On Monday, Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D. shared a comprehensive update with the campus community regarding the on-going work of the COVID-19 Contingency Planning Group, which was convened in late April 2020 to plan for a number of scenarios related to the Fall 2020 semester.
In President Hemphill’s message, he announced Radford University’s Fall 2020 early opening. The message, in its entirety, is as follows.
“As we continue to find our new normal and establish daily routines as part of the on-going global health pandemic, I am pleased to share that Radford University continues to proactively engage in planning efforts as it relates to our campus re-opening for the Fall 2020 semester. Just a couple of weeks ago, I shared information regarding the convening of the COVID-19 Contingency Planning Group, which has been diligently working to prepare for the return of students, faculty, and staff and ensure their health, safety, and well-being remain front and center. In the midst of a challenging and unknown time for our campus and our nation, it is critical for every one of us to step forward, be present, and support each other.
Since the group began their work, I have received regular briefings and comprehensive updates regarding their in-depth discussion and overall progress. Most recently, I received information regarding their strong recommendation for an early opening as part of the Fall 2020 semester. The group is to be applauded for the great deal of energy and thought around their work, specifically an early opening.
In light of the group’s prepared plan and following the administration’s full consideration, Radford University will reopen on July 27, 2020 with students moving into campus housing, such as residence halls and University-operated apartments, between August 1-11, 2020 with the first day of classes on August 12, 2020. This revised schedule as part of early opening will provide an opportunity for Radford University to complete all instruction on November 16, 2020 with final exams from November 17-20, 2020. The alternate approach related to early opening will ensure that students and others do not travel over Thanksgiving Break and then return to campus for final exams followed by Winter Commencement.
Knowing that many individuals are experiencing their own challenges given the pandemic, the executive summary shares information regarding the ability for students, faculty, and staff to request arrangements for alternate learning and working environments. The executive summary also shares the requirement for students, faculty, and staff to maintain physical distancing and wear face coverings or utilize an alternate barrier, while in classrooms, laboratories, common areas, and workspaces. As detailed in the plan, Radford University will engage in broad-based testing and provide a platform for symptom tracking as appropriate and contact tracing if necessary.
The early opening was recommended and is being implemented due to public health concerns over a resurgence of COVID-19 in late fall. The early opening will provide an opportunity for Radford University to complete required instruction and related activities at an earlier date, while maintaining instructional days and meeting federal requirements, such as the United States Department of Education. This is yet another way in which Radford University is placing the health, safety, and well-being of students, faculty, and staff first and foremost, while remaining committed to our important mission and critical work.
As the University continues to receive guidance and support from state and federal officials, additional guidance and direction will be forthcoming regarding implementation of the Early Opening Plan. Your flexibility and patience during the Spring 2020 semester were unmatched, and I am certain the Radford family will continue to support the broader campus and each other as we move toward our re-opening. The reality is that our students are depending upon our faculty and staff now more than ever before.
As our students return to campus, they are expecting the in-person experience that Radford University is known for and the engaging environment that makes our students successful. As such, all buildings will be open, and all services will be available. Individual functions and offices may be different, but our commitment will remain the same. I look forward to working with each of you to make the Fall 2020 semester a success for all Highlanders!”
The COVID-19 Contingency Planning Group will continue its work as Radford University prepares for a Fall 2020 early opening with a focus on the health, safety, and well-being of students, faculty, and staff.