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Campus Updates

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Please see below for this week's updates. This information was sent out via email to provide the campus community with updated information on fall 2020 operations and procedures.

Human Resources Update

The Return to Work Guide and Employee Resource Webpage have been updated to incorporate the latest guidance from the state of North Carolina and the UNC System Office. Updates include:

University Forum

The Staff and Faculty Senates hosted a Summer Forum Zoom Webinar on Friday, June 26. With 400 audience members and a panel of 15 administrators, the session was fast-paced and covered many topics related to worksite operations and campus response to COVID-19. Read more and watch the forum.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020 

Personal Protective Equipment

In early July, faculty and staff will receive bags with personal protective equipment (PPE) including reusable cloth face coverings, refillable personal hand sanitizer dispensers and disinfecting wipes. Students will receive similar bags with PPE supplies at the beginning of the semester. Building coordinators are being contacted to establish a plan to distribute the PPE bags in a way that meets the needs of occupants of each building. In addition to providing PPE supplies to individuals, public hand-sanitizing stations will be available at the entrance to each building and sanitizer refill stations will be placed across campus. The university also intends to establish procedures for departments to resupply disinfecting wipes when needed.

learn more about PPE on campus

Resupply of PPE during the Fall Semester

It is our intention to provide an inventory of PPE to allow departments to maintain a four- to six-week supply of departmental-sized hand sanitizer dispensers and canisters of disinfecting wipes at a centralized location. Facilities Management will work with departments to identify contacts who will be authorized to order supplies. Supplies will be stored in the Facilities Management warehouse.

Communication to Students Regarding Fall Instructional Modality

As has been announced, fall courses will be taught using a variety of methods. This includes face-to-face, online and a mix of online and face-to-face. Course schedules have been updated to reflect any changes that faculty may have made to the planned instructional mode of their course sections.

Please note: Emails will be sent to students June 27-28 with information regarding their fall schedules.

New Cleaning Protocols

Facilities Management will be implementing new cleaning protocols to meet CDC sanitization guidelines. In accordance with these guidelines, every room on campus has been inventoried and classified by type to determine sanitization needs and the methods necessary to meet these requirements.

There are numerous variations of sanitization protocol for the numerous room types, from classrooms to residence hall bathrooms, from athletic training rooms to wet lab space, etc. Housekeeping staff will be augmented with temporary workers so additional staff can be deployed during the business day to continuously sanitize high-traffic areas. Second shift housekeeping staff will also have additional sanitizing duties each evening. An outsourced service for rapid response COVID-19 sanitization is currently being solicited. We expect to utilize this service for quarantine areas as well as any other area deemed necessary. 

The enhanced sanitization plan will go into effect in late July. The room inventory spreadsheet will be available on the fall operations website for those who would like more information on the cleaning protocols for the various spaces on campus.

Campus Signage

Signage to support physical distancing will go into production and installation the week of Monday, June 29. It is anticipated that the signage installation will continue through mid-July.

Once the initial set of signage has been installed, Facilities Management staff will accept additional requests for special-use signage on a case-by-case basis. Primary signage includes banners, ground decals, location-based signs in all buildings, Cat Tran signs and the like.

Catamount Dining has also released plans for traffic management in Courtyard and Brown dining halls. These maps are available on the dining operations page.

Catamounts Care: Public Health Awareness Campaign

In support of our new Community Standards, the university has developed a public health awareness campaign, Catamounts Care.

Communication for the campaign will include social, print, digital, video and radio. A toolkit will be developed that will allow campus communicators to download print and social media assets. Messaging for the campaign distills the Community Standards into actions that we all must take to keep our community well and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

We know that Catamounts do care, and we encourage everyone to put the well-being of themselves and others top of mind.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Please see below for this week's updates. There are a number of new decisions and additional information provided this week; please be sure to review this in its entirety. This information is provided here and via email for the campus community to stay updated with the latest information on fall 2020 operations and procedures.

Community Standards Released

Shared community standards remind us that we each have personal responsibility for actions that may affect our own health and the health of our friends, our colleagues, and the broader campus community. Our collective acceptance of this shared responsibility will be the most effective strategy we will have at our disposal in the challenging months ahead. We have developed a set of standards to encourage everyone to put the well-being of themselves and others top of mind.

Read the standards

Campus Events & Activities

WCU is making plans for the fall semester with the goal of reducing exposure to and spread of COVID-19, and this includes canceling some significant events and implementing changes to other campus activities. These changes are motivated by available guidance for configuring large venues and limiting mass gatherings to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

Read cancellations/changes to campus events and activities

Changes to Dining on Campus

Catamount Dining has the daily mission of delivering thousands of quality meals to students, faculty, and staff. With this mission in mind and given the COVID-19 pandemic, dining at WCU will look very different in the fall. Like most changes related to COVID-19, patience will be required as we work through how service is delivered while meeting applicable recommendations to reduce risk in dining facilities.

Read more about dining on campus

Residence Hall Agreement Updated for 2020-2021

Following the end of spring semester and learning from the complicating factors surrounding COVID-19, the it became apparent that WCU needed to modify the 2020-2021 Residence Hall Agreement.  Universities across North Carolina are updating their housing agreement and Western Carolina University is no different. Students will be given until June 30, 2020 to opt out of their room agreement.

Read more the updates to the room agreement

Human Resources Training Videos Available Online

Human Resources, along with campus subject matter experts, recently offered five sessions on topics centered on navigating changes at WCU related to COVID-19. The Q & A sessions were offered via Zoom and the recordings are now posted to the employee resources website.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Athletics and Campus Signage  

Western Carolina University is continuing to develop plans for the fall 2020 semester and the student experience through an inclusive decision-making process. These decisions are guided by science and data, grounded in our core academic mission with consideration for the well-being of our community. These emails are to provide our students, faculty, staff and community updated information on fall 2020 operations and procedures.

Student Athletes and Athletics Events

As a part of the on-ongoing campus discussions surrounding the fall 2020 semester, Catamount Athletics is making plans for a return to intercollegiate competition beginning in August 2020.

WCU Athletics will begin a phased return of student-athletes to campus in Cullowhee beginning July 6 in advance of the fall 2020 semester;

The return includes football and men’s and women’s basketball student-athletes first during the summer months as each of those sports has permitted summer access activities per the NCAA. Those three teams will be followed by a regular return date for those sports with preseason dates before the start of school in the fall semester;

WCU Athletics’ plan includes resocialization measures and daily protocols for each student-athlete, coach and staff member such as temperature checks and screening by athletic training staff before gaining access; the use of hand sanitizer; social distancing when available; and the use of face coverings indoors in common areas, during workouts, and in locker rooms, as well as accounting for proper cleaning and sanitizing for each facility;

Athletic performance strength and conditioning indoor activities will be conducted in groups of 10 while outdoor activities will be limited to 25, as per North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper's guidelines. Athletic training and rehabilitation exercises will be by appointment and will also adhere to the 10-person indoor limits.

More information

Campus Signage for Social Distancing

A Signage Working Group has been created to develop consistent and sensible requirements, procedures and protocols for COVID-19 campus signage and barriers. Campus signage and barriers are to educate, promote safety and protective measures, and to assist with social distancing guidelines while continuing to protect the building and its occupants and meet all regulatory requirements.

  • The goal is to have signage in place for the start of Fall Semester 2020 (by August 1).
  • Messaging of the signage templates aligns with CDC regulations and university branding.
  • Additional information will be available after the working group’s next meeting on June 18th.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Quarantine Location, Move-in, Personal Protective Equipment and Study Abroad

Western Carolina University is continuing to develop plans for the fall 2020 semester and the student experience through an inclusive decision-making process. These decisions are guided by science and data, grounded in our core academic mission with consideration for the well-being of our community. These emails are to provide our students, faculty, staff and community updated information on fall 2020 operations and procedures.

Quarantine Location Designated

We have designated Madison Residence Hall as a location where residential students may safely quarantine if they test positive for COVID-19. Madison Hall has a relatively small number of student rooms, and its location on the hill area of campus would keep any students who have tested positive away from the bulk of the student population while allowing them to continue their studies and receive campus services.

Move-in

The fall 2020 opening of the residence halls has been redesigned in response to COVID-19. While the first day of classes is still scheduled for August 17, the residence halls will begin allowing students to move-in on August 1. Students will be required to sign-up for the day and time they want to move into their building. There will be a limited number of spots available per building per session, to allow for appropriate social distancing throughout the process.
More information

Personal Protective Equipment

Western Carolina University has developed a plan for providing the campus community with personal protective equipment:

  • WCU intends to provide the campus community with reusable face coverings, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes to open the fall 2020 semester.  Procurement of these items is in process.
  • During the summer months, the university has disposable face coverings, large containers of hand sanitizer and large containers of disinfecting wipes available to those campus departments that desire to have them provided.  These items are limited in supply. Please submit any requests for these items to your department head who can then request the supplies through a Facilities Management work/service request.

Study Abroad

  • Inbound and outbound study abroad programs have been suspended for fall 2020.  Participation in study abroad for spring 2021 is a tentative option for students.
  • Faculty-led programs have also been suspended for fall 2020.

Friday, May 29, 2020

From Chancellor Kelli R. Brown

To the Western Carolina University community:

I write to share important details about the academic calendar and strategy for instruction for the upcoming fall semester. These details are part of a comprehensive and evolving plan for the fall 2020 academic experience that is being developed by a working group in the Division of Academic Affairs led by Interim Provost Richard Starnes and based on guidance from the University of North Carolina System. The plan is being created with the anticipation that we will be utilizing a variety of instructional arrangements with student success, faculty expertise and flexibility, and staff support to guide us. I stress that all plans for resumption of operations for fall 2020 may very well shift in response to changing conditions. The last few months have taught us that information and responses to new data about COVID-19 require a high level of flexibility and patience.

Below are some important dates that will serve as significant mileposts for the fall semester:

  • First day of classes will be Monday, August 17
  • Labor Day holiday on Monday, September 7, will be observed
  • The last day to withdraw from a class and receive a “W” will be Friday, October 23
  • Advising Day will be held Tuesday, October 27
  • Last day of face-to-face classes will be Friday, November 20
  • Classes on Monday, November 23, and Tuesday, November 24, will be held online
  • Thanksgiving break for instruction will be Wednesday, November 25, through Friday, November 27
  • Final exams will be held online between Monday, November 30, and Friday, December 4
  • The winter break will begin at 5 p.m. Friday, December 4
  • We anticipate commencement ceremonies will be held Saturday, December 12, for the spring 2020 graduates (rescheduled from May) and Sunday, December 13, for the summer and fall 2020 graduates

Instruction for fall 2020 will be offered through a blend of face-to-face, online, hybrid, and hybrid course delivery. There will be no fall break this year, and all final exam week activities will be conducted via online or other alternative formats.

This schedule maximizes instructional time in the early fall and minimizes the opportunities for students, as well as faculty and staff, to travel away from campus on extended breaks. This strategy should reduce exposure to and spread of coronavirus. It also should align the academic calendar in such a manner as to avoid a densely populated campus in late fall and early winter, when the potential for a significant resurgence of the virus may be highest. Any potential changes to the 2021 spring semester will be announced in the weeks to come.

We will continue to refine the many details associated with bringing students, faculty, and staff back to campus. To assist in keeping the campus as fully updated as possible, we have established a website for fall 2020 operations, where many of the detailed plans for resuming operations will be posted or summarized. In addition, we are initiating a regular system of campus updates that will contain important announcements as decisions around fall operations are made. Look for those updates in the coming weeks on subjects including residential living, dining, student move-in, large campus gatherings, and athletics events.

I want to remind our campus community that, as we prepare for students to return to campus, we also have begun a phased return to the workplace for our dedicated faculty and staff. With guidance from the UNC System, we have prepared a “How to Return to Work Safely” guide that was sent to faculty and staff last week.

Thank you again for your efforts on behalf of our students and our university over the past few months, a time that has been disruptive to all members of our community. I feel confident that I can continue to count on your hard work, your commitment, and your flexibility as we handle the many tasks associated with the summer sessions and work toward a successful fall semester.

Please be safe and be well. And, as always, go Cats!

Sincerely yours,
Kelli R. Brown
Chancellor

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