Letter from Chancellor Robinson: Fall 2020 Operation
Dear Ram Family,
I hope that you and your family are well despite the current challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. I know these are difficult times for many of the Ram Family; however, I am encouraged by the resilience, positivity, and determination of our campus community amidst these complications. Navigating these uncertain times requires thoughtful planning, and I am grateful to the many people who have come together to determine the next steps for Winston-Salem State University.
As we look to Fall 2020, all of our efforts are guided by the prioritization of the health and well-being of the Ram Family. We are working diligently on contingency planning and are developing practices and protocols regarding social distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE) utilization, classroom configuration, and cleaning and disinfection. Our plans are designed to be flexible and responsive to whatever the future weeks and months hold. We know there will continue to be challenges. As we look ahead, it will be critically important for every member of the Ram Family to do her or his part to help keep our community safe.
I am pleased to share that a cross-campus working group has designed a flexible, in-person Fall 2020 experience designed to keep the Ram Family safe while moving our community forward. Based on guidance from public health professionals and the UNC System; faculty, staff, and student feedback; and recommendations from campus working groups, WSSU will have a revised schedule for Fall 2020.
Fall Semester Dates
- We will begin the 2020-21 academic year on August 17, one week earlier than originally scheduled.
- The last day of in-person instruction will be November 20.
- Final exams for most courses will be given online between November 23-December 2.
- We will forgo fall break (October 12-13) in order to complete the in-person portion of the semester before Thanksgiving.
- Students will be encouraged not to return to campus after the Thanksgiving holiday unless they are in an internship or a similar course that requires the completion of specific hours that cannot be finalized before Thanksgiving.
Current projections predict that our nation and state could face a second wave of Covid-19 in late fall; this guidance led us to start and finish the semester early in an effort to try to stay ahead of a potential second wave. To accomplish the instructional hours required by our accrediting body while ensuring safe transitions between classes, classes will be scheduled between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Friday. A 20-minute “passing time” will be implemented between classes.
Return to Work
The return to work for our faculty and staff will be phased gradually with a focus on ensuring appropriate physical distancing, cleaning and sanitizing of workspaces, and availability of personal protective equipment for on-campus employees. In the coming weeks, administrators and supervisors will be communicating the plan for this phased return. Employees can expect staggered work schedules, reconfigured workstations, remote work, and other accommodations to limit density on campus and maximize safety. Most of the WSSU workforce will continue working remotely for the immediate future. More details will be coming soon.
Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfection
As employees return to campus, routine cleaning and sanitizing will be performed continuously throughout the day with special focus on high-touch areas on campus like doorknobs, water fountains, hand rails, and elevator buttons. Employees will also have access to cleaning supplies to disinfect common areas, such as break and work rooms, throughout the day.
Community Standards for Health and Safety
We are ramping up our community standards to promote a safe and healthy environment to teach, learn, work, and live. In alignment with federal, state, and local guidance, we will be asking the campus community to wash your hands often, use hand sanitizer, maintain clean spaces, and wear appropriate face coverings/masks, among other best practices. We will be posting signs in campus buildings with these important reminders.
Social Distancing Parameters
Social distancing is an important factor in resuming normal operations, especially while waiting for an effective antiviral, treatment, or vaccine for Covid-19. This summer, the university will reconfigure buildings, classrooms, and meeting room spaces to allow for appropriate social distancing. Our goal is to ensure the safest possible environment for our campus community.
In addition to instructional spaces, dining services, research labs, and recreational spaces will also be evaluated and reconfigured to integrate social distancing measures to protect students, faculty, and staff.
In the coming weeks, I will continue to keep you informed about additional details regarding our plans. Please also continue to monitor WSSU’s Covid-19 response website and our Roadmap to Fall 2020 website for the latest information.
We may not have all the answers at the moment, and we know the situation will continue to shift and evolve. Come August, it is our intention to return—stronger than ever—ready to resume teaching, learning, and serving together. I look forward to seeing you on campus soon.
Elwood L. Robinson, Ph.D.