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Capilouto announces strategic goal for UK: ‘We plan to open in August’ for start of fall semester

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto sent an email message to the UK community on Friday addressing efforts to “reinvent normal” for the fall semester. The email message follows:

It’s a question that confronts us every day: How do we return to the vibrant and safe campus we are committed to when so much around us still seems so uncertain and there is still so much we don’t know?

You start with a goal. You create a thoughtful, flexible plan to achieve it.

Our goal:

We plan to open in August for our Fall semester.

The distinctive residential educational experience we provide at UK has attracted thousands of students from across Kentucky, the country and the globe. That experience is critical for the future. This differentiated education will be more necessary than ever to help us and our students meet the ongoing and daunting new challenges our world must now confront.

Our plan:

To reach our goal, we must act quickly over the next month-and-half to reinvent or reimagine what is normal in the wake of this public health crisis. To that end, we want to share with you the process we will undertake and the guiding principles to be followed:

• Three broad-based planning teams will work quickly to think about the most important questions that must be addressed to re-start campus.

• At the same time, an additional team is being created to develop strategies for screening, testing, tracing and treating on our campus to help ensure health and safety as part of our reinvented normal operations. Such strategies may also, potentially, assist the broader community and state we serve.

• The best ideas from that process will be handed off to our existing COVID-19 workstreams – 19 teams that have, for months, been addressing implementation issues related to the coronavirus.

• That collective work will form the basis of a campus operational plan that will be prepared and communicated by mid-June.

As always, we start with guiding principles:

• We will plan for a reinvented sense of normal operations on the first day of classes.

• We will, in everything that we do, work to ensure the health, safety and well-being of everyone in our community.

• We will incorporate other mission-critical areas into our overall plan. Health care, research and facilities management are working through detailed re-start plans. Athletics also is working on an operations plan in coordination with the Southeastern Conference.

• We will think through issues that may alter our plans, create planning scenarios and communicate clearly at each step.

Here are the details of this process:

• Three teams led by Associate Dean Anna Bosch (College of Arts and Sciences), Assistant Provost Katie Cardarelli (Office of Faculty Advancement), and Associate Provost Sue Roberts (UK International Center) and comprised of students, faculty and staff from across the campus will think through issues and make initial reports by mid-May. We’ve asked these three groups to work independently from each other to encourage creative thinking and distinct ideas. The teams already have begun meeting and brainstorming.

There are four major sets of questions the planning teams will address:

1. How do we return to in-class instruction that now must be complemented by – and enhanced with – digital instruction for faculty and students living on or off campus? And, how do we do that within a reinvented normal, fully prepared to prevent, detect, manage, treat and contain COVID-19? How do we make possible learning, healing and service for our entire community, including those who are at risk for serious illness?

2. What if we have to delay the start of the semester? What does that look like, and how do we shift those dates?

3. What would a hybrid approach look like, in which we are online for part of the semester and in class for another part, if there is a re-emergence of the virus?

4. What if events make a fully online approach to instruction necessary again? How would that transition take place, and what do we do with a campus that is about to begin operations or is already open?

• College of Medicine Dean Robert DiPaola is creating a team – Screening, Testing and Tracing to Accelerate Restart and Transition (START) – that is exploring a process for increased screening, testing and tracing across our campus community. The team will work on strategies for screening and testing that will complement each of the contingencies for which we are preparing in our plans to re-start the campus. We also recognize the potential to scale these strategies, down the line, for the broader community and industry in our state.

Eli Capilouto

Existing Emergency Operation Workstreams will take ideas and convert them into operating realities:

• Our senior leadership team will take the best ideas and provide them to the 19 workstreams already in place across campus.

• Final operational plans from those workstreams will be completed by the end of May.

• The workstreams – which cover issues such as academic course delivery, student success, dining, housing, facilities and faculty affairs, among others – have been continuously working for more than two months in response to COVID-19 issues.

• We will have a final campus plan in place in mid-June, keeping in mind that we will continue to be flexible as health conditions, as well as state and federal guidance related to the virus, evolve.

All of this information can be found at uky.edu/coronavirus. Importantly, we encourage you to provide input. Email us at coronavirus@uky.edu with feedback.

In an uncertain world, we must think about new challenges that we’ve never before confronted. And, we do so as the world seems to shift daily under our feet. You’ve handled every stress and strain with the grace and grit that defines this place.

You make us the University of, for and with Kentucky.

Thank you.

Eli Capilouto

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