Update from Task Force on Transition and Adaptability

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Update from Task Force on Transition and Adaptability

The following message was distributed on May 21, 2020.

To the Webster University Community,

Since the creation of the Task Force on Transition and Adaptability earlier this month, its three working groups have been hard at work collecting information, sharing expertise and assessing how Webster will implement the policies and processes necessary to transition back to campus-based operations in a way that maintains the health and safety of Webster’s students, employees and guests.

The three working groups are developing recommendations in alignment with CDC guidelines and orders from local jurisdictions to steadily and safely transition to campus-based operations this fall, including a phased approach for employees returning to campus, the modified delivery of face-to-face courses, modified housing and dining, and continued exploration of options for athletics, university events, and other key components of university life.

The working groups are also monitoring situations in all countries and states where Webster has locations. Where necessary, campuses will need to adjust to the orders and regulations of their local, regional and/or national directives.

The Task Force leaders are meeting regularly to assure that information is continually shared among the three working groups. Recommendations from the working groups will be reviewed by the Task Force on Transition and Adaptability to ensure that these recommendations are aligned. The Task Force, with President Julian Schuster, will finalize and communicate decisions as they are made.

The focus areas for the three working groups were outlined in the May 5 Task Force announcement. Examples of their current work include:

  • The Safety, Security & Communications Working Group is developing the policies to best maintain a sterile, COVID-free environment on campus. This will include controlling access to buildings, centralized procurement and provision of sanitization supplies, facial covering and self-screening protocol, regulating the size and format for meetings and gatherings, and communicating these and related social distancing guidelines.
  • The Transition to Campus-Based Operations Working Group is evaluating and preparing approaches for a safe transition to on-campus activities, including: cataloging and conforming with local laws and regulations affecting employees and students at all U.S. locations; developing protocol for residential life and dining services; identifying office and work-space considerations (e.g. office density and staffing); developing guidance regarding the hosting of academic-related performances and exhibitions; conforming with NCAA and SLIAC guidance on athletics recruitment, training and competition; and contracting and scheduling any other campus-based events.
  • The Academic Continuity & Support Working Group will make recommendations on how Webster will deliver the Fall 2020 courses currently scheduled for face-to-face delivery. This will include course modifications to align with safety and security guidelines, enhancement of remote learning options, training and technology needs for faculty, and academic and technology support for students. The group will also address the specialized needs of some programs and courses for which access to facilities, equipment and/or materials is critical.

From a public health standpoint, it is important to remember that experts are continually observing and learning more about the coronavirus, and updating guidelines accordingly. As we move forward, our community will need to be both cognizant of new policies as well as vigilant about learning and adjusting to updates to those policies.

We thank the community for your continuing, thoughtful work as Webster adapts to the dynamics created by the pandemic. We welcome your continued COVID-19-related ideas and questions (covid19@webster.edu) and encourage you to continue to check your official Webster email and Webster’s COVID-19 site for updates.

President Julian Z. Schuster

The Task Force on Transition and Adaptability

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