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CMU announces Fall 2020 return to campus planning initiative

Safe Together, Strong Together features health experts, community leaders and CMU faculty

Colorado Mesa University is planning to return to campus and will pursue in-person instruction and learning for the Fall 2020 semester. To pave the way, CMU President Tim Foster announced the Safe Together, Strong Together planning initiative. The move was announced in an email to students, parents, faculty and staff.

The university moved all courses online last March for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Summer courses will remain online as the campus task force completes the Safe Together, Strong Together fall operations plan. The formal plan will in turn guide a safe return to in-person instruction.

“Safe Together, Strong Together is an integrated planning process that includes health authorities from Mesa County Public Health, Community Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital,” said CMU President Tim Foster. “Combining their expertise with the knowledge base of our faculty experts should result in the best available science and data we need to protect the health and safety of the campus community as we return to campus. ”

The campus-wide effort includes a list of formal focus area task force committees that will formalize sections of the campus operations plan. The operations plan will specify program-by-program, facility-by-facility what campus life will look like in the fall. June 2020 is the target date for completion of the plan.

The Safe Together, Strong Together initiative was posted on the CMU COVID-19 website and includes an outline of the process’ leadership team. CMU Physicians Assistant Program Director Amy Bronson, EdD, will serve as a co-chair along with Vice President for Student Services John Marshall. The co-chairs were appointed by Foster to help support the project committees.

Amy Bronson headshot
Co-Chair Amy Bronson, EdD

"The goal is to create a rigorous science and health-focused plan that acknowledges the existence of COVID-19 in our community. The safer/stronger approach will help us re-envision what the campus community will look like, and how we can build a safe campus community, given that reality,” said Bronson. “I am honored to serve students and my colleagues in this role and am anxious to continue our work.”

The planning initiative begins as CMU announces the pilot opening of the Hamilton Recreation Center, The Maverick Store and several outdoor recreation facilities. The limited openings begin on May 11 and include limited hours of operation. The preliminary openings occurred after review from area medical experts and were approved by Mesa County Public Health.

"The approach CMU has taken to ensure the health and safety of Mesa County while considering the needs of their campus community is appreciated,” said Mesa County Health Public Health Executive Director Jeff Kuhr, PhD. “Mesa County Public Health wanted to make sure their plan took into account all the unique circumstances this response demands. Their thoughtful, deliberate and collaborative approach is a model for others."

CMU Director of Campus Recreation Lynn Wilson manages the Maverick Recreation Center and is optimistic about reopening the facility.

“Our team worked through the previous week creating signage and procuring supplies needed to comply with state and local health protections including social distancing measures, equipment disinfecting procedures, virus screening and facility management,” said Wilson. “Higher risk areas in the recreation center remained closed like the locker room and the natatorium. This go-slow approach is appropriate and necessary to keep people safe.”

Community Hospital was among the CMU community partners who provided consultation on CMU's approach to longer-term planning as well as the near-term opening of select facilities. The hospital's President and CEO Chris Thomas has made his team's expertise available to campus leaders during the last several weeks including administrative advisors as well as Community Hospital's expert on infectious disease, Yumi Lee, MD.

“We are committed to assisting Colorado Mesa University navigate the very complex and challenging aspects of COVID-19,” said Thomas. “As CMU looks to bring back students to campus in the fall, we share their mission to keep our entire community as safe as possible.” 

If you have input or feedback for the Safe Together, Strong Together task force, please fill out this form

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Written by David Ludlam