Terry J. Rogers
DURANT – Southeastern Oklahoma State University will be reopening its Durant campus to the general public on Monday, July 6. From that date through July 31, the University will be open Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the reopening will bring about some new safety requirements. Beginning July 6 and continuing through the Fall semester, all students, faculty, staff, and visitors must wear face coverings when they are inside buildings on campus, unless wearing face coverings is contrary to meeting educational and participation objectives as determined by faculty/staff. Face coverings are not required outdoors, but highly recommended if social distancing is not possible.
Visitors to campus are requested to provide and wear their own face coverings while on campus.
“We want to do everything possible to ensure that we provide a safe and healthy environment for our students, faculty, staff, and community,’’ said Southeastern president Thomas Newsom. “This policy is consistent with the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and was approved by our campus COVID-19 Task Force.’’
Since late March, most Southeastern employees have been teleworking, but still providing services while the campus was closed to the public. The employees returned to on-site work in three phases, beginning June 1, and continuing June 15 and July 1.
Before returning to work, employees were required to complete online safety and health training and provided with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits.
Southeastern will begin fall classes August 17, with face-to-face and online/remote instruction offered.
One alteration to the fall schedule as recommended earlier by the task force and the subcommittee on instruction (composed of faculty and department chairs) and approved by Newsom is to move from face-to-face instruction to remote/online delivery of courses for five days (Nov. 30-Dec. 4 ) at the end of the semester. This will be followed by a finals week to be conducted virtually, with either online exams or alternative projects/presentations.
“Again, the safety and health of the campus community is our top priority,’’ Newsom said. “Like many other schools, we made this decision as a preventive measure. The anticipated surge of COVID in November, combined with the arrival of the flu, which can display similar symptoms, has the potential to create challenges to the health of the communities on college campuses. This risk is enhanced by the likelihood of student and faculty travel during the Thanksgiving holidays, which could increase the chances for COVID 19 exposure.’’
Students needing to stay or return to campus would be allowed to remain in the residence halls for the normal length of the semester for any remaining housing needs, including for those more voluntary activities like athletics, aviation training, and commencement ceremonies. Residents will be required to abide by any additional safety measures imposed upon their return from the break.
Another safety measure recommended by the task force and approved by Newsom involves the assignment of a single resident per room in the residence halls. This is intended to minimize the risk of exposure within the living environment.
Fall commencement is scheduled for December 12.