Published on May 21, 2020 at 6 p.m.  

Fellow Employees,

As you know, teams of fellow employees are working diligently to ensure a safe return to residential life and on-campus instruction this fall. Critical to achieving this goal is reducing potential exposure to COVID-19 on campus over the next few months.  With this in mind, all in-person university events have been canceled throughout the summer.

Hosting camps, conferences, external events or performances on campus could jeopardize our ability to resume operations in the fall; therefore, we made the difficult decision to cancel these events.  Event organizers have been notified and are working on alternate plans as appropriate.  When possible, events will be conducted virtually.  This decision was not easy, but is consistent with our plans to offer all summer courses online in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The campus remains closed to visitors and access is currently restricted to a limited group of employees assigned to return during the first phase of our operational plans.  With social distancing and heightened restrictions in place, campus tours for small groups of prospective students will resume in late June.  Employees, students and a limited number of service providers will gradually return to campus throughout the summer and will be required to adhere to strict health and safety protocols including social distancing, health screenings and facial coverings.  Supervisors will communicate expected return dates and health and safety training requirements with their personnel in the weeks ahead.  Previously-contracted weddings will resume in Reid Chapel in August, subject to then-governing public health requirements. 

We remain committed to celebrating our May 2020 graduates with commencement ceremonies August 13-15.  The times, locations and logistics of the ceremonies will be announced in early June.  Regrettably, we are unable to offer the array of activities that might normally accompany commencement ceremonies.  To reduce potential exposure of the university community to COVID-19, no other in-person university-related events (on-campus or off-campus) will be scheduled before August 17.  This includes professional events such as pinning and ordination ceremonies and receptions planned by schools, departments and student organizations that typically occur in conjunction with commencement.  We understand this may be disappointing, but it is important that we limit gatherings and access to campus as much as possible.

The health and safety of the campus community continues to be our top priority.  We are constantly monitoring local, state and federal guidelines and will adjust our operational plans accordingly.  Your partnership in these efforts is greatly appreciated.  Take care… Buck

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