As we approach the middle of summer, I want to provide you another update on our planning for the fall semester. As previously expressed, MBU plans to reopen in the fall while offering the unique “MBU experience” so many of you desire to the fullest extent possible.
For months, administrators, faculty and staff, along with the University’s COVID-19 Action Team, have been working diligently to bring us all back to campus safely. Our scenario planning and preparation is comprehensive and touches all areas of the University; however, it is also nimble and allows the University to quickly make modifications that keep the well-being of our students paramount. Ultimately, we will continue to rely on data and experts in the healthcare field to inform adjustments to our planning as needed.
In keeping with our commitment to communicate news and updates often and transparently, the University has launched the “MBU Returns to Campus” web page. The link can be accessed from mobap.edu and will provide up-to-date information regarding adjustments and modifications due to COVID-19. Following are overarching changes and decisions that, to date, have resulted from our planning:
- The University is completing a master plan for classroom assignments and scheduling that will modify classroom locations based on enrollment and classroom dimensions, taking public health physical distancing guidelines into consideration. This plan will include time for cleaning and sanitization of classrooms in between meeting times.
- In light of public health distancing guidelines, a significant number of courses will adapt to a blended delivery model in which students are divided into groups that meet face to face only on certain days of the week and join in video conference on other class days. This decision is in keeping with our objective to continue to offer in-person courses, which so many of you desire.
- At this point, MBU is keeping with the academic calendar start and end dates as published in the catalog and on the MBU website. However, MBU faculty are preparing their courses in a way that, if necessary, would allow them to quickly pivot to an online or hybrid model.
- To reduce density and increase physical distancing, the University will offer voluntary single-occupancy for the 2020-2021 academic year.
- A block of Spartan Row has been designated for quarantine and self-isolation.
- Guests will not be allowed in residence halls unless approved by a Resident Life staff member.
- Furniture in public spaces will be limited and configured in accordance with social distancing guidelines.
Dining Hall and The Perk
- All employees will wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Self-service options will be limited and to-go meals will be encouraged.
- Hours of operation will be expanded and table configurations will be modified to encourage physical distancing.
- Floor markings and physical distancing signage have been added.
Athletics and Fitness
- In accordance with NAIA, the University intends to proceed with its fall athletic schedule. Competition for fall teams will begin Sept. 5 except football, which will begin Sept. 12. The delayed start dates will result in a slightly abbreviated season.
- The University’s athletic teams will adhere to NAIA guidelines for prescreening and physical distancing, including, if warranted, temperature checks. For more information related to NAIA’s COVID-19 planning, please visit here.
- The Fitness Center and Weight Room will open, following physical distancing protocols as well as cleaning and disinfecting guidelines.
- Understanding its importance in the overall growth and formation of MBU students, the University is committed to continuing to hold weekly chapel service. The service will allow for physical distancing and live-stream capabilities. Similar to the blended class delivery, students may expect to view chapel in person at times and, at other times, via video.
Campus Operations and University-wide protocols (including Regional Learning Centers)
- Plexiglass safety barriers have been installed in high-density campus locations.
- The University has increased the frequency of disinfecting high-touch surfaces including public restrooms, doorknobs and railings. In addition, touchless faucets and foot pull devices have been installed in restrooms.
- The MBU community will wear face coverings while in public spaces. Face coverings will be provided to all students and visitors.
- Signage has been placed around campus communicating procedures and guidelines.
- Plans are being developed to ensure thorough cleaning of classrooms in between class periods.
- Hand sanitation stations have been installed in high-traffic locations.
- The University has increased the efficiency rating on HVAC filters and increased the frequency of replacement.
- The University will be employing a disinfectant sprayer device to treat University vehicles and furniture.
Undoubtedly, there will be many more details to announce as the semester approaches. Make sure to check “MBU Returns to Campus” often for the latest information. I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday weekend as we celebrate our nation’s independence. During these challenging times, I am so thankful to lead a University in a country where we can freely carry out our Christ-centered, hope-filled mission.
Happy Fourth of July,
Dr. Keith Ross