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Message from President David T. McFaddin - January 20, 2021

Student walking in front of Powell Building Plaza level

Dear Campus Community,

Happy New Year and welcome back to an exciting Spring semester at EKU. The new year brings opportunities for us to focus on educational advancement, health, well-being, and a very optimistic outlook that we will overcome our challenges and a return to a routine this year that resembles normalcy.

The past year has tested our resolve in unexpected ways and we met every challenge with resolve, determination, and courage. Your desire to seek and relay knowledge proved that the Colonel spirit cannot be quieted, even in a time rife with civil unrest, political differences, and a global pandemic. The thirst for knowledge endured. At EKU, we conducted on-campus classes, adapted our instruction to accommodate the needs of students and employees, and carried out a plan that preserved quality instruction and service with a health-focused approach. I admire and congratulate our students, faculty, and staff for your dedication and successful implementation of the Colonels Comeback Plan.  Thank you. 

COVID-19

As we greet a new semester, we can begin to see better times ahead with the implementation of vaccine distribution. Still, we cannot relax our vigilance in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. The coming months will be critical as our nation fights the prolific spread of the virus and distributes a vaccine to combat it. EKU has already participated as a location for our community partners at Baptist Health and the Madison County Health Department to deliver the vaccine to healthcare and healthcare-related individuals identified in the state's plan for phase 1A. We will continue to work with our community partners as we move through the vaccination plan phases, and we will communicate with the campus community as phases cycle and when employees’ can receive the vaccine. Even though the process is underway led by the designated local and regional vaccine providers, it will still take significant time to provide vaccinations for all who wish to be vaccinated. In the meantime, everyone must continue to observe our established health measures of mask wearing, social distancing, good hygiene practices and staying home when ill. 

Please make time to review the Stay Well website and the Colonels Comeback Plan. Our EKU COVID-19 Task Force will continue to provide local guidance. Look for communications from the Task Force as we responsibly respond to the virus. At this time, looking after your health and remaining considerate of the well-being of your fellow Colonels is the primary way we can avoid interruptions to the learning experience.

Academic Instruction

In the course of preparation for the spring 2021 academic term, several measures have been taken to provide a healthy learning environment and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The academic calendar has been revised to provide a series of single-day breaks throughout the term. Class formats remain similar to those of fall 2020, with some classes offered in a socially-distanced in-person format, other classes in a hybrid format, as well as fully online courses, both synchronous and asynchronous. The modified calendar and class formats will help students progress toward degree completion while learning in an environment that is healthy and conducive to a rich academic experience.

Colonel Care Coordinators

Our Colonel Care Coordinator program will return for the first few weeks of classes. Our community members will be stationed at building entrances to ensure health measure compliance, answer questions, and provide assistance to our campus community. Please thank our volunteers for carving out time in their schedules to help us mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Self Reporting

Our COVID-19 self-reporting form is available to report testing and results to our dedicated campus contact tracing team. It is crucial for any student or employee who is exhibiting symptoms, or tested positive, or had sustained direct contact with an individual who is positive to utilize the form for providing information. This data provides critical benefits to our contact tracing efforts and containment of the virus.

COVID-19 Testing

Free COVID-19 testing is available to students through January 22, 2021. Students who are well but seek to know their COVID-19 status can sign up to be tested at http://wildhealthtesting.com/EKU

Testing for symptomatic students remains available at Student Health Services.   

Working Remotely

Please continue to consult with your supervisor concerning remote work for employees. As the vaccine is delivered, your department's work situation may be subject to change, so please stay in touch with your supervisor to keep current about your work responsibilities and the location where your work occurs. We want to keep Colonels healthy and that may include working off-site.

Graduation

For the past two semesters, we have conducted graduation virtually. I appreciate the efforts of our Commencement Committee to recognize the hard work of our students that has culminated in their obtaining a college degree, but it is not enough. I have instructed the committee chair to explore options that will allow us to recognize our students at an on-campus ceremony in the spring. The spring weather should permit us to utilize spaces where we can observe health measures and still enable our students to participate in a formal ceremony celebrating the conferring of their degrees. Look for more information throughout the semester. 

EKU Strong

We will continue to face challenges this semester. I believe that we are stronger and more successful when we act together. We are a community and we care for each other. Whether you are on campus or online, you are part of a family that is genuinely concerned about your health, well-being and success. Even during quarantine and isolation periods, know that we are One Eastern, and your Colonel Community has your back. You are not alone, and if we lean on each other, we will see ourselves through unprecedented times. I am confident we will emerge stronger and better through mutual trust and support. 

I wish you the best this semester. Together, let's make 2021 an outstanding year at Eastern Kentucky University.

One Eastern, 

Dr. David T. McFaddin
President, EKU

Published on January 20, 2021

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