Fall 2020, Campus Reopening

May 26, 2020

Dear CBU Community:

First of all, I would like to express my continued appreciation to each of you for your dedication to the Lasallian mission of our University during this difficult and often confusing time of remote work and learning.

While we were unable to gather together to celebrate our new graduates or to send you, our students and faculty, off in style for the summer, we very much remain “together and by association” in our efforts to provide and pursue a high quality education for all in an inclusive and supportive environment.

And to that end, as reported to you at the beginning of May, we have established a Reopening CBU Advisory Task Force to develop an evidence-based program of supportive and equitable methods to allow our eventual safe return to campus. While we can never know what tomorrow may bring, we can and will continue to do our best to consider possible scenarios and make prudent plans. I am grateful for the due diligence of the task force and others around campus who have been working tirelessly to make sure we are thorough and thoughtful in our planning, and I am pleased to now announce our initial steps towards implementing our still developing plans.

Fall 2020 Calendar:
Looking ahead to Fall 2020, we have decided to join with a growing number of institutions across the nation who are choosing to alter the traditional fall semester calendar out of concern for what some experts fear will be a “second wave” of COVID-19 in the late fall and early winter months. This plan should also mitigate some possibilities of students, faculty, and staff traveling during the Thanksgiving holiday and fall break, risking exposure to the virus, and bringing it back to campus where it could threaten others in our community.

  • Thursday, August 13: We will be opening our academic year with our annual Community Convocation, followed by Welcome Weekend activities for students who will be returning to residence halls and campus activities.
  • Saturday, August 15: Classes will begin and will run continuously without a fall break until Wednesday, November 18. We will remain closed on Monday, September 7 for the Labor Day holiday.
  • Thursday, November 19 through Wednesday, November 25: Final exams will be completed during the weeklong period prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Wednesday, December 2: Following a slightly extended grading period that will allow our faculty and staff time to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with their loved ones, final course grades will be due.
  • NOTE: Our 8-week (A and B term) courses will be similarly adjusted to run August 15 – October 3 and October 10 – November 25. Our Physician Assistant program will also begin on August 15 but may have some clinical rotations extending past the Thanksgiving holiday.

Phased Return to Campus:
To ensure that we are ready to welcome our students back to campus in early August, the first groups of employees will tentatively return to campus on June 15, with more employees to be added in stages over the following weeks. The task force is working with the Executive Leadership Team, the Academic Council, and unit supervisors to determine what offices and departments will return in this first phase and in what sequence other offices and departments will follow.

Supervisors shortly will receive guidance on how to develop the best plans and procedures for their offices and departments, with the primary focus being on the health and safety of the entire CBU community. As they are formulated, these plans will be announced to employees by their supervisors.

Let me assure everyone that any employee who has concerns for their health and well-being will be accommodated.

In the meantime, and until your office/department is returned to campus, remote work should continue as it has for the past several months. If any of you are experiencing any changes to your needs and/or your work tasks now that the semester has ended, please work with your supervisor to resolve them.

As our campus remains physically closed to the public, we ask that should you need to make an essential visit, please schedule an appointment by emailing COVID19-info@cbu.edu. When you are on campus, please be sure to wear a face mask, practice social distancing, and continue increased hand washing as the most effective ways for us to protect each other.

Fall Instruction and Campus Life:
In August, we fully intend to return to face-to-face instruction, an abundant program of campus life opportunities, fall athletic competitions, and an enriching residential living experience, but to be clear, we must and will do so in a safe and prudent manner.

We may move some classes fully online to reduce the strain on our campus facilities, some may employ a hybrid model that reduces the number of students in a classroom at any one time, and some may be moved to larger spaces to allow everyone to remain socially distanced. We will work closely with faculty and staff to make sure they are comfortable and supported by our Center for Digital Instruction and other resources should they need to continue to teach and work remotely. Our academic advisors will also work closely with students who may prefer to take a fully online schedule of classes.

In our shared public spaces, we will be introducing new safety protocols, enhanced cleaning schedules, and some facility enhancements. We are looking at investing in new furniture that allows for greater distance between desks and beds in the residence halls, and we are working closely with our dining services provider, Aramark, to find better ways to safely provide healthy and nutritious menu options.

During our time of remote learning, we saw tremendous innovation in finding ways to deliver services to our students and broader community. We are continuing to evaluate opportunities to learn from our recent experiences and those of our Lasallian colleagues and others across the nation.

I am confident that as we develop and implement our plans for the future, we will become even stronger as a campus community in our ability to make good on our Lasallian commitment to teach, learn, and serve others. With thanks to the careful fiscal management of our CFO, Ron Brandon, and his team of finance professionals, we have not had to lay off any employees thus far and, absent any material change in our circumstances, I hope that we will be able to maintain full employment levels throughout the coming academic year. We remain cautiously optimistic about our fiscal health, as we continue to curb costs where we can and to invest strategically as needed.

As many of you are about to start your summer courses this week, I want to thank everyone for working so mindfully to take advantage of the many opportunities remote learning provides. We continue to be here for you with virtual chat sessions with our expert librarians, online consultations with the Writing Center, and WebEx prayer meetings with our Campus Ministry team. I hear we are even going to continue our Tuesday TikTok challenges to stay virtually connected.

At this point, we likely are all quite tired of hearing that these are challenging and unprecedented times for our world. To be sure, they are extremely difficult ones for our families, friends and neighbors, and my thoughts and prayers continue to be with all who have had their lives upturned by the current global pandemic. However, I believe as well that we can find much hope and encouragement in our present situation, since these also are days when we get to see the common humanity and very best in each other as, together and by association, we creatively adapt to new ways of learning, serving others, and drawing together as a Lasallian community.

With warm regards,

Jack Shannon
President of Christian Brothers University