The University of Evansville is preparing for students to return to campus in August for face-to-face classes this fall. The semester is scheduled to begin on Monday, August 17, nine days earlier than originally planned. Social distancing and protective measures will be in place to ensure the health and safety of students and employees.
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the fall semester, including final exams, will end prior to Thanksgiving Break. Students will not return to campus until January for the spring 2021 semester. The earlier start-date will accommodate for a shortened semester that advances the public health of students, faculty, staff, and the Evansville community.
“This fall will look different for our campus community, but we are fully committed to providing the complete higher education experience for our new and returning students,” said President Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz. “Our plans recognize the importance of face-to-face learning and campus activities while focusing on the health and safety of each individual.”
UE is moving forward with its reopening plans following guidance from the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and a campus-based COVID-19 Healthcare Task Force. Due to the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University is prepared to adjust plans at any point throughout the remainder of the year.
To prepare for the return of students, UE employees are using the summer months to establish protocols and prepare all aspects of campus for the safe return of students. This includes setting guidelines and policies for cleaning, social distancing, PPE and other supplies, course scheduling, set-up of physical spaces, guidelines for events, food service, and more.
A phased approach will be implemented for moving into residence halls. Details regarding the move-in dates and schedule will be communicated directly to students.
Employees and students will be required to wear masks or face coverings while on campus and inside buildings. All students and employees will be provided with a mask or face covering when they return in August. Signage will be posted throughout the campus to educate students on proper social distancing and required personal protective equipment.
The dining hall will make several adjustments to food serving and seating to follow recommended practices for community dining. UE will encourage carry-out options and increase the utilization of sustainable, disposable products. Self-service stations will be eliminated, and protective barriers will be installed at all points of service. All food service lines will be clearly marked for proper social distancing.
Classrooms and learning environments will be given new layouts to promote social distancing. Faculty may develop plans for specific classes or offer hybrid courses to further these efforts.
“Our faculty did a stellar job transitioning classes from a face-to-face to online format in the initial stages of the pandemic, and they will again be prepared for any necessary adjustments this fall,” said Dr. Michael Austin, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Our faculty members are looking forward to returning to the classroom, with necessary modifications.”
Changes will be made to living arrangements in residence halls to lower the risk of exposure between students. UE will be reducing the number of rooms utilized on each floor, and residence halls will be frequently cleaned and sanitized. Housing assignments for students will be confirmed and communicated to students in July. Additional changes regarding visitation policies and lounge areas may be announced at a later date.
The University eagerly awaits the return to face-to-face learning and remains committed to the health and safety of the campus community. As these steps are implemented, the University is looking forward to welcoming new and returning students on campus for a new semester of classes and activities.