The university will open for the fall 2021 semester with fairly normal operations, however, it will closely monitor the situation, work with the Howell County Health Department and implement contingency plans as outlined below when it is necessary.
A targeted approach
When implementing contingency plans, the university’s goal is to not move all classes to online or remote delivery or close the entire campus. Instead, the university will implement temporary mitigation strategies, temporarily suspend or modify individual courses, activities, programs, facilities, and operations as necessary.
This strategy will result in some operations being impacted while other operations continue as planned. For example, online courses will not be impacted just because their seated counterparts are temporarily suspended or converted to remote delivery.
The contingency plan analysis will also change depending on the course or operation at issue. For example, under similar circumstances, a laboratory class might continue to meet in person while a lecture-based class might temporarily move online.
To successfully navigate this strategy, the university will use the following guiding principles as a frame of reference for decision making.
- Impact on the health and physical well-being of students, faculty, and staff.
- Impact on the university’s mission. Mission considerations include:
- Academic quality and accreditation.
- Student success.
- Student experience.
- Inclusive excellence.
- Public profile.
- Impact on the mental health and morale of students, faculty, and staff.
- Impact on university risk and compliance.
- Impact on the university’s ability to generate revenue.
- Impact on our state, the local community and other external stakeholders.
Other data and factors
Using the guiding principles as our framework, we will evaluate the following data and factors when determining whether and when to implement contingency plans:
- Isolation and quarantine space available for our on-campus students.
- Faculty, staff, and student availability and absenteeism.
- Campus case data, including but not limited to:
- Number and rate of change of active cases.
- Number and rate of change of quarantine cases.
- Number and rate of classes that have been moved to modified delivery.
- Access to COVID-19 testing and other resources such as masks, other PPE, and cleaning supplies.
- Directives and guidance from health officials and federal, state, and local governments.
- Information from relevant community dashboards, including but not limited to:
- Change in daily cases, 7-day rolling average.
- COVID-19 cases in OZH hospital.
- Percent of populations fully vaccinated.
- Trends among peer institutions of higher education.
There is not a particular threshold that will trigger a specific contingency plan. Rather, decisions must be based on an evaluation of each of these and other relevant factors as the situation unfolds in light of the guiding principles.
The Board of Governors will be consulted before a decision is reached to suspend all or substantially all of the university’s operations. University administrators will make decisions on other contingency plans and report those decisions at regularly scheduled board meetings. The particular administrators involved in the contingency plan decision-making process will depend on the level and impact of the contingency plan at issue.