Duquesne to return to normal operations

As was announced in March, Duquesne University will return to a full on-campus learning environment and regular student life operations for the fall 2021 semester. To prepare for this return, David Dausey, executive vice president and provost, and Pam Connelly, senior vice president for legal affairs, chaired a task force that included health professionals and representatives from the faculty and major operational divisions. That task force provided excellent guidance for decisions necessary to return to normal operations.

The two top priorities that drove pandemic response in the past academic year also drive the University's return to normal operations. Our goal is to ensure the safety of all on campus and to foster a learning environment where students make progress on their goals.  

The upcoming fall semester will be a meaningful and historic return to the vitality that makes Duquesne's campus such an exciting place to learn and work. The collective efforts of University staff and faculty to get to us through the pandemic will now position Duquesne well for all that is ahead as we serve God by serving the students who will in turn will serve others.   

SAFETY OPERATIONS  

The University's safety measures have moved from social distancing, masking and testing to requiring COVID-19 vaccines for students and strongly encouraging COVID-19 vaccines for employees. As was announced on Wednesday, June 16, around 92 percent of faculty and staff already are vaccinated or have started with an initial dose of vaccine. Continued focus on vaccination attainment will enable the campus to remove masking requirements and relax distancing measures even further.  

The University will make the following safety-related operational changes:  

·      Enhanced cleaning protocols will phase out by spring 2022 semester and the University will return to normal cleaning protocols, unless official guidance suggests otherwise.

·      Plexiglass barriers will be left in place unless individual departments request removal.

·      Signage for social distancing, face mask use, elevator occupancy, indoor lounge/dining seating and restrooms will be removed.

·      Water fountains and electric hand dryers will return to regular use.

·      Mail delivery will return to normal by the start of the spring 2022 semester.  

Because of its vaccination policies, the University will not conduct asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for students or employees. Health Services will only conduct symptomatic testing for COVID-19, using Abbott BINAXNOW tests.   

Due to guidance from federal and state health agencies, Duquesne will eliminate the indoor face mask requirement for vaccinated individuals on Thursday, July 1, 2021.

·      Individuals not yet vaccinated will have to wear a mask indoors, per guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Duquesne already has eliminated the requirement for anyone to wear a mask when outdoors.

·      If there is no change in federal, state or local guidance, and assuming a sufficient percentage of vaccinated individuals is achieved in the campus community, the possibility exists that the indoor face mask requirement will be eliminated entirely at the start of the fall semester or thereafter. 

WORKPLACE ENVIRONMENT   

All staff will need to return to campus by Monday, Aug. 2, 2021 at the latest in order to reacclimate and be prepared for the arrival of students.

·      Individual work units and offices may phase in employees prior to the above date; numerous offices already have returned to on-campus work. All faculty will return for their normal teaching obligations by the start of the fall 2021 semester.

·      The University expects all employees who do not have an agreement in place to telework pursuant to TAP 54 to return to work in-person on campus. Employees who had such agreements in place prior to the pandemic will be permitted to renew those agreements, subject to supervisor approval.  

The University successfully operated through the worst of the pandemic thanks to dedication and ingenuity. Some operations were entirely remote, some were entirely in-person, and many were a blend. All of these benefitted from previous connections forged on campus and knowledge of our distinct campus culture gained by being with one another in meetings and at events.  

Duquesne students come to campus to be part of a community, and that community requires its members' presence to make it work effectively. At the same time, hybrid work arrangements are part of a national post-pandemic discussion about how best to take what was learned and apply it.  

The University's leadership will consider remote work requests in accordance with TAP 54. Leadership will monitor closely the effectiveness of any such arrangements. For many positions and duties, remote work will be neither possible nor desirable. The members of the Duquesne community are accountable not just to the students but to one another, and so all work arrangements must bear that accountability in mind.   

At the same time, the University will develop a task force to study issues of accountability, flexible work, shared work spaces and workforce issues. This initiative will survey employees, convene focus groups and research peer workforce strategies and practices.   

All policies revised for COVID-19 will revert to their original language starting Aug. 2, 2021.  Policies created specifically for COVID-19 will be eliminated. All leave-sharing arrangements will cease, meaning standard practices for vacation and sick leave are restored.  

CAMPUS FACILITIES AND PROGRAMMING  

The University will retain its expanded move-in program, reserving several days for which incoming students and their families can pre-register to spread move-in over a period of days.  

Other student-focused operational changes will result in the following: 

·      The Center for Excellence in Diversity and Student Inclusion will return to offering face-to-face outreach, office hours, forum events and other activities in the fall 2021 semester.

·      Fraternity- and sorority-sponsored events will return to face-to-face format in the fall 2021 semester.

·      Spiritan Campus Ministry and various Student Life offices will return to face-to-face operations and community-building efforts in the fall 2021 semester.

·      Counseling, Health Services, Disability Services and Pastoral Counseling will continue to use a hybrid approach, offering both face-to-face operations along with telemedicine and teletherapy, as appropriate.   

·      The Power Center Fitness Area and locker rooms will return to full operations in the fall 2021 semester.

·      Well-being groups developed during the pandemic will continue to be offered.

·      The University's donor-supported Student Emergency Assistance Fund will continue under a new name, the Student Success Fund, and will no longer be solely designated for issues related to the pandemic.  

Thank you for your continued support of these efforts to deliver the highest possible quality education to our students while ensuring the health and safety of the whole Duquesne community!

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University's academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim. 

It's time for bigger goals
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