July 16th, 2020 - Message from President Markwood
As we near Stage 2 of our Return-to-Campus plan, which begins on Monday, July 20 as detailed below, please keep in mind that your safety, and the safety of our students and campus community, remains our top priority. We all share the responsibility of making our campus as safe as possible. Last night, Gov. Kemp announced the extension of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions until July 31 in response to the increase in confirmed cases across the state of Georgia.
Here are a couple of developments in our Return-to-Campus plan to keep you updated.
July 15: Face Covering Requirement Begins
Yesterday, CSU began implementing new face covering guidelines required of all USG institutions, which require all faculty, staff, students, service providers and visitors on campus to wear an appropriate face covering while inside our facilities/buildings where six-foot physical distancing may not always be possible. Face covering use will be in addition to and is not a substitute for physical distancing.
Anyone not using a face covering when required will be asked to wear one or must leave that area of the campus. Repeated refusal to comply with this requirement will result in disciplinary action through the applicable conduct code for students, and human resource guidelines for faculty and staff. Reasonable accommodations may be made for those who are unable to wear a face covering for documented health reasons.
Stage 1 employees received a mask when they returned to campus, so we are doing it again for Stage 2. Monday and Tuesday, from 7:30 a.m. until 10 a.m, both campuses will have a dedicated drive-through station where employees can pick up a face covering. On Main Campus, employees are asked to go to Parking Lot 5 (besides Plant Operations and Warehouse/Receiving), while employees at the RiverPark campus should go to the entrance to the RiverCenter to pick up their mask.
July 20: Stage 2 Return-to-Campus Begins
As things stand today, we will implement Stage 2 of our Return-to-Campus plan on Monday, July 20. In this stage, administrative staff and administrative faculty will begin rotating office staffing schedules (Monday/Wednesday/Friday or Tuesday/Thursday), while some functions as well as instructional faculty will continue to provide instruction 100% remotely. Not all employees will be back at the same time and all employees should wear masks when around others, remain six feet away from each other and practice other safety and social distancing protocols. Please coordinate with your supervisor or director for work schedules and additional details. Stage 2 is a small step and is NOT a return to what we once knew to be normal.
During this stage, on-campus office hours for faculty may be established with the approval of their college’s dean, and with full consideration of rotating schedules. Graduate students may resume prior research projects with appropriate safety precautions. Our Enrollment Services team may begin limited campus tours.
Our entire Return-to-Campus plan can be found online at https://www.columbusstate.edu/covid-response/, where you can also monitor future updates. The site includes information for faculty, staff, and students, as well as a section containing your most frequently asked questions. If you don’t see a question you want answered, please submit it through our portal at https://columbusstate.formstack.com/forms/returning_to_campus_ideas_and_questions.
With all of these changes, come fall, our campus will look very different from the CSU experience we are used to providing to our students. Classrooms, labs, and studios may have approximately 50% to 65% fewer occupied seats at any one time. Some functions will still remain remotely managed. Many faculty and staff members will have accommodations to work remotely, meetings will be held virtually, fewer people will be allowed in the Rankin Den and the dining hall. The campus will look different, feel different, and it will be different. Together, we will continue to navigate the challenges that COVID-19 presents to us, and we will adjust our policies and protocols as needed and as directed.
I know that you have concerns and questions about how we will create a healthy and safe campus environment, and how you can help. All should feel free to express those concerns, and any ideas, without concern for recrimination. Your voices are welcomed.
The Office of Human Resources continues to process accommodation requests. Though the initial date for request submissions has passed, know that accommodation requests may be submitted at any time.
Please keep in mind that our current Return-to-Campus plan has to remain flexible to adjust to guidelines from the CDC and the University System of Georgia. For that reason, and many others, we must leave room to adapt accordingly and in the best interest of everyone’s health and safety. Recall that while current USG guidance calls for a return to our mix of in-class, on-line, and hybrid courses in the fall, we are to prepare to be 100% online as well should the pandemic warrant.
We will continue to communicate the latest information, as well as any changes in our fall semester strategy, to you via email, our website, and social media so you can help us create the safest campus possible.
I appreciate your patience with the constant changes, and your commitment to creating a safe and productive educational environment.
Thanks for all you do for our students, our community, and each other.
President Chris Markwood