Building A Community of Care: Fall Return to Campus
The University of Denver’s vision is to be a great private university dedicated to the public good. The challenges of COVID-19 provide us with an opportunity to lean deeply into our vision – taking precautions to care for one another’s health & well-being while we support advancement of the public good through our education, research, scholarship, creative work, and service.
To that end, our first safety net is to support our entire community’s collaboration and education in all the ways the university is working to guide, support, and protect alongside a clear understanding of public health ordinance, individual responsibility, and community engagement. In this comprehensive document, we provide our fall return to campus framework. This living document will be regularly updated as we work alongside our health partner, scientific leaders, and with careful attention to federal, state, and local ordinance and guidance. We look forward to our fall return of vibrant on-campus living, academics and co-curricular experiences.
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Return to Campus FAQs
How do we ensure students abide by University guidelines?
We are working with several student groups, which are grateful the University is providing multiple options for course types (online, hybrid, hyflex, and in-person). While college students do appreciate having a social life, many have been taking this very seriously because they want to be able to return campus safely.
During the first summer session, we did not see any issues with the small cohort of students that attended class in-person wearing face coverings. However, we remain realistic in our expectations. All students will be asked to sign a pledge which commits the student to the protocols for safety on and off campus. Extra disposable face coverings will be available at the entrance of every building so students who forgot their face coverings can have quick and easy access, keeping the class moving safety. Incidences referred to student rights and responsibilities will have a variety of outcomes from interim measures of suspension to educational-based habit adaptation. In extreme circumstances, campus safety will be called and assist with the situation.
Will faculty and staff be able to enforce the wearing of face coverings?
Yes. We encourage a supportive, collaborative and caring interaction that directs students to get a disposable face covering located at the entry of every building.
Will DU require students to sign a community compact/contract, agreeing that they will comply with community rules?
The University of Denver is working on a pledge campaign that will be available before the fall quarter return.
How have students helped develop and implement the action plan?
Students are involved in the Canvas course development. Students are serving on the Chancellor’s advisory task force, and we are regularly reaching out to leaders of the student governing bodies. Students have also designed and are leading a campus campaign.
Why is DU holding any in-person classes when every interaction contains risk?
We are not insisting that people take classes in person. Both instructors and students have choices. Some people evaluate the situation and do not want to or are unable to be in person. Others would like to. Having a comprehensive plan prioritizes our community member’s safety.
Sharing these plans openly and gathering opinions, questions and suggestions allows us the best chance for success. This does not mean the University is not continuously assessing the safety of this approach nor developing triggers based on various thresholds to move the University to a different phase in our Campus Access and Support Plan. We developed the phased approach recognizing that we will need to pivot and react appropriately as conditions change.
We have typically been more cautious in our reopening compared to the State of Colorado to ensure that our protocols were best placed to mitigate risk as we increased the number of people on campus.
With case levels at the same level as mid-April, why is DU reopening campus?
Conditions in mid-March/April are far different than they are currently in July. In Mid-March/April relatively no testing was available, so we had no sense of the number of symptomatic or asymptomatic cases. Test results took more than 14 days to return which provided no capability for effective contract tracing. The University had no comprehensive plan and safety protocols in place. There was no symptom monitoring to proactively keep people from campus, and hospitals were becoming overwhelmed. All we had was a clear directive for hand hygiene, and we did not have social distancing or face covering mandates. In addition, supply chain issues were so severe that we had limited disinfection capabilities and no ability to secure face coverings for more than the few essential personnel on campus. Our risk susceptibility because of the lack of underlying infrastructure, policy, and experience made moving to remote work and learning the most prudent action until we brought all these needed and essential capabilities on line.
For the fall, the University has our new action plan, refined twice-daily symptom monitoring, robust contact-tracing capabilities, and access to a health partner guaranteeing testing capabilities. We now also have clear policies around enforcement, work/learning environment alterations that support social distancing, and supplies on campus to support disinfection and face coverings. These are not simply procedures or policies on paper but extensively tested and refined across months to be as prepared as possible. Based on an assessment from the John Hopkins preparedness assessment tool, the University of Denver is sufficiently prepared to be considered at low risk for a fall opening.
University Operations FAQs
What are enrollment projections if stay-at-home orders are reinstated?
Those universities that have already announced a movement to entirely online in the fall have seen significant enrollment declines in their first year, first-time students. This ranges from 15 to 30 percent. Given DU’s price point, we have been modeling similar declines for financial scenarios II and III.
What are the financial repercussions if DU needs to close campus in the fall?
If we are required to close campus and move all classes online in the fall, we expect to incur significant additional revenue losses and expenses. Broad contingency plans to maintain our viability are in place.
How will DU manage a positive case traced by to an in-person class?
The full response to a positive case is provided in the positive response protocol. We always notify, by phone or email, anyone who has had close contact with a person who has tested positive for SA-CoV-2.
How transparently will DU report cases found on campus?
You can find an up-to-date list, by week, of the number of positive cases on campus per the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) definitions on the website (scroll down to mid-page). The information on that website exactly mirrors what we report to DDPHE and they report to CDPHE.
What specific threshold will need to be passed before we go to fully online once again?
A range of triggers for moving in both directions of our Phased Campus Access and Support Plan is in development and will be shared when it is completed.
How will University building access be affected?
Because we anticipate significantly fewer staff on campus, exterior doors will be locked. During Phase III of the Campus Access and Support plan, individual buildings will continue to be locked and only individuals who are approved to return to campus will be able to enter using their Pioneer card.
If you do not have your ID card, please visit the card office in South Driscoll.
- Is the campus shuttle in operation?
Is Anderson Academic Commons still open?
Visit the DU Libraries website for the most up to date information.
How will the decision be made to close campus should the need arise?
The policies and procedures in the action plan are designed to minimize the possibility of an outbreak and therefore the need to close down the campus. With that said, the University will closely monitor cases on campus, in Colorado, and across the country. We may be required to close campus and therefore move back to fully online classes if state or city ordinances require us to do so. Outside of state and city ordinances, if there is an outbreak on campus, we may be required, or may elect, to move to only online classes, and we have contingencies in place for such an occurrence. The DU community will need to remain nimble given the uncertainties posed by the Coronavirus, but we will make every effort to remain on campus as long as we can do so safely.
Will the University keep the community informed about positive cases on campus?
Yes. Our COVID-19 website will have running totals of positive cases of COVID-19 on campus over three months—the same information we are required to submit to the Colorado Health Department.
What if I am unable to return to campus for a host of reasons?
Faculty and staff members should visit the workplace accommodations request form to document informal arrangements with supervisors and to request COVID-19 work accommodations. Students may enroll in online or hyflex courses when possible to meet their needs. And, within in-person or hybrid classes, individual accommodations will be managed through the Disability Support Program.
What if I am a faculty or staff member with health issues or feel that it is unsafe to be in a working environment right now?
Faculty and staff members should visit the workplace accommodations request form to document informal arrangements with supervisors and to request COVID-19 work accommodations.
Why can’t the endowment be used to fill some of the financial shortfall caused by COVID-19?
The endowment is intended to support the institution now and in future years based on donor wishes articulated in the many gift agreements that comprise the endowment. DU’s endowment is made up of more than 1300 different funds. The corpus of the endowment is used to generate investment returns – 65 percent of which are used for financial aid to students.
As of March 31, 2020, 70 percent of the DU endowment has donor restrictions that must be honored for use of endowment returns. These are not unrestricted dollars available for any institutional use. The remaining 30 percent is unrestricted, but 83 percent of that number was set aside as a quasi-endowment in 2015 and 2017. The returns on those funds are used for financial aid. The Board of Trustees may look at increasing the payout distribution above the current 4.5 percent—likely to support greater financial aid needs.
If the returns on the endowment do not cover the payout, then the corpus erodes. That can put us in violation of UPMIFA (Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act). This act requires that nonprofits do not spend below the original value of contributions and that investing and spending be maintained at a rate that preserves the purchasing power of the endowment in perpetuity.
Our department is working from home with limited or no access to our building, how will we receive mail or packages for our department?
Mail Services are in different phases of our campus access and support plan. Please refer to this document for mail services among other campus services.
When does the mail go out?
Our mail is picked up daily by our dedicated US letter carrier at around 2:45 p.m.