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NKU to Reopen in Fall with Mandatory Face-Coverings, Reduced Student Housing

Northern Kentucky University announced plans to return this fall with a new initiative, [email protected] St. Elizabeth Healthcare, Gravity Diagnostics, and the Northern Kentucky Health Department are partnering with the Highland Heights campus on the reopening plan.

"The partnership will enable testing for individuals with symptoms and contact-tracing for those who test positive," NKU President Ashish Vaidya said in a note to the campus community. "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. As the fall approaches, we hope that [email protected] evolves and embodies one of SBD’s key objectives of enhancing the culture of service-orientation that respects the realities of our students’ lives and provides consistent, responsive care and support across all areas of the university. 

"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."

NKU will resume in-person class meetings in fall 2020, Vaidya said. There will be a combination of offerings that include both face-to-face and online/remote elements. To achieve appropriate social distancing, small classes will be moved to larger classrooms, and large classes will either be reduced in size or relocated to large rooms in the Student Union or other campus facilities. Some in-person classes will be simultaneously delivered face-to-face and online/remotely, while others will be designed to allow for a combination of in-person and online participation.

Steely Library will be open with a number of health and social distancing protocols in place. Other spaces on campus will also be made available to accommodate students enrolled in both online and in-person classes. For example, IT is currently working on an app for students to reserve study rooms across campus.

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)

Classes will begin on August 17, 2020, as scheduled.

Fall convocations and our 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.

This precaution is being taken to avoid a potential spike in COVID-19 infection rates after students, faculty, and staff return from the travel often associated with school breaks. Fall Break will take place in October as planned.

NKU students, faculty, staff, and visitors are required to wear facial coverings and observe social distancing criteria on campus for as long as CDC and Kentucky health guidelines advise. 

On the days that students, faculty, and staff plan on being on-campus, they will need to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms using the [email protected] 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.

Campus Recreation will reopen on August 3. 

NKU will offer on-campus housing in Fall 2020. 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. With the proposed limited residency model that will house just over 1,000 students, University Housing will prioritize room assignments for nonlocal students, students with extenuating life circumstances, and first year students required to live on campus as outlined in the First Year Student Residency Requirement. Students will be notified as soon as possible of any changes in housing assignments, and University Housing will strive to accommodate student housing needs and assist in finding alternative housing arrangements in the local area if needed. The fall semester move-in process will take place over a series of days to accommodate physical distancing.

NKU will resume athletic practices and intercollegiate competitions when it is safe to do so, Vaidya said. 

-Staff report