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CMU announces phase two campus opening

Safe Together, Strong Together planning initiative gathers strength

Before CMU launched Safe Together, Strong Together, CMU officials believed a return to campus in the fall was possible, but not probable. Weeks of planning and work resulted in an announcement on May 11 of the Phase 1 pilot opening. This stage served as a test of CMU's procedures and protocols as well as the review process established with medical and health professionals. On Thursday, June 3, the possible turned probable as CMU announced a significant milestone in the efforts to reopen campus. Officials at Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) approved the Safe Together, Strong Together Phase 2 opening plan. The plan includes opening of CMU's University Center, Outdoor Program, El Pomar Natatorium, Eureka! Math and Science Center, Admissions Office and Student Welcome Center. With successful approval of the Phase 2 plan, campus officials are increasingly optimistic about students returning to campus for in-person learning later this summer.

"The success to date of Safe Together, Strong Together must be attributed to CMU's health and medical advisory team," said CMU President Tim Foster. "Their support, combined with tireless efforts from faculty health experts and our staff, means that CMU is further than any other Colorado university in the reopening process. With the success of Phase 1 and Phase 2 ongoing, the stage is set for a safe opening in the fall."

The medical and health advisory team was launched in late April 2020 and is co-chaired by Amy Bronson, EdD, and CMU Vice President for Student Services John Marshall. Eight subcommittees are working alongside medical experts, health leaders and epidemiologists from St. Mary's Hospital, Community Hospital, Mesa County Public Health and CMU health-related faculty experts.

Phase 1 of Safe Together, Strong Together was approved on May 11 and included a limited opening of the campus recreation center and outdoor recreation facilities. The pilot opening included best practices outlined by Colorado Safer at Home and the Mesa County Safer at Home variance that allowed additional openings in Mesa County.

"The community's robust health infrastructure, low COVID-19 case counts, and expanded testing and tracing capacities have allowed a slightly expedited opening schedule for CMU," said Marshall. "We still continue to move at a slower pace than what is allowed, and we do so because getting the process right is more important that getting campus open quickly."

Approval from health officials was a result of CMU complying with a list of more than a dozen requirements outlined by the Mesa County Safer at Home Phase 2 variance approved by Colorado on May 22.

Bronson also serves as the medical liaison between the planning committee and the medical advisors. Part of the initial campus opening included members of the medical and health advisory team walking through campus facilities and reviewing proposed operation plans. Mesa County Public Health Epidemiologist Chelsea Stacy was also recently on campus to discuss the collaboration between CMU and MCPH.

"CMU is such a large part of the community," said Stacy. "So whatever we can do to help keep CMU and all the students as safe as possible – we want to do that. Our role in public health is serving as advisors and our role is to look through CMU's plans and 'poke holes' to make sure we are creating a safe environment."

Bree Meier was among the CMU facility managers presenting their opening plans to the health experts. As manager of the CMU University Center (UC) Meier's plan approval was a relief for her team.

"The UC is the heart and soul of campus when it comes to community connection and I am excited to begin working with our customers again to make this amazing place a service center for student and community groups once again."

Approval list for phase 2

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Written by David Ludlam