Updates and Reports

Tuesday, June 30, 2020 10:02 a.m. - Return to Campus Notice

Good morning, 

We hope you are looking forward to returning to campus this fall. Students will begin moving back into the residence halls beginning on August 10 and classes will begin on August 17. 

We expect COVID-19 will be with us for the foreseeable future and are planning accordingly and of course while no one can guarantee a campus that is free of persons who have the virus or are otherwise ill, we are making several important changes to help lessen the risks. We want to share with you a number of the decisions we have made and some of the preparations we are making.

Returning to Campus to Work

  • Although some employees have already returned to campus to begin preparations for the fall semester, most employees will typically begin returning to work on campus the week of July 26, 2020. Divisional leaders assigned each employee to one of three categories:
    • Category 1: Employees for whom a substantial portion (or all) of their responsibilities need to be performed on-campus on a daily basis.
    • Category 2: Employees for whom a substantial portion (or all) of their responsibilities can be performed remotely on a daily basis if necessary.
    • Category 3: Employees for whom a significant portion of their responsibilities can be performed remotely but must come to campus on a regular, but less than daily, basis to perform critical tasks. 
  • Employees will soon begin to receive information from their supervisor regarding their expected return date, work assignment location, and any on-campus work schedule.
  • Employees who will be working on campus on a regular but less than daily basis will be assigned an on-campus work schedule. This schedule will help the University practice physical distancing in the workplace and hopefully lessen the number of people an employee comes into contact with. Employees are expected to adhere to their assigned work schedule. Assigned work schedules will not be changed and assigned on-campus work days may not be switched or swapped.

Campus

  • Campus and even your personal workspace will likely look different to you when you return to campus. Physical Facilities staff are working with Building Points of Contact and others around campus to erect appropriate signage and physical barriers.
  • All offices that provide direct services for students or faculty will be opening and functioning on campus. Some offices will be by appointment only – no drop-ins. 
  • Some spaces will be closed or their use will be limited (e.g. break rooms.)

Cleaning

  • Common spaces and other high-touch areas will be cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected by custodial staff on at least a daily basis. Physical Facilities will provide disinfectants and hand sanitizer for use by departments and work units. Employees are encouraged to use the supplied products throughout the workday to sanitize or disinfect their workspaces or commonly shared equipment ( e.g. copiers)
  • Each employee should remove as many non-essential high-touch items as possible from their work area such as magazines, common pens, etc.
  • DO NOT move furniture. Furniture Removal is being coordinated by Physical Facilities and storage space is limited. Tape will be available to cordon off furniture.

Meetings

  • You can expect to continue to hold many meetings on a virtual basis –even if everyone is on campus!
  • In-person meetings will be limited in size based on local, state and federal guidelines and should not exceed 50 percent of a room’s capacity, assuming individuals can still maintain 6 feet of separation for physical distancing requirements.
  • All meeting attendees must wear a face covering while sharing space in a common room.
  • During your time on-campus, you are encouraged to communicate with your colleagues and supervisors as needed by email, instant message (e.g. Google Chat, Slack etc.), telephone or other available technology rather than face-to-face. You can also use a range of available virtual collaboration tools (e.g. WebEx, Jabber, etc.).

Personal Conduct

Employees will be expected to follow the Guidelines for Distancing and Hygiene. This includes a daily health assessment and wearing a face covering when working outside a single person office.

More to Come

We will soon be launching a Return to Work website that will provide more information about your return to work. Please remember, the rules and our planning continue to evolve as new information becomes available. 

We look forward to welcoming you back to campus. If in the interim you have questions, please contact Human Resources at employment@MiamiOH.edu, 529-3131 or Academic Personnel Services at academicpersonnel@miamioh.edu.

Jason Osborne
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

David Creamer
Senior Vice President of Finance and Business Services

Friday, June 19, 2020 - Committee Report to the Board of Trustees

Thank you for inviting us to address you today. I am Dana (and I am Gwen) and we are speaking on behalf of the Safe Return to Campus Planning and Coordinating Committee.

We are a large broadly representative committee with local experience and expertise in communication, teaching, science and public health. We are working alongside and with the support of the Oxford Community, Butler County Health District, and Tri-Health organization. We openly engage in dialogue, digging deep into this incredibly complex and evolving situation.

Committee members bring their lived experiences, passions, and questions along with those they carry for others to whom they listen. They thoughtfully examine and explore the realities in which we are existing. We meet in a virtual world that has become integral to the work of higher education. And, we welcome you all into that world today. Here we ironically rely on digital tools and processes that we are seeking to transcend in August.

Specifically, our work has been to coordinate across all of Miami’s planning committees, listen to members of our community, research what is going on elsewhere in higher education and public health, collect, review and keep the community informed of evolving plans, and document Miami’s response to COVID-19 in order to understand and amplify what is working and change direction on what is not.

We are deliberative. We have created a social environment and processes that allow for many voices to be heard, but also help us stay nimble within a context that is ever-changing. Each meeting, we hear updates from health experts and do a brief scan of the State of the Situation - referencing current literature, scientific findings, monitoring national and global decisions and direction regarding COVID-19. This attention to the surrounding landscape broadens our perspective and understanding as we consider implications of decisions for our community. Additionally, several of our faculty members have engaged in gathering and interpreting scientific data that when applied locally and specifically to Miami have provided insightful understanding.

We are responsive and provide timely and effective feedback to leadership groups about the decisions they are making as well as the impact of those decisions on everyone within the Miami Community. Our committee is advisory, meaning that we do not make decisions. However, we have had an impact. We have examined several decisions or policies that are under development and offered new perspectives and feedback that have advanced the conversation. The structure of this committee has allowed for feedback to be gathered in a timely and efficient manner that has not delayed the decisions being made and has served to be more inclusive of thought.

One of our charges is to listen and we’ve received volumes of feedback that we have organized and amplified. We actively assess the pulse of our community by examining the emerging themes and common questions or concerns that are submitted through our website and the personal communications we receive. This evaluation has elevated our understanding of urgent information people are seeking, helping us to be proactive in our communication.

An initiative currently underway being influenced by the feedback coming in is the development of a robust and comprehensive website that will be a repository of information regarding COVID-19 and our return to campus. This website will be designed to assist all members of our community and provide information and resources.

Though we are different--we are parents, students, faculty, staff, administrators and community friends, we are unified in our concerns about personal health and safety and questions about what changes can be expected. To that end, we are working hard to help coordinate and communicate a comprehensive plan for our return to life with one another. This plan will require us ALL to envision a fall semester like no other and will require each of us to modify our expectations as well as our behavior.

Central to Miami’s mission is a high-quality residential experience where strong relationships are formed that change our perceptions of the world and our role in making it a better place for all. Our faculty and students proved this Spring that it was possible to maintain strong and meaningful interaction and rigorous learning via remote delivery while our staff found innovative and creative ways to continue engaging with and supporting students in a virtual environment. However, community is more valuable now than it has ever been, and the need to hear our own voices in concert with others should motivate us all to commit to the necessary changes that make coming back to campus possible.

The dedication and commitment of this committee exemplify the spirit in which Miamians seek to meet challenges and offer solutions. We are an example of the work that is occurring throughout this community and it is an honor to serve our University community in this critical work.

When we return, we will do so having renewed our commitment to the wellbeing of others. We acknowledge that we cannot return with the expectation that it is a return to normal; it is not. More than ever, we need a community of care where we ask ourselves what we each can contribute to the health, safety, and wellbeing of everyone else. Our commitment to others does not stop or start at the corner of Campus and High Street. We must understand that the choices we all make have ripple effects and that it will take an enormous amount of trust.

Thank you for your time and the opportunity to serve Miami in this way.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020 8:47 a.m.

Dear Miami Community,

The Safe Return to Campus Planning and Coordinating Committee had a productive and busy week. As you are aware, the committee’s website launched last week, just in time for the announcement about the fall academic calendar.

As that announcement made its way around our community, we were pleased that many of you found the button for the feedback form on that page and jotted us a note about your concerns, ideas, and continued questions. You will now find a link to the revised academic calendar as well.

We read every message that comes across. This week, we noticed common themes of concern emerge like personal health, academic flexibility, and the status of public events.

From the feedback we are receiving from the website as well as individuals and groups of people, we are constructing a list of Frequently Asked Questions. These are helpful to us as we consider what communications are of high interest and urgency. As we are able to answer them, you will be able to find those updates on this website.

Another concern that was expressed was the lack of graduate student representation on our committee. It was always our intention and we are pleased to announce that Brenda Tyrrell has agreed to join us.

We have also launched a scientific review team tasked with 1) monitoring current research on mainstream mitigation strategies such as hand washing and physical distancing; and 2) constructing detailed reviews of literature on emerging topics, such as drinking fountain usage.

With the academic calendar set, we are looking forward to hearing more of your ideas and communicating regular updates to you.

Love and Honor,

Co-chairs: Dana Cox and Gwen Fears

Wednesday, June 3, 2020 8:10 a.m.

Dear Miami Community,

The Safe Return to Campus (SR2C) Planning and Coordinating Committee is a broadly representative committee charged with advising the president and the President’s Executive Cabinet. Great care has been taken to assemble a diverse group. This group includes representatives from a variety of stakeholder groups—faculty, staff, students, and the Oxford community—and is assisted by both external and internal advisers on public health and safety.

Specifically, the SR2C is doing the following:

  • Coordinating efforts across all of Miami’s planning committees
  • Listening to members of our community for ideas and challenges
  • Researching what is going on elsewhere in higher education and public health
  • Reviewing and providing feedback on evolving plans with guidance from national health organizations as well as from key external advisers representing Oxford, the Inter-University Council of Ohio, the Ohio Department of Health, and local health providers
  • Collecting and disseminating proposals from around campus and providing feedback
  • Learning about Miami’s response to COVID-19 in order to understand and amplify what is working and change direction on what is not

Our committee is using a framework provided by the Inter-University Council of Ohio as a guiding document. This set of guidelines addresses the specifics of the safety of institutions of higher education. As we accomplish our goals, these guidelines will be an important way to focus our attention in the right place, and that we are taking a comprehensive view of safety on campus.

We expect that COVID-19 will be with us for the foreseeable future and are planning accordingly. We continue to work with local public health officials and follow the guidance and directives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Governor Mike DeWine, and the Ohio Department of Health to safeguard the health of students, faculty, staff and visitors to our campuses. We have further strengthened our relationship with our health-care partner, TriHealth.

Each week, the SR2C will update you on pertinent topics and information to keep you informed of the many discussions taking place on campus. Numerous committees are working to plan for our return to campus.

In order for us to best communicate with the Miami Community, we developed a new web resource that will both collect and disseminate information about our return. Use this website as your source destination for updated information about Miami’s plans. We encourage you to provide us with feedback and to ask us questions through a form available on the website. The committee plans regular, weekly updates every Tuesday to the community beginning next week.

As Miami moves forward in the planning process, there is a lot that we do not yet know, and many decisions have not yet been made. As these important discussions continue, we want your feedback and perspective to be included. It is up to all of us in the Miami community to work together toward our return to campus.

Love and Honor,

Co-chairs: Dana Cox and Gwen Fears