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COVID 19: Safe Return Task Force Update - May 28, 2020

Thursday 5/28/2020

Subject: BSU Safe Return Task Force – Update – A Message from Provost Karim Ismaili

 

Dear campus community,

I am writing to provide a brief update on the work of the BSU Safe Return Task Force and related developments.

This week, the Higher Education Working Group released its framework for reopening Massachusetts colleges and universities   as part of the industry-specific guidelines being developed by Governor Baker’s Reopening Advisory Board.

The framework mirrors the Advisory Board’s four-phase reopening of the Massachusetts economy, and was based on principles of protecting “the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and people in communities” surrounding campuses and “enabling students to make meaningful progress towards their educational goals.” Moving through the phases will be based upon public health criteria specified in the Reopening Advisory Board report   and the progress of colleges and universities in enacting campus-level plans, processes, and protocols specific to each phase.

Phase I, which is currently underway, allows for the repopulation of research laboratories and medical, dental, veterinary and allied health clinical and educational services. Phase II, which could begin as early as this summer, would allow for the resumption of “limited on-campus student programming … on a small scale,” but only if sufficient supplies of tests and personal protective equipment (PPE) are available and specific plans for social distancing and mask-wearing are in place.

Phase III, with planning underway through the BSU Safe Return Task Force, would allow for "careful, larger-scale repopulation of campuses ... possibly in conjunction with the start of the new academic year." In addition to the aforementioned health protocols, moving to this phase will depend upon the availability of sufficient supplies of tests and PPE and the development of campus-specific protocols for symptom monitoring, social distancing, use of masks, cleaning, testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine spacing. The framework foresees a mix of classroom and remote learning and plans for reconfiguring residence halls and dining services to enable proper distancing and reduce the possible transmission of the virus.

Phase IV foresees resuming normal operations after a vaccine is developed or “herd immunity” is achieved.

The Safe Return Task Force and its four subcommittees – Academic Continuity, Student Life, Facilities and Logistics, and External Community Outreach – are making steady and strong progress in developing plans and protocols for the safe return of students, faculty and staff to campus.

This week the Task Force focused on BSU’s health related planning for a safe return in the fall. Dr. Chris Frazer, Director of the Wellness Center, and Chief of Staff and Vice President for Planning and Strategy Dr. Deniz Leuenberger discussed staff training and the development of protocols around testing and contact tracing. Steve Zuromski, Interim CIO and Vice President for Information Technology, outlined the work of IT in supporting contact tracing efforts. Karen Jason and Mark Carmody, Vice President and Assistant Vice President for Operations, respectively, outlined operations and logistics planning concerning space, safety protocols, training, services (maintenance) and supplies. The group also was presented with the most recent guidance specific for higher education from the CDC  .

Next week, the BSU Safe Return Task Force will discuss the specific plans being developed by the four subcommittees, and a further update will be provided to the campus community at that time. In the meantime, you can find additional information on BSU’s COVID-19: Safe Return website.

Warm regards,

Karim Ismaili
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Chair, BSU Safe Return Task Force