Published: June 18, 2020

Announced at the end of May, the CU Boulder community is making preparations for a COVID-19-ready campus for the fall semester, with classes beginning on Aug. 24. Three groups were established to assist in the implementation of the Road Map to Fall 2020:

  • COVID-19-Ready Campus Team
  • Academic Instruction Team
  • Resource Alignment Team

These teams are hard at work building the infrastructure and procedures that will be necessary to mitigate risk and facilitate research and teaching this fall. As part of this iterative process, the teams are committed to sharing regular updates on their progress.

Key to the success of all the teams is the overall strategy to reduce the number of potentially infectious contacts on campus by 55% or more. This does not simply mean that there will be 55% fewer people on campus, but instead means that we will be using a combination of strategies to reduce contacts. Those include:

  • Density reduction–Many employees will be working remotely, and we will not be holding large lectures and many other events in person.
  • Social distancing–We will be reconfiguring our classrooms and workspaces to allow for social distancing. A classroom that might ordinarily hold 75 students would be used by 25 people after you create at least a 6 foot radius of distance for the students and faculty.
  • Personal protective equipment–We have ordered personal protective equipment and will supply two reusable masks for students, faculty and staff. We also will have sanitation stations. 
  • Facilities modification–We are modifying HVAC systems and ordering HEPA/MERV 13 filtration systems. We will install barriers where necessary.
  • Alternative spaces–We will be holding classes in places where we haven’t held classes before, such as outdoor spaces and conference rooms. We need to use all of our space wisely to maximize our capacity.
  • Expanded scheduling–We’re going to be starting classes earlier in the day, having them run later in the evenings and making sure that we’re using the entire workweek.

News from the COVID-19-ready Campus Team

The COVID-19 testing team continues to develop a baseline plan and evaluate new testing approaches. The baseline commitment for fall will be:

  • Initial PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) testing for fall move-in/return to campus of approximately 9,000 individuals, giving priority to  higher risk areas and populations. This will help identify and quickly isolate positive cases among those returning to campus.
  • Ongoing monitoring/testing. Pooled testing is one of multiple strategies the campus is exploring to provide the greatest ability to detect the early presence of COVID-19 in large populations.
  • Surface and sewage testing also under evaluation. The campus is looking at multiple environmental approaches to monitor for signs of infection. Testing the wastewater from buildings and surface areas, the campus can identify COVID-19 and conduct additional testing for the people who work or reside in those facilities.
  • Syndromic testing. We will have the ability on campus to test individuals who are displaying any symptoms of COVID-19 infection.

A public health safety and awareness campaign is also underway in partnership with the implementation team and many campus partners. The campaign began with the first wave of researchers returning to campus and to-date includes:

  • Skillsoft training on COVID-19 awareness and safety
  • Daily health questionnaire
  • Signage: Posters for entry points and interior spaces in research facilities including reminders about the daily health questionnaire, the Skillsoft training and need for physical distancing, wearing a face covering and hand washing.

News from the Academic Instruction Team

Departments, programs, colleges and schools have been hard at work re-imagining their fall 2020 course offerings. The Office of the Registrar is evaluating and compiling the curricular spreadsheets submitted by the schools and colleges on June 12, and notification has been sent to continuing students about the new, extended 20-minute passing period and the beginning of shifts to class schedules.

Key milestones so far:

  • A First-Year Academic Experience (FYAE) has been planned for all first-year students that incorporates Residential Academic Program (RAP) instructors (now called FYAE instructors), directors and staff.
  • The process of cohorting first-year students into residential halls based on college, major and other interest groups is fully underway.
  • Determining classroom capacity and alternative classroom and other student meeting space to accommodate instructional needs and conform to COVID-19 mitigation guidelines.
  • A survey has been sent to college/school/department/program leadership on academic and classroom technology needs and requests, with submissions due by June 19.

News from the Resource Alignment Team

The resource alignment team is working to pin down details for the fall, and some of the ideas, actions and proposals being explored include:

  • Ordering masks for students, faculty and staff.
  • Ordering hand sanitizer for all building entryways and high-traffic areas, as well as disinfecting wipes for classrooms.
  • Ordering HEPA air filtration units for naturally ventilated classrooms.
  • Determining learning-collaboration video tools, WiFi footprint and priorities and audiovisual needs for instructors.
  • Determining overall space and classroom needs.
  • Prioritizing use of financial resources.
  • Creating a working group to support the needs of returning students and employees during the first two weeks of the fall semester.
  • Reviewing a proposal to purchase free-standing Plexiglas barriers on wheels for activities such as music performances, language labs and others.

Do you have a question or comment about implementation team work on the Road Map to Fall 2020? Submit a question or comment.