Emporia State President Allison Garrett met on a livestream video call with other faculty members to answer questions about COVID-19 and the campus. Kelly Heine, Chief Marketing Officer for Marketing and Media Relations, guided the forum to answer any concerning questions. Approximately 37 viewers were present and it lasted nearly 15 minutes.

Garrett shared a story of when she was a faculty member. One of her co-faculty members shared with her that, ‘published is better than perfect.’ At the time, Garrett was unsure what that exactly meant. Now, with an unusual fall semester - she understands. She explained that just as students have resources for their mental health, faculty and staff also have resources of their own.

“I just want to encourage (faculty and staff), at times just ask yourself, ‘do I need to pull back a little bit? I want to give (students) a great experience but maybe, just maybe, if I am driving myself nuts with the number of hours I am putting in, I just need to ask is it good enough?’” she shared. “Because all of us need to take care of ourselves during this crazy time.”

Garrett transitioned by thanking Shelly Gerhke, Assistant Provost for Enrollment Management and Academic Success, for all of her hard work. Gerhke spoke in place of David Cordle, Provost. She provided updates about the fall 2020 graduation and the spring 2021 semester.

“ESU 2020 commencement on December 11th and 12th will be virtual,” Gerhke said. “Students, faculty, staff and family members are all invited to attend ceremonies online.”

Both ceremonies will be broadcasted at ESU’s website. The graduate ceremony will be broadcasted at 6 p.m. on December 11th. The undergraduate ceremony will be broadcasted at 9:30 a.m. on December 12th. She also included plans for the spring.

“The spring academic calendar has been adjusted to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 when we return,” Gerhke said.

She also included the spring semester will beginJanuary 25 instead of January 20 and there will be no spring break in March. However, classes are expected to end as scheduled on Friday May 7 and finals week will follow.

“There will not be a traditional spring break in March. Instead, we will be back on campus for the spring for face to face, hybrid and online classes,” Gerhke said. “You will have two days that are non-class days on March 5 and April 16. That gives you the opportunity to take a break and recharge.”

Despite classes remaining mixed, Garrett added that under the Americans with Disabilities Act, if a faculty member has a health condition that makes it unsafe for them to teach in person, the faculty member has an accommodation to teach remotely.

“Right now, the expectation is that in the spring semester it will look a lot like the fall semester,” Garrett explained. “I know that is probably not exciting for any of us, but that is what it takes right now for all of us to help our students achieve their dreams and we are certainly committed to doing that.”

The next scheduled COVID Q&A chat will be at 3 p.m. on Oct. 22 at emporia.edu/live. Questions can be submitted before or during the forum.

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