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WSU looking ahead in preparation for fall semester

Members of the WSU community are actively evaluating developments surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and crafting plans based on the best available information on how to return to a sense of normalcy as safely as possible.

Ongoing planning efforts across the WSU system were discussed at-length during the fourth COVID-19 virtual town hall Friday. The entire presentation can viewed online.

Conversations concerning the return of in-person instruction for Fall 2020 are robust and ongoing, President Kirk Schulz told participants during the town hall.

“Safety for our faculty, staff and student is paramount,” Schulz said, noting that WSU is developing a robust plan that it will clearly articulated to the public to garner their support.

This upcoming fall semester won’t be exactly like prior semesters, and will include the best available instruction technology to ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff. But the value of learning from one another as peers in shared space is also critical.

“Education is more than content delivery,” Schulz said. “As I talk to our families, our faculty and staff, there is an inherent value in us being together.”

Participants in the town hall heard from Schulz, Interim Provost Bryan Slinker, Stacy Pearson, vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer and Theresa Elliot‑Cheslek, vice president and chief human resource officer.

Slinker noted that WSU faculty, led by Guy Palmer, regents professor of pathology and infectious diseases, are modeling scenarios for the fall and developing plans for things like contact tracing to ensure safe operations. He also noted that draft guidance on WSU’s plan for ramping up research has gone out to faculty, who are encouraged to participate in a town hall at 11 a.m. May 19.

Elliot‑Cheslek addressed a question on teleworking for WSU employees, stating that for the foreseeable future, they are encouraged to continue to work from home. Plenty of notice will be provided as plans change.

In response to a question about projected deficits at the state level, Schulz said unit and college leaders are being asked to come up with plans on how to manage budget reductions. No decisions on budgets have been made, and WSU will continue to look at plans with core principals at top of mind.

Additional information on WSU’s plans will continue to be distributed to the community throughout the summer. The next COVID-19 virtual town hall is scheduled for May 29.