The University of Southern Indiana Board of Trustees met in executive and special session today, May 28, to be apprised of a number of topics related to how the University is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the opening of campus and the upcoming Fall 2020 Semester.
In special session, the Trustees approved an interim University operating budget for the upcoming Fall Semester, ensuring all faculty and staff will be paid in full through December 31, 2020. The approved budget allows the University to maintain the necessary workforce to deliver academic programming for students and will support the State of Indiana’s efforts to preserve economic stability for all Hoosiers.
“The approval of the interim budget is vital for USI’s employees to have a sense of security so they can continue offering academic excellence and services to our students,” said Ronald S. Rochon, USI President. “In a time where unemployment rates are at historic highs, thanks to our Trustees, we will be whole until the end of the year.”
Based on recommendations from three core committees representing the University’s 125-member COVID-19 task force and in consultation with medical and health professionals, the USI Steering Committee today announced a number of decisions made regarding the upcoming Fall Semester via Zoom sessions open to USI students, employees and retirees.
Academic Delivery and Calendar
The University will utilize a flexible course delivery model for the Fall Semester to accommodate varying circumstances for the student body. With this model, considering social distancing and safety practices, students will be on campus for face-to-face courses and a combination of technology-enhanced, hybrid and online formats. Each college will offer a diverse selection of courses with a variety of delivery modes to ensure a positive campus experience for students. Course offerings by type will be available later this summer.
The Steering Committee also announced revisions to the Fall 2020 Academic Calendar. The revised calendar converts Assessment Day and Fall Break to instructional days. All courses after Thanksgiving recess will be instructed online for one week, followed by a week of finals.
Student Housing will be open for the Fall Semester. After much deliberation and consultation with medical authorities, the University will open campus housing to a maximum of 85% occupancy. There will be apartment buildings left intentionally vacant with individual bedrooms and bathrooms reserved for possible quarantine use. Special training and contact tracing protocols will be given to all those who work in Housing and Residence Life, including all Resident Assistants.
As previously communicated, Spring Commencement has been re-scheduled to take place in August. To allow for adequate social distancing and cleaning between ceremonies in the Screaming Eagles Arena, the ceremonies are scheduled as follows:
Specific information and instructions will be provided to all graduates over the summer. Commencement celebrations are subject to current state and federal guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Based on review of task force committee reports to date and the campus work underway or completed to enhance safety, the campus will be ready to reopen to the public and employees on Monday, July 6. The Steering Committee conducted a walkthrough of campus this week to survey the extensive progress that has been made. The campus opening date is subject to change given updates in state and federal guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic. More details will be communicated by supervisors closer to the opening date.
COVID-19 Pandemic Employee Considerations
Older employees [defined as age 65 and older by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)] and employees of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, and may contact Human Resources (HR) to request alternative work arrangements or considerations. HR may also be contacted to submit a request for alternative work arrangements or considerations, if an employee has a household family member in any of the high-risk categories outlined by the CDC.
The CDC considers the following underlying health conditions and risk factors:
The process for submitting a request for alternative work arrangements is currently being developed by Human Resources.
Photo Credit: USI Photography and Multimedia