The Ball State University Board of Trustees has unanimously voted to approve plans for in-person instruction at the Muncie campus. Classes will begin on August 24 and the university says it is taking steps to advance the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors.
The university will incorporate staggered and alternating work schedules, reconfigured workstations, remote work, and other accommodations to limit density on campus and maximize safety. BSU says other new policies and procedures will focus on social distancing, employee health screening, crowd limits for public gatherings and university-sponsored activities, and travel restrictions.
BSU President Geoffrey Mearns said research shows that students often choose the university because of the faculty-student partnerships for which it is known.
“We have heard from many returning and prospective students that they value the personal education that we uniquely provide,” said Mearns. “Our students told us they also want to participate in immersive learning projects, student life, and our vibrant campus experiences. I am also confident our faculty and staff will be ready to safely provide distinctive, high-impact learning opportunities when our students return.”
Ball State says its Academic Planning Group, led by Provost Susana Rivera-Mills, reviewed its undergraduate and graduate courses and evaluated how faculty can use technology to improve learning.
BSU says its plans include:
- Faculty will prepare classes that can quickly shift from being taught in-person to online, depending on conditions on campus and in the community.
- Faculty will front-load learning activities that are best facilitated by face-to-face instruction so that those activities are completed before the Thanksgiving break. After the Thanksgiving break, all remaining instruction, as well as all final projects and exams, will be completed online.
- The University will cancel the two-day Fall break and will schedule class sessions on Labor Day. These changes enable students to have 13 weeks of on-campus instruction before the Thanksgiving break.
- To accommodate faculty and students who may be in high-risk populations, the University will offer more online courses.
The university says it is putting systems into place to support faculty as they design bimodal courses. BSU says Rivera-Mills is expected to provide faculty and staff with more detailed information in the coming weeks.
The board also authorized the university to implement a Housing and Residence Life plan to provide on-campus housing options for students. According to the plan, BSU will retain a sufficient number of rooms in residence halls and in other university-owned facilities to quarantine and isolate students who may be exposed to or who may test positive for the COVID-19 virus.
The university says it will also adjust room assignments to reduce the number of students who use the same restroom and other common areas.
The board also approved additional health and safety protocols, making COVID-19 testing readily available while supporting contact tracing, maintaining an ample supply of personal protective equipment, and increasing availability of annual influenza vaccinations.
Ball State says its operations will remain aligned with guidance from governmental agencies, public health officials, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The university says updates and changes will be posted on its COVID-19 website.