MUNCIE — Ball State University is targeting August 24 for students to return to campus for the fall semester.
The school's board of trustees approved semester plans Wednesday and gave administrators the go-ahead to take steps to make the Muncie campus as safe as possible for its 22,500 students, along with faculty and visitors.
Ball State, along with colleges across the state and country, shut down in mid-March over COVID-19 restrictions and concerns.
President Geoffrey Mearns said that in the past month, the Academic Planning Group assembled and led by Provost Susana Rivera-Mills, reviewed courses that Ball State offers to undergraduate and graduate students, and evaluated how faculty can use technology to improve learning.
“We have heard from many returning and prospective students that they value the personal education that we uniquely provide,” Mearns said. “Our students told us they also want to participate in immersive learning projects, student life, and our vibrant campus experiences.”
Here are the key parts of the Ball State plan for the fall semester.
- Faculty will prepare classes that can quickly shift from being taught in-person to online, depending on conditions on campus and in the community.
- Faculty will front-load learning activities that are best facilitated by face-to-face instruction so that those activities are completed before the Thanksgiving break. After the Thanksgiving break, all remaining instruction, as well as all final projects and exams, will be completed online.
- The university will cancel the two-day fall break and will schedule class sessions on Labor Day. These changes enable students to have 13 weeks of on-campus instruction before the Thanksgiving break.
- To accommodate faculty and students who may be in high-risk populations, the university will offer more online courses.
“The Provost and I fully appreciate that these adjustments will require additional preparation,” President Mearns said. “We have great confidence in the dedication of our faculty and staff —and their determination to adapt and to innovate in order to serve our students and to fulfill our mission.”
Within two weeks, Provost Rivera-Mills will provide faculty and staff with more detailed information. "Our success is in the hands of our faculty and staff,” she said. “As a community, we will do all we can to support each other in this challenging time.”
Trustees also approved a housing and residence life plan to provide on-campus housing options for students. The plan will include rooms in residence halls and in other university-owned facilities to quarantine and isolate students who may be exposed to or who may test positive for the COVID-19 virus.
Also, to cut the risk of students transmitting the virus while living in a residence hall, Ball state will adjust the room assignments to reduce the number of students who use the same restroom and other common areas.
Trustees approved a plan to make COVID-19 testing readily available, maintaining an ample supply of personal protective equipment, and expanding availability of annual influenza vaccinations.
The school will go to staggered and alternating work schedules, reconfigured workstations, remote work, and other accommodations to limit density on campus and maximize safety. New policies will also focus on social distancing, employee health screening, crowd limits for public gatherings and university-sponsored activities, and travel restrictions.