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What we know about OU’s efforts to prepare for fall semester amid COVID-19 via Safe and Resilient Instructional Plan

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Empty campus in front of the Oklahoma Memorial Union on the first day of online classes after Spring Break on March 23.

This post serves as a collection of updates, questions and answers regarding OU's plans for the coming months in the wake of COVID-19. It will be updated regularly as more becomes clear, and offer the community transparency on the questions The Daily is seeking answers to.

If you have tips or questions you'd like to see answered, please considering using our CuriOUs form.

 

1:54 p.m. Tuesday, June 2

Senior Vice President and Provost Kyle Harper’s office outlined new COVID-19 procedures for OU faculty, according to an email sent to some faculty and adjunct professors and obtained by The Daily. 

Per the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, accommodations will be made for faculty members deemed by their health care provider to have underlying conditions that put them at higher health risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those faculty members are encouraged to confidentially register with the Office of Human Resources. 

Read more about the announcement here.

9:01 a.m. Thursday, May 28

OU Director of Media Relations Kesha Keith responded to a list of questions sent by The OU Daily about the university’s plans for the fall semester. The list of questions was sent at 4 p.m. May 26.  The following is the full list of questions sent to the university.

Referencing the update by the athletics department about returning to campus:

  1. According to the press release from the athletics department, student-athletes will be assessed by medical staff before joining workouts. Will non-athlete students have similar assessments in August? Why or why not?

  1. According to that release, student-athletes will be subject to daily health screenings.  Will non-athletes face similar procedures? Why or why not?

  1. According to that release, students who test positive for COVID-19 will be relocated to a designated housing facility to quarantine. Will the university be doing this for all students who test positive for COVID-19? Why or why not? Where is the designated housing facility? How will it function?

  1. According to that release, staff members working on-campus will be subject to a health screening before they return to work and will then be subject to daily screenings. Will employees outside of the athletic department face similar procedures of both an initial screening and continued screenings? Why or why not?

  1. According to that release, staff members are being provided with self-cleaning kits for their office space and signage to notify cleaning staff when a space has been used. Will employees outside of the athletic department be given kits, signage and similar guidance? Why or why not?

  1. According to that release, "individuals will wear masks provided by the athletics department and comply with social distancing rules." Will student-athletes and athletic employees be required to wear masks? Will non-athletic students and employees be required to wear masks? Why or why not? Lastly, what are the university's "social distancing rules" that students and/or employees will be abiding by?

Student and residential life:

  1. What decisions have been made about The Pride's summer band camp?

  1. Will out-of-state students be required to pay out-of-state tuition for online classes?

  1. Will on-campus work-study programs be affected in the fall? If so, how? Does the university have plans to assist first-year international students, whose visas require only on-campus work?

  1. What dining options will be open in the fall?

  1. How will Cross Village be involved, if at all, in any changes to residential assignments and options?

COVID-19 protocol:

  1. How many student or employee cases of COVID-19 would warrant a move to all-online classes? 

  1. How many student or employee deaths related to COVID-19 would warrant a move to all-online classes?

  1. What protocols will be followed and how will data be collected to inform the community of COVID-19 cases or deaths of students or employees?

  1. Does the university have a written policy of the university's risk model or guidebook on how OU will proceed this fall? If so, The Daily would like a copy.

  1. How will the university comply with ADA requirements in offering high-risk students equal education access?

  1. What legal liability does the university have to its students or employees if they contract COVID-19? If students or employees die from COVID-19? *Editor’s note: This question was first asked May 20 and The OU Daily did not receive an answer from the university.

  1. Will off-campus students who test positive for COVID-19 be required to live in the university's quarantine housing? Why or why not?

  1. Will students and employees be notified if they've shared a class with someone who tested positive for COVID-19? If so, will those students/employees be required to take a COVID-19 test? Why or why not?

The university responded to the 19 questions with this statement:

“The University has convened a number of working groups to plan for a safe return to campus this fall semester, actively assessing the most practical and feasible ways to make that possible. Some of the progress to date includes work around the University’s Clean and Green initiative and the Safe and Resilient Instructional Plan. Throughout the summer as other plans continue to develop, the University will communicate details with the OU community.”

2:39 p.m. Tuesday, May 26: 

OU President Joseph Harroz said in an email Tuesday afternoon that tuition and mandatory fees for the Norman campus will remain flat for the third straight year. He also said that online fees will not apply to classes moved online due to COVID-19. 

Read more about the email here

7:32 a.m. Saturday, May 23:

The OU Daily obtained an email from Vice Provost for Instruction and Student Success Mark Morvant to OU faculty, instructors and deans with the following information:

All class time decisions should be complete by May 26, barring unforeseen issues. The Registrar’s Office is working to alleviate all class conflicts.

Classroom Management will relocate classrooms to maximize social distancing. The university will relocate all classes, “whether scheduled in centrally-(scheduled) or non-centrally scheduled classrooms.” 

The university will not relocate labs and performance-based classes, but may need to cap capacity in these classes depending on COVID-19 recommendations from the University Operations.

Once room relocation nears completion, the Provost Office and deans will create smaller sections of larger classes and blend courses to enable more to be online. The university is monitoring students with a majority of courses online and is switching those schedules to majority in-person. These schedule changes will occur “as the process continues.”

University Operations is “working to obtain sufficient masks” for the fall semester. There is a weekly committee meeting to discuss masks and personal protective equipment. University Operations has “sufficient masks to start the fall at this point,” and is working to ensure the supply continues throughout the semester.

The Fire Marshall and University Operations are also measuring each learning space and classroom to calculate capacity for each area based on seating design, using the 36-square-foot COVID-19 standard and evaluating based on gross and net square footage. Classroom Management will use this distance standard to determine classroom relocations over the coming weeks.

2:10 p.m. Wednesday, May 20: 

OU Human Resources sent an email outlining its new COVID-19 paid-time-off policy for university employees. Read more about it here

1 p.m. Wednesday, May 20:

OU Director of Media Relations Kesha Keith sent an email to The OU Daily with the following information:

"While all OU community members are encouraged to practice efforts that will slow the spread of COVID-19, final decisions relative to required (personal protective equipment) use this fall have not yet been made."

Previously, the university said faculty will be encouraged — but not required — to wear masks, and some faculty may opt for "other protective barriers or distancing if applicable." Morvant also previously said students would be encouraged — but not required — to wear masks.

9:57 a.m. Wednesday, May 20: 

OU Senior Vice President and Provost Kyle Harper gave context for the Safe and Resilient Instructional Plan in an email. Many of the details in the email were already disclosed in Harper’s announcement of the plan Sunday. 

The main piece of new information is that university administrators are continuing to work on necessary changes for the fall semester, including adjusting class schedules. 

Harper said in the email that administrators are “adding thousands of seats in new, smaller, in-person sections, and we are testing the classroom scheduling and room assignments in our software systems.” He said in the coming weeks, students’ class schedules and mixes of in-person and online classes may shift. 

He said he wants to emphasize that classes as they appear in One are not final. 

“I am asking you to bear with us all as we use the early summer to get ready to return in the fall,” Harper said in the email. “For now, enjoy the start of summer, and let the hardworking teams at OU get ready to welcome you back. Once the schedule is in place, we will contact you, and you will have the chance to speak to your advisor if changes are needed.” 

 6:24 p.m. Tuesday, May 19: 

OU Director of Media Relations Kesha Keith sent an email to The OU Daily with the following information: 

  • The university is continuing to develop plans on whether out-of-state students will be required to pay out-of-state tuition for online classes, and administrators will keep students and their families updated of any changes made to the tuition structure. 

  • No additional fees will be charged for courses that have been moved online due to COVID-19. However, courses that were online before the pandemic will continue to carry a fee. 

  • The percentage of students in classes with more than 40 people is unknown, as data is ongoing. 

  • A determination on whether pass/fail grading will continue hasn't been reached by the university yet, but administrators will continue to keep students informed as they develop plans. 

  • The university provost's office is working with large programs, like the Pride of Oklahoma, to develop a conduct of operation plan. 

  • University administrators are planning for the addition of approximately 300 single-occupancy rooms to be available for fall 2020. The single-room options will be spread out among Adams, Couch and Walker towers and David L. Boren Residence Hall. 

  • OU Food Services is "actively developing plans" that include — but are not limited to — eliminating self-serve options, using disposable utensils, maintaining social distancing in lines and seating, and enhanced cleaning procedures and preordering opportunities. 

 3:43 p.m. Tuesday, May 19: 

OU Director of Media Relations Kesha Keith sent the following clarifications in an email to The OU Daily: 

  • The university is aiming for 75 percent of first-year classes to be in-person. According to Keith, the university is "working on a plan to ensure no students have more than one online course, but a few will have two."

  • All faculty are encouraged to wear masks, but mask-wearing is not required. Some faculty may wear other protective barriers or practice social distancing if applicable.

  • The class schedule will be expanding its time frame. For example, a class that was at 4 p.m. may now start at 7 p.m. Students are encouraged to check their one.ou.edu account to track their schedule changes.

 4:00 p.m. Monday, May 18: 

OU announced Sunday it will be using a social distancing plan to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus this fall. 

Student leaders from the OU Student Government Association met on May 18 with Mark Morvant, vice provost for structure and student success, who answered questions from student representatives. 

The OU Daily obtained the following information from an SGA leaders’ meeting with Mark Morvant, vice provost for instruction and student success: 

  • Class sections of over 40 students will be online, with potential exceptions. Class sections of over 40 students make up 14 percent of all class sections offered.

  • All night classes will be online.

  • Professors and deans in all departments — especially in performance-based courses, STEM labs and graduate classes — will be asked to request in-person classes as needed.

  • The university is aiming for 1000-level classes to be broken up into multiple in-person class sections.

  • The university has not decided whether the add/drop date for classes will be extended.

  • Faculty are being told to be as flexible as possible with attendance policies to make accommodations for sick students.

  • In classrooms, libraries and other areas, there will be signs designating which desks are available for use.

  • The university’s goal is to maintain 36 square feet per student of social distancing.

  • All faculty are encouraged to wear masks, but mask-wearing is not required. Some faculty may wear other protective barriers or practice social distancing if applicable.

  • Students will not be required to wear masks, though mask-wearing is highly recommended.

  • The university has not made a final decision about how high-risk students may be accommodated. 

  • The university has not made a final decision about the upcoming football season and other athletics.

  • The university has not made a final decision about student organizations, and all considerations are preliminary. Departmental clubs, such as language or engineering clubs, may not be affected because those students already share classes. Considerations for SGA Undergraduate Student Congress and other large organizations include Zoom meetings, meetings in a bigger room, in-person representatives with online associateship or holding meetings in one main room and an overflow room.    

This article was updated at 4:26 p.m. Tuesday, May 19, to reflect the university is aiming for 75 percent of first-year classes to be in-person, faculty are encouraged but not required to wear masks, and changes in class schedules also apply to classes earlier than 9 a.m.

It was rearranged chronologically with the newest information at the top at 8:21 p.m. Tuesday, May 19.

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