BY CORIE LYNN
As students were wheeling their belongings to their cars in carts and on dorm room chairs Monday afternoon, email notifications began lighting up their phones.
Many on-campus students already were preparing to move out of their dorms by Friday. But the latest email informed them that “students currently residing on campus should prepare to move home by the end of the day, 5:00 pm, Tuesday, March 17, 2020 […] and thereafter remain at home during this period of on-line delivery.”
In addition, this email update — sent to all FHSU faculty, staff and students — announced that on-campus classes were canceled for the remainder of the week.
Students immediately took action. Those who were not already packing began hauling boxes and furniture to their cars, calling parents and friends for help. Most were unprepared for the sudden change, and circumstances involving COVID-19 continue to make the country change minute-to-minute.
Over the past few weeks, the FHSU campus, faculty and students alike, has monitored the conditions surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak. The university announced on March 12 that classes would transfer to online delivery for the rest of the semester and that students were to remain home rather than on campus.
University officials did not make Monday’s decision lightly.
“We are taking the potential threat posed by this COVID-19 global health emergency very seriously. The decisions we’ve made to date reflect our keen focus on safeguarding the health and safety of all of our students, faculty and staff,” said Dr. Jill Arensdorf, FHSU provost and vice president of academic affairs.
Arensdorf explained that the university’s Critical Incident Policy Group, which advises the president and Executive Leadership Team, has been meeting frequently over the past weeks to develop policy. These groups, consisting of figures such as President Tisa Mason and the three vice presidents, now meet daily. Representation also has expanded to include representatives of student health services and student affairs, among other entities.
Even as students quickly tried to arrange for their move off of the campus, university faculty continued to plan for the welfare of everyone at FHSU while following the guidance of state officials and governing bodies.
“In striving to do so, we have also remained committed to our guiding principle that policies and decisions in response to COVID-19 should be informed by and aligned with the guidance we have received from the governor’s office, the Kansas Board of Regents, and local, state and national medical authorities and public health experts,” Arensdorf said.
As the university continues to plan and adapt policy, Arensdorf asks that the community take the ongoing situation seriously, including following guidance and checking updates online.
Even in the midst of the campus changes, Arensdorf said the university is pleased with the positive responses to the policy enacted on campus.
The FHSU community is one that has come together in a time of uncertainty.
“This is a campus community that is proving to be very resilient and adaptive to changing circumstances without losing sight of our shared commitment to looking out for each other,” she said.