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Columbus State University

July 31, 2020 - Message from President Markwood

"Thank you."

I considered a lot of words to begin my message today, but I believe sometimes we need to just pause and acknowledge the diligent efforts of our Return-to-Campus Task Force, and the collaborative efforts from all of our faculty and staff. Together, we have overcome unprecedented challenges.

As I was entering my downtown office this morning, I was greeted by a family beginning the move-in process. That encounter emphasized how quickly the beginning of the semester will be upon us.

For today's message, I want to focus on where we are in our progress on the last phases of Stage 2 of our Return-to-Campus plan. I also want to encourage those who may be hesitant about applying for accommodations.

Advancing Stage 2: Returning-to-Campus

As of today, we are in the last levels of Stage 2 of our plan and were planning to move to Stage 3 on Monday. However, given the current public health conditions in Columbus, I believe it is best that we remain in a modified Stage 2 - let's call it Stage 2.5. Administrative staff and administrative faculty will continue their rotating work schedules, and instruction will remain 100% online for the summer semester. Some functions will continue to be largely or entirely carried out remotely. This will help keep our campus density down. We will open the campus to faculty, coordinated through department chairs, so that they can prepare for the upcoming semester.

Not all employees will be back at the same time, and all employees must wear masks when around others, remain six feet away from each other, and practice other safety and physical distancing protocols. Please coordinate with your supervisor or director for work schedules and additional details.

You may have noticed too that our Enrollment Services team has started limited, single-family campus tours. We are also readying classrooms, residence halls and dining facilities for our students' return by employing our physical distancing protocols in these spaces.

Accommodation Update

I want to dispel the notion that requesting an accommodation is a sign of personal weakness or comes with it the potential to burden a coworker. It's vital that we all practice self-care during this time, and that means knowing when to ask for help or latitude when those provisions can be made.

Please pursue this option if the need for an accommodation would benefit you, your personal situation and your health. The process begins with the request found in My CSU under Faculty and Staff-Forms-Human Resources, or just click here. Please contact Venus Frank if you have any questions, frank_venus@columbusstate.edu.

Our faculty and staff should also encourage students who have similar challenges to pursue the accommodations support option through our Center for Accommodation and Access.

A "Slightly Different" Welcome Week

Beginning a "lightly different" fall semester means events like our annual Welcome Week for employees will be different too. As we move our Aug. 10-14 event online, my compliments to Provost Deborah Bordelon and the Welcome Week Committee for investigating topics and ways to keep us engaged. Small breakout sessions and workshops, and even a virtual yoga and mindfulness session, will help bring a sense of community to the start of the fall semester.

You can see how our schedule of events is shaping up by visiting https://aa.columbusstate.edu/welcome-week/, and look for a way to register online next week.

More Information to Come

Our fall semester is right around the corner, and as we continue our progress through Stage 2.5, we are committed to addressing your concerns. Together, we are working to provide the most productive learning environment, while staying safe. Please continue to do your part, by remembering to wear your mask if you are on campus (or anytime you find yourself in public), as well as practicing physical distancing and rigorous hand-washing.

We will continue to share information with you by email and online, so you remain up to date on our plans, and your role in protecting yourself and others. 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.

Thanks for all you do for our students, our community, and each other.

President Chris Markwood