FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Purdue University Fort Wayne on Friday announced its plans for the upcoming fall semester in light of coronavirus concerns. Chancellor Ronald L. Elsenbaumer gave details in an update to faculty, staff and students. He also announced that effective immediately and until further notice face masks are to be worn by everyone on campus, in every building.
Elsenbaumer indicated he’s confident the campus can be open for in-person instruction and the university is not planning any changes to the academic calendar with classes scheduled to begin August 24 with decisions on the spring semester expected at a later date.
“Please be assured that the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff is our top priority and continues to guide our decision-making as we plan intensively for the fall semester. We are guided by best practices and recommended protocols from the CDC and other public health officials,” stated Elsenbaumer.
He indicated the decision was based on extensive discussions, research and best practices being implemented in the Purdue University system.
A Scenario Planning Committee was established in early May that included 22 internal task forces composed of 140 faculty and staff tasked with analyzing every aspect of the various scenarios that might be encountered during the upcoming academic year. As that process was wrapping up in early June and based on the committee’s initial findings, reporting, and recommendations. the PFW Prepared Committee was created. PFW Prepared, which reports regularly to the executive leadership team, is charged with serving as a working group to address all aspects of the physical preparation of campus as the fall semester approaches.
The following information details steps being taken:
ACADEMICS AND INSTRUCTION
Academic Calendar. The university is not planning any changes to the academic calendar. Classes will begin on August 24, and the rest of the fall semester will proceed as scheduled. Decisions about spring semester will be made at a later date.
Instruction. We are not planning any substantive changes to class schedules, although there will be mixed modalities for some classes/sections. For some classes, faculty members may be teaching classes in hybrid scenarios that involve a mix of in-person and online classes. Labs, studios, and field work will be conducted in modified in-person settings with students. Some classes may be moved to larger classrooms, to other locations on campus, or partially or fully online to accommodate more students and reduce density in classrooms.
Classrooms and Labs. We are undertaking a comprehensive approach to preparing classrooms and labs to maintain social distancing, provide protective barriers, decrease density, and provide enhanced cleaning and sanitization. This includes reconfiguring classrooms and strictly limiting the number of seats based on the size of each room. Classrooms will be cleaned and sanitized at least twice daily, and clear protective partitions will be installed in the front of all classrooms. Additional measures and procedures are being developed to control traffic flow in and out of classrooms and between classes.
PERSONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH
Face Masks. To help ensure the safety of all students, faculty, and staff, the university is requiring face masks to be worn by everyone on campus, in every building, effective immediately and until further notice. The university has ordered 23,000 cloth masks that will be distributed free of charge to all students, faculty, and staff (two per person). As a good practice, masks should be worn in other high-density locations, such as in gatherings outside or transitioning in crowds to other buildings on campus.
Social Distancing. Social distancing has become the norm, and we will continue to adhere to now-commonplace practices for distancing. Floor decals will help denote spacing in some public areas. Signage is being placed around campus with reminders for social distancing and hygiene.
Pedestrian Traffic. The university is developing a comprehensive plan for pedestrian movement, both inside and outside campus buildings and facilities. This includes adding clearly marked entrances and exits to buildings, as well as implementing changes to traffic patterns for hallways, stairwells, elevators, and sidewalks.
Personal Protective Equipment. A 90-day supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) is being assembled. These items are separate from PPE used by departments as part of the normally required PPE used in the routine operations of labs and clinics. Shipments of items like gowns, nitrile gloves, surgical masks, safety glasses, safety goggles, face shields, hand sanitizer, and decontamination foggers are arriving on campus daily.
Hand Sanitizer. Hand sanitizer stations, sanitizing wipes, and other disinfecting supplies will be located in all classrooms and throughout campus buildings.
Handwashing. The university strongly encourages frequent handwashing by all members of the campus community. While the CDC notes that touching a surface or object that has the virus on it is not the main way the virus spreads, good hand hygiene, including not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands, is an essential protective measure that each person should follow.
AIR QUALITY, CLEANING, AND SANITIZATION PROTOCOLS
Air Quality. Air handling units in all buildings have been undergoing inspections and upgrades, and will now be running 24/7 in order to provide maximum air circulation, air balance, and room air exchanges (six to 15 exchanges per hour). Air filters are being significantly upgraded with the highest-rated filters possible. Some filter units are being replaced with units with high-efficiency capacity.
Deep-Cleaning and Sanitization. The university has been implementing enhanced cleaning and sanitization protocols everywhere. While most faculty and staff have been working remotely since March, campus cleaning crews have been deep-cleaning classrooms, offices, computer labs, public areas, restrooms, etc. Enhanced sanitization protocols are in place and will increase as more people begin returning to campus.
CAMPUS FACILITIES, SERVICES, AND EVENTS
Buildings. All campus buildings will be open, effective August 3. Many buildings on campus will continue to have restricted access through July 31, except for those being utilized for limited purposes for the second summer session, which begins on June 29.
Student Housing. Campus Housing is currently open with some students in residence over the summer. We continue to accept students for fall. Due to the high demand for housing, students are encouraged to act soon to secure a spot. All housing is apartment style and affords adherence to distancing standards and recommendations. There are no traditional dormitory-style rooms in housing.
Helmke Library. Helmke Library will reopen on July 1. We are taking measures to reduce the density of people throughout the library, including the Skybridge.
Common Areas. There will be limitations on usage of lounges, lobbies, dining areas, and recreational facilities in all buildings. This will be accomplished by removing or reconfiguring furniture, adjusting hours of operation, and restricting or limiting use where appropriate.
Dining. Campus dining venues will reopen on August 3, with only grab-and-go options planned through the fall semester. Additional specifics and information on catering will be forthcoming.
Campus Meetings. Business meetings and gatherings on campus will be limited to 25 people or fewer, with adherence to appropriate social distancing and health and safety protocols. Virtual meetings are strongly encouraged through December 31.
Campus Events. In order to provide intensive focus on students and the academic mission, external rentals and large-scale community events on campus are canceled or postponed through December 31. This will free up auditoriums, ballrooms, and other spaces for possible classroom use and will dramatically decrease the density of people on campus. Visitors will be allowed on campus on a limited basis for meetings and gatherings not to exceed 25 people and subject to enhanced health and safety and contact tracing protocols. Student Affairs events and programming for students are exempt from this limitation and will proceed with enhanced health and safety protocols with appropriate oversight. Athletics competitions and activities are an exception and will abide by NCAA and Horizon League directives and protocols.