On July 7, Mary Baldwin announced the comprehensive plan to reopen the university’s residential campus and provide procedures to safeguard the MBU community’s health and wellbeing for the fall 2020 semester.
Back to Baldwin Plan Guides MBU’s Fall Reopening
July 24, 2020
Back to Baldwin details the university’s plans in regard to academic courses, student life, and faculty and staff considerations. It also stresses the importance of everyone’s commitment to following the safety protocols prescribed by campus health experts, including the following:
- Face coverings will be required for all students, employees, and visitors to campus.
- Social distancing of at least six feet will also be required to the greatest extent possible throughout campus.
- Campus events, including athletics, will follow social distancing and face covering protocols and limit attendance.
MBU President Pamela Fox recently delivered a video message to the Mary Baldwin community, offering insight into the Back to Baldwin plan and highlighting important points as students, faculty, and staff prepare to return to campus.
Cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces and restrooms in all university buildings will be more extensive and frequent, and special consideration has gone to common areas such as Hunt Dining Hall and the University Cafe, academic buildings, residence halls, and athletics facilities, among others. As part of its cleaning protocols, MBU will disinfect these communal spaces regularly with an IsoKlean fogger that covers both air and surfaces. MBU also encourages every member of the community to use self-serve antibacterial foam and wipes stations available in common areas and classrooms.
In addition to wearing face coverings and physically distancing, students are asked to practice good hand-washing and hygiene practices as documented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and monitor and report any symptoms of COVID-19 to the Student Health Center. MBU will test any student who presents with these symptoms and isolate them until results are known, and contact tracing will be initiated for any student who is tested, even before their results are known. Similar policies are in place regarding faculty and staff.
Move-in times in August will be assigned and spaced apart for students and family members. Prior to their arrival on campus, all students and their guests must complete a 14-day symptom monitoring protocol and sign a health attestation form.
Mary Baldwin is following CDC and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) guidance to test only symptomatic individuals. While some schools require that students provide a negative COVID test before being allowed to return, this approach only captures a singular moment in time when the test was administered. A student may present a negative COVID test, but could have contracted the virus in the weeks, days, or hours since that test was conducted. MBU is instead focusing on vigilant symptom monitoring as the best indicator of a student’s fitness to return to campus.
The university consulted with the VDH on the reopening plan, which follows guidance from the CDC and the VDH. It has been accepted by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the Commonwealth’s coordinating body for higher education.
On June 15 Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences resumed in-person instruction under a beta version of the Back to Baldwin plan. Summer courses in the physical therapy, occupational therapy, and physician assistant graduate programs will continue through the first week of August.
“Murphy Deming’s summer term is providing the opportunity for us to test and refine procedures with a smaller group of students and employees,” said Deb Greubel, vice president of health sciences and medical lead for the Pandemic Response Team. “We now have valuable insight about what to reinforce in terms of education, awareness, and compliance, and we’ll continue to optimize our plans for when the entire MBU community is back later in August.”
With support from Mary Baldwin’s leadership, faculty, and staff, the Pandemic Response Team — made up of 14 members with combined medical, academic, facilities, and communications expertise — has meticulously studied all aspects of the university to create the Back to Baldwin plan.
MBU continues to monitor the situation carefully and make adjustments as public health needs dictate. The university is in daily contact with its VDH regional office.
“We thank our MBU family in advance for working together to follow these best practices for health and safety,” said Brig. Gen Teresa Djuric, facilities lead for the Pandemic Response Team and commandant of the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership. “Together, every member of our community must vigilantly work to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on campus. We fully acknowledge that MBU life will feel very different this fall. What remains the same, though, is that our smart, caring community will learn from and take care of one another.”
As previously announced, the university has altered the fall academic calendar so that undergraduate classes will start one week earlier than previously scheduled on August 24 and in-person instruction will conclude on November 20, the Friday before Thanksgiving. Students will take final exams remotely from home and will not return to campus until the new year.
The online Back to Baldwin hub, available at www.wixdichreich.com/backtobaldwin, features links to the master reopening plan, 40+ frequently asked questions, relevant policies and forms, health resources, and more.
Specific questions not covered in the reopening plan can be directed to the Pandemic Response Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Calling all students! What activities would you like to see this fall?
MBU students: The Office of Student Engagement would like to hear from you regarding fall programming. We will use your responses to design engagement opportunities. Respondents will have the opportunity to win a gift card! Please complete the survey by August 10, 2020.