MU Announces Phased Return to Campus

Dr. Stanley T. Wearden

Dear Methodist University Community,

In early August of 2020 – the first week of what would become the most unusual semester in higher education that many of us have ever experienced – I shared these words with the entire Methodist University community:

“As teammates, committed to excellence, we will accomplish our goals
not by ourselves, but by moving Forward Together.”

I then observed, week after week, dozens of small colleges and large universities closing their doors to in-person learning because of the spread of COVID-19 on their campuses. At the same time, I observed MU students, faculty and staff remaining vigilant and adjusting as necessary to specific safety protocols and guidelines. I witnessed first-hand a community pulling together, caring enough to speak out against non-compliance and leading by example. I then celebrated with an MU community that completed an entire semester with in-person learning.

Today, heading into our 2021 Spring Semester, we face the same foe. With record numbers of COVID cases locally, statewide and nationally, and hospitals stretched beyond capacity treating an enormous number of very serious cases, it’s imperative we enter this semester more vigilant, strategic, flexible and committed than ever. To combat this foe, we must not just move forward together a few weeks from now, we must take immediate precaution and action.

Over the next three days, I will be emailing you important information in relation to the start of our spring semester. It will be crucial that you check your MU email each day as I will be sharing procedures, expectations and protocols we all must understand and follow. In consultation with health officials, and through tireless examination and work over several months, we have determined these guidelines give us the best opportunity to reach our goals.

In today’s email, I’m announcing that Methodist University will be opening its Spring 2021 Semester with students arriving to campus in four phases:

Phase 1 -- Jan. 2-3 -- Men's and Women's Basketball Phase 2 -- Jan. 16-17 -- Men's and Women's Soccer; Men's and Women's Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field; Men's and Women's Tennis; Men's and Women's Golf; Men's and Women's Lacrosse; Men's and Women's Cross Country; Volleyball; Cheerleading; Baseball; Softball Phase 3 -- Jan. 23-24 -- Football Phase 4 -- Jan. 30-31 -- All Non-Athletes Note: Athletes are strategically positioned in the first three phases, helping fulfill practice requirements for competitions that begin as early as mid-January. As no spectators will be allowed at any MU games, we are working to live stream as many events as possible at mumonarchs.com

This phased-in strategy not only lengthens the time between holiday gatherings (that can create a surge in cases) and all of our students arriving on campus, but also offers our health-care staff the opportunity to adequately monitor and prepare even better for a campus full of students.

To accommodate a phased return of our residential students, the first two weeks of all undergraduate instruction, Jan. 19 through Jan. 31, will be offered remotely. This will be the same high-quality education, from the same top-tier faculty, just in the remote format for a couple of weeks.

The first day of in-person undergraduate classes on campus will be Feb. 1. As always, students should communicate with faculty in relation to individual course information and expectations.

Graduate programs will continue with schedules and course modalities as originally planned. The new MU Online programs also will continue as scheduled.

Be sure to check your email tomorrow and Friday for additional information on returning-to-campus policies, pre- and post-arrival testing, on-campus guidelines, and things you can do now that will have great impact after you arrive on campus.

In addition to these three days of emails and detail, please utilize the Forward Together COVID-19 Resource Web Site for additional detail and contacts (www.methodist.edu/forward).

We must all continue to be flexible and ready to adapt quickly as the situation continues to evolve both with the rapid spread of COVID and with decisions of national, state, and local elected leaders and health officials regarding how best to respond to the current escalation in infections and illness.

It’s a new year, a new semester and another opportunity for Methodist University to excel in and out of the classroom. It bears repeating: “As teammates, committed to excellence, we will accomplish our goals not by ourselves, but by moving Forward Together.”

Sincerely,

Stanley T. Wearden, Ph.D.
President