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Dr. Wes Brooks addresses returning to campus this fall

June 16, 2020

Greetings,

Plans are taking shape, and we are preparing for the fall semester. In an even greater way than usual, I look forward to the start of school this year. Augustana will be COVID-ready for the fall semester, offering a slate of flexible, in-person experiences for students. As President Bahls likes to say, we will open with "gusto!"

A comprehensive plan is being developed thanks to the Augustana Strong Task Force. The plan will evolve over the summer, taking into consideration the continued guidance and recommendations from the State of Illinois, the CDC and other public health authorities.  

To share updates, I will record videos, like the one below. And we’ll continue to provide updated information at augustana.edu/augustana-strong, as well as through email.

Acting on National Guidance: On May 7, 2020, the American College Health Association (ACHA) shared guidance and recommendations that included more than 20 focus areas and more than 200 recommendations. This document has been a helpful guide and is acting almost as a checklist for task force members. In particular, the ACHA document is helping Augustana shape campus requirements for social distancing, use of masks, temperature checks, contact tracing, and isolation and quarantine protocols.

Academic Instruction: We are a community that thrives on the exchange of ideas and connections between faculty and students. We are planning and preparing for in-person classes this fall, and we are developing models for distance learning and a hybrid model that may include both in-person and distance offerings. 

COVID Safety Training: Mandatory safety training for faculty, staff and students will include instruction on:

- social distancing
- wearing of face coverings
- hand hygiene and sanitation
- how to follow public health orders on events and public gatherings. 

This training will take place via video, and we will share information later this summer.

Plan for Employees to Return to Campus: More employees have started to work on campus; the first large group of employees, the custodial staff, returned at the beginning of June. The custodial team is working on a deep cleaning of high-traffic, public spaces, while many other groups of employees are continuing to work remotely. During the next two months, on-campus staffing will ramp up in phases. The plan is to be fully staffed by mid August.

Augustana Health Clinic to Open: When classes start in the fall, Augustana plans to have a Genesis health clinic located on campus (near The Gerber Center) to provide services primarily for students. The clinic will be staffed by a physician’s assistant with hours compatible with student schedules. The college is working closely with Genesis on COVID-19 services and testing options. Clinic services will include treatment of sprains, strains, fevers, colds and flu, pneumonia, minor fractures, lacerations and other acute problems, plus strep-throat testing and seasonal-flu vaccines.

Fortunately, in Rock Island, we have not been hit as hard by the pandemic as many towns and cities across our country and around the world. However, there are important guidelines we must follow to keep our campus community safe. We will continue to share information and updates with you as they become available.

In our mission statement, we say Augustana "is committed to offering a challenging education that develops the qualities of mind, spirit and body necessary for students to discern their life’s calling of leadership and service in a diverse and changing world." That mission remains unaltered by COVID-19. We are committed to serving students and helping them discover and develop their talents.

I thank you all for your continued support. And I encourage you to watch for further updates. Together we will continue to keep Augustana Strong!

Sincerely,

Dr. Wesley Brooks
Vice President and Dean of Students