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Miami releases plans to bring back students

<p>University administrators are still unsure when Miami professors will receive their COVID-19 vaccines. </p>

University administrators are still unsure when Miami professors will receive their COVID-19 vaccines.

In an email to all Miami University students, faculty and staff on July 7, Miami President Gregory Crawford announced the university’s Healthy Together Plan. This plan outlines Miami’s procedures for returning to campus in the fall amid continued concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The Healthy Together Plan was constructed by the Safe Return to Campus Planning and Coordinating Committee, co-chaired by Dana Cox and Gwen Fears and composed of faculty, staff, students and external advisors. The committee collaborated with TriHealth, the Butler County Health District, the City of Oxford and the Ohio Department of Health in putting together its plan.

Everyone on campus will be required to maintain six feet of distance at all times and wear face coverings in all university buildings. Masks will also be required in outdoor areas where physical distance cannot be maintained. 

To promote physical distancing, classroom and common area capacities will be reduced, and physical barriers will be installed in smaller areas such as offices.

Miami Libraries also announced the permanent closure of BEST Library to make space for classes on July 1. BEST was previously located on the first floor of Laws Hall. Most of its contents will be transferred to King Library, though some physical materials will remain in the basement of Laws.

On-campus food and beverage locations will not allow customers to pay with cash or refill any reusable cups at beverage fountains, and the number of tables and chairs in dining areas will be reduced to ensure physical distancing.

To reduce contact between diners and employees, some market locations will also offer pre-packaged meals for one buffet swipe. A new online ordering and pickup system will also be implemented at some a la carte locations.

Move-in dates will be staggered to promote social distancing, and students will receive their assigned move-in day along with their housing assignment letter via email by July 15. New students will be assigned move-in dates between August 10 and 14, and returning students will receive dates between August 12 and 16.

Though the fall semester will end on November 20, residence halls will remain open until November 25, so move-out dates can also be staggered.

Many courses will remain face-to-face and will be held in classrooms large enough to maintain physical distance. But, some classes which are too large to take place in such a format will be held either online or in a hybrid format — partially face-to-face and partially online.

According to an email from provost Jason Osborne, the course schedule may be offline for a few days while course formats are being finalized. Students will be able to see their updated schedules after July 21.

Most university employees that have not already returned to work will return by the last week of July. Employees are required to wear face coverings during work, and some departments may implement staggered work schedules to ensure physical distancing.

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Another July 7 email from the Hub detailed the new guidelines for student organizations during the fall semester. Organizations must maintain six feet of distance between members during meetings, and organizations for which attendance is mandatory should offer a virtual attendance option. Furthermore, organizational funds cannot be used to pay for any form of travel, and out-of-state travel is strongly discouraged.

Organizational tabling and office hours will be limited to one organization member and one guest at all times. Tabling will not take place on the portion of Slant Walk inside Armstrong.

As of July 7, no decision has been made on whether large-scale events will be held on campus or if campus visits will be permitted. Miami Athletics will follow the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s and the Mid-American Conference’s guidelines regarding sporting events, but those guidelines have not yet been released to the public.

On-campus students who test positive for the coronavirus or have significant exposure to someone who has tested positive will be required to isolate themselves, either at their permanent home residence or in a designated quarantine area on-campus. 

Off-campus students will have the option to isolate in their off-campus residence, at their permanent home residence or in the designated area on-campus.

Confidential mental health counseling will be available to students both in-person and over the phone. The H.O.P.E. Line remains open to students to call 24/7.

Members of the Miami community can submit feedback and suggestions to the Safe Return to Campus Planning and Coordinating Committee through this form.