University officials are mandating face coverings and moving the fall semester online after Thanksgiving break in its plan to safely reopen campus.
Face coverings will be mandatory for all indoor spaces unless someone is alone in a private office. They will also be required outdoors when physical distancing is not possible. All residence halls will be open, but roommates will not be required to wear masks in their private living spaces.
“At ACU, our top priority has been – and will always be – the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff,” Phil Schubert, president of the university, said in an email Thursday. “With that in mind, we have developed a plan that harnesses what we know today and provides flexibility for the fall.”
The fall semester will continue as planned Aug. 24 but will move online after Nov. 24. Students will finish the final week of class and finals week in an online setting Dec. 11.
The university also recommended staff, faculty and students to limit travel outside Abilene to only necessary travel.
“While we certainly recognize the need and desire of some faculty, staff and students to travel this fall, and for our students to return home on weekends, we recommend travel to and from Abilene be limited to essential travel only,” Schubert said. “This will help keep our community safe and preserve our face-to-face learning environment.”
Updated class schedules will be available to all students July 13, as the university has allowed 20 minutes in between classes and staggered class schedules.
More than 78% of class sections will have face-to-face instruction, with less than 8% of class sections online. Another 14% are through independent study and internships. New class times have been added, but no classes are scheduled on Saturdays or Sundays.
Classroom spaces are being modified to provide six-foot physical distancing between students, and instructors will be distanced 10 feet away from the class.
Large group chapel will remain suspended for the semester and small group chapel will take its place. Other gatherings are still being assessed.
“Our fall plan reflects a commitment to preserve the health and well-being of our campus community and fulfill our mission of providing a transformative residential experience for our students,” Schubert said. “ACU will remain flexible as new information continues to emerge in the coming weeks and months.”