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May 19, 2020: Fall Planning First Steps

Message from President Allison Garrett

May 19, 2020

Dear ESU Faculty and Staff,

A little more than a week ago, we congratulated our 2020 graduates for finishing their college career amidst a final semester filled with unexpected changes. I want to congratulate all of you, also, for completing the spring 2020 semester while demonstrating ESU’s adaptability and your resilience.

Now we turn our focus to summer classes and the even larger task of preparing for face-to-face classes in the fall. In an earlier campus communication, we announced that summer classes for the first session — through June 26 — are all being offered online. In the Summer 2 session, which begins June 29, some classes will be offered with face-to-face instruction.

This summer as we prepare for fall, the same adaptability and resilience that you already demonstrated is needed. I want to share with you the principles that guide our work, how our efforts are organized and what you can expect next. As I mentioned during the virtual Town Hall for faculty, staff and students earlier this month, we are planning for face-to-face classes for the fall semester. But COVID-19 is unpredictable, and the situation remains fluid, so we must also plan for other scenarios.

Next week, your supervisor will receive templates to assist your department as you plan your department’s return to campus. The campus community will continue to receive ongoing updates and communication as we finalize plans and guidelines for a safe return to campus.

Keep reading to learn about the guiding principles and workgroups that will develop the framework for our return to campus.


All fall planning is guided by these principles that keep us focused on what is best for the common good:

  • The safe return of Emporia State’s students, faculty and staff is paramount.
  • High-quality learning. ESU will deliver high-quality learning opportunities for students.
  • Look to experts. We will adhere to health guidance and benchmarks from university, local, state and federal entities and follow, to the extent reasonably practicable, discipline-specific guidance provided.
  • Forward progress. We will take reasonable and prudent measures and will transition to the next stage when we have, at minimum, fulfilled guidance from local health officials.
  • Additional steps. If warranted, Emporia State will apply additional restrictions to provide a safe environment for our campus community.
  • Recognize individual circumstances. ESU will work with employees and students who are members of vulnerable populations or who live with someone who is a member of a vulnerable population.
  • Remote work. We will encourage and support remote work to the greatest extent possible for as long as necessary, with supervisor approval.
  • Target dates and stages will be used to provide timelines and parameters to gradually return faculty, staff and students to campus as operations increase. Each department will use the ESU Roadmap and planning tools to build its individualized return to campus plans and timing.


Our Fall Planning Group includes 24 members who represent ESU’s administrative team, including faculty, student government, technology, health services, facilities, human resources, financial aid, registration, athletics, finance, academic success, residential life, communications and diversity, equity and inclusion.

As we navigate the myriad of questions that must be answered to finalize our re-opening plan, members of the Fall Planning Group will seek advice from other individuals and groups. Already smaller groups all over campus are at work on topics that include:

  • tools faculty need for the fall semester;
  • guidance for classrooms and instruction to allow for social distancing and best practices;
  • redesign of large events and the use of campus public venues;
  • safe workspaces;
  • health self-assessment;
  • cleaning protocols and
  • athletics modifications.

All of this work has a central question: How do we reimagine our work and campus life within the new framework of social distancing, current health guidelines and emerging health guidelines? We have much work ahead to bring Hornet Nation back together on campus.

Since we left campus in mid-March, many of you have shared with me examples of Hornets caring for Hornets and our community and finding creative solutions to situations we did not expect to face. I have every confidence that Emporia State University faculty, staff and students will embrace this same adaptive spirit as we work together for the fall 2020 semester.


Allison D. Garrett