We write today to introduce you to the plan for an Uncommon Return, our campus-wide effort to return to on-campus living, learning, and working. We all yearn for the time when we will reunite with our friends and colleagues, face-to-face, and welcome new Concordians to CUWAA. Still, we cannot underestimate the continuing health threat posed by COVID-19. As a result, guidance from public health professionals as well as local and state regulations and guidance will continue to inform our decisions about how and when to re-engage on campus.
To that end, we have launched working groups involving academic and administrative leadership and managers including advisory support from our own Concordia public health experts. These colleagues are charged to envision how we can return each specific element of university life to on-campus operations. These teams are planning in great detail, considering contingencies, and preparing us to be both nimble and thorough in our approach.
In addition, because COVID-19 remains in our community, we are also planning a careful, phased approach of how faculty, staff, and eventually students can return to campus when the stay-at-home order is fully lifted.
Please watch your email for important guidance in the coming weeks that will explain the protocols, practices, and requirements all of us will need to apply in order to ensure a safe return for our entire workforce. This email will come to you by the end of next week.
Please remember, only employees who have Vice President and/or Human Resource approval to work on our campuses for essential business operations or the delivery of online instruction should be doing so. No other employees should return to campus, even after the stay-at-home order is lifted, until receiving notice from the University.
We know that you are anxious for answers. Return to work parameters will be communicated in the coming two weeks. We hope to announce much of what our Fall 2020 semester will look like in June.
As you can imagine, the logistics of bringing back so many people with different needs are very complex. For example, we must take into account the faculty, staff, and students who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19; we must consider disability requirements and services; and we continue to be highly focused on being creative in how we teach and engage with students. We are committed to being flexible with employees, who, even as we return to campus, are affected by the need to care for dependents for whom services, such as summer camps, are unavailable.
We will be fully operational Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, offering our full roster of courses and degrees, as we have been and will be doing this summer. We will welcome our incoming classes. We are exploring a range of scenarios, with significant public health provisions, that will allow us to offer our courses in person, while also ensuring most, if not all classes will be available, in parallel, online.
The first phase in re-opening campus activities over the summer includes establishing strict physical distancing protocols for a ramp-up of on-campus essential work and clinical education. Longer term, we are planning for a full return to campus operations when it is safe to do so, including all academic programs, athletics, and large-scale gatherings. Most importantly, our commitment to providing an exceptional education, in and out of the classroom, is unchanged.
As we have persevered this semester and stayed in close contact even though we are apart, we continue to be moved and energized by the incredible Concordia community. Thank you for doing your part to persevere, care for your coworkers, serve students, and pray for one another. Our entire leadership team thanks you sincerely for your input, your resilience, and your care for yourselves and for your communities.
We very much look forward to seeing you back on campus – eager to work and prepared to be safe.
Until then, continue to be dedicated to prayer and to one another. God’s continued blessings to each and every one of you.
In Christ’s Service and Yours,
Rev. Patrick T. Ferry, Ph.D.