BY CORIE LYNN
This past year, Fort Hays State University has utilized a three-phase plan to continue operating during the pandemic.
As Spring 2021 draws to a close, so does the plan’s third phase. With the approach of summer, the university will now move into its phaseout plan, which is outlined on the FHSU Covid-19 response page.
Joe Bain, the University’s general counsel and chair of its Critical Incident Policy Group, explained that the CIPG meets frequently and the phaseout has been on their agenda for a while.
Their decision to move forward with phaseout came after consulting with a local health advisory group. Bain emphasized that this new phase will begin on June 1.
“We wanted to get the phaseout plan out now, however, to make sure our campus community is aware of the upcoming transition and can plan accordingly,” he said.
In beginning the phaseout over the summer, the university will be able to remove policies with fewer people on campus.
Bain explained that this decreased campus presence, along with the increased availability of vaccines, encouraged the final timetable for the phaseout.
Even with protocols lifted, the phaseout plan still encourages social distancing, masks and cleaning. However, these measures will not be required.
“Additionally, the plan is for enhanced cleaning and other supplies to continue and for individual event planners and the like to retain some flexibility regarding the precautions they might want to take for specific events,” Bain said.
According to the outline of the phaseout on the FHSU Covid-19 response page, the phaseout also returns campus employees to primarily conducting work in-person.
During the phaseout, FHSU will maintain several pandemic practices, which include cleaning and disinfecting spaces, providing Covid-19 testing in the Student Health Center for symptomatic and close-contact individuals and quarantine on-campus students in designated areas.
Though FHSU will continue a few practices, the campus community can expect several changes that will allow them to return to pre-pandemic activities.
The online outline explains that university travel will return, but individuals must continue to monitor destination and CDC guidelines.
Campus events and activities will also return. Groups will no longer be required to submit event planning forms following June 1.
According to Bain, even with this plan in place, the university will continue to monitor the situation surrounding the pandemic. But FHSU will not be the only Kansas Board of Regents institution enacting a phaseout plan.
“While specifics of plans and timelines may vary, initial indications are that this is the general direction that other KBOR institutions are likely heading,” he said.
Because the FHSU plan will not go into effect until the summer, the campus community must continue to follow the current policies, such as maintaining physical distancing and wearing masks.
Bain said that the plan also encourages everyone to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.
After breaking down the phaseout, he then expressed thankfulness for everyone at FHSU.
“[I want to] reiterate how grateful we are for this campus community’s resilience over the last year and how excited we are to be able to move in this direction and look forward to the brighter days of this summer and fall,” he said.