A Message from the President: COVID-19 Decisions (03-12-20)

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Members of the APU Community:

Given the spread of the global Coronavirus (COVID-19), it now becomes necessary for us to make additional decisions to further safeguard our APU family and act as responsible and caring neighbors.

Navigating Coronavirus: While we have been navigating a path forward offering a preventive response to COVID-19, I have been listening to the wise advice of many, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. His comments balance good science, pragmatic reasoning, and appropriate caution. In his briefing to Congress yesterday, Dr. Fauci suggested that, “Americans everywhere need to change the way they live their lives. Right now. Everybody should say, ‘All hands on deck.’” This strong advice pairs with guidelines for good hygiene practices and precautionary recommendations for social distancing, including cancelation of nonessential gatherings.

COVID-19 Status and APU: Since the news broke about the virus, APU has been closely monitoring the evolving status of COVID-19 and assessing our campus academic and operational strategy to promote the health and wellbeing of our community. We have activated our Critical Incident Response Team COVID-19 Task Force to lead our preparedness, response, and decision making. Our strategies align with public health guidelines and reflect an abundance of caution. Currently, we have NO reported cases of COVID-19 in Azusa or Glendora, on the Azusa campus, or at the Regional Campuses or Sites. As a precautionary measure, we are caring for some students in a dedicated space who might have been in contact over spring break with non-APU students who are now awaiting test results for COVID-19. One such test has come back negative. We will continue to monitor the situation carefully.

Action Plan Moving Forward: We will heed the advice of our public health experts, learn from our peers, and set the following course of action for the remaining six weeks of the 2020 Spring Semester. To limit potential virus spread and reduce contact with others, APU will implement the following at all APU Campuses and Regional Sites, while we continue to monitor all study away locations:

  1. All classes will convert to an online format beginning March 16 and continue through the end of finals week. We will transition to Canvas or other online formats as designed and managed by the Faculty with their students. Clinicals, internships, labs, student placements, and service-learning opportunities will continue unless otherwise specified by the Department Chair and/or Dean. We will monitor these areas subject to public health agency guidance and input from community partners. Faculty will receive additional guidance and support from Department Chairs, Deans, and the Office of the Provost to achieve the best operational efficiencies consistent with WSCUC accreditation guidelines.

  2. University housing will remain open, as will dining services. We will continue to assess this decision in light of unfolding developments and guidance from public health agencies.

  3. General operations of the University will remain open. Employees will continue to work as normal, but if you are sick, please stay home. While in the workplace, please practice social distancing and minimize contact with others. Additional guidance and resources will be coming soon on Total Access.

  4. All events hosted on APU campuses are canceled for the remainder of the semester, effective immediately, including the Presidential Inauguration and Strategic Plan Launch scheduled for April 3, 2020. Exceptions will be made for events deemed essential for academic progress and degree completion. If you believe you have an essential event that should not be canceled, please contact your dean or vice president for further guidance.

  5. Effective immediately, Athletics events may only occur in accordance with recent NCAA COVID-19 guidelines, and will be spectator free or with limited family attendance.

  6. Commencement ceremonies and related activities, such as Baccalaureate and hoodings, remain scheduled at this time and under close review.

  7. All U.S. outbound international travel for APU business or study remains suspended, as was communicated earlier this week.

Should you have specific questions about a decision or activity that is not sufficiently addressed on the APU COVID-19 website, do not hesitate to contact your supervisor or faculty member for proper guidance.

I am deeply grateful for the highly professional and tireless work of all of our APU teams who are focused on proactively managing the COVID-19 situation, including Vice President Shino Simons and Student Affairs, Dr. Todd Emerson and the Student Health Center, Vice President Don Davis and our Facilities Management teams promoting cleanliness, our Critical Incident Response Team and Task Force led by General Counsel Chris Jennings, and the Division of Academic Affairs led by Interim Provost Rukshan Fernando.

I understand these steps will be challenging for all of us, but I am confident that we are moving forward wisely and expeditiously to promote the health and welfare of our APU Community. Please partner with me in prayer supporting the work of our faculty, staff, and students as we continue to navigate any uncertainty in the weeks ahead and continue to seek God’s guidance and protection.

An Encouraging Word: During these past several weeks, the words of Paul to the Philippians have been especially meaningful to me as I engage with members of the APU community, our external partners as well as our own family and friends:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:4-7)

May God grant us that peace and wisdom only He can provide in times of uncertainty.

With best personal regards,

Paul W. Ferguson, Ph.D., DABT