DSU staff to return to campus next week

By FROM STAFF REPORTS,

Delta State University staff members are preparing to return to campus next week.

A letter from DSU President Bill LaForge confirmed this week that the summer work schedule of Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. will commence May 26. Summer classes are still being taught by faculty online. 

“I know that it has been a trying and disruptive time for everyone since the pandemic emergency was declared in mid-March,” LaForge told faculty and staff. “By reopening—safely and with exceptional cautionary procedures, as you will note in the information attached—we hope to restore some semblance of normalcy to everyone’s work production and life.”

This announcement comes as the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning revealed this week plans for its facilities to return to more normal, in-person operations in the fall.

“For the most part, staff will be the majority of professionals populating the campus until the fall,” LaForge said. “Our summer plans call for all online instruction, so our faculty will still be teaching, but from home or their offices, as they choose.  They will be coming and going from time to time, but, with building closures, that will be limited as well.  Other than a few student-athletes at the Chadwick-Dickson building and the Dorgan Center, there will be no students on campus during the summer sessions.  Student recruitment is underway full speed, and we will have several virtual new student orientation programs in June and July for our incoming students this fall.”

Below is the letter to the faculty and staff in its entirety, along with areas of the campus that have a different expected opening date than May 26.

Greetings, Staff and Faculty Colleagues:

As I announced in last week’s Campus Update, all staff will return to campus on Tuesday, May 26, with the summer work schedule of Monday through Thursday, 7:00am to 5:30pm. I look forward to welcoming all of you back to your campus workplace.

I know that it has been a trying and disruptive time for everyone since the pandemic emergency was declared in mid-March.  By reopening—safely and with exceptional cautionary procedures, as you will note in the information attached—we hope to restore some semblance of normalcy to everyone’s work production and life.

As we return to campus, our first priority is your safety and well-being, as well as that of our students.  Please read the guidelines attached, and adhere strictly to all aspects of our plan—for your and everyone else’s safety.  For the most part, staff will be the majority of professionals populating the campus until the fall.  Our summer plans call for all online instruction, so our faculty will still be teaching, but from home or their offices, as they choose.  They will be coming and going from time to time, but, with building closures, that will be limited as well.  Other than a few student-athletes at the Chadwick-Dickson building and the Dorgan Center, there will be no students on campus during the summer sessions.  Student recruitment is underway full speed, and we will have several virtual new student orientation programs in June and July for our incoming students this fall.

Some very special thanks are in order at this point.  I am very grateful to those staff members who have physically been working on campus during the last nine weeks.  They have done yeoman service in performing essential duties necessary to keep the university operational.  That includes our exceptional Vice Presidents and Cabinet members who have been working tirelessly to formulate plans and responses regarding the COVID-19 virus.  I also appreciate very much the efforts of so many dedicated staff members who have had to make significant adjustments to allow them to work from home during these trying times.  Likewise, our outstanding faculty made a successful and remarkable quick transition to all online instruction beginning in March that paved the way for classes to continue, students to complete the semester of work, and seniors to graduate.  I sincerely thank our faculty for that profound contribution to our successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With gratitude, I acknowledge the persistence, patience, creativity, and dedication of our faculty and staff professionals.  We have come through a lot of adversity, and there inevitably will be more challenges.  But, with all of us pitching in as you have so wonderfully demonstrated, we are “in a good place” today.  I realize that many, if not all, of you have experienced some level of frustration because you have not been able to operate as usual and at 100%.  Well, that is about to change.  I hope that our return to a level of normalcy on campus will help you “get back in the groove.”

Please review the attached guidelines carefully.  They are the keys to our successful venture during the next several months.  We all need to act responsibly to protect ourselves and others from the virus, while moving the university forward.  It is our hope and intention to open the fall semester in August with an adjusted academic calendar and many of the same protections and policies in place that are noted in the attached document.  We will update you soon on those plans. 

The attached “Guide for Returning to the Workplace” provides directions regarding where you are to report on Tuesday, along with new guidelines regarding symptom monitoring and face mask requirements that will be in place. I know there is A LOT of detail and information in this document; however, it is important for you to read it carefully, to digest the information, and to implement the protocols. Please do not simply glance at the document and then start asking questions of your supervisor or the HR department. I assure you that most of your questions can be answered by reading the document carefully.

I have listed below areas that have a different opening date than May 26, or a change in regular operations.

Child Development Center

Delta State’s Hamilton-White Child Development Center will re-open on June 1.

Fitness Center and Mayers Aquatics Center

Delta State has not set a date by which the Fitness Center and Mayers Aquatics Center will re-open.

Summer Camps

Delta State will resume operation of summer camps on July 1. However, only commuter camps will be allowed to operate. Summer camps that require a residential stay or use of the dining hall are not permitted.

Travel

The University has extended the suspension of all domestic and international travel until August 1. Any exceptions must be approved at the vice presidential level.

As you can see from the attached document, a lot of thought and planning has gone into our guidelines for resuming campus operations next week.  There may be a need for tweaks or exceptions, so please let your supervisor know of any suggestions you have.  We need everyone’s total commitment to and engagement in the new protocols, so please join us for a healthy and safe return to campus. 

I look forward to all staff returning to your stations on Tuesday.  As noted previously, we are developing plans for faculty and students to return in full-force for the fall term, and we will keep you updated on plans.

Welcome back to campus, Colleagues!      

Very best regards,

Bill LaForge

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