Ball State University releases plans for returning Fall semester

On Monday Ball State released their Return to Campus Plan for the Fall semester. The plan outlines the policies, protocols and guidelines that the university will follow as the fall semester commences. Listed below are the new policies and changes the plan will implement.

Academic Calendar 

On-campus, in-person classes will begin on their scheduled date, August 24, but will move to remote learning for the remainder of the semester after Thanksgiving break, according to the plan. Facility is to prepare all classes with flexibility and adaptability to potentially return to online instruction sooner based on the conditions on campus and in the community. 

Fall Break has been canceled and students will have class sessions on Labor Day in order to enable students to have 13 weeks on campus before Thanksgiving break, the plan said. The university will also be offering more online courses for students who may be in an at-risk population. 

University libraries will be open with adjustments starting July 6. More details can be found in the University Libraries COVID-19 Operations Plan. 

Safety Practices

Physical distancing of six feet is encouraged at all times, which includes refraining from mass gatherings and physical contact such as hugs or handshakes. 

Starting on July 1 all faculty, staff, students, vendors, contractors, suppliers and visitors should wear face masks while inside campus buildings, according to the plan. Face masks are specifically required in the following situations: 

  • When in the presence of others (indoors or outdoors) and physical distancing is difficult to maintain, such as in hallways, elevators, stairs, public spaces, and common areas
  • When in a classroom or laboratory if physical distancing is difficult to maintain 
  • When using campus transportation 
  • When multiple individuals are in a University vehicle
  • When it is determined by an employee’s supervisor that wearing a mask/shield is necessary for specific job duties. Environmental Health and Safety will determine if particular types of face masks/shields are required for particular job settings, and this will be communicated through supervisors. 

Individuals can use their own mask/shield and the university will provide up to two washable, reusable face masks for every faculty, staff and on-campus student who requests them.

The University will also make cleaning supplies available in classrooms so students can wipe off their surfaces, the plan said. In addition to providing cleaning supplies, the University has also said that buildings have been “deep cleaned” and will continue to be cleaned at regular intervals based on occupancy and use. 

Housing and Residence Halls

Double rooms are available and the University will detail guidance on how to clean and sanitize surfaces within the shared room, according to the plan. Single rooms will be available on a first-come first-serve basis. The University will also be preparing rooms for students who may need to self-quarantine. 

If a student comes into contact with COVID-19 they are to contact their health care provider to see if staying on campus is the best option, and if it is the University will accommodate a self-quarantine space and resources needed to minimize the disruption of academic success, the plan said.  

Dorms will be deep cleaned prior to move in and student bathrooms will be sanitized twice a day. Common spaces such as laundry rooms or study lounges will be furnished and supplied with sanitation materials and instructions. Common surfaces such as handrails and elevator buttons will be disinfected regularly. 

More details can be found in the University’s Housing and Residence Life Plan.

On-Campus Dining Services 

Dining areas will be restructured to accommodate physical distancing where applicable. The number of indoor diners will be in accordance with state and local guidelines,  with reusable kitchen items such as plates and eating utensils will be replaced with single-use options and self-service food/beverage (buffets, salad bars, etc.) will be restricted. 

Food service hours will be extended throughout the day to reduce the crowding of the dining halls as much as possible. Frequently touched surfaces such as door handles and work stations will be cleaned every 30 minutes and hand sanitizer will be available at all dining locations. University Dining employees are to go through a health screening prior to returning to work. Physical barriers such as sneeze guards will also be put up between dining employees and patrons. Dining halls will use touchless payment options as much as possible. 

More information can be found in the University’s Dining Services Reopening Plan Framework document. 

Recreation Services

On July 6 recreation services’ locations, hours and services will be determined based on available staffing and recreation equipment is to be spaced six feet apart forcing some facilities layouts and access to equipment to change. 

Occupancy limits will continue to be updated based on state and local guidelines, according to the letter. Equipment check out will be limited to easy-to-clean equipment and Outdoor Pursuit rentals will have a 72-96 hour timeframe in between rentals that are difficult to clean, in order to ensure sanitation. 

Laundry facilities within recreational buildings will be suspended and guest passes are not available at this time. Normal cleaning schedules will remain and high-touch areas will be cleaned regularly. Hand sanitizer will also be available throughout recreational facilities. 

More information can be found in the Recreation Services Reopening Plan.

Travel

All university sponsored international travel has been suspended until further notice, according to the plan. This includes study abroad programs. There are also limitations in place for university sponsored domestic travel. Students that choose to travel internationally for a personal trip are required to quarantine for 14 days before returning to campus, per CDC guidelines. 

Athletics 

Athletics will return to Ball State in phases outlined in the Return to Practice Plan. Prior to entering the athletic facilities, participants must undergo a daily COVID-19 screening consisting of a temperature check. If the athletes temperature is 100.4 or above, they are not permitted to practice and will be referred to the Health Center.

Face coverings are to be worn at all times when in an athletic facility. Locker rooms, equipment and laundry facilities are to be sanitized regularly in accordance with the CDC. Student-athletes arriving on campus from an international location will be required to quarantine for 14 days prior to moving in, per the CDC and state guidelines.  

More details are outlined in the full Return to Practice Plan.

Returning to campus in the fall will surely be different for many students and changes will continue to happen as more information is available.

“Ball State University will continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in a manner that promotes the safety of employees, students, and campus visitors, while furthering the University’s mission and values,” the plan says. 

These are the major changes that will affect students and a more in-detail look at the changes can be found here. 

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