A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

NKU is ‘Moving Forward’ with plans for safe, healthy and student-ready opening for fall semester

Staff report

Northern Kentucky University is “Moving Forward” with fall planning in an environment driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and the necessity — and opportunity — to re-examine everything. It is committed to change the university to a “more student-ready, regionally engaged institution.”

NKU had previously announced that there would be no tuition increases in the coming year.

In a letter to the NKU community, President Ashish Vaidya has outlined NKU’s plans — and motivations.

In developing the plan for the fall semester, he said, NKU has created a new initiative – Healthy@NKU – with partners like St. Elizabeth Healthcare, Gravity Diagnostics, and the Northern Kentucky Health Department. The partnership will enable testing for individuals with symptoms and contact-tracing for those who test positive. The partnership will also inform our decisions and incorporate the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s guidelines to help everyone on our campus stay healthy.

Vaidya writes, “We must carefully consider the unique perspective of NKU’s Class of 2024. Many of them had their final months of high school disrupted by the virus. As they enter NKU, we hope to create a common experience that reflects what makes NKU special and different, while building on our legacy of being stewards of place.”

He assures that the university campus will be open with measures taken to manage and prevent the spread of the virus” and options for students, faculty, and staff.

Fall Courses in Various Formats

NKU will resume in-person class meetings in the fall with a combination of offerings that include both face-to-face and online/remote elements. Places for classes will be adjusted for size and for social distancing and classes will be delivered in a combination of formats — face-to-face, online/remote.

President Ashish Vaidya

By July 1, the university’s registration system (myNKU) will be updated to show how the courses will be offered. The following four categories will be used as the basis:

• in-person (delivered face-to-face via regular meetings at a specific site and time)
• online (delivered fully online, with no scheduled class meetings)
• hybrid (delivered both online and in-person, with scheduled in-person meetings at a specific site and time)
• online synchronous (delivered fully online, but with scheduled virtual online class meetings).

Fall 2020 Academic Calendar

Classes will begin on Aug. 17. Fall convocations and new student convocation will be held virtually at dates and times to be announced.

In-person and hybrid classes will move to fully online/remote delivery after Thanksgiving break, including final exam week. In-person instruction will not take place after Thanksgiving break, although buildings and offices will remain open.

Students will complete the last week of the semester and final exam week online/remotely.

Fall Break will take place in October as planned. Information about fall commencement will be forthcoming.

Student Financial and Support Services

Student financial and support services will be offered both online/remotely and in-person. Using NKU’s Student Success Hub, students can access academic support services both in-person in the University Center and online/remotely. Student advising will also be done both in-person and online/remotely.

Healthy @ NKU

Vaidya made it clear that the most important part of the plan is making “self and community well-being” a priority.

Here is a list of things to do to keep the campus healthy:

• NKU students, faculty, staff, and visitors are required to wear facial coverings and observe social distancing.

See NKU’s facial coverings FAQ webpage for details.

• Self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms using the Healthy@NKU app. This app is available through myNKU for both standard platforms and mobile devices. Students living in on-campus housing will self-screen every day. St. Elizabeth Healthcare will provide testing for individuals with symptoms at their new location on Nunn Drive, and Northern Kentucky Health Department will provide contact-tracing for those who test positive.

• The furniture in campus spaces is being rearranged to maintain adequate social distancing. Enhanced cleaning protocols are being used in all spaces, and NKU will provide approved disinfectants for individual use in offices and classrooms.

• A brief Healthy@NKU training video will be available for students, faculty, and staff to view before returning to campus. All of these actions promote a healthier environment and will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 at NKU.

• NKU Health, Counseling and Student Wellness (HCSW) will be open for in-person and virtual visits. For in-person visits to Health Services, appointments will be required so that they can be staggered to allow for physical distancing in the waiting room. Counseling Services will be available to all students. Sessions will continue to be offered via telehealth (phone/video), as well as in-person sessions as appropriate. In the event of a crisis/urgent matter, a clinician will be available both during regular business hours, as well as after hours. Additional online resources for health and mental health concerns can be found on the HCSW website.

Campus Recreation

Campus Recreation will reopen on Aug. 3 and will follow guidelines from the CDC, Kentucky’s “Healthy at Work” standards and national collegiate campus recreational facility guidelines. Details will be provided to students.

Residential Housing

NKU will offer on-campus housing in the fall. In order to reduce the risk of infection and enable social distancing, a limited residency model will be used based on CDC recommendations and national University Housing and Residence Life guidelines. All residential buildings in the Dr. Leon E. Boothe and East Residential Village will open at reduced occupancy. Some areas will be reserved for quarantine purposes. Housing will accommodate 1000 students; assistance will be provided in finding alternative accommodations.

The fall semester move-in process will take place over a series of days to accommodate physical distancing. A list of Frequently Asked Questions will be updated on the University Housing website as it becomes available.

On-Campus Dining/Food Service

Residential dining services will begin on First-Year Student Move-In Day (Thursday, Aug. 13). The Student Union Food Court and other a la carte dining locations will offer a reduced number of options with limited hours beginning Monday, Aug. 17. There will be continuous service at the Village Café in Norse Commons, enhanced strategies regarding cleaning and social distancing, and limited point-of-service interaction. Most food service will be carry-out, as seating areas will be reduced to accommodate social distancing. Dining services will offer contact-free payment options, including all credit card and NKU ID transactions at all dining locations; a mobile ordering app is currently under construction. The plans will be designed to adapt to the changing situation, and updates (including more detailed information about Chartwells’ – NKU’s food service contractor – pandemic protocols) will be provided as available on the University Dining website.

Intercollegiate Athletics

NKU will resume athletic practices and intercollegiate competitions when it is safe to do so. The safety and well-being of student-athletes, coaches and staff will be at the forefront of all decisions. Additional information will be provided on the Norse Athletics website as it becomes available.

Faculty and Staff Return to Campus

Prior to July 6: Faculty and staff will continue to work remotely unless an exception has been approved. Only those needed to maintain current campus operations and to prepare for an increase in operations will be working on campus.

Beginning July 6: NKU will have a gradual return to on-campus operations. To prepare the campus for the Fall 2020 semester, approved departments will begin to return to campus with a gradual increase in staffing. During this time, most faculty and staff will continue to work remotely.

Beginning Aug. 3: NKU’s campus will open with a blended, flexible environment that includes some in-person interaction with modifications that minimize risk for all NKU constituents and follows the guidelines available on the CDC and Commonwealth of Kentucky’s COVID-19 websites.

Meetings, Events, and Activities

Academic and administrative units and faculty, staff, and student organizations should conduct meetings, events, and activities (including those involving external participants such as community members) online/remotely until further notice.

Future Updates

The COVID-19 Preparedness Team will continue to monitor the environment to determine if we need to make adjustments to the plan.

Vaidya said the university’s COVID-19 Preparedness team spent long hours to create a plan for a safe return to campus operations.

“As a steward of place, we are working hard to build our organizational capacity for a more equitable, inclusive, and just society . . . now is our opportunity to implement new ways to empower diverse learners for economic and social mobility and help our region not only restart but reset with an equity lens,” he said.

Read the complete Moving Forward plan here.

Related Posts

One Comment

  1. Katja says:

    I actually enjoy your featuring this info for people hoping to get more information on issues like this.

Leave a Comment