Butler University is planning for a fall reopening after classes moved online in the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. Collegian file photo.
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During the spring of 2020, Butler University moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The university is now planning for a fall return to campus, and that educational experience may look different depending COVID-19’s ongoing impact. Butler will continue to notify the community with updates as the situation changes.
The Butler Collegian will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.
10:45 a.m. Aug. 7, 2020
In an Aug. 6 email to Butler students and families, university administration announced new guidelines for returning to campus this fall. The changes, which have been attributed to an increase in coronavirus cases in Marion County and places where students will be traveling from, include required COVID-19 testing, training and adjusted move-in protocols.
All students living on campus will be required to arrive 30 minutes prior to their move-in time for the required COVID-19 test. Upon arriving in the Hinkle Fieldhouse parking lot, both students and any individuals helping them move in will receive temperature checks. Students will also be tested at this point, and should expect to get results within 30 minutes. The requirement to complete a health screening before returning to campus also remains in place.
Any student testing positive will be required to leave campus immediately and return home until Butler health services provides further instructions on how to return to campus. The university will also have a limited number of isolation rooms available for students who test positive and may not be able to return home.
The email from the university also encouraged students to pack lightly for the semester and only bring what is needed, as residential circumstances may change due to the pandemic.
Students who do not live on campus will also be required to be tested for COVID-19 before their first class. The university said that more information on how students who live off campus or in Greek houses will be tested will be released in the coming weeks.
The cost of these tests, for students living on and off campus, will be covered by the university.
Students can also find a COVID-19 training module on Canvas. The module is approximately 25 minutes long and must be completed by all students by Aug. 16. This includes students who will not be taking any classes physically on campus this semester.
This module is in addition to the pledge which all students will be required to agree to before attending their first class. The agreement will commit students to following the guidelines the university puts in place for the health themselves and the Butler community. Any student not willing to commit to the agreement is encouraged to explore taking classes fully online for the fall semester and not come to campus.
On Aug. 11, the university will be hosting a webinar with Butler families to discuss these plans, frequently asked questions and the overall health and safety plan.
3:50 p.m. July 16, 2020
Butler has released a comprehensive plan for return to campus, which spans categories such as the academic experience, the residential experience, the student and employee return to campus and personal health and safety guidance.
As campus is now open, everyone is required to wear a face covering or mask in public spaces or in the presence of other people. The university plans to provide one washable face covering to each student, faculty member and staff member at the beginning of the semester. Students who forget a face mask or intentionally do not wear one will not be permitted to attend class in person until they return with a mask. Students do not need to wear masks while in their room, while eating or while socially distanced from others outside.
Additionally, Butler is requiring students and employees to submit an online daily health check-up before coming to campus or leaving residential facilities. The health check will monitor coronavirus symptoms and screen for temperature. Before returning to Butler in the fall, the university requires that students complete a one-time Back to Butler Health Screening, and requests that students get tested for the coronavirus at least seven days before arriving on campus.
Throughout the year, Butler will offer coronavirus testing on campus or through a community healthcare provider, and if the test is ordered by a healthcare professional, Butler’s healthcare insurance will cover it at no cost to the individual.
If a student tests positive for the coronavirus, they will be required to return to their permanent residence to self-isolate. In the case that the student cannot return home, their individual case will be reviewed by an isolation exemption committee. Subsequent approval by the committee will allow the student to stay on campus, and they will be assigned to a self-isolation room for at least 14 days. The university plans to provide the isolated student with health checks and meal delivery, among other services.
If someone on campus contracts the coronavirus, a contact tracing team at Butler will identify and notify that person’s close contacts. Students who come in contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus will be required to quarantine in their assigned campus housing for at least 14 days.
As far as the residential experience, Butler’s residence halls will operate at regular capacity this year. However, room changes will not be permitted as part of the effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
In residential and academic settings, Butler recommends social distancing to avoid spreading the coronavirus. Students will be required to sit at least six feet apart in classrooms, and classroom occupancy limits have been reduced to about half-capacity. Students will have assigned seats in classrooms to ensure social distancing. There will also be signage and directional indications posted around campus.
The social distancing guidelines will cause some classes to look different than previously anticipated. Some courses will move completely online, some may take a hybrid approach, while others will be live-streamed to students who choose to attend school remotely. Students should check their My.Butler class schedule to see if any classes have been moved online — any changes will be noted in course lists.
Undergraduate students may opt for a fully remote educational experience, but the university is unable to guarantee that all classes will be offered completely online. Students may choose to adopt the fully remote educational experience if they feel uncomfortable on campus, or otherwise prefer to attend classes from home. Students are to work with their college’s associate dean to determine a remote course of action should they feel unsafe in a hybrid or in-person learning environment.
Butler employees can also request a workplace accommodation to work from home. Faculty members can submit a request to Butler’s Human Resource department if they are concerned about their own health or someone else’s health, such as a family member. The university will consider each request, and may or may not honor requests for situations pertaining to other reasons than that faculty member’s “own serious medical condition.”
11:35 a.m. June 15, 2020
Butler University will begin the fall 2020 semester on Monday, Aug. 24, according to a revised 2020-21 academic calendar released on June 15. The university will host classes on campus and has canceled breaks in favor of maximizing in-person learning, and the semester will start two days before originally planned. Classes will occur on Labor Day, Sept. 7, and the previously scheduled fall break from Oct. 15-16 has also been canceled.
In-person classes will conclude on Nov. 24, and Thanksgiving break will occur from Nov. 25-27. Students will not return to campus until the spring semester, as finals week will be conducted remotely from Dec. 2-8. Spring commencement will occur in person on Dec. 18.
The new academic calendar has three fewer days of instruction than the original academic schedule, as a result of the abnormally-early conclusion to the semester. In comparison, classes in fall 2019 ended on Dec. 7 and finals week occurred from Dec. 10-14.
The spring 2021 semester will begin on Jan. 11 and spring break is still scheduled for March 8-12. The spring semester will conclude on April 26, and finals week will occur from April 28-May 4. Spring commencement will occur on May 8.
Butler’s revised calendar is the result of the work of an academic calendar scheduling committee, which is one of eight committees working to plan Butler’s return to campus. Other committees include planning employees’ return to work and campus health and safety, according to Butler president James Danko.
Danko said the university is preparing various scenarios that are “clustered around an on-campus experience,” but is mindful that there may need to be changes. Danko said the university wants to support social distancing and is keeping the possibility of partially online, partially in-person classes open. Another potential suggestion is to add more time between classes.
According to an email announcement from Butler provost Kathryn Morris, the student move-in process has been extended to promote social distancing. Students can make appointments to move into apartments as soon as Aug. 1, and residence halls as soon as Aug. 16.
1:00 p.m. May 21, 2020
On May 21, Butler president James Danko announced Butler is planning to return to campus for the fall 2020 semester. Danko did not provide official dates or details in the email announcement, but the message stated university leadership is working to prepare for a safe educational experience for students.
Some of the safety adjustments being planned by university leadership listed in the email include reductions in density in campus spaces like classrooms, residential housing and dining services.
“Of course, everything is premised on our No. 1 concern, which is the safety of our students and the safety of everyone that works on the Butler campus,” Danko said in a video linked in the email.
Since there is still uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, Butler’s plan for a fall 2020 opening could be uprooted by health risks or imposed restrictions.
Indiana governor Eric Holcomb has announced a five-stage plan to re-open Indiana, and the fifth stage will occur during the week of July 5. In this stage, restrictions will be lifted but social distancing will still be recommended. However, that roadmap, and Butler’s, is subject to change based on new information from the CDC.
“We’ll be monitoring the health situation, we’ll be listening to the experts and the government leaders as we move forward. But know that we’ll continue to plan for a fall opening,” Danko said in the video.
Other Indiana universities have announced their plans for the fall semester as well. Notre Dame will start the fall semester in person on Aug. 10, two weeks before the original start date. Additionally, the university will forgo all breaks and end the semester before Thanksgiving. Similarly, Purdue University will begin in-person classes on Aug. 24 and run straight through Nov. 24 without breaks.
If the university’s intended plan changes and virus risks increase, Danko’s email stated Butler will be prepared to shift to distanced or hybrid education for periods of time.