Elon University has announced the “Ready & Resilient” plan to guide resumption of on-campus classes and operations for the upcoming academic year.
Elon University has announced the “Ready & Resilient” plan to guide resumption of on-campus classes and operations for the upcoming academic year. The plan was announced by President Connie Ledoux Book and is based on recommendations of the Task Force on Fall Semester 2020, a 26-member group that began work in late April. The Task Force was united in its recommendation that the Elon community return to campus ready to create a culture of responsibility and resilience while working together to promote healthy behaviors.
“We know that students and their mentors working together creates a deeper transformative learning experience, and this pandemic has demonstrated the critical importance of in-person teaching on our residential campus,” Book said. “The strong relationships in the Elon community sustained us through spring semester and we are resolved to resume campus operations.
“At the same time, we know we are not going back to the way things were,” Book said. “Instead of going back to normal, we are going forward to new. We will modify many aspects of life at Elon and each of us will be ready for fall semester with a spirit of resilience, creativity and a personal pledge to protect the health of our community.”
The Task Force report cited Elon’s culture of care as its most powerful asset in fighting the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All of us must make a solemn commitment to act each day to safeguard our own health and the health of others,” said President Emeritus Leo M. Lambert, who chaired the Task Force. “Our report makes dozens of recommendations about how every dimension of the university – every syllabus, classroom space, campus tradition and ways of personal interaction – will have to be reconsidered and reimagined with health in mind. With common sense and common courtesy as our guide, the essence of Elon—demonstrating welcome, inclusiveness and kindness—will remain strong.”
The Task Force report was developed by three working groups that focused on instruction and the classroom, lab and studio; health maintenance; and the campus experience, alumni and external communities. More than 60 consultants from across the campus community were involved in the work and input was provided by more than 500 faculty and staff who attended a virtual Campus Conversation. The 99-page report includes dozens of recommendations for university policies, health maintenance, teaching and learning, residence life and student activities, offices and operations, major events, Phoenix athletics, alumni and parent relations, and relationships with the surrounding community.
The Ready & Resilient plan announced by President Book includes the following highlights:
- A return to in-person instruction and operations on both the Elon campus and the Greensboro law school campus, along with fully developed contingency plans to conduct part or all of fall semester via remote instruction if there is a serious resurgence of COVID-19.
- A modified university calendar for Fall 2020, with undergraduate classes starting on Wednesday, August 19, six days earlier than previously planned. The traditional fall break will be reduced to one day – Wednesday, October 7. In addition, classes will not be held on Election Day, November 3. In-person instruction will end prior to Thanksgiving, with the last class day on Monday, November 23, and Tuesday, November 24, serving as a reading/assessment day. Final exams will be conducted remotely from November 30 to December 4. An additional staff holiday will be added on Thursday, December 31. This calendar will minimize opportunities for individuals to travel away from campus and return with a potential exposure to the virus. In addition, all unnecessary university-related travel will be strictly limited.
- A sophisticated public health plan and adjusted policies that incorporate:
- Health screening protocols for all students, faculty and staff upon their arrival to campus and before the start of classes
- Expectations for maintaining physical distance, hand washing, the use of masks and daily personal health monitoring
- Plans to follow the most up-to-date guidance from health officials related to COVID-19 testing and tracing protocols, infection mitigation and containment
- A broad-based educational campaign to prepare the campus community for healthy life in the pandemic era.
- Reimagined classes and teaching spaces, with specific layout plans for every classroom to enable students and faculty to maintain proper distancing. Many faculty will adopt blended instruction and student engagement models to decrease the number of students physically present at any one time in classrooms, labs and studios. This will include flexible approaches to class meeting times and creative use of instructional technology. Faculty will prepare alternative plans so they or their students can access classes if they become sick and cannot remain in the classroom, or if the university is forced to suspend classroom instruction. In addition, the daily schedule will be adjusted to allow more time between classes, allowing more time for cleaning and reducing congestion in hallways and building entrances.
- Modifications of campus facilities and maintenance practices, with steps to accommodate physical distancing in all spaces, expanded physical plant cleaning protocols, ubiquitous cleaning supplies for use by all members of the community, reduction in room capacities and relocation of some classes to larger spaces, and extensive environmental signage to promote safe behaviors.
- Adjustments to most campus activities and operations to reduce the size of gatherings and promote physical distancing. This will include modifications of orientation, student clubs and organizations, athletics, performing arts and cultural programs, admissions and the operations of all offices and centers, including Moseley Center, Belk Library, the Student Professional Development Center, the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life and The Inn at Elon.
- Changes to residence life and campus dining, including roommate and floor living agreements, capacity limits for common spaces and bathrooms, set-aside single rooms for isolating sick or exposed students, reduced capacity dining halls and redesigned food service practices.
- Reimagined major campus events, minimizing visitors to campus by adopting virtual technologies or smaller gatherings instead of holding large on-campus gatherings for New Student Convocation, Family Weekend, Homecoming and other traditional major events.
- Modifications of Elon’s NCAA Division I athletics program to protect participants as guided by health and NCAA officials, and limiting game attendance to meet physical distancing standards.
President Book has appointed a Ready and Resilient Oversight Committee, which begins work immediately to coordinate implementation of the plan and make decisions and adjustments as the virus evolves and new information becomes available. The group will be chaired by Jeff Stein, vice president for strategic initiatives. You can reach the committee with questions and suggestions at Ready2020@elon.edu.
Extensive information and training modules will be shared throughout the summer with students, faculty and staff to help them prepare for their arrival on campus and the start of the academic year. Comprehensive and continually updated information about the Ready & Resilient plan can be found on a special website: www.elon.edu/RR.