Marshall unveils return-to-campus comprehensive guide

Staff Report

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The Marshall University Board of Governors on Thursday approved a comprehensive guide that will steer the university into the fall academic term and beyond.

The Return-to-Campus plan addresses all aspects of returning to on-site instruction during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, from academics and residence halls to students and employees, as well as testing protocols and health concerns.

“The recommendations outlined in this document were developed using the most current science and public health information we have,” said Marshall University President Jerome A. Gilbert, Ph.D. “Our highest priority remains the safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors, and every single decision and guidance in the plan is predicated on that goal. In addition, we must remain ready to adapt and be flexible as they are keys to our success this fall.”

The university is implementing a revised academic plan that features a mix of face-to-face classes, online classes and hybrid settings. The university’s academic calendar also has been adjusted to minimize travel to and from campus once the fall and spring semesters begin, while maintaining the required number of instructional days. Classes are scheduled to begin August 24 with students completing the semester online after the Thanksgiving break.

“Every decision made during this process was executed with our Marshall family in mind,” said Tracy B. Smith, director of environmental health and safety. “We have put in place a number of new policies and procedures all geared toward creating the best possible, safest environment for the university.”

Marshall employees began returning to work on campus in early June on a three-phased schedule. The last phase of staff is expected back July 6, with most nine-month faculty members returning in August.

Some highlights of the plan include:

· All employees and students will be provided a Return-to-Campus kit containing face coverings and hand sanitizer. Students and employees will be required to wear face coverings while inside all university buildings, except for when alone in a personal workspace.

· Regular self-administered health checks will be required for students and employees via an app, which will be introduced in the coming weeks.

· High-risk populations will be accommodated as possible.

· All faculty, staff and students will be required to complete an online education module.

· COVID-19 testing will be conducted on all international students, student-athletes, students from out-of-state hotspots and all residence hall students upon their return to campus. Additional surveillance testing of students, faculty and staff also will be done.

· The university will provide educational and awareness signage throughout the main corridors of all buildings.

· Updated protocols for cleaning and sanitizing all university buildings have been adopted based on standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, using Environmental Protection Agency-approved products that are effective against the COVID-19 virus.

Additional restart plans are being phased in at university affiliates, including Marshall Health, the clinical enterprise, research and athletics.

The university has scheduled virtual Town Hall meetings via Microsoft Teams for members of the Marshall University community to share the Return-to-Campus plan in more detail. The schedule of these meetings is as follows:

· Staff – 3 p.m., Tuesday, July 7

· Parents – 6 p.m., Tuesday, July 14

· Students – 2 p.m., Thursday, July 16

· Faculty – 2 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 11

Complete details on how to register are available on the university’s coronavirus update page.

Information provided by Marshall University.

Staff Report