapels instead, so students can be socially distanced. These will be staggered to avoid the post-Chapel congregation of students at The Bean. 

As you make plans for fall, building robust Canvas courses now will help you prepare to shift to different modalities. The next Canvas Boot Camp hosted by the Adams Center for Teaching and Learning begins June 8. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP here

You may have seen the email from Human Resources regarding the Return to Campus Plan. I encourage you to read the plan if you haven’t already. The protocols and guidance in it are designed to promote a safe and healthy phased return to work on campus throughout the summer.

Blessings on your summer and your preparation for fall. 

Robert Rhodes