Dear USG Community Members:
I hope this finds all of you well. I know the past several months have been extremely difficult for everyone, as the Covid-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted our lives in so many ways. I want to applaud you for your resilience and dedication, as together we navigate the various challenges of this crisis and continue to carry out our vital mission of providing high-quality, accessible and affordable higher education opportunities for students at the Universities at Shady Grove.
Although our plans are not yet finalized, I want to give you an update on the work so far of our Campus Reopening Task Force and what our campus operations are likely to look like for the fall semester, with regard to course instruction and service delivery. The task force, co-chaired by Chief Strategy Officer Mary Lang and Chief Operating Officer Nico Washington, is working diligently through all of the issues that must be addressed.
As you can imagine, it’s an enormously complex challenge to develop plans and protocols that will best help to protect the health and safety of everyone in our campus community, while effectively addressing the academic needs of our nine university partners and the students we serve. There are no easy or perfect solutions, but I am heartened by the fact that our team has worked diligently to balance all of the issues involved.
I want to remind you that the work of the task force has been shaped by the Return to Campus Planning Framework that our USG leadership team developed prior to convening the group and its five subcommittees. Throughout the process, the task force has worked closely with our university partners to fully understand their own planning for how coursework will be delivered.
We will continue to provide updates on the task force’s work over the next few weeks and will post a final report on the website when it is complete, along with details about this fall’s operations.
Looking Ahead to the Fall
Following is a snapshot of how things are tentatively shaping up for the fall semester at USG:
- Most courses from our nine partner universities will be delivered remotely or online. There will likely be some exceptions to allow for limited instruction on campus, for some classes that require the use of specialized laboratories.
- The only people who should be in campus buildings during the fall are those who are deemed as essential for supporting building operations or anyone who is on campus for services that are being provided through brief, drop-in hours. This includes faculty members, students and staff who are associated with any of the lab classes that are being held on campus, when they are in session.
- All individuals on campus will be required to wear masks, consistent with the local ordinance that was put in place by Montgomery County.
- Individuals on campus will be expected to practice social distancing at all times and to wash their hands frequently. Additional hand-sanitizing kiosks will be installed throughout the campus.
- All student and academic services will continue to be provided remotely.
- Most employees will be asked to continue teleworking until further notice. You will be notified directly by your supervisor if you are expected to return to campus.
- There will be no events on campus during the fall semester.
- In order to provide students who may need access to the Internet with additional options, the campus’s WiFi network is being extended to the Shady Grove Garage for students who may wish to work in their vehicles.
- Faculty and staff who may need to visit campus to pick up materials from their offices may do so by following the current procedures that have been in place, by checking in at the main security desk in Building III (Kendall Academic Center). Unless they are on campus for one of the labs that may include some on-site sessions, these individuals should not stay on campus to work after they have picked up what they need.
- A check-in system for anyone coming on campus is still being developed and will be accompanied by procedures to screen individuals for symptoms that could be related to Covid-19. Additional procedures are being developed for Covid-19 testing referrals to the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services’ various test sites.
The recommendations and procedures noted above will not be finalized until the first week of August. Additional information on the task force’s preliminary recommendations can also be found on the attached document.
Once final decisions are made with regard to fall semester operations at USG, we will post all of the information on the website. In the meantime, we have created a feedback form if you have questions or input that you would like to share.
Thank you for your attention and I hope that many of you will be able to participate in the upcoming Town Hall to share your input.
With best regards,
Stewart Edelstein, Ph.D.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, USM
Executive Director, USG