Kent State, University of Akron Plan to Reopen Campuses in Fall

May 22, 2020

In a letter to the campus community, Kent State announced Friday that the university will resume residential living and in-person classes at the Kent campus in August. The letter, from interim Provost Manfred van Dulmen, states, "We are developing several scenarios to ensure an outstanding and safe experience for our students, faculty and staff." 

The letter goes on to explain the campus environment will be different with classes likely to be a combination of face-to-face and remote teaching. Faculty will be allowed to decide whether they want to teach in person or remotely. 

A committee that's been working to develop the plan has created what it calls the Flashes Safe Seven to which everyone will be asked to adhere. 

Flashes Safe Seven Principles

  • Face masks or cloth facial coverings are required. The university is working to make face masks available for those who do not have their own. 
     
  • Community members must rigorously practice hand hygiene and cough etiquette.  Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. 
     
  • All employees will be required to clean and sanitize their workspaces and common spaces throughout the day, between shifts and at the close of each day. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones and keyboards. Classrooms will be cleaned on an enhanced schedule. 
     
  • Social distancing guidelines will be strictly enforced requiring individuals to maintain at least 6 feet of separation from others. Supervisors will be assessing each workspace and classroom to determine an appropriate plan for social distancing in each area. This may include the installation of plexiglass, face shields, modifications to traffic flow and/or changes to work schedules. In-person meetings will be conducted via video- or tele-conference calls when possible.
     
  • All members of the university community must self-monitor daily for symptoms. COVID-19 symptoms including cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat or a new loss of taste or smell. Other less common symptoms have been reported, including gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Employees showing symptoms of COVID-19 should leave work immediately and seek medical evaluation by calling your Primary Care Physician, DeWeese Health Center at 330-672-2322 or your local urgent care center. Students showing COVID-19 symptoms should isolate from others immediately and seek medical evaluation by calling DeWeese Health Center at 330-672-2322 or calling your Primary Care Physician. Always call ahead before seeking in-person medical help. Employees and students who are diagnosed with probable or confirmed COVID-19 will be contacted by their local health department and will be given additional guidance and instructions. 
     
  • For health questions about COVID-19 and safe practices, call University Health Services at 330-672-2322, or after hours contact the Kent State Nurse Line at 330-672-2326. Visit our COVID-19 hub for more information.
     
  • As Flashes take care of Flashes, always demonstrate kindness and respect in all that we do.

The university says it's relying on state and federal guidelines as well as its own health experts. It plans to share more details by June 1 about a phased approach for the return to campus. 

 "At this time, employees who are currently working remotely should continue to do so," van Dulmen stated. "Anyone deemed essential to return to campus will work closely with their supervisor to follow the Flashes Safe Seven."

The university has the latest information about reopening plans online at Kent State’s response to COVID-19.

In a letter to the University of Akron community, President Gary Miller said, "We encourage students to make plans to join us this fall and be part of the great adventure we have before us."
Credit ANDREW MEYER / WKSU

University of Akron President Gary Miller also said today the campus plans to welcome students this fall unless circumstance change significantly. The university will open under the following conditions:  

  • Physical distancing rules and personal protection strategies currently in place will apply to all campus activities, including in the classroom.
  • Residence halls will be open and operate within physical distancing guidelines.
  • Students should expect a mix of face-to-face, hybrid, and online classes. Many courses will be offered through dual delivery, which will give students the option to take the class in person or online.
  • High levels of personal health monitoring, consideration of others and adherence to regulations will be expected of everyone.
  • Staffing will be kept at minimum levels while continuing to meet the needs of those we serve.
  • The full range of student services will be offered.
  • To the extent possible, the classroom schedules now in place for returning students will be retained. 

A group of more than 60 people from UA have worked under the leadership of Interim Executive Vice President and Provost Joe Urgo to develop the plan. Miller says Urgo has also worked with a group of leaders from Ohio’s public universities to develop protocols to guide decisions regarding the entire range of university operations. Among the things they considered: scheduling and course delivery, physical space and classroom maintenance,  student wellbeing and support, residence halls and dining, athletics and recreation, finance and campus safety. 

Miller says a number of unknowns remain regarding such things as the management of high-density activities. He says those areas are continuing to be reviewed and additional detailed planning will be completed before classes begin. 

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include information about the University of Akron's plans to reopen this fall.