A Safe Return to Campus This Fall

From: President Heckler
To: Students, Faculty, and Staff
Posted: May 19, 2020 at 9:30 a.m.

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

I pray you and your loved ones continue to be well. Now that the spring semester has come to a conclusion that is unlike any we have experienced before, we must turn our attention to the upcoming fall semester. 

I am writing to share that Valparaiso University intends to safely resume in-person teaching, learning, and residential life for the fall 2020 semester. We reached this determination after much conversation and consideration while continuing to monitor state and national reopening activities and protocols for responding to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

During the coming weeks, we will continue preparations to bring our community back to campus in a way that is healthy and safe for our students, faculty, and staff. As you may recall, multiple task forces with representatives across campus continue to meet regularly to discern the best path forward to return to face-to-face instruction and the resumption of campus life. 

Each group is working together to institute safeguards that will minimize disruption and facilitate an environment for learning, and we will continue to share details with you as these plans progress. 

The Academic Affairs Scenario Planning Group is working through various options and variables for conduct of classes in the fall 2020 semester, including possible modifications to the fall academic calendar. Other individuals from the Academic Affairs Scenario Planning Group, Student Affairs, and the Incident Command Team are meeting to address specific questions around the use of spaces for academic and other program needs, traffic flow, academic schedule, and related challenges.

The Incident Command Team is reviewing safety recommendations set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as state and local health authorities, and preparing a comprehensive reopening plan. This includes guidelines such as physical distancing, limiting group sizes, enhanced sanitation, wearing face coverings, and more.

A central component of our planning is the Valpo commitment to community. We will expect all campus community members who return to campus to adhere to safety and health precautions. The health and safety of all students, faculty, and staff — as well as our ability to remain on campus in the fall — depends on a mutual commitment to keeping ourselves and each other as healthy as possible. We recognize that the return to campus will require us all to adapt to new expectations, in the classroom, in our residence halls, and around campus.

We understand you will have many more questions, including details regarding student arrival on campus, and I assure you more information will continue to be shared in the coming days and weeks. 

As updates arise, we are fully committed to maintaining the safety and well-being of the Valpo campus community and the global community to which we all belong. Let me assure you everything we are doing is aimed at reopening campus as safely as possible so that we all may return for the fall 2020 semester. 

As we continue to navigate this uncharted territory, I am grateful each and every day for the opportunity to forge the best path forward alongside you. Your questions and feedback continue to be helpful as we make our way. And the virtue of patience, the assumption of good faith, and the exercise of good will are necessary practices if we are to remain dedicated to being that excellent community of learning that we aspire to be. More than ever, the world needs Valpo people — with your passion, leadership, service and generosity — to bring their skills to share with the world. I am confident that the ingenuity and resilience of the Valpo community will position us to overcome the challenges we are faced with now and in the coming months, and I look forward to when we can all be physically together in the Valparaiso University community. 

Blessings,

Mark A. Heckler
President
Valparaiso University