Ball State returning to traditional academic calendar for fall 2021

<p>Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns prepares for the Board of Trustees meeting May 7, 2021, in the Student Center. Mearns announced the fall 2021 and spring 2022 semesters would include traditional fall and spring breaks. <strong>John Lynch, DN</strong></p>

Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns prepares for the Board of Trustees meeting May 7, 2021, in the Student Center. Mearns announced the fall 2021 and spring 2022 semesters would include traditional fall and spring breaks. John Lynch, DN

At the May 7 in-person meeting, the Ball State Board of Trustees approved a resolution regarding COVID-19 protocols on campus.

Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns led the presentation, where he said most of campus life will be returning to normal in the fall.

“The plan that we’re going to present to you this afternoon requires collaboration among every every division on campus,” Mearns said. “Teamwork has enabled us to persevere through this pandemic and teamwork is the key to the vibrant future.”

Vice President of Student Affairs Ro-Anne Royer Engle said the university will be returning to the traditional academic calendar in the summer 2021 semester and will continue into the fall and spring semesters. The 2021-22 school year will include fall and spring breaks.

As of now, students and staff will not be required to be vaccinated to return to school in the fall, but Mearns said that may change.

“One possibility is that we might require students to be vaccinated if they are engaged in courses or activities that pose a greater risk of transmission,” Mearns said. “We may also consider a targeted vaccination requirement for employees if they work directly with students who are in these populations.”

According to the resolution, employees can receive incentives if they provide proof of their vaccination. Employees can either receive a one-time $100 credit off the employee’s portion of the healthcare premium or receive four additional hours of paid leave starting in October 2021.

The only incentive Mearns mentioned for vaccinated students is not requiring them to quarantine if they are in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, unless they also exhibit symptoms.

As of now, students will not have to get tested for COVID-19 to return to campus in the fall, but the final decision will be made closer to the beginning of the fall semester.

Kathy Wolf, vice president for marketing and communications, said university staff will announce mask protocols likely by Aug. 1 once they have a better understanding of how many students and staff will be fully vaccinated.

The university will continue to operate the vaccine clinic in the Health Professions Building through the summer two days a week, Mearns said, but has not determined how vaccines will be administered on campus in August.

Students and faculty will still have access to COVID-19 testing on campus through the Health Center and the university will continue contact tracing in the fall after receiving guidance from the Delaware County Department of Health and other local health authorities.

Royer Engle said there will likely be less quarantine and isolation housing on campus in the fall, depending on how many students are vaccinated.

“We intend for this upcoming year to return to a more traditional residence hall experience with limited exceptions as dictated or informed by CDC guidance,” Royer Engle said.

Mearns said the COVID-19 resolution is not final and the university will continue to make modifications throughout the summer.

Also in the meeting, Vice President of Business Affairs Alan Finn gave an update about the university’s distribution of Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) funds, which provided undergraduate and graduate students with additional aid during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finn said, as of now, the university has awarded $8.5 million in student aid from CRRSAA funds.

RELATED: Eligible Ball State students to receive COVID financial assistance

Finn said university staff are still deciding how to allocate the remaining funds. He said the university can reimburse itself for $4.5 million in quarantine space cost and other costs incurred specifically due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The university was also awarded $42.8 million from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) Three grant as part of the American Rescue Plan signed March 11, 2021. Finn said half of the funds are required to be used on student aid and the other half can be used for pandemic-related costs incurred by the university.

Lola Mauer, associate vice president of strategy, closed the meeting with an update on One Ball State Day fundraising efforts. Mauer said One Ball State Day 2021 raised 46 percent more funds than the previous year, with more than $778,000 in donations.

John Lynch also contributed to this article.

Contact Maya Wilkins with comments at or on Twitter @mayawilkinss.


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