Dear Members of the Methodist University Community,
After careful consideration — and following two days of detailed analysis, conversation and coordination with health care officials — I have determined Methodist University is continuing its precautionary “No Indoor Gathering” protocols that were put in place Monday evening. Safety is our No. 1 priority and we remain vigilant in our efforts to stay ahead of any potential COVID-19 clusters.
All requirements in the “No Indoor Gathering” protocol — from remote classes to take-out dining only – will remain in place through Sept. 12 (see details below and on our No Gathering web page).
Our goal is for the University to be back to our regular, on-campus routines, starting Sunday, Sept. 13. On Sept. 13, the goal is for the MU Dining Hall to be open for all meals, in-person classes to be resumed and residence halls (common areas and visitation rules) to be reopened to previous fall rules and practices. Toward the end of the week, I will send out another message with more detail on what happens next at Methodist University.
For you to be up to date with the goals and policies that are in place at MU, it’s extremely important that you look for (and open) any campus-wide emails, follow our official University social media and adhere to any direction or adjustments communicated by your instructors and coaches. We also post all of our latest information on the Forward Together COVID-19 Resource Web site (www.methodist.edu/forward).
As I mentioned in a previous correspondence, it’s important that everyone understands: Campus is not closed! In our current “No Indoor Gathering” model, students will be allowed to remain on campus, live in their residence halls and obtain their MU carry-out meals (dining hall, Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, etc.). However, we have put tighter restrictions on gatherings to limit risks. Student safety is our top priority.
Specifically, on-campus requirements during our “No Indoor Gathering” model include:
- No indoor gatherings are permitted, including scheduled, in-person classes.
- Day and evening instruction is fully remote. Students should go to Canvas course sites and check MU email for details from their faculty related to remote instruction and any modifications to courses, assignments and exams.
- While in their residence halls, students must stay in their own rooms, may not gather in residence hall common areas, and are not permitted to visit other residence halls.
- Based on our contact tracing data, students not wearing masks and/or social distancing in the residence halls is of great concern. Everyone, whether they are good friends or not, can be asymptomatic and share this virus. Please, look out for each other, remind each other, respect each other by being as safe as you can for each other. It just takes one person not adhering to safety measures to open the door for dozens of others needing to be quarantined or even being sickened with a sometimes-deadly virus.
- Dining will be take-out only service. Students can eat in their rooms or at one of the many outdoor tables/spaces across campus.
- Social distancing is mandatory at all times. Masks are required at all times when students are not in their own residence hall rooms (indoors and outdoors). Masks must be worn properly, covering from bridge of nose to beneath chin.
- Students are encouraged to go outside and are permitted to gather in very small groups, provided that all individuals wear masks and maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet from all other people. Outdoor activities remain limited to small groups, which cannot exceed a maximum of 25 — in compliance with MU’s current Gathering guidelines. Smaller gatherings are preferred.
- All intercollegiate athletic activities are on hold, but if you properly social distance and wear your mask, you may engage in non-contact, non-close-proximity activity, e.g. throwing a football, tossing a Frisbee or kicking a soccer ball.
- Parents will continue to be allowed to visit outdoors or to pick up students from campus, but remain unable to enter residence halls.
- Posted capacity restrictions will continue to be enforced in the Library and computer labs across campus. No group work or indoor study group gathering is permitted in those spaces.
- Faculty and staff will continue to work on campus. Specialized teaching spaces will be open with strict capacity and “no-gathering” protocols in place.
- Student workers may report to their jobs (social distancing is required).
- As always, students, faculty and staff should be daily self-monitoring and reporting on the MU Green Screen app (www.methodist.edu/forward/MU-green-screen).
I would be remiss not to mention that even though this “No Indoor Gathering” model is precautionary — in an effort to minimize the risk of clusters and outbreak — our compliance with wearing masks (properly), social distancing, hygiene and limiting group gatherings is absolutely crucial to our ability to remain on this campus.
Our “No Indoor Gathering” protocols and guidelines, plus direct contacts in various areas if you have any questions, are posted in detail on the Forward Together resource web site mentioned earlier. From Housing to Athletics to Academics, there is information (and contacts) there to assist you. We also share our current status related to COVID-19 quarantine and isolation (on and off campus) on our Forward Together Dashboard (www.methodist.edu/forward/dashboard). If you still can’t find what you’re after, please, never hesitate to send a question to email@example.com.
As we continue through this week, with some choosing to travel for the Labor Day weekend, I hope all of you will — as I have — carefully consider your actions and fellow Monarchs as we strive to advance through this fall semester on campus. During a holiday, it can be easy to let your guard down. Please continue to keep yourself safe with social distancing and masks. As proven with the “No Indoor Gathering” model, we are ready and able to adjust if necessary, but our goals are to remain vigilant and walking alongside each other (always 6-feet apart!) on this campus.
Stanley T. Wearden, Ph.D.