Dear APU Community,
When COVID-19 emerged, the APU Community responded swiftly and placed care for all our people first. That same focused care guides Destination APU: A Safe Return to Campus, our plan to reopen this fall. Though we will all adopt new practices to safeguard our health and safety, our shared commitment to Christ-centered academic excellence remains unchanged. We will meet the 2020-21 Academic Year with faith-filled confidence and readiness to meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead with the goal of providing our faculty, staff, and students with the unmatched transformational experience characteristic of an in-person APU education in our welcoming community.
Our plans have been shaped by the APU Return to Campus Task Force, representing all sectors of the APU Community, guided by commitment to Health and Safety, Academic Standards, Compliance, Collaboration, Agility, Fiscal Responsibility, and Communication, with attention to directives from federal, state, and county public health leaders. We embrace a spirit of flexibility to be nimble should conditions warrant. While we still have a number of specific details to work out over the next few weeks, we are planning for an in-person fall semester for students beginning on August 24, 2020, a week earlier than originally scheduled. All on-site classes in Azusa and at our Regional Campuses will end by Thanksgiving and conclude virtually on December 11, 2020. This will optimize our community’s health and safety and is consistent with plans of many of our sister institutions.
Academics: We are committed to maintaining our high academic standards with special attention to issues of student equity and access, including technology, connectivity, and space in which learning occurs. All face-to-face courses will have some level of delivery modification due to COVID-19 physical distancing limitations. These may include alternating attendance between online and face-to-face, and modifying teaching and learning methods for faculty and/or students who cannot be in any face-to-face classroom settings due to health concerns. Lab, clinical, and experiential classes will also propose delivery modification. Further, course planning will include preparations for full online instruction in the event of a COVID-19 resurgence.
We are grateful for the significant work of the Academic Return to Campus team, led by School of Education Dean, Dr. Anita Henck, and Faculty Moderator, Dr. Josh Morris, and input from faculty in support of these goals.
Student Health Center: The APU Student Health Center (SHC) will provide a comprehensive health and safety strategy for students and employees that incorporates COVID-19 monitoring, testing, and contact tracing. All students and employees will receive training on health and safety protocols and practices prior to their return to campus. This new and enhanced APU COVID-19 Testing Center, led by APU SHC Medical Director, Dr. Todd Emerson, is completely funded by $1 million in generous support from APU friends and donors.
Shared Spaces: Classrooms, offices, and other campus areas are being reconfigured to accommodate physical distancing requirements. Residence halls and on-campus dining venues will be modified to reduce density and contact. Take-out dining options will be expanded, and the number of students in on-campus housing will be reduced. Traffic flow and pedestrian walkways will be marked to limit congestion. Cleaning and sanitation of buildings, classes, and public spaces will be done frequently and according to strict protocols and health and safety guidelines.
Welcome Week: As we welcome our new traditional undergraduate students to campus, we are committed to safely serving and caring for these students, families, and guests, in accordance with federal, state, and county health directives. Families and guests may participate in Welcome Week on campus and in virtual formats. Our Transitions team will work closely with Residence Life and Commuter Life to design the welcome experience around APU's return to campus guidelines. Updated information will be sent to students and posted on the Welcome Week website.
Spiritual Life: Focus on the spiritual development of our students will continue through chapel, discipleship groups, mentoring, devotional resources, and service opportunities, among other options. In compliance with anticipated health authority gathering restrictions, we are exploring how we might offer opportunities such as chapel and ministry services this fall.
Athletics: APU will comply with forthcoming federal, state, and county health directives and Conference decisions on fall sports, including the timing of games and structure of practices as designed by governing coaches' associations.
Mandatory Actions: All employees, students, and visitors on our campuses must adhere to the COVID-19 physical distancing, sanitation, and personal hygiene recommendations and protocols provided by public health experts and adopted by APU. Wearing a face covering will be a mandatory requirement for anyone in shared spaces on campus, including the classroom.
All of our Fall plans, including final 2020 Commencement details, remain contingent on health orders from federal, state, and local authorities regarding the continued potential spread of COVID-19. We will keep you informed of these evolving specific plans, but we are excited and ready to move forward with our plans to reopen campus.
The success of Destination APU: A Safe Return to Campus is a shared responsibility. Our entire community must be part of the solution, caring for one another and our neighbors. The resilience displayed to date and the careful planning surrounding our return only add to the anticipation of being together this fall. Be sure to look for email updates and visit the APU Return to Campus portion of the APU COVID-19 website in the weeks ahead, which will begin including specifics as plans are finalized.
With deep thanks and anticipation,
Paul W. Ferguson, Ph.D., DABT