On May 9, as is our tradition at TU, we honored the Class of 2020 in a remarkable Final Bell Ceremony. Watching the virtual ceremony reminds us how much has changed in the past few months, and why we are working so hard to be able to welcome students back to our campus. While a lot is different, TU’s goals for you remain the same: to offer the rich, on-campus, highly connected (sometimes virtual) experience that we are uniquely able to deliver as a small, private institution.
Our size and our focus on student success mean that we are well positioned to provide you the foundational experience you expect from TU – our academics, our residential life and our co-curriculars – while striving for a safe and healthy environment for everyone.
When I last wrote, I noted that our Campus Continuity task force was hard at work developing detailed plans about how we would reopen our campus. As a parent of a rising first-year student myself, I want more than vague reassurances or sweeping statements that don’t reflect the seriousness of the moment. Your well-being is our top priority. To that end, I have convened a Medical Advisory Committee composed of physicians, infectious disease specialists and public health experts to review our plans for reopening. As the interim president, it is my obligation to ensure that TU is as prepared as possible to handle whatever may come this fall, that we respond thoughtfully to emerging developments and that we are able to keep our beautiful campus open.
This fall, you will be taught by TU’s expert faculty and have access to our broad range of academic and support services. The majority of classes will be delivered using the “hyflex” model, providing an adaptable mix of in-person and online instruction. We are planning to provide a more traditional approach for those courses that require in-person instruction and are working on specific plans for our labs, hands-on research, simulations and performance courses. Finally, to accommodate those who need to, or choose to, study and work remotely, almost every course will have an online option. Our plans include:
- Adjusting the academic calendar so that on-campus instruction ends Nov. 20, followed by virtual instruction and either in-person exams before Thanksgiving or remote finals after the break.
- Scheduling courses over a longer day.
- Maintaining an average classroom occupancy rate of approximately 30% with 6-foot physical distancing.
- Scheduling class start times to minimize hallway traffic between sessions.
Repurposing some campus spaces as classrooms to offer more flexibility and options.
- Requiring that every class has a back-up faculty member of record.
- A later start for spring semester may also be considered.
You come to TU to study, of course, but also for the broader life lessons, experiences, friends and relationships that you enjoy as part of a TU education. We are committed to giving you the on-campus experience you deserve, but in a manner that will be safer and help us all stay on campus during the entire semester. To do so:
- All resident students will be guaranteed private rooms.
- Food service will be carry-out with mobile ordering options.
On-campus orientation will take place in small groups.
Campus activities will be held pursuant to physical distancing and other defined health protocols as necessary.
Health and Safety
Our precautions are based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and other health organizations and are designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to our community. The following protocols will be in place upon your arrival at TU:
- Masks will be required to be worn by everyone on campus.
- Health monitoring efforts are being evaluated to identify members of our campus community exhibiting symptoms.
- Testing will be used strategically based on availability.
- Designated areas will be available for quarantine, isolation and recovery, if needed.
- Enhanced cleaning protocols will be in place for all housing, classrooms, laboratory spaces, athletics facilities, dining areas, large event areas and other common areas.
More information about the prudent steps we are taking can be accessed at utulsa.edu/coronavirus.
Much needs to take place between now and August to ensure the success of these changes. Our teams are working at full speed to lay this groundwork while remaining fully cognizant that even the best plans may need to be adjusted based on guidance from public health officials, requirements from government authorities and the pandemic’s course in our region.
Life at TU, or at any university, will be different for all of us. However, I can assure you that your experience here will be rewarding and fulfilling. We are all looking forward to seeing you on campus soon.
Janet K. Levit