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ETSU workgroup releases plan for return to campus

East Tennessee State University’s Future Operations Workgroup, which was tasked with developing a plan for academics and services to return to campus, released its recommendations today for a phased return beginning this month.
The report includes a series of operational stages, 1-4, designed to address the need for loosening or restricting physical distancing measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. ETSU moved all of its teaching online and the majority of its employees have been working remotely since March. This was Stage 1 of the university’s plan.
In recent days, the university entered Stage 2, or the process of transitioning back to campus. A soft opening will begin on June 15, at which time some employees will return to their offices working on rotational schedules, while others continue to work remotely. This period of transition will be in preparation to welcome the public back to ETSU by July 1.
All summer courses will be taught online as planned; however, some experiential learning opportunities may be offered in-person on a case-by-case basis.
The university will transition into Stage 3 at the beginning of the fall semester when ETSU fully plans to offer face-to-face instruction whenever possible and to have students living within its residence halls and observing appropriate safety precautions that will be outlined in the Residence Life Operations Plan.
The recommendations also outline decisions that will need to be made regarding calendars and other events during the fall semester. ETSU will continue to follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, the State of Tennessee and other entities in making those decisions. Some decisions will be subject to approval from the university’s Board of Trustees.
“The Future Operations Workgroup was charged with creating a framework that could be easily adapted to meeting the needs of the ever-changing COVID-19 environment,” said ETSU President Brian Noland. “They have done an outstanding and masterful job developing strategies that ensure a safe return for our students, faculty and staff to our campus while continuing our work within our teaching, research and service missions.”
The workgroup’s recommendations were reviewed by ETSU’s senior leadership earlier this week and released to campus today. ETSU University Council will meet to discuss the plan next week.
President Noland also announced that he will host a Town Hall via Zoom on Tuesday, June 9, at 11 a.m. to answer questions about the plan. Feedback from the listening sessions will help guide the implementation strategies.