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October 28, 2020

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Bluffton University addresses COVID-19

Beginning on March 16 through April 13 academic coursework will take place in an online format and/or remote options

Cancels all large indoor
gatherings (any group of
20 or more) and public
events until April 13

Bluffton University, in alignment with Governor Mike DeWine’s recommendations made yesterday, has established the following plan to protect its students, employees, visitors and the Bluffton community. 

“I recognize that this is a deeply disruptive time in our world. Bluffton is a caring community, and I invite us to come together and support our efforts to follow the Governor’s recommendations and continue to live out Bluffton’s educational mission in all that we do,” said President Jane Wood.

“As a residential campus, Bluffton University recognizes that some students do not have the ability to return home and therefore the university will remain open, including student support services, the Learning Resource Center, academic resources, residence and dining facilities, athletic and recreation facilities. Beginning today, the university is implementing a plan for remote learning options.”

The following measures that were shared via email, will be implemented immediately and will extend through Easter Break (Monday, April 13). Bluffton will continue to evaluate new information as it develops and share updates as they become available. 

Academic Classes and Coursework:
Face-to-face classes will be in session on Thursday, March 12, to help with the transition to remote learning. However, we urge students to make choices that are best for their own personal health situations. Students are responsible for notifying professors if a student decides it is not in their best interest to be in class on Thursday. Students are responsible for making up the work that they miss.  

All classes are canceled for Friday, March 13, to allow faculty to prepare for remote teaching and learning.

Beginning on Monday, March 16, through April 13, academic coursework will take place in an online format and/or remote options (for example, Moodle, Zoom, etc.)

Clinical and off-campus learning placements will continue at this time and students should follow the protocols of the facility where they are working. Classroom experiences such as labs, studio art and performance classes are still being evaluated and additional information will come from your professors.

Students will receive additional information on how to transition to remote learning in the days ahead, including what this means for Arts and Lecture credits.

We continue to evaluate the May Cross-Cultural experiences and we will communicate with those students and faculty as additional information becomes available.

Guidance For Students:
While completing classes remotely, students may choose to return to their permanent place of residence or stay in their on-campus housing.

Students who choose to move home during this time need to check out with their Hall Director before Friday at 5 p.m. Students who leave campus should not return to campus residence halls prior to April 14.

For students who remain on campus, the university encourages taking enhanced preventative public health and hygiene measures and encourages social distancing as described by the World Health Organization.

If students are staying on campus and become ill with flu-like symptoms they should contact the Student Life Office.  

Guidance For Faculty:
Faculty should immediately begin preparation to deliver courses remotely beginning Monday, March 16 (Moodle, Zoom, and other online platforms).

Training sessions and workshops will be offered on Friday, March 13, for faculty; more information will come from the Academic Affairs Office.

Faculty may continue to use their offices and campus facilities while delivering courses remotely and may continue to meet with students individually during this period.

Guidance For Staff:
The university is open during this time period. Staff are expected to report to campus for work. Sick time should continue to be used per the Employee Handbook. 

Bluffton will provide work-at-home flexibility to employees who are at high-risk (i.e. chronically ill or immuno-compromised prior to this outbreak, or have a need to work remotely due to personal matters related to the COVID-19). Employees should talk with their vice president to establish a work plan.

Vice presidents will communicate with each division for additional work-flow plans by Friday, March 13.

Campus Events and Meetings:
Effective today, Wednesday, March 11, the university is canceling all large indoor gatherings (any group of 20 or more) and public events until April 13; this includes student organization events and use of university facilities by off-campus groups (for example, conference rentals).  

We are asking all university groups and employees to suspend meetings that include 20 or more participants, or these groups should meet in a virtual capacity when possible, including student organizations.

Outdoor sports (baseball, softball, track and field, golf) will continue at this time. Indoor team practice will not be permitted, including non-traditional (off-season) practices that happen indoors. Small group/individual practices may continue indoors under the supervision and guidance of coaches and in direct consultation with the athletic director. We remain in communication with the Commissioner of the Heartland Conference who is continuing to monitor the situation across the NCAA and we will evaluate developments as they occur. 

Travel
Effective immediately and until April 13, all university-sponsored international travel is suspended. This includes new travel as well as any currently planned trips.

University-sponsored domestic travel must be approved by the appropriate vice president. This includes new travel as well as any currently planned trips between now and April 13.

Travelers returning from Level 3 warning countries are required to report their exposure to the Allen County Health Department and to observe a 14-day period of self-quarantine and monitoring.

Bluffton University’s Cabinet and Campus Emergency Response Task Force continue to evaluate risk and develop contingency plans, working directly with the Allen County Health Department and following the guidelines of the CDC and local, state, and federal authorities. 

The university has established https://www.bluffton.edu/alert/ to provide up-do-date information.