ACU Faculty and Staff,
We are thankful to be opening our semester, and we look forward to welcoming our students back to campus this weekend. As we prepare for their return, we know we face an elevated risk as the pandemic continues to impact the Abilene community and our nation. We are working in partnership with the local health department, and having ongoing conversations with them, to promote a safe start to the semester.
We fully expect to have a significant number of COVID-19 cases as we begin the semester, but not more than we are prepared to handle. The experience we gained last fall as we took successful measures to reduce the prevalence of cases on our campus has informed our spring planning. Our classrooms have proven to be one of the safest places to be based on all of our protocols, and the vast majority of COVID contact and spread has occurred outside of the classroom.
As students prepare to return this weekend, they have been asked to quarantine if they have traveled, and to strongly consider being tested prior to their return if they have been exposed to others who may have COVID-19 or are experiencing any symptoms themselves. Those already in Abilene have been reminded of testing resources available at our medical clinic.
We expect the vaccine to be available on our campus sometime this spring. Once we receive it, we will notify you of our plans to make it available. Meanwhile, we will continue to require face masks and emphasize social distancing to protect the health and safety of our campus community. We are also taking the following steps immediately:
|•||Because COVID symptoms can mirror allergies, we strongly encourage anyone experiencing such symptoms to self-quarantine at home and get tested.|
|•||We are implementing surveillance testing for anyone participating in student activities.|
|•||We are expanding grab-and-go food options at The Bean.|
|•||All departmental and other administrative meetings should be held virtually.|
|•||No visitors will be allowed in residence halls.|
|•||We will not be selling individual tickets to athletic events to those outside of the ACU community other than approved guests from the visiting team.|
No plan is perfect in such a challenging environment, and we know more adjustments may be necessary in the coming days and weeks. I’m reminded of how important it is for our students to be back on campus, together in our community. We will continue to watch our numbers closely and monitor the local and statewide situation daily. While our counts may be higher than we would like, we are taking all appropriate steps to isolate and quarantine those who require it, and provide contact tracing. Cleaning protocols put in place last fall for classrooms and other indoor spaces are continuing.
Many of us have experienced this virus firsthand, either personally or through loved ones and friends. We pray this pandemic ends soon. In the meantime, we ask for your continued diligence to safeguard yourself and those in community with you. Together, and with God’s providence, we will emerge stronger.