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K-State Today

June 26, 2020

An update from President Myers

Submitted by President Myers

Dear K-State Community:

As we move toward a return to our campuses this fall many of you are working diligently to prepare for what will certainly be a non-traditional semester. We’ve made many decisions and plans, many more will be required. I am proud of the tremendous efforts being made by people at all levels of our university.

As we witness the loosening of restrictions regarding the pandemic, we've seen an uptick in community spread of COVID-19. This is predictable, especially given continued sporadic compliance in our communities with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for physical distancing and wearing of masks. These two simple steps, combined with frequent hand washing and sanitation, have shown to help reduce the spread. Our communities need to fully embrace these practices for us to successfully return to our campuses.

Kansas State University is currently in Phase 3 of the university's reopening plan. This phased approach is based on several criteria and guiding principles, continued progress is dependent on the ability to follow safe practices. This week we announced that all members of the K-State Community will be required to wear face coverings, effective immediately. The new policy includes students, faculty, staff and visitors to our facilities and grounds.  We must remain vigilant in our efforts to keep ourselves and others safe. If we've learned anything during this pandemic, it's that the situation will continue to change.

Our public health experts at Lafene Health Center are working on an extensive public information campaign for students, faculty and staff, which will launch this summer. The campaign will include signage, training materials and a personal pledge to follow safe practices. Personal behaviors must adapt if we are to hope for a safe return to campus.

This week Provost Charles Taber and Cindy Bontrager, vice president and chief operations officer, outlined the process we are going through for classroom assessment and planning. This is a complex task and will take time as we structure the learning environment for the fall. Faculty are working diligently to find innovative ways to conduct teaching and learning, which will include face-to-face, hybrid/blended, and fully online methods. Our facilities team is working to install hand sanitizers and signage in our buildings. There will be more announced on these preparations in the coming weeks. 

Residence halls will be open on the Manhattan and Polytechnic campuses for the fall 2020 semester. There will be reduced housing density, a staggered move-in schedule, enhanced sanitation, and additional resident standards and protocols. On-campus dining centers will be modified for the fall 2020 semester and will include extra health and safety measures to accommodate social distancing. K-State Libraries are planning to open with limited services with Hale Library opening on July 1. The K-State Student Union recently announced it will reopen on Aug. 3.  

Other steps we are taking include the suspension of education abroad programs for the fall semester. Along with the adjustments to our academic calendar and commencement dates, we have already made significant changes to our operations. The decision has also been made to cancel the fall McCain Performance Series due to the need for physical distancing. The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art will remain closed to the public for the semester. The All-University Career Fair will also move to a virtual setting this fall. We’ll continue to keep folks posted as these decisions are made.

It's also important to understand the information flow for announcing COVID-19 cases on our campuses and in our communities. It is the responsibility of the local health departments to release any information concerning the spread of COVID-19. Information on positive tests and active cases on those who visit Lafene Health Center is reported to Riley County's health department, which then releases aggregate information for the community to local media. The university continues to abide by federal laws with regard to confidentiality of student, faculty and staff data.

We know there continue to be questions and have dedicated teams working to provide answers. One thing we can expect is that things will change before our anticipated fall start. Earlier this year I said that we will all need to show grace toward one another to get through this difficult period. This remains true as we strive to keep everyone healthy and move toward a safe restart of our campuses.

Richard B. Myers