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Knox Together: A Plan for Fall 2020 Give Now
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Knox Together

together@​knox.edu

Ford Center for the Fine Arts

August 10

The Student and Employee Wellness Advisory Group has updated its policies concerning campus visitors during the fall 2020 term. Only essential visitors—including vendors, contractors, and essential partners; Admission visitors (including Athletics); and family members and/or significant others of students living on campus—will be allowed on campus at this time. All essential visitors must check in upon arrival and follow Knox's health and wellness protocols, including wearing a mask, maintain physical distance from others, and washing their hands frequently. Read the full policy on campus visitors.

August 6

Today, Knox introduced the Knox Together Pledge, outlining our individual responsibilities to each other as we prepare to come together on campus this fall. All students, faculty, and staff should review the Pledge and acknowledge they have read its contents by August 24. 

August 3

If you are a student or family member who missed our recent Q&A sessions with Knox administrators, you can view an archived broadcast. As always, if you have questions that weren't covered in these sessions, please email together@knox.edu.

July 30

Dear Knox Community,

By now we are all keenly aware that this fall term will look very different from any other time in our history. Still, we are grateful that we will be able to come together in a way that preserves educational opportunities while maintaining the health of the Knox community to the greatest extent possible.

The most significant adjustment for all of us will be in the daily public health regimens that we must commit to following. It will be the biggest change, and yet it will also be our biggest opportunity to care for ourselves and one another. We write today to share more details about the policies and protocols we have put in place in support of the health of our community. We have developed these in the context of federal, state, and local guidance, and following extensive consultation with medical experts, county health officials, and peer institutions. We ask you to remember that as guidelines and conditions change, so must our own internal plans, and we appreciate your adaptability and understanding as we continue to respond to this global pandemic. 

Masks and other personal protective equipment
We know that wearing face coverings, in combination with physical distancing and frequent handwashing, is an effective way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. All members of our campus community, including visitors, must wear masks at all times except: (1) in their individual residence hall rooms, (2) in their private offices, or (3) when out of doors and able to maintain at least six feet of physical distance. Students who are unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a documented health issue should contact Disability Support Services for guidance. Employees who are unable to wear a mask due to a documented health issue should complete a Face Covering Accommodation Form (PDF). 

We will provide each student and employee two reusable Knox masks, one plastic face shield, and one small reusable bottle of hand sanitizer. 

Testing
All students will undergo a series of two tests for COVID-19—the first upon their initial arrival to campus, and the second approximately eight days later. This includes students living off campus who will be taking courses on campus. Faculty and staff will also be tested prior to the beginning of the term. These are nasal swab PCR molecular tests that will be conducted by trained clinical personnel and processed at specialized laboratories at no cost to the student or employee. 

Additionally, any student who is experiencing one or more of the symptoms of COVID-19 or has been determined to have had close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual will be tested again in our health services clinic. Employees who are experiencing symptoms are asked to contact their health care provider or reach out to Human Resources for assistance. 

Quarantine upon arrival
All students will quarantine in their rooms upon arrival to campus. During this time, students must stay in their own rooms except to use the restroom and to pick up meals from a designated outdoor location. 

Per current CDC guidance, students arriving in the U.S. from abroad will quarantine for 14 days. Students arriving from within the U.S. will quarantine for approximately 48 hours (until their COVID test results come back negative). After that, students will be permitted to move about campus, following all physical distancing and safety protocols in place at the time. 

We are closely monitoring federal, state and local guidance, and will put in place extended quarantine for students arriving from certain locations within the U.S. if necessary. This will not change students’ assigned arrival date. 

Isolation, contact tracing, and quarantine throughout the term
Students who test positive for COVID-19 will be temporarily relocated to isolation housing that has been set aside for this purpose. Health Services staff are undergoing contact tracing certification, and will be prepared to evaluate anyone who has had close contact with a member of our community who tests positive. Individuals who have had close contact with someone who has tested positive will need to quarantine for a period of time. Students needing to quarantine will be temporarily relocated to separate quarantine housing. 

Students in isolation or quarantine will have a designated staff member to support them, will receive meals in their residence, take their classes online, and have their health and well-being actively monitored by a member of our professional Health Services staff. Employees will be asked to isolate or quarantine at home. 

Symptom monitoring
Being aware of how we are feeling each day is an important part of caring for ourselves and others. We have partnered with HealthCheck360 to implement an online symptom monitoring program. Prior to leaving their residence hall rooms or homes each day, all students, faculty, and staff will be asked to self-report their temperature and any potential COVID-19 symptoms. If anything you report is concerning, you will automatically be prompted to remain at home and wait for Health Services (for students) or Human Resources (for employees) to reach out to you. 

We will be hosting online demonstrations and opportunities to ask questions about our symptom monitoring program on the following days/times:

  • For students and families: Tuesday, August 18 at 3:00 p.m. CDT
  • For employees: Thursday, August 20 at 12:00 p.m. CDT

Login info will be sent closer to the event dates. These demos will be recorded for those who can’t attend. 

In the meantime, faculty and staff concerned about potential COVID-19 symptoms or potential exposure to a COVID-positive individual should contact their healthcare provider and notify Human Resources. Students currently on campus should contact Health Services. 

Physical distancing
Life in and out of the classroom will look different in the fall, but we are committed to finding ways to come together. Many classes will be hybrid, with elements of both in-person and remote learning. Classroom spaces will be configured so that students are spaced apart by at least six feet. Similarly, we look forward to working with Union Board, Student Senate, and many other important student organizations to develop small group, outdoor, and virtual programs. A group of students, faculty, and staff will be working to update event and meeting guidelines for current times. You can expect to hear more about that in a few weeks. 

Flu vaccine
All students, faculty, and staff are highly encouraged to get the flu vaccine for the 2020-21 flu season. This should be done prior to arriving on campus if possible. Health Services will also be offering free flu vaccines to all members of the campus community during the fall term. 

Travel and visitors
We are fortunate to have a low presence of COVID-19 in the local area at this time. For this reason, students taking on-campus classes are asked to limit their travel to within Knox County. Essential travel outside of the area should be planned in advance in consultation with Health Services staff. Similarly, visitors to campus are being significantly limited for the time being. For students living on campus, only family members/significant others are permitted in the residence halls, and we ask that those visits be pre-approved by Campus Life. Visitors will be asked to check in upon arrival to campus, at which time they will complete a brief symptom and temperature check.

The Knox Together Pledge
A successful fall opening and a healthy campus will depend on the shared commitment of our entire community. As a sign of that commitment, all community members will be asked to sign the Knox Together Pledge—a document developed by a group of students, faculty, and staff that outlines how we will each say yes to this new way of living and learning together. You will receive more information about the Knox Together Pledge next week. 

Thank you for taking on this shared responsibility, and for taking seriously the policies and protocols outlined here. Please continue to refer to the Knox Together website for updated information and direct questions to together@knox.edu

Stay well,

Anne Ehrlich, Vice President for Student Development
Abby Putnam, Director of Health Services
Co-chairs, Student and Employee Wellness Advisory Group

July 29

The Department of Athletics has announced revised move-in dates for fall student-athletes following the suspension of Midwest Conference competition earlier this week. Members of the mens' soccer and cross-country teams are asked to arrive on August 25. Women's soccer and volleyball players should arrive on September 1. Members of the football team should arrive on September 3.

July 28

Knox will host a virtual Q&A for returning students and their families on Thursday, July 30, at 7 p.m. Central Daylight Time. Check your inbox for information about how to participate, and submit any questions you have to together@knox.edu. If you are unable to attend, an archive of the webcast will be posted online after the event.

July 27

MWC Suspends Conference Competition in Athletics through Dec. 31, 2020

July 24

Dear Knox Community:

With the first students arriving back on campus in just a few weeks, I know that you have a lot of questions about our plans to protect the Knox community against COVID-19. 

Today, Knox has launched a new website, Knox Together, to provide a single location for detailed and updated information on our public health and wellness practices; changes to residence halls and dining facilities; our approach to delivering the educational program this fall; and what we are asking students, faculty, and staff to do to protect themselves and the people around them.

As we have all learned in the last five months, it is almost impossible to predict the course of the pandemic. We are focusing our efforts on resuming in-person instruction in September. However, our fall term advisory groups, made up of faculty, staff, and students, have developed a range of alternate plans that are ready to implement should more aggressive safeguards be needed. Please continue to monitor Knox Together and check your inbox daily for the latest updates.

In the meantime, I want to express my appreciation again for the tireless efforts of our faculty and staff, the generosity of our alumni and friends, and especially for the patience of our students and their families as we have worked to create a responsible and effective environment for teaching and learning. 

While this will be a fall term unlike any other at Knox, I am confident it will be just as transformative a learning experience as you’ve come to expect—for our students and for the College.

Thank you and take care,

Teresa L. Amott
President, Knox College

P.S. If you have additional questions that aren't addressed on the website, email together@knox.edu and we'll do our best to provide the answers. 

July 15

Dear Knox Community,

We write to share with you additional information on our plans to bring students back to Knox in the fall. While the news accounts show rising COVID-19 infections in many states, our local situation here in Knox County and throughout Illinois does meet the conditions set forth by public health agencies for starting the school year together on campus in a responsible manner. Those conditions require that we learn some very new ways of being Knox: new ways of teaching and learning, new schedules for arrival on campus, new protocols to help address health risks, and new rules for how we live together, participate in intercollegiate athletics and student activities, and take on the shared responsibility of protecting every member of our community. We especially recognize that some of us are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and embrace the opportunity to help safeguard them. 

Teaching & Learning

Preparations for the return to in-person instruction in the fall are well underway. All students who wish to return to campus for in-person learning may do so, though students may also continue their Knox education remotely. Our fall academic calendar will remain the same, but we will see changes and adaptation to the challenges of our new environment. In pursuit of our health priorities, classroom use will be constrained. Courses that rely heavily on classroom, lab, and studio spaces will need to be reinvisioned so that physical distancing and cleaning protocols can be observed. These and other courses will likely operate in hybrid modes, with a combination of in-person and remote components to serve students both on campus and those working from home. Physical distancing will require that classes meet in smaller subgroups, interactions with faculty and peers occur both in virtual and in-person settings, and daily and weekly schedules be flexible to support engagement of all students. Our updated fall course schedule will be shared by the end of July. New students will meet with their academic advisors and we will reopen the course registration process for continuing students in early August.

To assist us with our course planning, and recognizing that some of you may choose to remain at home and learn remotely, we need to hear from all students, both new and returning, about your current thoughts about your plans for fall no later than Wednesday July 22. Please communicate with us via the form that was sent to your email on July 15. What you share on this form is not a commitment in any way, as we realize your plans may change.

Shared Responsibility for Public Health

Knox’s culture of shared responsibility and care for our community will be more important than ever this fall. We have an obligation to protect one another to the very best of our ability, and we must take that responsibility seriously. For that reason, the Student and Employee Wellness Advisory Group is working with constituents to translate public health guidance into a “social contract” that we will all sign to affirm our commitment to keeping our community safe. Adhering to public health guidance and the college’s heightened safety standards is the most important individual action we can take to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Policies expected to be outlined in the contract include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • All members of our campus community must wear masks in classrooms, in public shared indoor spaces, or when at least six feet of physical distancing cannot be maintained. The number of people permitted at events or social gatherings will be restricted to comply with public health guidelines. 
  • We all must practice good hygiene, including handwashing and the use of hand sanitizer.
  • We all must take care to monitor whether we are exhibiting symptoms of the virus. All students and employees will be asked to record any potential symptoms via a private online platform. More details about this process will be shared in the coming weeks. 

Additional measures to mitigate health risks will include:

Testing: Our current plans call for all students to undergo a series of two tests for COVID-19 upon their initial return to campus, which together will minimize false negative results. Testing will continue throughout the term as symptoms and contact tracing require. Employees will be provided with information regarding how to obtain a test locally and will also have the option of being tested on campus. We have contracted with both Tempus Laboratories and OSF St. Mary Medical Center to facilitate testing, which will be conducted at no cost to the student or employee. These are PCR molecular tests that will be conducted by trained clinical personnel and processed at specialized laboratories. 

Quarantine, isolation, and contact tracing: Even with the best public health practices, we know we cannot completely stop the spread of COVID-19, so we must plan for the eventuality that the virus will appear on campus. We are prepared for this to happen. In the event that a member of our campus community tests positive for COVID-19, we have arranged for Knox Health Services staff to be certified to carry out tracing for close contacts both on and off campus. Affected students will follow quarantine and isolation protocols within campus residences that have been reserved for this purpose. Students in quarantine or isolation will have a designated staff member to support them, will receive meals in their residence, take their classes online, and have their health and wellbeing actively monitored by a member of our professional Health Services staff. Affected faculty and staff will follow quarantine and isolation protocols at home.

Cleaning and Sanitation Protocols: Enhanced cleaning and sanitizing practices are already in place at Knox and will be expanded as students, faculty, and staff return to campus. Common spaces in academic, administrative and residential buildings will continue to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected at least once per day. Additionally, classroom use will be scheduled in such a way that will avoid student overlaps in hallways and entryways, and outdoor or other alternative learning spaces will be used where possible. Campus offices will be supplied with proper supplies and instruction on how to keep shared office spaces clean and disinfected. Additional attention has been focused on dining services and enhanced measures have been developed by the Bon Appetit Coronavirus Response Team. 

Returning to Campus

To provide the safest process possible, move-in dates have been adjusted for some student populations. These dates will allow physically distanced move-ins, testing upon arrival, and quarantine if necessary. 

Fall athletes
Fall athletes will be assigned an arrival date of Tuesday, August 11, Wednesday, August 12, Tuesday, August 18 or Monday, August 24, based on your sport. Fall athletes should expect communication from the athletic department by the end of this week. 

International students and other students coming from abroad
New international students and other new students coming from abroad should plan to arrive on campus on Tuesday, August 25. This date allows for a 14-day on-campus quarantine prior to international student orientation should public health guidance require it. Returning international students and other returning students coming from abroad should plan to arrive on campus on Saturday, August 29. 

Students participating in SPARK or TRIO Bridge
Students participating in the SPARK program should plan on arriving on Tuesday, September 1. Students participating in the TRIO Bridge program should arrive on Saturday, September 5.

Remaining first-year students
All remaining first-year and transfer students will be assigned an arrival date of either Wednesday, September 9 or Thursday, September 10. Your date will be communicated to you, along with your housing assignment, by the end of July. 

Student leaders
Student leaders such as resident assistants, orientation leaders, peer mentors and others will arrive on campus in time to begin their work that is critical to a successful start to the fall term. Student leaders should expect to hear directly from their supervisors by the end of this week. 

Remaining returning students
Returning students will be assigned an arrival date of Friday, September 11, Saturday, September 12, or Sunday, September 13. Your date will be communicated to you via your Knox email by the end of July. 

More details regarding move-in protocols will also be shared at the end of July.  

Living on Campus

As a residential college, we want all students who wish to live on campus to be able to do so. Current public health guidance for higher education does not require students to be assigned to single rooms. Nonetheless, we recognize that some students may prefer single accommodations. We will accommodate as many students in single rooms as possible. This means that housing assignments may need to be adjusted slightly. Campus Life is working diligently to manage this important process, and will be communicating new student room assignments and any necessary changes to returning student assignments by the end of July. 

Athletics

The Midwest Conference and the NCAA have developed strict protocols for fall sports, including frequent testing and mask wearing for all participants who are not actively on the field of play, and will update those protocols as new information becomes available. The schools in the Conference have committed to observing these protocols. In addition, the Conference will play divisionally, minimizing the number of overnight trips except in championships. We are fully prepared to cancel competitions if circumstances warrant but are hoping to have robust opportunities for student athletes to train for their personal bests, compete for and win conference championships, and enjoy the student athlete team experience. Fall student athletes will be hearing more about their season in the coming days and weeks.

Contingency Plans 

None of us can predict the future, but over the past few months, a number of standardized public health metrics have been developed that we will utilize to determine when a change in course is necessary. We will be monitoring the Knox community’s wellness day by day, watching state and local infection rates, symptoms, signs of mental health distress and other metrics. Each of the four Reopening Advisory Groups is working on backup plans that can be activated to help support the wellness of our community. Fortunately, we do have greater insights now than we did last March, and we believe that any needed adjustments will be smoother and less disruptive.

Additional Information

A website with current information on Knox’s plans is under development and will be published later this week. At that time I will send a message with the web address. In addition, if you have questions, please send them to reopen@knox.edu and we will respond to you as soon as possible.

Closing / Final Thoughts

In my welcoming remarks at admission events, I tell prospective students and their families that a Knox education is designed to prepare our graduates for a life of leadership and purpose in a time of enormous changes produced by technology, climate change, globalization, demographic shifts, and cultural conflict. Up until now, I never mentioned a pandemic, but I truly believe that our mission is even more important today. We are committed to giving our students powerful experiences, hands-on opportunities to practice what they learn, and we provide mentors, guides and companions along the way. That’s why we call it a human powered education. And together, we will rise to the challenge posed by this pandemic and graduate generations of students even better prepared to make a better world.

TERESA L. AMOTT
President

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Printed on Tuesday, August 11, 2020