President Allison Garrett talks about the university's plan to reopen this fall during a virtual town hall on Monday, May 4. Questions can still be asked of university officials on the ESU website.

As Emporia State prepares to reopen later this summer masks will be provided to faculty and staff, President Allison Garrett said during Monday’s virtual town hall. With 180 attendees, this was the first town hall administration plans to hold to keep the ESU community apprised of the coronavirus situation. 

This town hall focused on questions surrounding ESU’s opening, childcare services and what the fall semester might look like. The next town hall has not been scheduled yet, but questions can still be asked of university officials on the ESU website. 

“As we transition our employees back to on campus work, we’re going to be providing them...with (COVID safety) training,” Garrett said. “Some groups of employees might return faster than others.” 

As a part of Gov. Laura Kelly’s three phase plan to reopen the state, childcare facilities are allowed to be open during all three phases as long as they follow state and local regulation. Administration did not offer a clear answer yet for what that means when it comes to ESU’s Center for Early Childhood Education, which offers childcare services. 

“What happens with CECE really needs to be planned as a part of the overall university return to campus plan and that’s something that will be unfolding over the coming days and weeks,” said David Cordle, provost. “I just see that as one element of what has to be decided about that whole package.” 

While no final decisions about campus life have been made said they’re preparing for multiple situations when campus reopens. The priority will be ensuring the health and safety of students.

“(There) is the possibility that we might need to adjust some of our face-to-face courses because of the requirement of social distancing,” Cordle said. “It simply might not be possible because of that to put 30 students into a small classroom in tight rows where they’re only two feet apart.”

Should cases of COVID-19 continue into the fall, the fall planning group is preparing for different scenarios. The fall planning group is composed of administrative, faculty and student leaders across campus preparing for possible COVID situations. 

Garrett also mentioned that ESU’s plan of safety might include contact tracing, isolation and quarantining when needed. 

“The fall planning group is beginning to look at what testing could look like in the fall and whether that is necessary,” Garrett said. 

Garrett also talked briefly about Morse Hall, saying that construction will continue with plans to open this fall.

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