Dear campus community,
As the Columbia community cautiously moves out of the stay-at-home phase of the current pandemic, the University is planning the first steps of a phased approach for returning to campus that we’re calling “Show Me Renewal,” which is aligned with guidelines from the Boone County Department of Public Health and with input from medical experts at MU Health Care.
Next week, a group of faculty, staff and graduate students will begin to return to work on campus in a first wave that is particularly focused on critical research needs. In future waves over the summer, the number of faculty and staff carrying out their duties on campus will steadily grow in preparation for in-person operations to resume in Fall 2020, unless the guidelines from health officials require us to change course. Needless to say, there will be exceptions for individuals with underlying health risks and for those who are approved for telework by their supervisors.
At this stage, the pandemic has reached a point that state, federal and public health officials are permitting more activity with careful adherence to social distancing practices, while restricting the number of people who can be within the same space.
Following that guidance, we will provide greater access to campus for those who are engaged in mission-critical research, as well as for university leaders and staff members who are needed to perform in-person duties.
During this stage, we ask that everyone else continues working from home until further notice from supervisors. This helps those social distancing on campus and allows all others to continue their work remotely until further notice.
Requests and Decisions
We are now asking university leaders to identify faculty or staff who should be considered in this first group that would begin to return next week. Faculty and staff are asked to submit requests to return that will ultimately be forwarded to deans and division leaders for their recommendations. The Return to Work Authorization forms will be available on the MU eCompliance website starting Friday, May 15. Each school or division request will be evaluated by a team that includes academic, facility, research and health leaders. Decisions and return dates will be provided as quickly as possible once the facilities staff has been notified.
The staff and faculty who return to campus during this phase will resume part or all of their work on campus in an environment that requires social distancing and heightened personal precautions. Individuals will be asked to follow public health and safety measures while on campus, including practices to maintain social distance, monitoring of personal health and a commitment to stay home if fever or other symptoms are detected. See details here.
Planning for Future Phases
While this phase of Show Me Renewal is primarily focused on resuming critical research, the university will continue to monitor public health guidelines in Columbia and provide details about the next phase as appropriate. At the same time, we have convened groups of faculty and staff who are developing detailed plans for academic, research, student affairs, facilities and testing, contact tracing, and quarantining programs necessary to prepare for the return of our students to campus this fall.
A Show Me Renewal website is concurrently being developed to share and update these plans. Once completed the website will feature tools that will allow us to seek and obtain community input on our plans.
Using guidance from public health officials, we are also preparing contingency plans for multiple scenarios that include full remote delivery of education in the Fall term. It is critically important for faculty and staff assigned to teach in the fall to begin the process of developing eLearning versions of their courses. Resources and support for faculty and staff will be shared through a separate message from the UM Office of eLearning.
Working together and with your input, we are confident that we’ll begin and continue the process of welcoming faculty, staff and students to campus in a thoughtful and safe manner.
Mun Y. Choi
President, UM System and Interim Chancellor, University of Missouri
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs