ESU Announces Re-Opening Of Campus For Fall 2020 Semester on August 31
East Stroudsburg University President Marcia G. Welsh, Ph.D. announced today that students, faculty and staff will return to campus for the Fall 2020 semester, following months of remote instruction and operations due to the activity of the COVID pandemic. Classes will begin on Monday, August 31 at 8 a.m. with the intention to follow our current academic calendar for Fall 2020 but are prepared to change academic instruction quickly if necessary.
“ESU has never been closed,” stated President Welsh, “but we took every precaution and followed guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH), the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) in order to keep our students, employees and their families safe. We continue to take similar measures in bringing everyone back in August. To start, all students, faculty and staff will be required to wear a mask and maintain social distancing in the classrooms, common areas, and public spaces on campus.”
According to Dr. Welsh, plans to return to campus were guided by the efforts of two campus teams: the Academic Continuity Team (ACT), led by Provost, Joanne Z. Bruno, J.D., and the Integration and Communication Task Force, led by ESU’s Director of Environmental Health and Safety, Nathan Black. These teams, comprised of students, staff (representing AFSCME, SCUPA and managers), faculty (representing APSCUF, UWCC, University Senate and Chair’s Council) and administrators developed a “Guide to Re-Opening Campus” that is posted on the University website.
All plans in the document were recently shared with members of our campus community. The document for our campus is intended to keep ESU and our local community as safe as possible in these difficult times while adhering to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH), the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).
“The guide is fluid and will be updated as circumstances change,” added Dr. Welsh. “And while the Guide focuses on our return to campus, the document also includes contingency planning should someone on our campus present with COVID-19 or if the University is forced to return to fully remote instruction and services. We want to share our plan with the greater Pocono community so they are aware of our plans and the lengths we’ve gone to in order to educate our students about the importance of each of our health and safety measures.
Some examples of ESU’s plans for Fall 2020 are:
- All students, faculty, staff and any visitors to campus will be required to wear a mask and maintain social distancing at all times.
- Courses will be delivered in a variety of ways we are calling “Flex Fall,” which will enable faculty to adapt their fall course delivery in both a hybrid or mixed mode delivery as well as preparing for a fully remote delivery in the case of large classes (excess of 60 students) and for contingency purposes.
- Cleaning all public spaces and common areas periodically throughout the day to keep everyone safe. Hand sanitizing stations and plastic shielding will be installed in key academic areas and offices around campus, and appropriate signage is in place to remind everyone of traffic flow and other guidelines within all buildings. If anyone within our campus community presents with COVID symptoms, they will be tested immediately. Plans are in place to quarantine those who test positive and we are also investigating ways to do contact tracing.
“In order for ESU to be successful this fall, we will need the total cooperation and support of everyone, ensuring they follow CDC guidelines, particularly to wear a mask and maintain social distancing,” said Dr. Welsh. “Policies and procedures for those who do not adhere to University health and safety requirements associated with COVID will be in place to ensure we keep our campus, our community and one another safe.”
Other changes at ESU this fall include the retirement of President Welsh on July 31, 2020. Ken Long, ESU’s current vice president for administrative and finance will step into the role of Interim President, effective August 1.
“I will certainly miss this campus, this great community and especially the fabulous students I’ve been able to serve in these past nine years,” said Dr. Welsh. “But I know I leave ESU in good hands and prepared to face any challenge that comes along.”