May 7, 2021
An update on summer and fall planning for full reopening
Dear K-State Community:
In February, we announced the move to phaseout of the university's reopening plan, beginning Aug. 1. We continue to see low numbers of new cases and wide availability of vaccines in our state and region. These are encouraging signs and will allow us to have a largely in-person fall semester.
Understandably, there are many questions about what it means to move to phaseout. Today, I am writing to address a few of those questions. Following is a list of the changes and updates we want to highlight:
- An important part of offering an in-person semester is the successful return of our employees to our campuses. Beginning Aug. 1, we are removing all guidance to de-densify our spaces. This means our employees will be able to return to our campuses and we can prepare to fully support the in-person student experience we are offering this fall.
I have asked each vice president and academic dean to work within their units to make plans and to communicate those plans and expectations to all employees. Unit leaders can determine the best way to bring everyone back through a phased return between Aug. 1 and Aug. 30. Consideration should be given to health and safety and high-risk employees who cannot return to in-person work. Human Capital Services is available to provide support for supervisors and employees with questions.
On March 31, Provost Taber and Vice President Stephens announced efforts to develop an updated remote work policy to replace the current telecommuting policy, PPM 4045. We are asking all employees to return as we transition back to normal university operations and welcome students back to our campuses. We anticipate finalizing the new remote work policy with training and rollout in the fall.
- Effective May 17, current restrictions on university-related or sponsored out-of-state travel or international travel will be lifted. All travel must be in compliance with KDHE travel/exposure-related isolation and quarantine requirements. Travelers should also be aware of U.S. Department of State travel advisories and CDC travel alerts. Travelers are responsible for unexpected or additional travel expenses, including quarantine costs. Additional details are available on the COVID-19 travel and transit page.
- Effective May 17, classrooms and other learning spaces will no longer be required to be disinfected with each occupancy change. Disinfecting supplies will still be available in classrooms to use as needed. Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols will remain in place for frequently touched surfaces at entrances/exits, restrooms, elevators, and other common spaces. Enhanced cleaning and disinfection services are still available for shared spaces occupied by someone who tests positive for COVID-19 or has COVID-19 symptoms.
- Water fountain and water bottle refilling stations will be back in service. The reactivation process will begin on May 17 and take approximately two weeks.
- The requirement for physical distancing in classrooms and other learning spaces will be lifted for the fall. Facilities is working on a plan to reset classrooms and will make the necessary changes over the summer.
- The university continues to encourage all employees and students to get vaccinated. While the vaccine provides a measure of protections, including reducing the symptoms and severity of illness for those vaccinated, questions remain about whether vaccinated individuals can still spread the virus. All members of the K-State community, including those who have been vaccinated, must continue to follow any remaining university COVID-19 safety protocols in place for the fall semester, such as wearing a mask.
The university is developing a secure method to collect vaccination information to inform additional changes to health and wellness protocols. This information will help inform whether the university's face covering requirement will remain in effect, the amount of necessary quarantine and isolation space in the residence halls, and the university's testing strategy. As a reminder, vaccination status is protected health information. Supervisors must not ask for or collect this information.
- Face coverings are still required. The university is reviewing current policy, given Riley County has lifted the mask mandate effective May 2 and changes to the CDC guidance regarding outdoor masking for vaccinated individuals when alone or in small groups.
- The gathering limit remains at 50. After Aug. 1, the university will lift all gathering size limits. The university will return to pre-pandemic processes for approving events and activities, including facilities use forms.
A team is working to update additional university guidance on the COVID-19 website as well as training resources to facilitate a successful phaseout. In the meantime, we must continue to protect our communities by each of us doing our part to battle COVID-19. Monitor your health and stay home if you experience symptoms. Utilize testing, get vaccinated, wash your hands frequently, and keep your distance. Most importantly, continue to wear a face covering.
We have worked together to meet a historic crisis. Much work remains as we come together to reset our university following more than a year of COVID-related restrictions. Your patience and support are much appreciated as we emerge stronger than ever.
Richard B. Myers